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 Instagram .
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.