Welcome to today’s installment in my new travel blogger interview series! The goal of this weekly series is to help spread the blogging love and introduce you to some other awesome travel bloggers! Any travel blogger, whether new or experienced, can sign up to be featured in this new series. Today I’m happy to share that I’m featuring Jessica Pascoe.
Hi! My name is Jess, owner of jessicapascoe.com, a blog designed to be a resource for those of us who travel when we can, searching for the ultimate luxury experiences to use our precious leave days on. I’m originally from the UK and have lived in Sydney for over 2 and a half years. I love to showcase my newly adopted home of Australia on the blog, including lesser-known destinations. Alongside the blog, I’ve had several freelance articles published in both digital and print magazines, including Lonely Planet, Here and There, and Wedding Ideas.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BLOGGING FOR? WHY’D YOU DECIDE TO START A TRAVEL BLOG?
I’ve been blogging since roughly January 2019, so I’m still very much a newbie! Before I launched the blog, I struggled with feeling a lack of purpose in my day job and had been investigating professional development opportunities. Having studied English Literature at University and having a passion for travel, I decided to enroll in an online freelance travel writing course at the Australian Writers Centre. This course gave me the skills and confidence to start pitching to digital and print magazines. However, I realised I needed an online presence to support this, including showcasing my published articles. jessicapascoe.com was officially launched in March 2019, a way to share all the amazing adventures my husband and I have had in and around Australia. Since launching, the blog has grown in its own right, and I’m really excited to continue expanding it alongside freelance writing.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW TRAVEL BLOGGERS/ASPIRING TRAVEL BLOGGERS?
Spend some time developing a marketing and SEO strategy before you launch; there’s no point in writing beautiful, thoughtful content if no one is reading it. Spend time investigating and learning how to optimise your posts for search engines. Once you’re receiving regular organic traffic, you can ease up a little on time-consuming social media marketing. I’m still learning in this space but have recently seen Search Engine traffic take over Instagram as my third most popular referrer, behind Facebook and Pinterest, so something must be working.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU STARTED TRAVELING?
That a real understanding of a place doesn’t come from ticking off the key ‘must-see’ attractions, and that every trip serves a different purpose. It’s completely fine if you do have a few days and want to see some key attractions – for me, seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ was the main reason I wanted to visit Milan and that was completely fine. But did I really understand this city, its locals, its culture? Probably not, and that’s ok. Some trips are purely for relaxation purposes from the everyday stresses of life, and it’s completely fine to want to lie on a beach somewhere. In contrast, other trips are for adventure, exhilaration, and discovery.
WHY DO YOU LOVE TO TRAVEL?
Like many people, I love to travel to experience everything this world has to offer. Each city and country I’ve visited has exposed me to something outside of my comfort zone and given me lifelong memories. I’ve met friendly, entertaining, and fascinating people whilst traveling, some of whom have become good friends and learned more about the history and culture of particular places. I also love having my mind-blown by nature – the world really is stunning.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST AND WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had so many awesome travel experiences; it’s tough to choose just one. One of the most recent experiences was during our trip to Fiji in 2018. We went on a sailing trip for 5 days around the Mamanuca Islands on a private yacht that we found on Airbnb, with an all-Fijian crew. One night, our crew took us to the volcanic island of Navadra, which is part of the Narokorokoyawa Sacred Islands. These islands are regarded as the birthplace of Fijian culture and are guarded and protected by the villagers of Tavua. The captain Poni instructed us to pack whatever we need for a night on the island, whilst the chef and deckhand Henri and Roni packed bean bags and loungers into the speed boat. Soon we were speeding across the water in pitch black before the current unexpectedly thrust the small boat forward on the shoreline. Once onshore, we gathered as much dry kindling as we could find using the light of our iPhones, and our crew started a bonfire before motoring back to the yacht. Whilst we started drinking tequila and dancing around the bonfire, the crew reappeared with a delicious coconut cream fish curry, a Fijian specialty for our dinner. Sitting on fallen logs, we devoured it before bedding down under the stars, the bonfire cracking gently as we fall into a deep sleep under gently waving palm trees.
My worst travel experience was when I contracted Giardia, a water-borne parasite, whilst crossing the Salt Flats from Bolivia to Chile. I lost over half a stone in 24 hours, and I won’t go into too much graphic detail, but there are no toilets on the Salt Flats, so all sense of dignity went straight out of the window! This was such a shame, as the Salt Flats are such a startling natural wonder, and instead of enjoying exploring this part of the world, I spent my time laying in the back of our 4WD, trying to keep some fluids down. It was touch and go whether I would have to go to the hospital in Chile, but I thankfully managed to improve, although I had to visit the Tropical Diseases hospital in London once I got home to double-check I was on the mend.
DO YOU PREFER SOLO TRAVEL OR TRAVELING WITH OTHER PEOPLE? WHY?
Whilst I’ve had some amazing experiences through solo travel, including 2 months spent alone in Melbourne which cemented the decision to move to Australia, I personally prefer travelling with other people, in particular my husband Will. We’re both such planners, we plan the most organised itineraries, usually focused around food, and make sure we explore as much of a destination as possible. I love experiencing things together, building memories, and marveling at how beautiful this world is. I always feel at a loss if I explore something without him thinking about how much he’d enjoy where I am or what I’m doing. Will is also a newbie photographer, so he’s a handy person to bring along on a trip!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO? WHY?
This is such a difficult question! I think if forced to choose, I’d have to go with Australia’s Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is a uniquely beautiful, powerful destination full of places that are sacred to the traditional owners of the land, and a real insight into aboriginal history and culture. It gave me a better understanding of our adopted home and was full of some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. It was full of incomparable natural beauty, from tropical waterfalls to red desert scenes. We also stayed in some fantastic luxury and glamping accommodation options, with authentic Territorian hospitality and most importantly, delicious food!
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST TRAVEL TIP?
Allocate some of your budget for a luxury experience. Whilst I don’t condone getting into unnecessary debt, I’ve seen several friends desperately want to experience something but let their strict budgets hold them back. For example, we visited Jervis Bay on New South Wales’ south coast with some friends, who didn’t want to stretch the extra $50 dollars to try scuba diving and were so disappointed when we finished our dive having had an unexpected visit from some very playful seals. I always recommend setting some budget aside to treat yourself, whether that’s for a night in stunning accommodation, a Michelin starred dinner or a once in a lifetime experience.
IS THERE ONE SPECIFIC THING YOU LIKE TO DO, SEE, OR BUY IN EVERY PLACE THAT YOU VISIT?
I like to collect art in some shape or form from wherever I travel, sometimes that’s through purchasing art by local artists representative of the region, other times it’s through photography and travel writing. For example, on honeymoon in Malawi we purchased a piece of wooden art from the Katundu Workshop, which employs more than thirty local artists and craftsmen, mostly women, and whilst travelling the NT we purchased a beautiful piece of ethically sourced indigenous art. It’s a ceramic dot painted kangaroo by an artist named Mary Young Perrule, who lives in the Santa Teresa Community. Our kangaroo is a smaller version of those proudly displayed at Alice Springs airport.
IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR FOOD THAT YOU’VE TRIED WHILE TRAVELING THAT YOU LOVED? WHAT FOOD WAS IT AND WHY DO YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH?
Again, so hard to narrow this down! I’ve tried some absolutely delicious cuisines when travelling, including Florentine T-Bone steak in Tuscany, authentic tapas with locals in Madrid, Thai fine dining in Phuket, bush delicacies in the Northern Territory, and homemade empanadas in Argentina to list a few! Possibly one of my favourite cuisines I’ve tried whilst travelling however has to be authentic Louisianan fare whilst in New Orleans. I fell in love with Cajun-spiced crawfish at a local Crawfish boil, the unique, slightly sweet taste of crawfish étouffée, seafood okra gumbo, and massive Po-Boy sandwiches stuffed with fried shrimp. I loved this food as it was so unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, and every mouthful was full of unique spices and flavours that really embodied the soul of this city.
Plane or train? Plane
Hotel or hostel? Hotel
City or nature? Nature (but love exploring a city’s restaurants!)
Popular site or off the beaten path? Off the beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Suitcase (I pack too much!)
Fast travel or slow travel? Fast travel – I have limited leave with my full-time job so like to make the most of every weekend and leave day – this is also my blog’s niche 🙂
Professional camera or phone photography? Professional Camera
Warm or cold weather? Warm
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All photos used throughout this post are taken by Jessica Pascoe.