2020 December Featured Journalist of the Month: Alexander Kallimanis
Tuesday, December 01, 2020 03:12 PM

Currently based in the Washington, DC area, Alexander is co-founder, writer & editor of the travel website, wanderlustmarriage.com which focuses primarily on destinations in North America and Europe. He has resided abroad for 7 years between Australia, The Netherlands, and Ireland.

Alexander has previously contributed to major outlets like the Irish Independent, Ireland's largest newspaper, and continues to contribute to other travel outlets on a regular basis.

His work has been shared by tourism boards from Tasmania to Washington, DC. One of his most memorable assignments has been covering a 7-day small ship adventure cruise in Alaska aboard UnCruise.

What got you into travel writing?

As the son of a Greek immigrant, I grew up exposed to travel and multiple cultures from a young age. My bachelor's degree was in history and I often dabbled in and out of travel writing for fun. After college, I spent four months backpacking Europe and met my Australian wife of 15+ years at the Bauhaus hostel in Brugge, Belgium. I eventually decided to drop out of graduate school and moved to Australia on a working holiday visa and worked various jobs like being a call center operator for a florist. We eventually ended up living in Europe for 6 years together while my wife, Dr. Bellinda King-Kallimanis did her Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam and postdoc at Trinity College Dublin. I started the website wanderlustmarriage.com as a resource for travelers and ex-pats. After a while, I was able to improve my travel writing and photography enough to work with tourism boards and brands on a regular basis. My journey into travel journalism took a while, but life is a continued work in progress for most of us. 

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?

It can be challenging to have back to back to back projects where you are barely home for an entire month. You have to be dedicated to making the road your office at times. Currently, with the pandemic things are quieter, but then it takes readjustment to get used to being home more!


What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

If it’s a work trip, my DSLR camera. On personal trips, I sometimes leave the camera at home these days. Then it’s just my iPhone - which I can still post some good footage to social media if I want. 


What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

Wow, lots to choose from here! Last year, I covered a 7 day small ship southeast Alaska adventure cruise aboard Uncruise and marveled at the Northern Lights for the first time - the glaciers and fjords of SE Alaska are stunning. 

Also, I was at a dinner at the TBEX travel bloggers conference in Catania, Sicily in March 2020 when Italy was the first western nation to announce a nationwide lockdown - which was shocking. Instead of embarking on a FAM trip around western Sicily with a cooking class and wine tastings, a bunch of travel writers were left scrambling to evacuate the country as many airlines were canceling flights. I initially evacuated to Marseille, France with another travel writer I met at the dinner, and then the Netherlands as the Europe travel ban was announced and all those countries were locking down for the first time. It was a surreal trip.

I was also in Australia last year, while the worst bushfires in their history were raging. Adelaide and especially Sydney were covered in smoke while I was there. Tragically, my mother passed away during that trip, on New Year’s Day 2020.


How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?

I first learned about NATJA from travel writing peers. I decided to join because I know that good things come from being part of professional organizations. In college at UCF, I was president of Phi Alpha Theta (Honors History Society) my senior year. That offered me the opportunity to be published in a history journal, as well as getting to host the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference for public and private universities around Florida. 


What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

Concentrate on your strengths and make quality work a priority. Identify your weaknesses and work on improving, but don’t get overly hung up on them either. Keep putting yourself out there and do your best to get over the natural fear of failure. Attend conferences for travel content creators - there are a lot out there. Follow the work of veterans and ask them questions. Membership in a professional travel journalists organization like NATJA is a plus, as it offers professional connections and additional credibility. When doors shut, keep looking for openings, and worst case, fling open a door yourself! Be professional and pleasant to work with and good things will continue coming.