She believes that life is an adventure and that it should be experienced to the fullest. Her mission is to inspire others to leave their comfort zones, see the world, immerse in different cultures and live the best out of life. Meet Jessica Festa, a.k.a. Jessie and follow her adventures on Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon .
First of all, tell us a little bit of yourself…
Hey! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed. My name is Jessica (Jessie) Festa and I’m the editor of the solo and offbeat travel blog Jessie on a Journey as well as the online food, culture and responsible tourism magazine Epicure & Culture. I love getting lost in new places — preferably on foot or by bike — and having immersive cultural, active and atypical experiences. In addition to travel blogging, I’m a professional photographer, NYC tour guide and certified sommelier. In terms of hobbies, I play on a soccer team, take dance classes and could hike and bike everyday for the rest of my life and be happy.
What gave you the inspiration to start your blog?
I graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA/MA in Communication & Rhetoric, with a plan to do nonprofit public relations; however, as I’d always been a backpacker I panicked at the thought of having an office job with two weeks of vacation a year. I’ve always loved to write, and when I stumbled upon a travel writing course I knew it was my calling.
What is it about travel that has you so obsessed about?
What I love so much about travel is it allows you to constantly be learning, opening your mind and changing. It also keeps life interesting, constantly offering novel experiences you wouldn’t find at home.
When was your first trip? Where did you go?
Probably Disney World or Sesame Place, as I grew up traveling with my parents every summer. Once I got older we started doing road trips to more adult amusement parks, and then from there graduated to Caribbean cruises. My first trip outside of North America and the Caribbean was when I was 20, studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. That’s when my travel bug really went into effect.
I noticed you mentioned about your one-on-one blog consulting service. Tell us more about it…
I get a lot of readers emailing me asking questions about how they can create a professional travel blog that allows them to travel and generate income. It’s really not something you can explain in an email. I decided instead of giving short answers that didn’t really provide the answer, I would work with those interested in professional blogging through one-on-one consulting sessions via Skype that go over exactly how to embark on this journey, with the material tailored to their special needs and blog brand. This way, every single person who was interested would be guaranteed to understand exactly what was necessary to create a blog that makes money. You can learn more about these services by clicking here.
How do you fund your travels?
I fund my travels in a variety of ways. For one, I’m lucky enough to have made a name for myself in the industry and am often able to find sponsors for my trips via my blogs. Moreover, I favor destinations that are cheap to travel through. For example, I live in NYC and many destinations in Latin America are both cheap to travel to and around, like Colombia (I’m going there in November!) and Guatemala, both about $400 round trip for the flight depending on the season.
Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?
In terms of travel credit cards I’m very loyal to Capital One, as I have their Capital One Venture Card and love it. I get two miles for every dollar spent whether it’s travel-related or not, no foreign transaction fees and the customer service is outstanding. Sometimes I even use it to erase my subway tickets getting around NYC, as the miles can be used toward any kind of travel.
Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?
It’s very difficult to choose a single favorite place as there are many destinations I’ve loved for different reasons. This may sound snobby, but I’m from New York and still live here and it is by far my favorite city in the world. It’s just impossible to run out of things to do, and there’s so much innovation. I’m also a big fan of South America in general. I backpacked through it for three months in 2012, and the otherworldly landscapes, adventure opportunities, cultural experiences and, in many places, the prices, make this a top destination choice for me.
What places are still on your bucket list?
New Zealand’s South Island (I’ve been to the North), Indonesia, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Madagascar.
Do you have any major travel regrets?
Not that I can think of. I got started traveling solo when a group of girlfriends backed out of a trip to Europe. Instead of giving up the trip I went alone. If I hadn’t gone that probably would have been my biggest regret.
Additionally, one thing that’s constantly on my mind is the idea of living in a number of different countries before I settle down. I have a serious boyfriend with a good job in Brooklyn so this is a bit tricky, but we’re talking now about how to possibly make this work. I can’t say it’s a travel regret yet, though, as it can still happen!
What is your advice to young travelers out there?
I would encourage all young travelers to try traveling solo at least once. Even if you don’t end up enjoying it, it’s such a growing experience and really allows you to have ultimate freedom without compromises on your trip. It will possibly be the most nerve wracking thing you’ve ever done — at least your first time — but will likely become something you’re very thankful for.
Saving money while overseas shouldn’t always equate to scrimping (though finding great deals and discounts is always a surefire way to stay in the green). Sometimes, it also has to do with using the right currency.
Using your credit or debit card while overseas can result in some
exorbitant charges like transaction fees. Most banks make consumers pay a percentage of their total purchase, while others have a set minimum amount to be paid as a transaction fee. Even the use of ATMs entails a charge for every transaction made. Instead of incurring all of these unnecessary charges, it’s more advisable to use cash for any and all transactions made overseas.
You may think that getting cash from an ATM is the obvious choice – after all, ATMs can
take your money and convert it to the local currency, right? Well, unbeknownst to many, ATMs can be quite unreliable when it comes to currency conversion as well. The same goes for credit and debit cards which ask you whether you’d like to be charged in the local currency or your home currency – a decision that seems harmless enough, until you realize how arbitrary their exchange rates are. Instead, a great choice is preordering your currency, and collecting it at your destination.
The process of preordering currency is quite simple: you contact one of the many companies that offer such a service and buy the local currency from them using your home currency, and you collect it from a set point once you arrive at your destination. Most major airports now offer currency services as well, so you can secure your finances the minute you land. Gatwick Airport, which is described by Parking4less as the tenth busiest airport in Europe with 30 million passengers serviced per year, has secured the services of Moneycorp to provide preorder currency to their passengers. Passengers can avail of free exchange rate protection and even pay on collection, so they can rest assured that they’re getting the best deals on local currency.
Just make sure to make your arrangements for buying currency ahead of time. Moneycorp requires 24 hours’ notice, and most airports will also charge more for walk-in customers who haven’t made previous arrangements to buy local currency.Read More
Looking for a destination to add in your bucket list? You might want to consider visiting the Philippines next. Here are some of the great places that tell you why…
Located at the northernmost tip of the Philippines, Batanes is an island province in the Cagayan Valley region which is frequently ravaged by typhoon. Moreover, it has stood the test of time becoming more breathtaking as it was before. Batanes is a home of the Basco Lighthouse, stocky stone houses, endless rolling hills, white-sand beaches and stunning coasts where waves gracefully crash. You can rent a bike around the ancient villages that display the Spanish rule or just sit in one of those hills getting lost while viewing the dramatic scenery in front of you. Batanes has unique culture to discover and you should not miss it. A piece of heaven, it definitely is.
Underground River, Palawan
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River or Underground Rives is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It is said to be the longest navigable river in the world covering a distance of 8.2 kilometers. The river passes through St. Paul Underground River Cave and underneath a mountain range. There are also other islands in Palawan that is known for their gorgeous white sand beaches and snorkeling areas. Island hopping at Honda Bay, Coron and El Nido is also a must-try.
Crystal clear waters, fine white sand, fun water activities, romantic sunsets and amusing nightlife– these are the reasons why Boracay is one of the top destinations in the Philippines. With four kilometers of powder white sand, anyone would enjoy bathing under the heat of the sun. Because a lot of tourists across the globe visit the island every year, Boracay has variety of food choices that people can enjoy ranging from American, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, French, Swiss, Italian and Moroccan food. Various resorts are also sprouting in the island and whether you are a budget traveler or a luxury one, you would find a place that you can afford. Budget accommodation starts US $17 and you can go all the way to US $300 per person at primary resorts.
Heritage City of Vigan
Vigan is one of the top 21 finalists for the New 7 Wonders- Cities in the World. It has been one of the top tourist destinations in the country because of its Spanish-era architectural structure and rich culture. There are many things to do in the city which includes exploring Calle Crisologo, visiting Father Burgo’s House and the Syquia Mansion, cruising the Mestizo River, tasting local foods, climbing up the Bell Tower and riding the carriage which is a primary mode of transportation in Vigan. Learn more about how Vigan came to be by paying a visit to this place in your next travel.
Chocolate Hills, Bohol
Just hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last year, Bohol remains to be a top destination in the Philippines. One of Bohol’s highlights is the Chocolate Hills in Carmen. This tourist spot covers more than 1, 268 grass-covered limestone domes that looks green in rainy season and turns chocolate brown during dry season. You can also tour the hills riding an ATV. Now, there are extreme adventures that people can enjoy in the site as well, including zip line and bike on air passing through the hills. Bohol is also the home of the smallest primate in the world, the tarsiers.
These are just 5 of the many travel destinations in the Philippines that you can discover, explore and enjoy. Indeed, true to what the country’s tourism industry promotes, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.Read More
As a mother who frequently travels the globe with her two children, I have had the fortune (and in some cases, misfortune) of flying on many of the world’s major carriers. Over the years, I have certainly made my picks for best airlines to travel on with kids and do my best to book tickets on those airlines, particularly for long journeys.
A couple of notes before we start:
For flights under three hours, I will usually just go with the cheapest, most reliable airline with most convenient flying times. It’s over three hours that service starts to matter.
Due to my husband’s work travels, we are Star Alliance Gold members which makes it hugely convenient because we can check in extra bags for free, use the lounge, and check in at the business class counter even when traveling economy. In today’s world of zero customer service on airlines, it’s nice to have an airline be nice to you.
The Best Airlines for Travel with Kids:
(In no particular order):
Singapore Airlines: Singapore Airlines understands that children are part of our society and that it’s in everyone’s interest to make them comfortable on a flight. SQ traditionally has been a leader, flying the newest and swankiest planes, which means that the kids get the best pick of movies and video games, in addition to toys, coloring, and other activities. Their Yummy! Meals service is exclusive to kids and allows them to choose from a range of popular favorite and healthy dishes.
The customer service is excellent too. They once damaged my stoller and the reimbursement process was absolutely painless. There is much to be said for an airline that is not trying to short change its customers. With the Kris Flyer program, kids can start earning precious miles at 2 years of age.
Emirates Airways: The Young Flyers section on the Emirates website will show you just how important kids are to them. Emirates is know for its state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, their child-friendly customer service, and their loaner strollers at Dubai Airport. Always a pleasant journey. Skysurfers can earn miles and get special privileges like preferred seating.
Lufthansa Airlines: German carrier Luftansa goes above and beyond for families. I was once traveling when I was pregnant and the stewardess made it a point to check on my frequently and to give me a large bottle of water to ensure I stay hydrated. Lufthansa’s website details tips for families, including specific travel regulations by country, which I have not seen elsewhere.
Etihad Airlines: Etihaad’s “Flying Nanny” service puts it a notch above the rest, showing parents that this airline understands their needs for rest and comfort too. Kids are also treated to an entertainment pack, tons of movie and games options, and nutritious meals. Etihad’s miles program, Etihad Guest, was designed with families in mind, letting families’ pool together all their miles for anyone’s use. Makes you wonder why all mileage programs aren’t structured like that.
So the next time you are traveling with kids and have the opportunity to fly any of the above airlines, take it! You’ll see how it makes a world of a difference!
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is the founder of Momaboard.com, a website that specializes in family travel.Read More
There are many different credit card myths that convince people to avoid lines of credit like the plague. Discovering the truth may convince you that a credit card can actually be beneficial in some circumstances.
Credit Card Company Owners are Crooks
This credit card myth is just plain senseless. It’s impossible to lump all credit card companies and executives into a single category. The revelation that one credit card company was using dishonest practices to abuse customers does not mean that all credit card companies are engaged in similar practices. Credit card companies come in many different shapes, sizes, and methods of operation.
Your job is to do your research, compare and then decide on which credit card company you’d trust before signing up with any of them.
Credit Cards Always Create Financial Disaster
Credit cards do not always spell financial ruin for customers. The ruin comes from misusing a credit card, failing to make payments on time, or accumulating a sum of debt that is simply too large to be paid back effectively. If credit cards are used responsibly and sparingly, they can actually be quite beneficial to a person’s financial outlook.
Credit cards can improve one’s credit score, spread payments for large items over several months, and offer a solution in the event of an emergency. To enjoy the benefits though, ensure that you pay your balance in full at the end of every month. This will shield you from compounding interest rates on the card as well as late repayment charges.
Beware that credit card interest rates are higher compared to other forms of debt such as mortgages, car loans etc.
Credit Card Interest Rates are Always Too High
There are credit cards with shockingly high interest rates, but these credit cards are not the norm. Interest rates are determined by industry standards, and labeling these rates as “too high,” is failing to take into account the globally accepted industry practices.
Credit Card Perks are Worthless
One common credit card myth that needs to be discussed is the myth that credit card perks are really just worthless incentives used to convince ignorant customers to choose a specific credit card. Of course, there are some credit card perk programs that fail to offer anything of real value to the customer.
This isn’t the case with most perk programs, however. For example, credit cards that work with airlines to offer the accumulation of airline miles are actually offering something quite valuable to the consumer. Capital One is one of the most well-known credit cards with airline benefits.
With this card, you can accumulate miles through regular use of the card, and then you are able to use those miles whenever and however you wish.
The credit card industry is plagued by myths and false accusations. It’s important for a consumer to make his or her own decisions about the credit card industry before deciding to never open a line of credit. And at the end of the day, its you who is solely responsible for the use of that credit card. You determine whether it will be for your good or if it will lead to debt.Read More