I am a traveler. I am a writer. I am a social butterfly. Thank goodness for the internet, where those things go together like Nutella and bananas.
You can stop reading and contact me right now, if you like. Because Nutella and bananas, amirite?
I believe awesome people should be connected with other awesome people, which, in practical terms, means I am an excellent cocktail party host as well as eager community builder.
I see absolutely no difference between a virtual community and an in-the-same-room community, not when the lines separating us from our compatriots on the other side of the computer screen are so very blurry (if they exist at all anymore). The tools are different, sure, and everything comes at us lightning fast now, but the goal is still the same – we want to talk with people who are like us.
I firmly believe that there is no “magic pill” when it comes to building community. These things take time. I’m willing to invest the time in your community to make it grow. The real question is – are you?
I think travel is one of the best things any of us can do with our time and money, and I also believe that visiting that town a few hours’ drive from where you live (but that you’ve never visited) is traveling. Being a traveler is having a curious and open mind, and it doesn’t require being a certain distance from your bed or getting a stamp in your passport.
I may not personally be interested in booking that all-inclusive resort trip or taking a cruise, but I applaud those who choose to do that rather than buy a new TV. Getting out of the house is a good thing, no matter how you do it, and if everyone traveled the same way I do or went to the same places I go that would be pretty boring, now, wouldn’t it?
I’m interested in making travel less daunting, less confusing, and more appealing to people who might think “the whole thing sounds too complicated, why don’t we just go to Florida again.” I would much rather “teach a traveler to fish” (to bastardize an old phrase) by giving him or her the necessary tools to make the right decisions about a trip – I think we get more out of travel when we take ownership of our holidays, at least a little bit – and I’m extremely good at making DIY travel less intimidating. I am that well-traveled friend who will talk to you like you’re not an idiot (because you’re not) and who will point you in the right direction – without making all your choices for you.
I’m fond of saying that the greatest lesson travel has taught me is that there’s no such thing as lost. You can always get where you want to go from where you are – it just might take a little longer than you’d originally planned. This has very practical implications when I’m unsure of my precise whereabouts in the historic center of Naples, and it also translates into less literal uses. For instance? I don’t know all the answers. But I know how to find them.
Areas of Interest and Expertise
- Copy writing
- Copy editing
- Social media, both use and instruction (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest)
- Public speaking and panel moderation
- Designing and executing content plans
- Organizing/re-organizing websites, especially inter-linking within a site
- Specific topics:
- Budget travel
- Slow travel
- Logistical travel details, especially transportation
- Itinerary planning
- Specific locations:
- Italy [see my Italy travel guide]
- New Orleans
- South Africa
I’ve been asked to speak at conferences and on podcasts on topics such as niche blogging and marketing, social media and community building, traveling on a budget, and traveling in Italy for:
- BlogWorld Expo (now New Media Expo)
- Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX)
- This Week in Travel Podcast
- Amateur Traveler Podcast
- Travel & Words Pacific NW Writers Meetup
- Travel & Words Conference
- AmeriCorps Vista Volunteers
I also co-host the Eye on Italy podcast, which is currently on a far-less-than-regular schedule than its hosts would like.
You Might Have Seen Me Here
- Amateur Traveler
- BlogWorld Expo
- Context Travel
- The Daily Meal
- Dream of Italy
- Fly.com Blog
- The Grand Wine Tour
- Go See Write
- The Huffington Post
- The Lost Girls
- My Melange
- Nerd’s Eye View
- The Oregonian (print and online)
- Parla Food
- The Points Guy
- TBEX Blog
- The Traveler’s Way
- Twenty-Something Travel
- The Vacation Gals
- Under the Tuscan Gun
- US Airways Magazine (print only)
- World Nomads
- I use WordPress, and am most familiar with that of the many CMS options out there. I’ve also got experience working with TypePad.
- When I write for online outlets, I write in an HTML writer (the Free HTML Editor by CoffeeCup), so what I send out is generally all HTML-ready to copy and paste, formatted however works for the site where the piece will eventually live. I’m happy to write regular old Word-type documents, too, if that’s your preference.
- I use the Creative Commons search to find photos that can be used for commercial purposes, and, if I need to, I edit them using the online service PicMonkey.
The best way to reach me if you want to chat about a project for which you think I’m suited is to fill out my contact form or send me an email – jessica [at] jessicatravels [dot] com. You can take a peek at my CV on LinkedIn.
On the other hand, if you positively adore the constraint of 140 characters and really just want to bond over our shared love of knitting, Sazeracs, the film Mindwalk, or the Portland Timbers, then Twitter (@andiamo) will do quite nicely.
Other places you’ll find me (perhaps sporadically):
Probably Irrelevant (but Perhaps Interesting)
- I was born on a horse farm in Newtown, Connecticut. (Yes, that Newtown.) I was that little girl who had her own pony at the age of six, not to mention a matching chaps-vest-and-hat set made of black-and-white cowhide. I therefore maintain that I am the original Cowgirl Jessie.
- My family either moved across town or across the country when I was a kid – from Connecticut to Oregon to New Hampshire and back to Oregon – although I’ve spent most of my life in Oregon, and very much consider it home. Having grown up at least in part in New England does help, however, when I have to do things like spell “Connecticut” or “Massachusetts.” The trouble with all the coast-to-coast moves is that I remain a bit confused whether to call it “soda” or “pop.”
- We took only one big vacation during my childhood, but it was an amazing one – a two-week trip through the U.S. Southwest with a 27-foot Airstream trailer when I was 12. I will never, ever forget the stars visible in Monument Valley as long as I live.
- My first passport stamps didn’t come until college, when I went to Australia and New Zealand on a month-long choir tour, and then spent a semester studying in Nottingham, England (during which I also got to visit Paris, Switzerland, and Prague).
- I got obsessed with knitting in 2017. I’m also a chronic insomniac, so the wee hours are when I get much of my knitting done. Ergo, Insomnia Knitting.
- My finest non-marketable skill is that I write kick-ass virtual introduction emails, followed closely by my prowess at cat herding and my ability to slouch even while sitting on a yoga ball.
- I. Love. Tattoos. And yes, when people tell you’re they’re addictive, they’re telling the truth.
- I am possibly one of the least active people on the planet, but I do enjoy watching soccer – AKA proper football – especially when my teams (Timbers FC and AC Milan) are involved. I’m also fairly conversant in cycling. Just don’t try to talk me into riding.
- Back in the day, when I saw the Bon Jovi concert video for “You Give Love a Bad Name,” I decided I wanted to be a rock singer. I sang in a band in high school, and then another after college. For the former, I wore an acid-washed denim jacket with white leather fringe. For the latter, I wore a vinyl bustier. These days, I sing in my car, at my desk, and while doing dishes, generally wearing sweatpants. It’s not quite the same.*
- * Addendum to the above: I’m back to singing again with my former bandmates. I am not back to wearing the vinyl bustier, however.
photo by high school classmate Henry Throop