WSGT’s next Travel Influencer is Jessica Festa, creator of the solo female travel blog Jessie on a Journey, aimed at taking readers beyond the guidebook!
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region of France is one such stunning place. There are medieval villages, vineyards, lavender farms, pristine beaches, gorgeous national park hikes, and the most decadent and natural food from its Mediterranean location. It’s great because you don’t need to plan; from anywhere you can reach all of the above mentioned highlights. Not only that, but while driving (the best way to explore this destination is by car) you’ll stumble upon attractions you never even knew existed.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
Most of the travel destinations and experiences I enjoy have less to do with money and more to do with authenticity and cultural immersion. That being said I stayed at a 5-star hotel called Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in Australia that was absolutely stunning, built into the cliffside with a beach below. From my claw foot tub I could see dolphins jumping out of the ocean through my room’s floor to ceiling windows — enjoyed while sipping local wine from their all-inclusive serve-yourself fridge.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
Traveling solo, at least the first time I did it in my early 20s. I thought of all the things that could go wrong — missed trains, lost passports, not being able to make friends — and how it would be hard to handle them alone. I quickly learned solo travel truly teaches you what you’re capable of, and when faced with a challenge you’ll figure out how to overcome it (because you have to).
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
I love TripIt for helping keep my itinerary organized though, as well as Airbnb and CouchSurfing, my two preferred accommodation platforms. I also love MeetUp for finding groups and activities based on my interests and meeting locals.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
Namibia. It’s so underrated. They have a great tourism infrastructure with tons to do, from sand-boarding the world’s oldest desert to immersive cultural encounters. I also felt very safe, though the roads can be a bit rough with long stretches of no civilization. Make sure to bring plenty of gasoline, food and water, and know how to change a flat tire!
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Always carry a safety whistle by Jodi Ettenberg of LegalNomads. She’s been advocating this small inexpensive gadget for years. I’ve since moved to a ROBOCOPP Personal Grenade Alarm, which I can wear as a bracelet and pull the pin to have it blare like a fire truck if someone meaning harm approaches. They let me offer my readers $6 off with code JOURNEY10, too, for anyone who’s interested. I think every traveler should carry some type of loud sounding device to ward off attackers and animals, and even call attention to yourself in times of need.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
During a birthday in Argentina. I was traveling alone and wrote on a CouchSurfing forum that I wanted to celebrate with people. I ended up having 10 local Mendoza CouchSurfers whom I’d never met take me out for a steak dinner and dancing. It was one of my best birthdays ever!
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
Studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. I became hooked after having the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture and expand my horizons. I was already planning my next trip before I returned home!
9.)I travel because….
I love discovering the beauty and kindness of the world, despite what the news makes us think.
Jessie recommends: I would say to take a travel blogging class. There are a bunch online. I actually teach two with Writers.com — How To Start A Blog (beginner) and How To Turn Your Blog Into A Career (advanced) — and there are others out there, too. I’d also suggest downloading an RSS reader app (I use Newsify on iOS), inputting your favorite blogger RSS feeds and taking time to read others’ work. You’ll constantly be getting a fresh perspective on travel and will forever be inspired.
Jessica Festa is the creator of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and the online responsible tourism and culture magazine, Epicure & Culture. She is based in Brooklyn, though you’ll often find her in other destinations around the world. Jessie is also a licensed NYC sightseeing guide, photographer and certified sommelier.
Stay up-to-date with Jessie through her:
Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.