It’s been a long time coming. Last year I started my #femaletravelbloggers project – with the idea to show multifaceted images of women who travel and run a business. I’m happy to announced that Mercedes-Benz partnered up with me to support female entrepreneurship and celebrate a multitude of female perspectives!
Road trip to Tyrol
With the brand-new Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic I made my way to Tyrol to visit a few outstanding female travel bloggers from Austria. We talked about our careers, business decisions and idea of female travel blogging. And along the way we visited a few of their favourite places in their home country. It was a special road trip for us – spiced up with incredible viewpoints, winding mountain roads, a sudden winter onset (thank the GLB 250 for heated seats!), but most importantly great talks about our ideas of female entrepreneurship and our responsibility for the next generation.
Let me introduce you to the women I met and the places they showed me!
Marika Unterladstätter from “Mountain Hideaways”
I don’t even know how long I follow Marika already, but I was always in awe of her work. She discovers these incredible places in the alps and her photography and blog design is truly inspirational. In fact a lot of my Austria mountain bucket list is filled with items from Marika’s blog Mountain Hideaways!
Little did I know, that she doesn’t even work on her blog full-time! It looks so incredibly professional – and she manages to do this all next to her regular job… well and family life! Marika travels with either her husband or two daughters most of the time, but the blog is all her baby. She does everything herself, from the graphic design to the website – it’s all her work. My favourite part is, that one of her daughters once wanted to take over the blog. After one trip she told Marika, that she had no idea how much work all of this was and that she’d rather go on regular vacations from now on 🙂
* Together we visited some of your favorite places in Tyrol – which ones are they and why are they especially close to your heart or what is so special?
“I love hiking, I love good food and I love to relax in the mountains. For each of my passions I wanted to show you a special place here in Tyrol.” (Marika)
Location 1: Loassattel
“We went up to the Loassattel because some of my favorite hikes start here. From here you can go to the Kellerjoch for example – you will never forget a sunset up there. Or you hike away from here towards Gilfert or Sonntagsköpfel – when my favorite flowers, the alpine roses, bloom in early summer, it is especially beautiful here. And of course the best at the end: the most delicious and largest schnitzel of Tyrol in the Alpengasthof Loas.”
Location 2: Umbrüggler Alm
“Although there couldn’t have been a better time for our mystical sunrise on the way to the Umbrüggler Alm, we usually prefer to be there for dinner. With just 45 minutes of walking above Innsbruck, the Umbrüggler Alm is the ideal “after work base” for the best gourmet mountain hut food in the area. Try the bread soup or the “Scheiterhaufen” – at the latest then you know what I mean 😉 ”
Location 3: Gramai Alm
“Finally we drove up through the Falzthurntal to the Gramai Alm. From time to time we treat ourselves to a few hours of wellness in their “Nature Spa”. I like the charm of these small sauna huts, embedded in the impressive Karwendel Mountains!”
Bonus Location: Sunset at Achensee
Last but not least we stopped on our way back from the Gramai Alm to watch the last rays of sun hit lake Achensee. The autumn colours perfectly framed the lake and we sat down alongside the shoreline to talk a little bit about female travel blogging and what it means to us. You can read the full interview down below!
Lea Hajner from escape-town.com
Lea is one of this multi-talented female entrepreneurs, who doesn’t showcase everything she’s doing all the time. While her blog “Escape Town” focuses on outdoor adventures and the occasional alpine kitchen recipe, she does so much more behind the curtains. After leaving her job at a start-up incubator Lea moved to Tyrol and soon after that became self-employed. But not just as a blogger, but also a book author (“Eskapaden in Tirol“) and social media consultant to local brands.
You can not only learn how to bake sourdough bread from her, but also how to run a business pleasantly laid-back and without showcasing a hustling attitude every day. One of my main take-aways from the last years on Social Media is that not every female entrepreneur has to be a #girlboss, and Lea certainly isn’t one of those. She’s a woman who knows exactly where her strengths are and focuses on those in her business decisions. Make sure to read her interview below to learn all about her career and her tips for everyone who wants to make their passion their business.
* Together we visited some of your favorite places in Tyrol – which ones are they and why are they especially close to your heart or what is so special about them for you?
Location 1: Kemater Alm
“The first day we drove up to Kemater Alm – a remote yet well connected hut with a jar dropping background. Unfortunately, you’ll have to come back to see this for yourself some other time as it was covered in clouds when we got there. The Kalkkögel range is super close to the city of Innsbruck – but once you’re there looking at them or maybe even climbing them you feel far, far away. It’s proof that there is always something to explore in front of your doorstep. Well, I admit in this department we might be a bit luckier that others being in the middle of the alps.”
Location 2: Möserer See
When we woke up the next day it had snowed all night! This was the first snow of the year and we got all the Christmas feelings already 🙂
“The next day we drove up to Möserer See at Seefelder Plateau. A tiny lake that I love to swim in in summer. Spending a day there with friends, playing games, reading stupid magazines, swimming to the island, …it’s the perfect get-away for a day. But I actually love this lake all year round – in winter it’s pretty as one could wish for!”
Location 3: Katzenloch
“Then we stopped at the entrance of the Katzenloch hike – a hike that in winter is often a white corridor with huge snow walls in a fairytale forest. If you’re looking for some physical exercise with a lot of space and time to also clear the head going on a 4-day winter hike is definitely something everyone should at least consider once in their life.”
Location 4: Hofladen Steirerhof
“The Steirerhof is a cute little farm shop where you can get eggs, milk, vegetables and other local produce. It’s run by a young couple and love how on Sundays the store bursts with freshly baked goods, shoppers and hikers on their way through.”
Location 5: Haimingerberg
“For sunset we drove up to Haimingerberg, which is a less known pass that connects the Inntal with Kühtai valley. Close to where we stopped there is a short hike to Feldringer Alm – another hut with good food and lots of local products.”
Bonus Location: Sellrain
“Then we drove back through the moon lit Sellrain – which is a lesser known valley with lots and lots of great places around. There are no big hotels, no great luxury, not lots of untouched nature, wild berries and mushrooms and in winter great toboggan and cross-country skiing routes.”
About the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic
When going on a road trip there are three things I’m looking for in my car: comfort, safety and design!
- Comfort: I guess I’m getting old, but I really like cozy heated seats (and with the added benefit of energising seat kinetics you can even endure longer rides without getting the ole backpain ;-)).
- Safety: You would seem to think that’s a given, but there’s always ways to improve on safety. In the GLB we enjoyed the clever self-adapting cruise control, that reacted to speed limitations automatically – and of course the Driving Assistance features that helps keeping the right distance or staying in your lane.
- Design: As a very visual person the best car is only as good as it is pleasing to my eyes as well 😉 The GLB 250 has powerful proportions with a true off-road character. I especially loved the huge glass ceiling, that lets in a lot of light and also gives rooms for some cool photo ops.
So all in all, let’s just say check, check and check 😉 The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic ticks off every box for me.
The GLB is designed as a versatile compact SUV, that comfortably seats 5 or even 7 people (depending on your configuration) and offers ample space, also for extended luggage that we always have (say what extra photography equipment bag…) 🙂 We opted for a version with 4-wheel drive, as we knew we were going in the mountains – and since it snowed heavily the second night this made our life super easy.
The #FemaleTravelBloggers from Austria
Initially I had planned to visit and interview a third Austrian female travel blogger (Mela from Individualicious), but unfortunately she got quarantined during our production with Covid-19. But I sure hope that we get to meet for another project in the future. It only goes to show, that there’s a very diverse and interesting female travel blogger community in Austria!
All together we’re working on showing what female traveling looks like from a multitude of perspectives – hopefully making a small impact in the lives of other women and their travel choices.
The interviews with Marika & Lea opened my eyes to new female perspectives about our job.
It’s always great to share a passion and discuss a business with people in a similar situation!
Interview with Marika Unterladstätter / Mountain Hideaways
* You started your blog in 2017 – since this year it is called “Mountain Hideaways“. Tell us briefly what your blog is all about, what are the main topics?
“I myself like to escape the hustle and bustle and feel most comfortable hiking in the lonely nature. But I can relax just as well when looking at the mountain panorama from a special hotel. And this is exactly what you can find on my blog: the most beautiful hiding places in the mountains! I take my readers on lonely hikes and to the most beautiful hotels in the mountains. Currently, my blog offers a lot of inspiration for vacations in the Alps, but I also want to encourage locals to explore our breathtaking mountain world.”
* What the readers are most interested in is probably a look into your career. How did the blog come about, what have you done before, what is your educational background?
“I stand on two feet. One is steady and firmly anchored, the other restless and unrestrained! The second is the creativity in my life, which I always give free rein to. It was never planned to become a “travel blogger”, it just happened!
Since I can think, I have always needed a creative outlet that has adapted to my time and lifestyle, constantly changing. In the beginning, I made various handicrafts for the new house, then colorful clothes for my children. 2006 was also the time when I wrote a blog for the first time. Under MARMELIS I wrote about my life with the children and my sewing.
When we started to explore the mountains and the world together as a family, it became photography. And Instagram became sort of the “quilt” of my life. But also the kids grew up and when they were teenagers they didn’t find it so cool anymore to be out with their parents all the time. That’s why we booked our first wellness vacation as a couple in 2016. And *boom* a new passion was born!
Education wise – everything was and is still learning by doing! As soon as you get enthusiastic about something, you’re stuck in this bubble anyway – you can read and hear a lot about this topic and keep on developing.”
* Today more than 14.000 people read your blog every month, what does that mean for you as an entrepreneur – do you spend a lot of time on your strategy, analyze your target group, look at numbers from the blog to find out what moves your readers the most and control your content accordingly? So how much entrepreneurial thinking goes into a blog like this?
“I think creativity only works if it comes from the heart. That’s why the joy and fun of blogging is my top priority. With a permanent job in a government agency, I enjoy the luxury of some independence! Therefore I take the liberty to blog only about what my gut feeling allows. If the readers like it – then all the better!
But it would be a lie to say that I completely ignore the numbers – of course I put a lot of work into marketing and also keep an eye on my statistics. I’m happy about every website visitor and every follower more on my social media channels: they inspire and motivate me – but don’t control my thinking. And more and more often I hear from my cooperation partners that they not only appreciate the numbers, but above all my high standards of quality and authenticity. That’s why my motto is: If you stay true to yourself, you will get exactly the work projects you want!”
* Let’s sidestep from the business aspect – and talk about something emotional we all love: travel ☺️ This year was different than expected for many because of Corona, how did you feel? How has traveling changed? Or has anything changed for you at all?
“Our annual family road trip unfortunately fell through, but apart from that I’m lucky to live here in the mountains and to be able to do exactly what I enjoy most anyway. We have visited some extraordinary hotels in Austria and South Tyrol, discovered excellent restaurants and hiked new but also well known paths. I am always fascinated again and again how varied and different this part of the Alps can be and I am always carried away to outbursts of enthusiasm. And I have to admit that through Corona I have learned to appreciate the value of my life even more.”
* Today we are talking about road trips, a form of travel that has been given a new push by the Covid pandemic. Road trips are (not just in times like these) simply a particularly individual and safe way to travel and often associated with a feeling of freedom and independence. What do you think about road trips and is there a special road trip that has stayed in your memory?
“For me, road trips are the most beautiful and intensive way to travel. I am addicted to discovering new things and therefore I never stay longer than 3-4 days in one place. For months I tinker with our 4-week trips, which every year lead us more and more towards the North. Brittany, Cornwall, Sweden, Norway – just to name a few of our most beautiful family vacations. And we always travel with our own car.”
* And last but not least: What would you advise young women who are considering turning their passion into a profession or going into self-employment. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with them?
“There is probably nothing better than earning money with what you love to do most. However, as a travel blogger you have to be aware that this does not only consist of travelling alone! I guess I weigh up every trip with at least twice as much time on the computer: Researching, sorting and editing pictures, writing texts, social media marketing, accounting … and you should really enjoy all of this ;)”
* We talked a lot about your job as travel blogger and how you feel you can inspire other women to follow in your footsteps. I want to touch base about a topic, that is very dear to my heart – it’s our responsibility as female travel bloggers. Do you feel you have a responsibility towards a younger generation? Do you feel you can support the empowering of other women with your work? What is it that you want your daughters to aspire to now that they are leaving the “nest”? 😉
I see my biggest responsibility as a travel blogger in strengthening this still very new profession and to raise recognition and appreciation. I want to strengthen the awareness that travel blogging is a profession like any other. One that is admittedly a lot of fun, but not – as many people imagine it to be – just reduced to travel. I also want to correct the belief that a female travel blogger has to correspond to a certain ideal of beauty. With my age being far above the influencer average and having short hair and some “bacon” rolls on me, I am probably the best example that this is not so 😉 I will probably never forget the surprised look of a customer 3 years ago, who, advised by his advertising agency, worked with a blogger for the first time. Later he even told me that he had brought his youngest employee with him because he was afraid that he would not be able to find the right way to work with a “Barbie”. In the end, several joint projects came from this where we never ran out of things to talk about 😉
In general I find it important to live your personal dream. Especially at a young age you should try yourself out – take the time to get to know yourself. Have the courage to make your own experiences and allow changes. If dreams turn out to be nightmares over time, you can at least cross it off your list and never have the feeling of having left something untried.
If you have the dream to become a travel blogger, you have to be aware that this is not possible overnight. But if you have dealt with the various tasks and have not lost the joy before the endurance, the way will show up in any case.
Interview with Lea Hajner / Escape Town
* You founded your first blog in 2006 – so quite early on. Tell us a little bit how much has changed since then and how your blog has evolved in these 14 years. What is your blog ecape-town.com all about, what are the main topics?
“My first blog was actually a birthday gift that over the years turned out to be life changing. My boyfriend at the time was a programmer who thought that all my creative ideas on design, DIY, events and lifestyle should be put out there for everyone to read. So he set up the blog to my likings and I first started blogging when blogging wasn’t really a thing yet. A few years later I started working at an incubator for start-ups in Vienna – so promoting new websites and others also became my job. Things started to change when social media joined the blogging game – now blogging is definitely more of a set-up of different channels, rather than just one website with lots of entries and maybe a newsletter.
Over time I learned how to set up all the technical things for myself and in 2013 I founded Escape Town, a travel & outdoor blog, which thanks to Corona now also has a culinary side focusing on alpine foods. In a nutshell: if you’re looking for hiking tips in the alps, amazing hotels and cute cabins as well as delicious food – you’ll feel at home on my website.”
* What the readers are most interested in is probably a look back into your career. How and why did you start the blog, what have you done before, what is your education?
“Back when my first blog went online, I was a student at the FH Wien for journalism – focusing on media management. Four years of studying and no WIFI or mobile data yet around – but even back then the online things of media always had my full attention. This is probably also the reason why I started working at i5invest helping small (and some soon-to-be-very big start-ups) with PR & social media.
Another career defining move for me was a round-the-world trip in 2009. I always wanted to see more of the world after spending a year in New Zealand during school and this was my chance. Travelling solo to exotic places might be a “gap” in my CV – but one that later helped my get a job at a travel company where I was head of PR & social media for five markets.”
* In 2013 you quit your job and became self employed, what does that mean for you as an entrepreneur – do you spend a lot of time on your strategy, analyze your target audience, look at numbers from the blog to find out what moves your readers the most and steer your content accordingly? So how much entrepreneurial strategy goes into a blog like yours?
“I do look at numbers and try new things but pushing my blog or social media numbers has never been my priority. I like spreading my work profile and I enjoy working for other companies just as much as I like to produce content for my own channels. I’ve always worked at companies with a low hierarchy where my ideas where always welcome – so that didn’t change too much but it did add all the extra work such as book keeping, controlling and pitching ideas to clients.”
* Let’s sidestep from the business aspect – and talk about something emotional we all love: travel ☺️ This year was different than expected for many because of Corona, how did you feel? How has traveling changed? Or has anything changed for you at all?
“At the beginning of the pandemic I was lucky enough not to miss travelling too much, since I had just returned from Mexico and Belize. But, from the business side of things were looking bad. Not being able to leave my town in Tirol for weeks was hurting me financially. Luckily this summer my big book project in South Tyrol worked out, so I’m glad at least for a while things were back to normal. And now we are back at the stage where I have no idea what the next year will look like. However, I have this huge list of things I’ve wanted to do for a while but never got around to – so I trust myself that new opportunities eventually will open up.
If you think of all the hustle traveling itself sometimes poses, wearing a mask and washing your hands really isn’t too much of a challenge compared to eg. spending 18hours on a tiny wooden bench of a rusty bus driving along a shitty road in Burma. Only now the big question is: how can I get there and when? Hopefully all the challenges Corona puts us through there will also have a positive side effect – less long-distance trips, but the ones we do take are longer, more train travel, etc.”
* Today we are talking about road trips, a form of travel that has been given a new push by the Covid pandemic. Road trips are (not just in times like these) simply a particularly individual and safe way to travel and often associated with a feeling of freedom and independence. You just returned from a road trip through Sardinia yourself. What do you think about road trips and is there a special road trip that has stayed in your memory?
“In everyday life I don’t own a car and I love train and bus rides on public transportation. That said I do love road trips that take me closer to nature – and closer to a simpler life while camping. Cooking on a gas stove, washing the dishes by hand, swimming in the sea several times a day and no needing much to have a fulfilled day is something I truly find myself appreciating more and more. Most countries I’ve visited I’ve done so either backpacking or road tripping. So some of the long drives I remember very well where in New Zealand, Greece, Nambia, snow covered Canada, smoke covered Montana, going off-road in Argentina and many more … Those are all countries I’ve mainly seen by sitting in a car stopping wherever I liked.
I think the most important thing to road trips (besides picking good company!) is finding the right speed – never travel too fast, nor too slow. If you drive too fast you won’t feel the place, if you’re stuck in one place you might see more but not a great diversity.
A place that really stuck with me is the North of Montana in the US. I’d love to go back for some more road tripping, sleeping in tents, hiking and fly fishing. What can I say? I’m a mountain kinda girl.”
* What would you advise young women who are considering turning their passion into a profession or going into self-employment. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with them?
“Only do it if it’s truly a passion of yours and make sure you know by making it a profession you might lose a hobby. And on a more practical side: a lot of people outsource the book keeping whereas for me it’s part of being in control of my own financials. I recommend committing to the time to do it yourself to truly understand it – even if it’s just in the beginning and once you get the hang of it you pass it on.”
* We talked a lot about your job as travel blogger and how you feel you can inspire other women to follow in your footsteps. I want to touch base about a topic, that is very dear to my heart – it’s our responsibility as female travel bloggers. Do you feel you have a responsibility towards a younger generation? Do you feel you can support the empowering of other women with your work? What are your thoughts on the female travel blogger scene on Social Media in general – is there something you would change or make better? Who do you look up to, do you have anyone that particularly inspires/d you in your work?
I feel like the way we broadcast is changing a lot and all the time, but values in how we do our work stay the same. What’s important to me is to stay true to yourself, not give in into being overly self-caring just because it’s a trend on instagram or being pressured to adapt things because the internet tells us it’s good for us. I’m thinking of oil pulling, journaling, meditation, yoga, etc. – if it’s not your thing: fine. If you’re curious and want to try it: fine too. But don’t keep doing it because “everyone else” is doing it. Also there are the standards and ethics I follow such as full transparency, fact checking and not breaking the law for unnecessary footage. But also knowing when to speak up – without swearing but by arguing based on facts. I feel there is a responsibility to stick to these journalistic values – no matter if it’s on social media or in a printed article. That’s definitely something I want a younger generation to aspire to do as well.
Make sure whatever you produce is true and honest.
In terms of travel I think the world could use a lot more content that’s closer to reality. When you think back to a really great trip you took – you most likely won’t think of the one time you climbed a palm tree for a really great photo – but you might think of the night you spend sitting in the pitch dark because your car broke down and some locals helped you out. It might even be something one day you pass on to someone else. Which brings me to why I think travelling is important for us: because it’s not only exciting and great for us personally but it also helps us understand more and get along better in this world.
In other words: the world doesn’t need more look-alike-pictures of things we’re already seen. I look up to everyone who with a camera and words can come up with something new that inspires me.