HÄN meets Finland’s biggest travel blogger Marinella Himari to chat about her job, hiking in Finland and her scariest trips.
Traveling is possibly one of the biggest trends of the 21 st century (after clean eating, of course). In a similar way as taking pictures of your healthy meals and posting them on Instagram, sharing snaps from your recent vacation became a social media tradition. But while for many of us small city breaks to the seaside or one-month trips to exotic locations are an indulgence, what is it like to get paid to travel?
Marinella Himari is one of the few lucky people who knows the answer to this question first hand. She travels all over the world with her award-winning travelling blog Kaukokaipuu (‘Wanderlust’ in English). She started it 12 years ago as part of her school project during her exchange studies in Italy, making her a true veteran in the world of blogging. he manages it completely on her own, from the articles to photography. “I started to write when I was a little child”, says Marinella. “I got my first camera when I was maybe 6 years old, from my dad. Since then I’ve been taking photos of everything all the time, so that’s how I became a photographer. I don’t have any education for that, only what I’ve learnt by myself”.
As the time went on, Marinella’s following grew and grew, earning its creator three nominations as Finland’s best travel blogger of the year. But blogging is not the only thing she does. Marinella describes herself primary as the content planner, skilled at developing SEO for a variety of websites. She is responsible for the Instagram feed of Finnair, Finland’s main airlines. She has also been filming and taking photos for the biggest magazines in Finland and TV channels, including the Discovery Channel. She is also one of the co-founders of PING Helsinki, an annual event which brings together Finnish social media content producers to encourage innovation and cooperation between the industry professionals.
Moreover, Marinella’s latest endeavour is filming her own TV series about travelling in Finland for the country’s biggest TV channel Yle 1. The series titled Metsien kätkemä (Hidden by the Nature) is going to air this summer. She also published a book last year with her friends titled Retkipaikka (Tour Location) about 88 places to travel in Finland. “I do a lot of hiking and fishing”, says Marinella. “It took years to realise that I didn’t have to go that far away to do that cause we have an amazing nature also in Finland. So I travel a lot in Scandinavia, and northern Norway and northern Sweden, Lapland. Also, here around and in the middle of Finland too”.
Marinella’s style of travelling is difficult to call luxurious. A huge fan of hiking and fishing, Marinella prefers the quiet nature of Eastern European countries and the Balkans. She is currently planning her trips to Kirgizia and Moscow, with Russia’s Siberia and Baikal regions being next on her list. But due to the nature of the locations, sometimes the trips end up rather risky. “I just came from Georgia… Georgia is one of the nicest countries in the world and people in Georgia are amazing, they are just amazing, so helpful and kind and everything”, shares Marinella. “But I have to say it was a bit like… not that nice to be alone in the mountains when you are a girl and there are five guys with you travelling all the time… Anything could have happened. But nothing happened cause they are good people. But of course, it always gives you goose bumps”.
Because of that, Marinella makes sure to keep a low-key profile when she travels. “I try to not wear the most expensive and high-tech clothes”, says Marinella. “You easily get robbed if you’ve got the latest things on you. So it depends on where I travel. If I am in the middle of nowhere, like in nature, of course, I have to take all the outdoor gear I have. But if I’m travelling to the city, just like a pair of jeans, sneakers, T-shirt, backpack. Trying to be like a normal local”. This approach is particularly helpful considering that most of Marinella’s stories are about the locals and their lives. “I take a lot of photos of people”, says Marinella. “I don’t do like 5 things to do in New York. Or 10 best restaurants in Tokyo… So my posts are more like novels: it’s easy to read because they are stories”. This makes it difficult for Marinella to translate her blog for the international audience. “At the moment, I don’t have time for that but I’d love to”, says Marinella. “I always write how I feel and what I see and how the place smells… So it’s really important to meet the local people and to get to know the locals. I travel a lot just by myself. It’s easier to get in touch with new people”.
This definitely sets Marinella apart from the fancy travel blogs out there. Her number one advice that she gives to the young bloggers is to be authentic. “Just be yourself. Cause people when they start blogging…. they think that they have to do something that people are already doing”, recommends Marinella. “I know that I did the same mistake… You should brave enough to do just what you want to do. That’s the only way how you can stand out from the crowd, otherwise, you just do the same like everybody else”. She believes that it helped her a lot during her own career journey. “I’ve always been writing, always, and taking photos. Making my own path. That’s the best way of learning to do things by yourself”, says Marinella. We at HAN cannot agree more.
Check out Marinella’s Kaukokaipuu blog here.
Words by Kira Kolosova.