The next WSGT Influencer Interview is with Keith Jenkins of Amsterdam-based luxury travel blog Velvet Escape. Keith is also the founder of iambassador which collaborates with tourism boards and brands around the world to produce innovative online marketing campaigns.
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
That would have to be the first overseas trip I went on (with my family) at age 8 to Hong Kong. I vividly remember how excited I was. I read up everything I could find about Hong Kong, memorized maps of the city and photos of attractions. By the time we arrived there, my family gladly made me their tour guide. I’ll never forget the excitement of flying there, walking around the busy streets and seeing the skyscrapers and bright neon signs. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do: TRAVEL and see the world!
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
Easy, I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Earth from space so this is exactly what I would do!
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I’ve always been afraid of heights so I keep challenging myself to do the craziest things (involving heights of course!). I’ve gone skydiving, zip-lining in the Andes mountains, canyoning in Reunion Island and walking on rope-bridges 150ft above the forest floor in Borneo. My knees still shake but it gets easier each time.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
In addition to my social apps, I frequently use Google Maps, Google Translate (it’s a very cool, handy app for travel), XE Currency, Whatsapp and Line, and Accu Weather.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
Their own backyards! During my travels, I’ve often been surprised by how little people know about their own towns/cities. They know a handful of popular attractions and some restaurants/bars/shops/markets they frequent, or a favorite beach but that’s as far as it goes. At one point, I asked myself how much I know about my own city: Amsterdam. The answer was similar to the people I’d met on my travels. Since then, I’ve made it a point to explore more of my city and its surroundings, walk a lot around the different neighborhoods and try new restaurants and pop into new shops. I’m still not an Amsterdam expert but I’ve seen a whole different side of my city and my love for it has only grown.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Travel with an open heart and mind. I’m not sure where I picked up that bit of advice but it sure has helped me to appreciate the great diversity of our world without judging what or whom I encounter.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
One instance of kindness I will never forget was when I was traveling around eastern Turkey many years ago. I was in a small town near the border with Syria when I fell ill. The owner of the guesthouse hauled me into his car and drove me to a nearby clinic. When we got there, I saw a long line of people (adults and children) queuing and when they saw me, everyone insisted I went in first as I was their guest. The owner of the guesthouse then insisted he paid for the treatment, including medicines, and refused to take a single cent. I was his guest and it was his responsibility to take care of me. I was just blown away by their kindness and hospitality!
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
The longest trip I’ve ever been on was my five month round-the-world trip in 2008. It was something I’d always wanted to do and when I took a sabbatical from my investment banking career, I never would have guessed that that trip would change my life forever.
9.)I travel because….
It relaxes, excites and inspires me! In addition, travel truly is the best school there is!
Keith recommends: I can recommend the book “Break Into Travel Writing” by Beth Blair. Various travel bloggers including myself also contributed their bits of wisdom in the book.
Keith Jenkins is the Founder and Publisher of the multiple award-winning Velvet Escape luxury travel blog. Based in Amsterdam, Keith left his ten-year investment banking career to travel the world and carve out a new career as a travel blogger and social media advocate. He has visited more than 80 countries across six continents. In addition to being a travel blogger, Keith is the CEO of iambassador – the world’s leading international travel blogger network – a company he founded in 2011. iambassador collaborates with tourism boards and brands around the world to produce innovative online marketing campaigns and has, since its inception, won various awards. Keith also speaks often at tourism and social media conferences about influencer marketing and trends. Keith has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, National Geographic Traveler, and has spoken at TEDxTalk.
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Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.