Jojo was born with the travel bug- even as a teen growing up outside of London, she would go with her friend to Gatwick Airport just to watch the planes and fantasize about someday being on one of them. When she got old enough to take trips by herself, she says, she was the only one positively loving every second of the 27-hour bus ride (OOOOF) from England to Pamplona, Spain.
Jojo is also a huge collector, starting with her childhood collection of anything green. Today her biggest vices are Pez dispensers and nail polish (that one hits close to home with me). Obviously, having a big collection of your favorite things isn't exactly compatible with the footloose traveler's lifestyle. Jojo had to make some hard decisions about possessions versus experience- studies show that in terms of happiness and excitement, experiences outweigh possessions. When you think about it, Jojo says, "we don't sit around and talk about our TVs or our possessions- we talk about the experiences we've had." When you push yourself out of your routine and your comfort zone, amazing things can happen.
Jojo blogs about her travel experiences in order to remove roadblocks to veganism and to make vegan travel as straightforward, fun, and accessible as possible. She shared some handy tips on traveling as a vegan and how to blog about your vegan travel experiences effectively.
Blogging is Activism!
- Discover- discover the vegan ins and outs of the place you're visiting
- Create- create blog posts and other social media posts about your discoveries
- Share- make it even easier for your fellow vegans to utilize your research by sharing your creation on social media!
For Jojo, being prepared and doing research is an essential first step in preparing for your vegan travel adventure. She knows, for example, that she will never go to a zoo or any type of animal performance abroad, and when she went to Thailand she knew she definitely didn't want to support the elephant trafficking industry. Through research, she found the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary where these majestic, gentle giants can live in peace. Jojo and her partner became fast friends with Lek, a local vegan and founder of the sanctuary who has suffered alienation from both the government and her own family for her compassionate beliefs, and spent an enjoyable several days (weeks?) volunteering at the shelter in exchange for a room and vegan meals. Talk about a win-win situation!
These days, social media is the most powerful, effective tool we have in the fight to affect change in the world and inform people, and Jojo's travel blog is an essential part of that.
For example, although she loves travel to Japan, animal rights there can be a grey and confusing area. Jojo initially began looking into a 'wild monkey park,' where the humans are in cages and can observe the monkeys in a natural habitat. But the more Jojo researched, the more she felt ill-at-ease with the idea, especially the fact that visitors pay to feed the monkeys. She reached out to a UK-based primate rescue organization on social media for their opinion, and they confirmed that this was a bad situation: by teaching the primates to become dependent on humans for food, they can begin to develop and exhibit aggressive behavior, which in turn leads to culls.
One of Jojo's main motivators for going to Japan was to investigate and clarify a lot of the conflicting information about traveling vegan in Japan. "You need to get on top of your discovery game," she says, and the creation and sharing will flow from that. Being 'on top of' the discovery game, she reiterates, involves a lot of reaching out via social media and email to determine what her vegan options are well in advance.
Being well-prepared with research is what led Jojo to spending a magical day on Okunoshima, aka BUNNY ISLAND. It's exactly what it sounds like: an island completely uninhabited save for thousands of fuzzy little hoppers. The bunnies are wild but friendly, and visitors are encouraged to bring healthy snacks (carrots and cabbage) for the residents. Jojo is happy to report that all the visitors respectfully observe these rules, keeping the bunny population on Okunoshima healthy and happy. But enough reading, WATCH THIS VIDEO of Jojo experiencing pure joy and you experiencing pure jealousy:
Another handy thing to do is to research the words for non-vegan items or items you want to avoid in the local language of the place you'll be visiting. That way you can scan the ingredients labels of packaged foods without necessarily needing to be fluent. Hey, here's a hot tip- Jojo just published European Vegan, a cute lil' pocket-sized zine which has compiled the words for the most common animal by-products in thirty-two (count 'em!) different languages! You should totally buy it for your next trip to 'The Continent' (I take a little bit of pride in it myself, because I helped with the Swedish page!).
So now that you know how to create and enjoy kick-ass content while you're traveling, when should you get all this done? Jojo advises holding off on creating content if you're in the middle of a short trip. Set a few posts for auto-publish and then relax and enjoy yourself- you can finish the rest when you get home!
But for longer trips, what are some good strategies for keeping a consistent online presence? First, you need to post to the appropriate social media for what you want to share. Jojo will be putting up a "packing guide" on YouTube, where a video would be far more instructive than a wordy blog post. City guides work well as blog posts, and come with the added bonus of being editable for updates. Ingredients lists, you want to keep portable and off-line-- which is exactly why Jojo created the European Vegan zine!
Secondly, you don't have to do Big Things every day, but try to do something every day. Jojo shared with us a day in her (fabulous) online life, earlier this year in Thailand, on April 24:
Instagram: A photo of postcards she was sending to friends (although you can never go wrong with 'gramming food either!)
Twitter: Three tweets about Thailand
Periscope: A video of their new hotel in Koh Samui
Pinterest: pictures of Koh Samui and the food she's been eating
Blog entry: "Vegan Adventuring in Nha Trang // A Love Story Between Me and A Sandwich"
Now stuff your pockets full of marshmallows, grab your passport, and have a great time! And don't forget to write home about it. Thanks, Jojo! And bon voyage!