Happy Friday everyone! I hope your week has been fabulous, and your weekend will be just as great, if not even greater! This week we have the pleasure of meeting Jasmine, a fellow travel blogger from My Suitcase Journeys. Jasmine has a deep love for travel, as I’m sure you could have already guessed, and she’s sharing various aspects of her many adventures!
1. Thank you for deciding to be a part of Feature Friday. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your blog?
My name is Jasmine and I’m a part-time travel blogger and a full-time Social Media Marketing Specialist slash freelance Graphic Designer. I get 10 paid vacations a year + holidays and travel mostly on long weekends. My Suitcase Journeys is a blog I started as an online travel diary but it’s evolved into a bigger project since. I now share hotel reviews as well as tips and tricks I learn from my short-duration trips all over the world in hopes of helping travellers find comfort and inspiration in their designated city of voyage.
2. Why did you decide to become a travel blogger?
When I was on an exchange in Lyon, France back in 2014, I took a literature course that required us to keep a blog. And so as mentioned above, my blog started as an online journal retelling stories from my adventures abroad. Even as early as grade seven, I was always interested in the online blogging world and kept diaries on Freewebs and Xanga (anyone remember those days? hahaa). Except now instead of describing what I did on which day, I was telling tales of me in an exotic place (oh là là). After returning home, I decided to continue that legacy and here I am!
3. What do you love so much about travelling?
I never took geography in school so I love that travelling teaches you exactly that plus the history of a place and you learn so much about a country’s culture, its people, the politics, etc. Things all of which you can’t necessarily learn just by reading a textbook.
4. Have you ever regretted doing something while travelling?
This may sound cliché but I truly believe that in the moment of, we make decisions based on thinking what’s best and whatever happens is a result of that and thus cannot be accounted for as a negative consequence or punishment. Mistakes, however, yes, everyone makes them. My biggest mistake was missing a flight to Singapore two years ago. Couldn’t find the airport shuttle bus stand and circled back and forth between blocks with my suitcase. By the time I finally got to the check-in kiosk, it was too late. First time and hopefully the last.
5. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done while travelling?
Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is known for their beautiful rooftop infinity pool. Guests are not allowed to sit or even climb onto the edge of the pool but I didn’t know and I pushed myself up for a photo. It was extremely extremelyy windy that day and I could feel waves in the pool pushing me back against that ledge that I broke into cold sweat because I almost fell backwards down the skyscraper and was literally hanging on for dear life. #Doitforthegram.
6. What is your most embarrassing travel story?
Prior to my university exchange experience in France, I went on a grade ten high school exchange trip to Japan. We spent one week with our designated host families and another week travelling across Japan, staying in hostels. Now in Japan, it’s very common to have public bathhouses (for your own gender of course) where you bathe butt naked in front of others. All of my friends, myself included, were too shy so we opted for the private shower with individual stalls. I recall coming out the shower stall and seeing a man (fully dressed thank God) and thinking to myself what a pervert he was for lurking around the women’s shower room. I even gave him the stink eye only to go back to my room to hear my friends asking why they didn’t see me. Then it hit me… I was the one who entered the wrong shower room.
7. Have you ever travelled solo? Would you do it again? If you haven’t, would you ever do it?
I have, on two occasions, but only as one-day trips. My first time was when my friend and I went to London and she flew out a day earlier than me. The second time was when I visited my friends in Toronto and I decided to go see Niagara Falls on my own. I definitely would consider doing a longer solo trip. You get freedom deciding where to go, when to go and it’s nice not having to accommodate to someone else.
8. Out of all the cities & countries you’ve visited, which did you like the least? Why?
Seoul. Was there November, 2016 and absolutely hated it. I adore Korean food but the air pollution was terrible. I also don’t mean any harm, but it felt like every corner we turned, there were the exact same shops. It was as if everyone dressed the same and all styled their hair and makeup the same way. It honestly creeped me out how little individuality each person had. (It boggles my mind what North Korea would be like!)
9. Out of all the cities & countries you’ve visited, which did you like the most? Why?
Hands down Japan. I’ve been six times and it never gets old. Their culture just resonates with me deeply and they have the weirdest inventions you could ever find. No visit is ever a dull one. Going back to the bathhouse from earlier, I’ve actually grown to love the idea as well. Just imagine yourself sitting in a hot bath in the autumn breeze with a small cup of warm sake in hand. It doesn’t get any more relaxing than that!
10. If you had to choose one place to live fore the rest of your life, where would it be, and why?
I remember visiting LA for the first time and coming home wanting to move there so definitely the City of Angels. Maybe it’s because I’m getting depressed from all the Vancouver rain but there’s just something about LA’s energetic vibe that draws my heart close.
11. Are there any social norms or practices you’ve encountered on your travels you wish were normal in your native culture?
In Japan, before every meal, you are required to say “itadakimasu” – meaning “I humbly receive”. It’s such a beautiful alternative to simply saying “let’s eat” and at the end of the meal, it’s also customary to say “gochisousama deshita”, which means “thank you for the meal”. If you ask me, appreciation starts with the small things in life that we take for granted.
12. Is there anywhere you would not visit? Where, and why?
Not necessarily a specific country but I would generally avoid visiting places where women are still considered inferior and are treated like objects. I know sexism obviously still exists all over the world but I’m referring to more severe cases where this would be more evident.
13. What is one thing that is too large or impractical that you wish you could bring when you travel?
I’m lazy so even my laptop is considered “too large” for me. I rarely bring it on trips and sometimes I wish I’d pack it so I can edit my photos and post them on Instagram. At the same time though I quite enjoy disconnecting from the rest of the world and really immersing myself in my trip.
14. Do you think there’s a difference between people who deem themselves tourists vs. travellers? What do you consider yourself, and why?
There’s a lot of debate around this but at the end of the day, I feel we’re all simply “visitors” to a country. I used to think that I should be more like a traveller and uncover places beyond their typical touristy charms. Over the years, however, I’ve learnt that whether you decide to take a selfie with the Statue of Liberty or be like Robert Frost and take the road less travelled by, we all travel in hopes of seeking new experiences. In that sense, we are all alike.
15. What does home mean to you?
Home is where I can return to the arms of my loved ones.
16. What advice would you give an aspiring travel blogger?
Join travel groups on Facebook and connect with other bloggers. None of my friends blog so I’ve never had anyone to turn to when I had troubles or even successes I wanted to share until I discovered Facebook groups. Finding a community that supports you is so important and I can’t stress that enough. It’s inspiring to read about others’ blog wins and you also learn a great deal on how to better yourself and improve your blog!
Thank you so much Jasmine for taking the time to share with us your thoughts, your adventures, and your pictures. I definitely agree with you on your advice. My only wish is that I found Facebook groups sooner. You meet the coolest people and learn so much. I also love your perspective on the tourists vs. travellers debate – “we all travel in hopes of seeking new experiences. In that sense, we are all alike”. Love, love, love! As for your scariest moment, I can’t even imagine. I’m terrified of heights, so if I did that, it would not go over well AT ALL! But glad to hear you’re safe and sound, and good to know they do have that rule! Thanks again Jasmine for being part of Feature Friday, and safe travels on your next adventure!
Did you enjoy what you read? Get to know more about Jasmine!
Born in Taipei, Taiwan but having moved to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 9, Jasmine is a weekend traveller who has travelled to 10 countries all whilst maintaining a full-time job. Connect with Jasmine at the following: