Every Tuesday, I will be featuring an inspiring woman traveler who takes joy in traveling, writing, or photography, or all of the above. First and foremost, I’d like to introduce Bianca Sewake of Where Bianca Goes, a young woman of many talents such as writing, photography, design, and printmaking. Hailing from Oahu, Hawaii, Bianca currently lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is studying journalism at Seattle University. She is interested in magazine and travel writing, but wants to keep her options open. Here is my interview with Bianca about what inspires her to travel and write.
What inspires you to travel?
Although I’ve traveled around a bit growing up, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college in Seattle that I was bitten by the travel bug. Some symptoms of that included daydreaming of far away places, thoughts of buying plane tickets, and a restlessness to go adventuring. A lot has to do with having grown up in Hawaii. I love Hawaii and am so thankful to have grown up there, but it really is the most isolated state. Traveling to places from Hawaii tend to be expensive for just plane tickets, and then you have to factor in hotels and rental cars. Being on the mainland, where another state or even another country like Canada is just several hours away is so much more cheaper and convenient. You can get there by planes or trains or cars. So I just wanted to take advantage of my geographic location and explore the Pacific Northwest.
Where has been your favorite travel destination?
Last spring I drove up to Vancouver, B.C. with a bunch of my friends, and I wish we had stayed longer. It’s one of those places that I felt I immediately wanted to travel back to while I was still there—and I definitely plan to see more of it. There’s so many gardens and outdoors activities. They have amazing food and the people are so friendly. I’ve had the foreign country experiences when I visited Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal. But what’s nice about Canada is that it’s a different country that’s close by, where everyone still speaks the same language. So I’m not totally lost, and I can get there in my car. I want to go back to Vancouver in the summertime when their flowers are in bloom and there’s more outside activities to do since the weather is nice. But I also want to travel to its neighboring Victoria Island too.
Of everywhere you’ve traveled, where is the one place you could see yourself settling down?
I eventually want to settle down in Hawaii. There’s just nowhere else I’d rather have a family. One of the special parts of growing up in Hawaii is knowing it as a home and not just some exotic travel destination. It’s a place that you can always come back to. I love traveling, but the more I do it, I’m so thankful to have grown up and known Hawaii first. Right now though at this young age, I would love to stay in Seattle for a while to work. I’m graduating college soon and everything is up in the air, and so right now I picture myself moving around a lot first with no steady commitments to one place. It’s an exciting time. I could end up anywhere. But eventually I want to settle down in Hawaii.
What is your favorite part about traveling?
Each city or town has their own pulse and character. I’m always surprised at how much I learn about the local tendencies or how different people do the same thing. For example, in New York, it’s just like the movies when it comes to crossing the street—no one waits for the lights to change, you just go. In New Jersey, the Italians call pasta, “macaroni” and sauce with meat in it, “gravy.” Seattle people tend to feel a little distant at first. I’m interested in the people, their culture, and their lifestyle. But I also love trying the food and drinks of what these places are known for or what locals recommend because that also speaks to the culture.
What do you enjoy writing about most?
I love writing profiles about people in longer narrative forms. They’re always somehow revealing or surprising, and these are the stories that people can connect with. I typically enjoy writing about food, arts, music, travel and culture. Although it’s fun highlighting places to go, or things to see, or foods to try, I am interesting more in the ‘how.’ For example, restaurant previews or reviews are fun, but in what ways are the methods, presentations, or ingredients progressive or different? A great album may have dropped with a bunch of songs to listen to, but what exactly went into creating the album? What inspired the songs? There may be a list of places to go, but I would want to talk in-depth about a certain region. It all circles back to this profile-y narrative style of writing—uncovering the back story and presenting something surprising about it.
When it comes to my Thought Catalog work, it’s more of a space to offer my own perspectives or advice on certain areas. It’s really just meant to empower people.
What souvenir do you need to buy on your travels?
I love collecting postcards on all my trips. It’s lightweight and easy to travel with, and I can hang it up in my place afterward. I’ll also typically buy something small from a place that I particularly enjoyed being in. For example, most recently in New York, I collected matchbooks from restaurants I liked and bought a small notebook from my new favorite museum, Cooper-Hewitt, with its name on the cover. So it’s always a postcard with something small from somewhere I enjoyed. I’m not into the little trinkets you can buy of the famous buildings or sites or whatever because those I feel like you can get anywhere. They’re not as special.
How do you afford travel?
It’s just a matter of saving money and figuring out how much I will probably spend on my trip. All of my trips are planned out. I research the area to figure out places I want to see and the foods I want to try. I even create itineraries of my visit so I at least have some schedule to go off of. I don’t stick to a strict regime that every single thing on the list has to be done in that exact order and within that one day. It just helps provide structure, and sometimes plans don’t always work out, and sometimes I get lost and find something equally or more fun—which is all exciting and part of traveling. And so, factoring in costs goes into that pre-travel part. Before my recent New York trip, I cut back on eating out and was pretty frugal with my grocery shopping so that I could afford to go and eat at all the places I wanted to.
What is the one thing you cannot travel without?
I always have a journal on me, especially when I travel. I try to commit to writing something down every single night or morning of my travel, but that never works out just because I’m on-the-go, or get tired and fall asleep fast. So I usually just write something whenever I can find a moment. I like to write about how I’m feeling at that exact moment, my impressions, interesting people I’ve met or moments that were particularly perfect, or, bad. Sometimes it’s just one sentence of something I’m thinking about. The best part about journals is coming back to it later and reading what I wrote. Some things I may have to think about before remembering why I wrote something, but it’s fun to look back on. Some journals are filled other things like plane tickets, stickers, or stubs from museums.
How did you get into travel writing/photography?
I started taking pictures just to record moments of where I was and it would be in front of some kind of historical site or in a museum or of buildings because I love architecture. So that’s how it all began years ago. It used to be for somewhat special occasions like birthdays, holidays, or travel. Now, taking photos is not so part of everyday life just because of smart phones and social media. So it’s part of sharing fragments of my experiences while traveling. But I like messing around with cameras. Most recently, I’m into film photography, so I like to bring my film camera with me whether that’s on hikes, to gardens, or bigger travels. As much as it’s awesome that pretty much anyone can take photos and keep their moments from their smart phone cameras, I like analog photography because I enjoy the surprise of finding out what exactly I took photos of. No matter how much you think you remember of taking photos, you’ll always be surprised with what shows up on your roll. I do use my digital camera which works like an SLR, and that’s for more instant gratification and sometimes a backup to know that I got the shot I wanted.
What do you like most about being in a new place?
I like the change of pace of being somewhere new. Everything feels and looks new because it is. It’s always mind boggling and amazing how different and same people are.
What song is always on your travel playlist?
I like the song “King City” by Swim Deep just because it’s a good song to listen to with the windows down, driving on a long stretch of road. It’s also a good song to listen to while entering a new city. It somehow just feels inspiring. But “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is on every playlist because it’s a sweet song with thick harmonies and just an all-around feel good song to get the day going.
What other hobbies do you have aside from travel and writing?
Oh gosh there’s so many things I like to do. I really like picking up anything I’m interested in. It hasn’t even been a whole year and I’ve taken up or dabbled in calligraphy, black and white film photography, printmaking, bookbinding and woodworking. Of all of these, I do calligraphy, film photography, and printmaking the most. I will be doing more woodworking though. On weekends I love to drive out of Seattle and go on a new hike or trail. I just love the outdoors. Sundays are my special food days where I try a new recipe and really just put a lot of effort into my cooking.
What do you love most about traveling?
I love trying all the different foods. Of course the historical significance of the sites to see and the people are great. But food says so much about people and their culture. It’s always a unifying factor. So I like trying foods from places famously known or ones that the locals love.
All of these photos were provided by Bianca.