When it comes to travel blogging, Teri Johnson takes it to a whole new level. Her website, Travelista Teri is less of a traditional blog and more of a network of her writing and videos from her online travel show — Travelista TV — both featuring a hefty smattering of fashion, food, travel tips, and guides to a variety of exotic locations.
We spoke with Teri about her blog, some of her best assignments, and just how she came to be such a world travel aficionado.
The Trip Tribe: Okay… you’ve studied wine in Italy, film in New York, and you have a certificate of achievement from the Sorbonne. How did you come to be such a world citizen with such a variety of interests?
Travelista Teri: I became a world citizen by being naturally curious about other cultures, lives, and countries. I studied wine in Italy and took a language and civilization course at the Sorbonne during the same summer and ended up staying in Europe for almost a year. While living in Paris, I was able to travel to at least ten countries in Europe doing long weekend getaways where I could further explore my curiosity about places that I’d only read about or seen on television. For me, travel only expands my already curious mind and I find that I constantly take on new hobbies, passions, and projects.
TTT: Best assignment you’ve been on. Go.
TT: My best assignment thus far is South Africa. I love that I can visit South Africa during our winter when it is summer there. I am in love with the beaches in Cape Town, the ability to experience wild animals on safari in Kruger National Park, the wine countries in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, and the rich cultural history in Johannesburg. The people are friendly, the food in Cape Town is amazing because of the cultural mix of cuisines (Malay, African, Indian, Dutch), the landscape is naturally beautiful and full of surprises.
TTT: On top of being an on-screen presence, you’re a producer as well. Which do you prefer: in front of or behind the camera? Why?
TT: When I first started as an on-screen presence, I quickly realized it wasn’t as easy as it appears which is why I felt more comfortable behind the camera until recently. As a director/producer, I always had a vision of what I wanted and I knew how to make it come alive. When I fully embraced the reality and importance of doing both roles to make myself more marketable and self sufficient, I began to like being in front of the camera more – especially if I’m not in charge of the production. I’ve worked with some amazing cameramen and DPs over the years and I’ve come to trust their work, direction and ideas. My producer hat never fully comes off because I see and hear everything. I will always hold for sound or repeat my line if there is a lot of background noise, thus making the sound guy’s job much easier.
TTT: Any travel tips for women traveling solo?
TTV: I encourage all women to travel solo at least once in their lives. I did my first solo trip to Portugal when I was 21 while living in Paris. I didn’t have anyone to travel with so I booked the trip, stayed in a hostel and prayed that I would meet other cool people. I remember how afraid I was at the thought of spending four days in silence, with no one to talk to, no one to share my experiences with and no one to care if I was coming or going. Within two hours of arriving in Lisbon, I made friends with other solo travelers from Spain, Italy and other parts of Portugal. Traveling solo is liberating and fun and a great way to overcome fear.
I do encourage women to always be on guard and to not accept drinks from strangers. It’s best to buy your own drink and never take your eyes off of it. Additionally, if you’re in a place and you find a man staring at you in a weird manner, stare back at him to let him know that you see him and his stares do not intimidate you. Sometimes, you’ll find that the guy thinks you’re pretty and this was his awkward way of letting you know (French men) and sometimes, the staring will cease. Lastly, carry a messenger style bag or purse. It’s much more difficult to snatch and more practical for you to easily access your belongings.
TTT: Besides your own, what are some of your favorite blogs?
TT: I love the Souvenir Finder by Kristin Francis. It’s filled with pretty pictures of souvenirs and great finds around the world. I also love Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue. It’s a relationship blog that is perfect for any woman with relationship issues, or who is contemplating a break up, thinking about reconciling or who likes to be entertained by female empowerment advice.
TTT: Describe yourself in 6 words.
TT: Fun loving, Fearless, Curious, Passionate, Travelista
About Teri Johnson
Teri Johnson is the creator and host of Travelista TV™, an online video network focused on travel, culture, and lifestyle. Her passion for adventure, storytelling and her multi-lingual talents has taken her to nearly 60 countries where she has hunted with the Kuku-Yalanji aborigines in Australia and trekked through the mystical Dogon country in Mali. As a travel host and personality, Teri has starred in national advertisements, web series, and campaigns with Ford, Honda, Hampton Hotels, Choice Hotels, The Travel Channel.com, BET, and TVOne. Teri is also a writer and contributes to several outlets including Huffington Post, Uptown Magazine, etc.
This piece was originally published June 2014.