On Holiday With: Erin Spens, Boat

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Yesterday we were getting lost in Shanghai; today magCulture is on holiday in sunny Los Angeles with Erin Spens of Boat. We take a break with Erin to hear more about the much-loved nomadic travel magazine that explores a different city with each issue.

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Where are you today?

I moved to Los Angeles last summer from London. I’m currently working from home here, in a little bungalow in Culver City.

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What was the first magazine you remember enjoying?

I grew up in Iowa surrounded by cornfields so I didn’t have many options! However my parents had a subscription to National Geographic and I remember absorbing them like a sponge, even before I could read I’d just take in the photos. It’s crazy to think how exotic the places in National Geographic seemed back then, the world and all its different crazy cultures just blew my mind. The world is so much smaller today – a few clicks and in a matter of hours, you’re there.

Tell us about your first holiday.
I think my first holiday was to Arizona where my dad grew up, but the one I remember the most was to South Dakota where we camped in the Black Hills National Forest – I can still smell the pine trees. Iowa is so far from any coastline so all of my family vacations were to mountains and forests. To this day, even now that I live 10 minutes from the beach, in the natural world I am the most inspired in the mountains.

Are you a beach holiday or city break person?
Definitely city break. I am obsessed with cities – how they work, who lives there, what makes each one different. I tend to be attracted to a city, and then plan an escape nearby so I get a little of both. I actually find the best cities in the world are relatively close to really beautiful natural environments. For a city to work really well, you’ve got to be able to escape it.

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What is your magazine’s approach to travel?
Boat Magazine is all about cities. We choose a city and then take a team of contributors there to work with locals putting the magazine together. We say it’s an ‘inside-outside guide to the world’s greatest cities.’ We don’t give you top tens or talk about fancy hotel openings but go deeper into the culture of the place from food and fashion to the economy, sports, politics, music, art, and education… all the things that make a city what it is. We also tend to do one or two stories that are based outside of the focus city so you get some inspiration for an escape, too.

Boat09_PoliticsWhich holiday/trip from your magazine would you most like to experience?
I tend to go on all of our trips. Each issue, I take a team to the focus city and sort of set up shop there so we have a base to work from. I’m usually there in the mix with everyone each time – such a great gig, right? So for the most part, I’ve been able to experience each place. I do, however, wish I’d had more time in Iceland. There was so much I would have liked to spend more time exploring. The culture is so incredibly ancient and deep, I could spend a lot of time there learning more about it.

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Which magazine(s) should people be taking away with them this summer?

Personally I’ve gone very geographically-focused because of my recent move to California. I’ve been trying to get my head around living on this coast, in Los Angeles, in this climate – Los Angeles, LA Canvas, and Sunset Magazine have been my personal monthly favourites.

offscreen-makeshiftMore generally, I’d recommend Makeshift, Offscreen, and California Sunday (which isn’t as specific as it sounds) – they are all smashing it right now.

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Where will you be taking a break this year?

I’m really hoping to get down to Baha this year, I absolutely love Mexico and haven’t been for years!

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