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From continent to continent, alumnus Ella Harrington maps out travels online

Smiling for the camera, Ella Harrington stands in front of an open window. The alumnus runs the travel page @ellareesetravels on Instagram and TikTok. (Courtesy of Ella Harrington)

By Ana Camila Burquez

Feb. 5, 2024 11:25 a.m.

This post was updated Feb. 8 at 7:53 p.m.

Ella Harrington is going on a world tour.

In 2020, the alumnus began documenting her travels on social media when she moved to France, she said. This happened after she uploaded a TikTok video about her new experience that unexpectedly blew up online, which Harrington said made her realize she could share her love for traveling with the world. As a dual citizen, Harrington said she’s been traveling back and forth between Europe and the United States throughout her life, spending her summers in France, and the rest of the year in California or Arizona.

“It’s funny because I grew up doing it (traveling) with my family, it kind of felt like second nature,” Harrington said.

[Related: Student-run TikTok page michelle.reads offers a place for book lovers to connect]

(Courtesy of Ella Harrington)
Sporting a white top and a black skirt, Harrington stands by a cove. The alumnus said she fell in love with traveling after taking a trip to Madrid with her friends. (Courtesy of Ella Harrington)

Although traveling has always been a big part of Harrington’s life, she said she didn’t discover how much she loved it until she was 19 when she went to Madrid with her friends. Harrington said this was the first time she traveled without her family – and to a place whose language she didn’t understand – allowing her to experience traveling in a way she never had before. Through her platform, Harrington is now able to combine this love for traveling with other interests such as filming, which her brother, Max Harrington, said she liked from a young age.

“Ella’s got a really good eye for design and how to tell stories,” Max said. “I think she’s always kind of been gifted or pretty adept at that. … We always thought she was going to do something in that area, but didn’t really realize that this is how it manifests itself.”

As her platform has grown, Ella said she has created a space where people can find a variety of travel content, from recommendations to safety tips to vlogs. Ella added that on her Instagram account, she shows more content that reflects the reality of traveling. But overall, she said she tries to cater her content to a wide audience and different travel budgets. For example, she said when traveling on a budget, it is important to set a spending limit per day and buy from local markets and fairs instead of businesses targeted at tourists, which tend to be more expensive. Ella also said hostels are nothing like their negative stereotypes, and they are great for both saving money and meeting new people.

Reflecting on the effect her platform has on her traveling experience, Ella said she’s become more aware of the places she visits to ensure her viewers are getting good recommendations. But she said she still travels slowly, ensuring she’s appreciating every new place she visits.

“There are incredible things that you can discover in just a short amount of time, especially (when) sharing it with others,” Ella said. “It’s just more authentic to be able to give a real take on things, and I feel like you can only get that if you stay longer.”

[Related: UCLA alumnus strives to help others feel seen, represented through social media]

(Courtesy of Ella Harrington)
Harrington sits by an open window in France. The alumnus said she started making TikTok videos in 2020 about the places she visited. (Courtesy of Ella Harrington)

While Ella said @ellareesetravels has allowed her to create an atmosphere where she is seen as a friend, there is always the dilemma of wanting to share things while also trying to be present on her trips. She added that she contemplates keeping personal spaces private, such as the areas she grew up in. She said wanting to show overlooked places while also trying to maintain the essence of these areas can be difficult to navigate.

Ella’s childhood friend, Emmie O’Connor, said like any social media creator, Ella has encountered challenges with views, but Ella takes these challenges as opportunities to try new things. An example of this is the multiple projects Ella said she has been working on, such as group trips – a future activity she said she would be open to anyone who wants to sign up. She added that although she’s still working on details, she’s excited to travel with people who enjoy her content.

“It opens your eyes so much when you get to see how people live their lives when they’re different than yours,” Ella said. “The world is so big, and it’s just so interesting to me that there’s just so many different ways of life, languages and food. It’s just really fun to experience.”

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Ana Camila Burquez
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