There’s a quote that says once you become a traveller, you become a story teller. The places you visit and the sights you see get etched into your brain, and you have a need to share your experiences with the world. Luckily for Jess Gibson, otherwise known as The Travelista, her job as a luxury travel writer means she’s a professional storyteller, living and breathing travel to share her incredible stories with you, her reader.
She’s incredible at what she does. Evident in the huge and quick success of her blog, which despite only launching in 2012 has already gained acclaim, coming Highly Recommended in the Cosmopolitan Blogger Awards. For her fellow travel writers and bloggers, she’s a huge inspiration because she’s living the life they strive for. And for her readers, she’s the middle man connecting them with places they dream of visiting.
I managed to catch up with her during her crazy schedule and interviewed her about life as a travel writer while she was around 35,000 feet in the air!
Hi Jess, thank you so much for agreeing to chat to me. How are you?
I am really well thank you! I am currently writing this on a plane to Malaysia so I am feeling very excited for my next adventure, despite the 12 hour flight!
Oh wow. I know you’ve explained how you started your blog in one of your posts, but can you tell my readers how it all began for you?
After graduating from University I took the first job that was offered to me, which was as a badly paid Executive Assistant a.k.a glorified ‘tea girl’. The role really wasn’t for me but it was through this job that I managed to get an foot in the door to luxury travel writing. We shared our office with Editor-in-Chief of a luxury lifestyle publication for men. I started to get to know the Editor and after a while began to write pieces for him for free to try and build up a portfolio. After working hard to write his editorial features he offered me a press trip to review 2 luxury hotels in Marrakech. I couldn’t believe my luck and obviously said yes! I went on to do many more press trips and articles for him and this was the start of my luxury travel writing and blogging career.
Have you always wanted to be a travel writer? What drew you in to the industry?
I have always wanted to be a writer, but not necessarily a travel writer. I thought that I wanted to get into lifestyle writing and the glossy nationals. But I was given the rare opportunity to travel and write about my experiences, which I fell in love with instantly. 3 years on, there is nothing I would rather write about than travel.
Where was your first post written about? How was that?
My first post on The Travelista was a re-work of the article I wrote for my very first press trip to Marrakech. Once I started getting the opportunities to do press trips, I wanted to create a platform to document my amazing travel experiences in my own words. That’s how The Travelista was born.
You’ve travelled all over the world, but where’s the most amazing place you’ve visited?
One place that always sticks in my mind is when I travelled to the tiny island of La Reunion which is in the Indian Ocean next to Mauritius. It was the first long haul press trip I had ever done and the whole thing felt like a dream. I had never even heard of La Reunion when I was invited on the trip, but I ended up falling totally in love with it because it still felt like a real hidden gem. On the trip we got to go on a helicopter ride over the island volcano and go snorkelling with turtles.
Are there any places you’d love to visit but haven’t yet?
The top 3 places on my travel wish list are India, Bali and New York. My travel plans are sewn up for 2014 now but I want to make sure I visit at least one of these places in 2015.
You recently won the Highly Commended Award for Best Travel Blog at the Cosmo awards, considering you’re blog is quite young, you’ve become very successful! How does it feel knowing people voted for you to win?
Winning my Cosmo Blog Awards was an absolutely incredible feeling and definitely the biggest achievement with my blog to date. I was shortlisted last year and didn’t win and was determined to come back fighting this year! It is so humbling to know that people took the time to vote for me and to receive recognition from Cosmopolitan magazine. I received an overwhelming amount of support and am so appreciative of it.
What motivates and inspires you as a writer?
I am motivated when readers email me or comment on my articles to tell me I have helped or inspired them in some way. I love to write posts that help other aspiring bloggers to achieve their dreams too. I am inspired by all of the beautiful places I visit and when I get to meet fellow travel writers and bloggers face to face. We always have so much in common and it is fascinating to learn about other writers’ journeys.
What would you say to someone who aspires to be a travel writer? Do you have one key bit of advice?
It sounds simple, but aspiring travel writers need to have two passions; writing and travel. The most important of the two is writing, because everyone can travel but not everyone can write. Don’t persue it because you like the thought of going on some free trips and staying in fancy hotels. Whatever your topic of choice, make sure your writing is still your art.
What are you most looking forward to in 2015? Anything exciting on the horizon?
2014 has been an amazing year for me, so I cannot wait to see what 2015 will bring. I have some more exciting trips lined up and I am looking to secure a regular travel column in one of the big UK mags. So watch this space!
Check out more of The Travelista’s luxury travel adventures by visiting www.thetravelista.net and following her on Twitter @travelistajess and Instagram @thetravelista