Little Roads Europe with Blogger Zeneba Bowers
On Little Roads Europe, Zeneba Bowers shows travelers how they can explore Europe’s smaller towns by sticking to a budget.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
I am a classical musician who performs in the symphony; I am also the Artistic Director of the Grammy-nominated chamber group ALIAS Chamber Ensemble. I live in Nashville, TN.
What first inspired you to start your blog? Since then, which destinations have you covered?
My husband and I started traveling 10 years ago; our honeymoon was our first trip. We got bitten by the travel bug and decided to trim spending and restructure our finances to put every extra dollar into travel. After many years of travel, we decided to start a blog, Little Roads Europe, to share our knowledge of small towns, master artisans, and great restaurants. We travel to small towns and villages in Italy, Ireland, England, and Wales.
What is the main purpose of your blog? Is there a message that you’re trying to convey to your readers?
Our goal is to make travel affordable, memorable, immersive, and authentic. We skip the bigger, more popular destinations and head out into the countryside. We seek out traditional, authentic food; unusual sights and lodgings; and master artisans (ceramic artists, glass blowers, leather craftsmen, etc).
Lots of people want to travel but think they can’t afford it. In many cases that is true, but lots of people don’t realize how affordable traveling in small towns can be. This is true in Europe, but if you can’t afford a flight overseas, there are plenty of small towns to explore right here in the US where you can use the same philosophy to explore near you.
What gets you into the writing mode?
We just had our first print guide published, Emilia Romagna, Italy: A Personal Guide to Little-Known Places Foodies Will Love; and our e-book, Six Tourist-Free Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler in Tuscany is currently being revised and will be published as a print guide very soon. As a result, nearly all our writing lately has been focused on these two guides. When I have time, I like to write about restaurants and artisans I love, or to relate a funny or meaningful story about travel.
What are some exciting partnerships, connections, or opportunities that have come out of your blog?
We’ve been fortunate to have some of our articles published by Budget Travel. And, of course, it was very important to us that our guides were published. In the long run, we are hoping that our travel blog and books will become our main source of income.
Is your blog a business? If so, what are some of the ways that you monetize it?
It is! Our blog includes a HUGE amount of information about places we know and love. About a year ago, we decided to start an Itinerary Building Service. We build itineraries for clients who want to have immersive, engaging vacations in small towns. Many of our clients have told us that they found our site, but there was so much information on it, they just wanted to simplify things and have us create a trip for them.
So far we’ve created 15 different itineraries, and we hope to do a lot more. One of our clients is traveling in Tuscany right now on her honeymoon! We also do phone consultations with people who want to plan their own trip, but want expert travel advice.
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in launching a travel blog?
I feel a bit strange giving advice about blogging, as I feel that I am constantly learning myself. But I’d say that you need to pick a niche, an angle, that sets you apart. What do you have to offer that is unique?
Most of all, though, I’d say that you should write about what you love, and do it because you love it. Judge your success not by how much money it makes, or how many ‘likes’ it gets, but by how much enjoyment it brings you.