La Carmina is a young female travel TV host and blogger, who you may have seen on TV networks like Travel Channel, National Geographic and Food Network. She’s also the author of 3 books, a travel writer for publications like Sunday Times UK Magazine, CNN Travel and Hong Kong Express Airways and she has a travel video series published by Business Insider. Locations include Maldives, Israel, Bangkok, Mexico, Abu Dhabi and more. We are jealous already! Wanna know more about her? Read our interview with La Carmina here!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started to travel. Do you remember your 1st travel experience? Why are you (if that’s so…) passionate about travelling?
I don’t remember my first flight because I was only a year old at the time! My parents took me from Vancouver to Hong Kong, to visit relatives. They tell me that I was well-behaved the whole way, and that my eyes lit up when I saw the bright lights and busy streets of Hong Kong. The journey must have left a deep impression, since I’ve enjoyed traveling ever since, especially to Asia. Travel has become the heart of my work and lifestyle today.
- Now that we know where do you come from… could you tell us where are you heading to? Which are your plans for the future in terms of travelling?
I am off to San Francisco at the end of May. I’ll be joined by my two professional filmmakers, and my business partners who work with me in TV production arranging. Together, we’ll capture stories about San Fran’s alternative scene, including Jpop fashion, drag queen clubs, Goth vintage boutiques, and more. I’m passionate about shining a positive light on subcultures worldwide, since they are often misunderstood or sensationalized. After San Francisco, I’ll continue to shoot web episodes for my travel series, write blog posts and articles, and work with TV shows around the globe — all to further this mission.
- What do you think of travelling with a purpose or meaning in mind? What do you look for when travelling long term?
For me, meaningful travel is active. It’s the opposite of being a lazy tourist, sitting on a bus that goes to landmarks and souvenir shops, while barely experiencing the local people and culture. Instead, you take steps to dive in and challenge yourself. You’re grateful for the opportunity to see a different part of the world, and want this experience to make a difference. This can take on unexpected forms: perhaps trying a new cuisine stirs you to learn cooking, or meeting a digital nomad inspires you to globetrot for a year. I personally feel I’m creating value by reporting thoughtfully on subculture scenes (like punks in China, or steampunk in Prague), and encouraging young people to travel meaningfully.
- How do you fund your travels? Have you found a job or income source that allows you to be on the road fulltimee? Tell us what you do for a living.
I started my La Carmina blog in late 2007, and it took off very soon after. I was lucky that my articles about Japanese pop culture and fashion got quite a bit of attention, and that led to writing two books (for Random House and Penguin USA). Bizarre Foods then contacted me and asked me to be Andrew Zimmern’s guide on the Japan episode. Since that point, I’ve been working consistently as a TV host and production arranger, for travel programs worldwide. (These include a No Reservations promo, Canal Plus Toque a Tokyo, Food Network’s Weirdest Restaurants, and more. I also blog fulltime on my La Carmina blog, and am a travel journalist for publications like Hong Kong Express Airlines, Sunday Times Travel UK magazine, and CNN Travel. I also have a web travel series that I host and produce, filmed worldwide and broadcast on Business Insider. Every so often, I work with travel or fashion companies as an ambassador; for example, I went around Eastern Europe to showcase Eurail, and am currently working with a city guides startup.
- Did your job, studies, volunteering experiences or other projects help you to travel the world?Where have you been thanks to those? If so, tell us a bit about those experiences.
After university, I went to Yale Law School and ended up finishing the degree, but I quickly realized a career as a lawyer was not for me. I reexamined my priorities, and realized I wouldn’t be happy unless I did something that involved creativity, travel and purpose. My early travels in Asia (especially to Tokyo and Hong Kong) also shaped my love for Harajuku fashion and Jpop culture. These topics were initially the sole focus of my La Carmina blog, and although I’ve now branched out to covering youth cultures worldwide, they still fascinate me. I always discover something new and inspiring whenever I am in Japan.
- What would you recommend to someone who wants to follow your steps? Which kind of training or studies is necessary? Would an investment be needed in the first place? Please, give 3 pieces of advice (you wish to have known before starting) of what to do and what to avoid in order to succeed.
I encourage people to invest in the best education possible, and make the most of this opportunity – study different subjects, go abroad, do internships and pursue extracurricular activities. Technologies and industries change so quickly that it’s impossible to predict how careers will look like in the future. Think about it: ten years ago, there was no such thing as Instagram or YouTube, and barely anyone had heard of blogging. Instead of stressing about where life will take you, just do your best to deliver value, read widely, travel, get to know interesting people, and work smart. No matter what, these skills (and the degree) will stay with you, and you’ll be ready to grab the bull by the horns whenever it runs by.
- What does a perfect day in your life looks like? Do you follow any particular routine?
I’ve come to appreciate that there’s no such thing as perfect. Life and its conditions change constantly – especially when you’re a constant traveler. If I’ve been on the road for weeks, then all I want is to snuggle at home with my Scottish Fold cat. But if I’ve got the winter blues, then I’ll start dreaming of a perfect day at Macchu Pichu. In general, however, my favorite moments are spent with friends, discovering a city and doing something creative together. No matter what, I try to get enough sleep, exercise (even if it’s taking a long walk), and eat clean.
- Where do you come from originally and where you call home now? Can you give us some local tips we cannot find in a guidebook but you highly recommend about your hometown?
I’m from Vancouver, Canada and live here when I’m not on the road. Eating sushi here is a must; it’s so fresh, with innovative ingredients. The Gastown area is becoming a foodie hotspot, with indie cafes that specialize in local ingredients, gourmet donuts, charcuterie and more. Many are so new that they haven’t been covered by guidebooks. I recommend exploring this area and tasting items along the way. You never know what you might find.
- Do you read, write, draw, listen to music, sing, watch movies or do something else while travelling? How do you interact with technology these days and which gadgets you definitely take with you everywhere? What is your favorite book? And movie?
I never take movies or music with me on the road. I prefer to be tuned into the experience to the fullest extent, even if it’s the sounds of a train, or chatter of a foreign language. I do, however, bring my “Miffy book” wherever I go. It’s a journal with the cute bunny mascot on the cover; my filmmakers and I jot down memories, names, foods and funny stories from the road, whenever we have a spare moment. It’s too easy to forget these little details. I also bring my DSLR camera everywhere to take photos, and use my iPhone to do tasks like social media updates, which are a necessity in today’s online business world.
- Do you keep a bucket list? Which are your (craziest) dreams? Where are your favorite destinations on earth? (feel free to add any other information you would like to share with our readers here)
There remain tons of places I want to experience. Egypt, Morocco, Istanbul, Easter Island and Capetown are on my list. I am also eager to return to certain destinations, like Seoul, which have changed enormously from the last time I visited. And I am keen to continue growing my work on travel TV, as a presenter and producer, doing shows that I feel are intelligent and make a difference. I do have some exciting projects in the works that I can’t reveal yet, but I invite you to keep in touch through my site lacarmina.com and social networks @lacarmina – I love chatting with others who share my passions and look forward to sharing more of the adventures around the world!