When Jessica thought about travel she longed to be nomadic, but after awhile she found her perfect place. Funny it was right under her nose the whole time. And now she really is Living The Dream.
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
Growing up my family and I were always doing road trips to different amusement parks around North America and taking Caribbean cruises. Once I started planning my own travel, the first country I visited was Australia, as I studied abroad at the University of Sydney. I wanted to go somewhere I could speak the language and wouldn't experience too much culture shock, as it was my first time going abroad aside for Canada and the Caribbean. It was the perfect choice, as while there were enough cultural differences to keep me constantly curious it was still very manageable. Plus, there was so much to see and experience that even after seven months there I wasn't ready to leave.
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
My family loves to travel, so it was always a big part of my life; however, as I began to go off on my own and explore the world I realized I loved solo travel, which is when my "new" travel life began. After studying abroad, my first real solo trip was to Bangkok. While I was terrified at first, after two days I became addicted to the culture shock, wanting to explore all that I didn't understand. I also loved the complete freedom that came with solo travel, and it soon became my preferred method of seeing the world.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
While for a long time I envisioned myself as a full-time nomad, after awhile I learned I missed my friends and family too much to always be away from them. I was born on Long Island, New York, and now live in nearby Brooklyn as my homebase. It's my favorite place in the world (seriously!) and I miss the restaurants, bars, art galleries, artisanal shops and other venues I've gotten used to seeing on a regular basis a lot while I'm on the road. Even the noise! On a recent trip to Tuscany I stayed in a historic castle in the countryside. It was so idyllic, but I could not get to sleep the first few nights as I'm so used to the sound of the subway, sirens, people roaming the streets late at night, etc.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
I'm a full-time travel writer, photographer and social media consultant, so that's how I make the money that funds my trip. I'm naturally budget-minded, which helps, as does choosing destinations where the US dollar stretches farther. For example, I recently went to Guatemala and for eight days including airfare I spent less than $1,000 total. It also helps to be in the industry, as I can work with tourism boards to visit as a work trip and get help in that way.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
I would tell myself to not stress out so much before a trip, as I'm strong enough to deal with any obstacle that comes my way. It's funny how easy it is to overthink the "what if" scenarios that could happen before you leave, and how easy they are to solve -- if they even occur -- once you're in the country. For example, when I backpacked Europe I was terrified of missing train connections due to language barriers. And I did, multiple times. But instead of being this end-of-the-world scenario like I pictured it in my head I either would get the next train and kill time exploring where I was, or change my plans by having a random adventure and choosing a new destination. While sometimes it was annoying, it was definitely not a big deal.
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
There are so many people who are working jobs they hate, giving up the hobbies they once loved and in relationships they don't believe in. For me, Living the Dream is the exact opposite of that. My passions in life are travel, writing, cycling, hiking and dancing. I want to live in a way that always allows me to do all of these things. Having a job, getting married or having kids shouldn't mean giving up what you love, but adjusting your life to incorporate your passions into it with the changes that come along.
You can find Jessica Festa here -
Website: Jessie on a Journey and Epicure & Culture
Twitter: @Jessonajourney and @EpicureCulture
Taking you beyond the guidebook