Interview with Jessica from Seasoned Travelr
It has always occurred to Jessica, the Seasoned Travelr, to explore the world. This California girl now lives in beautiful Barcelona, exploring as much of Europe as she possibly can. She considers herself to be a wine lover, foodie, adventure seeker, psychology nerd, novice photographer, and shoestring traveler. So far, she has had the opportunity to visit over 25 countries across the world and hopes to explore more in the future. Recently, Jessica sat down with Classic Travel to discuss her passion for exploration, wine, and culinary travel. JL: Thanks so much for sitting down to talk with me. Tell me a little bit about yourself! Jessica: Hello! My name is Jessica, aka the Seasoned Travelr, and I’m a food-obsessed travelholic. I am 27 years old, a graduate of psychology from California, and currently living abroad. I have had the privilege of visiting 26 countries thus far, but I’m working towards adding many more in the near future. JL: So where are you located right now? Do you have a photo you can share? Jessica: I am currently in beautiful Barcelona, but my husband and I are looking to move to another country in Europe within the next year. JL: That’s really amazing. So what does travel mean to you? Jessica: Travel is opening your eyes and heart to the world around you, stepping out of your comfort zone, and working to better yourself every day. It is understanding that there are people out there who think differently than you, learning from that, and building connections. It is appreciating the beauty in the world, even the small things. JL: Speaking of appreciating the world, what is your ultimate bucket list trip? Jessica: This is a tough one, because my bucket list is infinite! I am always open to trying new things or visiting new places. And now, being immersed in the world of travel bloggers, it seems something new is added to my list all of the time. But if I had to choose just one thing, I think I’d have to say seeing the Aurora Borealis while staying in an igloo or ice hotel in one of the Scandinavian countries, and then spending time going through the different villages and cities. The landscapes look incredible! JL: Switching gears a little bit, your blog is really focused around your love for food and your love for travel. So what has been the most interesting culinary experience you’ve had so far? You can tell me the strangest, best, or worst as well if you’d like. Jessica: I’m definitely a food, and whenever I get the chance to try something new, I try it – so it’s hard to choose the most interesting one. My list of ‘strange’ foods include rattlesnake, kangaroo, pork cheek, foot and snout, snails, octopus, beef vein and blood, etc. The list goes on! The strangest and worst for me was the rattlesnake, especially in terms of texture. I tried this at a restaurant in New Mexico, and it was served with cactus fries (but those weren’t bad). The rattlesnake itself, however, I remember as being very slimy and a bit rubbery. I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t think I’d repeat! The best experiences would probably be the pork cheek and octopus. I first tried pork cheek at a barbecue with the host family I was living with at the time in Barcelona, and I was super unsure about it. But now I love it! There are so many unique foods to try in Barcelona. As for the octopus, I had tried tastes here and there over the years, but the first time I actually ordered it for myself was in San Sebastian in the north of Spain. It was to die for! It basically melted in my mouth. JL: If you can try any cuisine in the world, what do you think you’d go for? Jessica: In California, we have a ton of authentic cuisine from all over the world, so it is hard to imagine a cuisine that I haven’t tried yet. But since I have yet to visit South America and Asia, I think it’d be interesting to try the food there. For example, I love Vietnamese and Thai food, but I’m sure it is even better in Vietnam and Thailand! Hopefully I can mark that off my bucket list soon. JL: Where, in your travels, have you experienced your favorite wine? Jessica: Wine is definitely a soft spot for me. Whenever I see a wine from a different country, I have to try it. I think Californian wine is incredible – in fact, I used to work for a winery in Southern California – and I honestly have a hard time finding wine to beat that. However, last year my husband and I visited La Rioja in Spain and we went to a winery called Luis Cañas. Not only was the tour incredibly interesting and fun, but we found our absolute favorite wine there. Well-rounded tannins, just a hint of spiciness, and a finish like silk that lingers pleasantly on the tongue! JL: Why do you think it’s important for people to travel? Jessica: If you don’t travel, you find yourself stuck in a little bubble without realizing it. You subconsciously begin to believe that everyone in the world is like the people around you, that everyone thinks the same way, that that’s the way life is. When you travel, all of a sudden you become overwhelmed – in a good way – with different ways of thinking, different foods, history, and culture. Although it sounds cliche, it opens up your mind and helps you to become more empathetic to those around you. And in a way, it helps you keep a childlike wonder and playfulness as you explore which, to me, is an essential element of happiness. JL: What tips would you give to other people in our generation (millennials) who are nervous about making the plunge and going abroad? Jessica: As I was about to graduate from college, I was sure that I wanted to travel abroad. I started researching programs and eventually found one that I liked in China. I went through the application process and was eventually accepted. I was super excited, and told all of my friends and family about it. But then…I chickened out. I didn’t go. And I regretted it that entire year. Thankfully, I took advantage of that lost time and began working two full-time jobs, determined to make it happen the following year, this time around with a savings account. Although it was the most terrifying experience of my entire life, I forced myself to continue, one step after another. I cried as I hugged my mother goodbye at the airport. It IS terrifying, stepping into the unknown. There is no denying it. It’s only natural. But there was a change in me once I got onto the plane. I was actually doing this! I was on such a high that I began talking to the woman sitting next to me – I’m normally quite shy – and we spent nearly the entire 11 hours talking about life, plans, goals. I went on to spend 2 years in Barcelona teaching English and living with host families. The experience was a whole was the most rewarding in all of my life. Sure, there were ups and downs, but it was SO worth it. For those who are nervous about taking the plunge, it won’t be easy in the beginning, and you WILL be afraid. But if you do your research, and go about it in a ‘smart’ way (for example, I highly recommend building a savings account beforehand), you are basically guaranteed to have a good experience. You will learn things about yourself and the people around you, meet new friends, and have amazing experiences that you never would have had if you had stayed at home. There is no better time to do it than when you’re young – so what are you waiting for? JL: What’s one activity you’ve surprised yourself by doing on your travels? Jessica: I’m quite adventurous and I love trying new things, so perhaps “surprised” isn’t the right word for me. If I have the opportunity to do something, I do it. I’ve gone bungee jumping in New Zealand, skydiving and paragliding in Spain, trekked through the Sahara by camel, and more. But perhaps one thing I’ve always been terrified of is sharks. I know, I know, it’s a silly fear. Yet somehow I got the courage to go down in a shark cage in the open ocean in Hawaii. It was terrifying seeing the sharks swimming around the cage, but somehow also super calming. I would definitely repeat! Learn more about Jessica and follow along on her travels here.