La Carmina is a travel journalist and blogger, specializing in offbeat stories about Tokyo and Asia. She wrote 3 books about Jpop culture, and hosts travel TV shows for networks including TLC, Food Network, Discovery, National Geographic and Travel Channel. La Carmina and her film crew shoot travel episodes about youth trends, style and subcultures worldwide, including Seoul and Cape Town. See more of La Carmina’s colorful style and travel guides on her popular website, La Carmina.
I’m from Vancouver, Canada and started my travel and fashion blog, La Carmina to share my love of underground culture around the world (I’m especially known for covering topics like Japanese bizarre trends, theme restaurants, and subcultures). I started blogging in 2007, and my site grew to opportunities I never imagined — including writing three books, and hosting travel TV shows on networks like Travel Channel, Food Network and National Geographic. Today, I travel with my film team, usually about one destination a month. We focus on stories that appeal to young, female travelers – such as boutique hotels, local fashion designers and cool nightlife. Most recently, we release travel videos about Cape Town and Cebu.
What inspires you most about travel?
No matter how much you learn about a place, it’s different once you are there in person, fielding the sights, sounds, and people. I love being challenged in this way, and try to dig deep into the local, alternative culture. From Day of the Dead masks in Mexico, to Kpop makeup in Seoul, I soak up inspiration wherever I go. I feel my work makes the biggest difference when I can present topics like alternative beauty and subcultures in a positive light. Today, I’m continuously traveling and working on a number of dream projects that fit these goals, especially TV hosting and producing. I hope my work encourages people to see the world, and keep an open mind towards people from all walks of life.
Where have you traveled to thus far?
I began traveling at the ripe age of one, from Vancouver to Hong Kong. My family made this trip often to visit relatives, and also went on holiday to nearby countries in Asia. We also did trips to Europe, and around North American when I was growing up. Thanks to my job today, I’m able to visit new continents and far-off countries like Jerusalem, Cape Town, and Abu Dhabi. I’ve been to about 50 countries, and most major cities in North America, Europe, Asia and UK. I’ve also been to several places the Caribbean and South Asia. I’d love to see more of Africa, and it’s about time I got to South America.
Most memorable moment in your travel career?
Being Andrew Zimmern‘s Tokyo co-host on Bizarre Foods (his show for Travel Channel) was a huge moment. He is a wonderful friend and we continue to be in close touch. You can see more of my travel TV host clips at La Carmia & The Pirates.
Other favorite adventures include absinthe ice cream in Prague, visiting theme cafes in Taipei, sailing in the Philippines, and attending world’s biggest Goth music festival in Germany.
Goals you’d love to achieve in the near future?
I have a dream project in the works, which would bring together the most meaningful aspects of my work, on one major platform. I can’t tell you much more yet, but my team and I have been working on this for a year, and we’re about ready to take it to the world. You’ll be the first to know, once it’s out! If you’re intrigued, you can keep track of these updates on my blog.
Aside from the basics (passport, ATM card, backpack), what three travel items can you not live without?
I always take both my iPhone and my DSLR camera — I currently shoot with the Song A7 (alpha 7) mirrorless, and highly recommend it. It’s a full frame DSLR, yet half the size and light, so I can easily carry it around. I also carry around big sunglasses – a must especially if you’ve just stepped off a 13 hour flight.
You have won the lottery, now tell us where you want to live
I’m happy to keep living in my current city, Vancouver, and travel to over a dozen destinations a year, as I currently do. However, I’d use my winnings to finally explore South America. I’d hit the beaches of Rio in Brazil, eat to my heart’s delight in Argentina, explore the street art scene in Chile, and get lost on the mysterious Easter Island, one of the places in the world I want to visit the most.
What’s your best advice for aspiring wanderlusters out there?
Technology changes constantly, so I urge people not to “copy” what works today (such as focusing on a single social network) and assuming that this is the only path to success. Instead of seeking shortcuts and short-term perks (like free trips), I encourage people to make their best efforts to learn, write, and deliver value. If possible, invest in the best education possible, and make the most of this opportunity – study different subjects, go abroad, do internships, get to know interesting people, and work smart. Pursue a niche that you love (food, beauty, music) – these can always be combined with travel, or lead to travels in unexpected ways. No matter what, these skills will stay with you, and you’ll be ready to grab the bull by the horns when it runs by.