Bio: La Carmina is an alternative travel TV host, blogger, and journalist — with a passion for young underground culture around the world. Perhaps you’ve seen her taking Andrew Zimmern to strange Tokyo restaurants on “Bizarre Foods” TV, or buying a moose head on Discovery’s “Oddities,” or giving celebrities a “bagelhead” body mod on National Geographic “Taboo”! La Carmina published 3 books with Random House and Penguin, and produces and stars in travel TV shows for networks including TLC, Food Network, CNN and Travel Channel. La Carmina and her film team are currently filming virtual reality (360 degree films) in destinations worldwide, including Belgium, Morocco and Japan. See more of La Carmina’s photos and travels on her website, lacarmina.com and social networks @lacarmina (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube and more.)
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
My parents told me that when I was a baby, we traveled to Hong Kong — and I was riveted by the lights, scents and sounds of the big city! I looked all around me and couldn’t believe how different the environment was from Vancouver, where I was born. I have strong, later memories of exploring Hong Kong as a child, with my cousins. We’d run around the Ocean Park amusement park, take part in Chinese banquets and explore the famous Women Street markets. It felt like a storybook come to life, and got me hooked on seeing new and unfamiliar far-off places.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
Somehow, I’ve yet to make it to South America! It’s at the top of my travel list. If I had all the money in the world, I’d fly with my close friends and family in a private jet to Rio, Buenos Aires, Macchu Picchu, Santiago and my ultimate dream destination: Easter Island. We’d have 5-star stays everywhere. However, in each place, I’ll still do what I always do — seek out the local underground art scene, youth culture, creative food and other offbeat experiences.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I started my La Carmina blog (http://www.lacarmina.com/blog) in 2007, and in those days, it was not common to turn blogging into a career. It took a lot of trial and error, experimentation, and sometimes dealing with pushback in order to take things further. However, I had (and still maintain) a strong passion for the blogging medium, and felt I was doing something meaningful in uncovering perspectives and places that usually don’t get a voice. All this kept me motivated to keep working hard and taking leaps, and it paid off in the end. Today, I’m grateful to have opportunities to travel constantly, and do creative, varied work on my own terms (writing books, journalism, TV hosting and more).
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
WhatsApp has brought me closer to friends that live around the world, as we can easily check in and send random thoughts or photos to each other. I do a lot of business calls on Skype, and update my social media regularly with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat (my username is @lacarmina). Other than that, I keep my apps to a minimum.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
I think everyone should visit Japan. The culture is so distinct and inspiring, from the food to the fashion and architecture. Tokyo is always electrifying, full of new technology and bizarre pop culture. It’s safe, the locals are friendly and you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into another universe.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
My friend Yukiro has a fabulous saying: “Always go forward, but never straight!” I’ve found it to be true. It’s important to keep on learning, trying new things, and being open to experiences — while also letting go, and realizing life will never go perfectly smoothly. I certainly never would have imagined that my path would take me here today.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Everywhere, and it always brings a smile to my face. This year alone, I had strangers help me carry my suitcase up the stairs in a NYC subway station. In Barcelona, a sweet girl at a dessert shop insisted that my friends and I try a bit of everything, including horchata and Spanish cakes. In Istanbul, our guide used his personal connections to give us access to the best viewpoints of the city. Travel has its negative moments, of course, but the unexpected kind gestures from locals always outweigh them.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
I got hooked on travel from a young age, and always knew it would be a part of my life. However, I didn’t expect to see so many countries by my 20s (over 50 and counting), and that my work would involve travel in such an exciting way. I’m endlessly curious about culture around the globe, and there are still so many places I want to see with my own eyes.
9.) I travel because….
… it fuels me, inspires me, and makes me a better person.
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