As the fourth installment of our series, TakeMeThereToday is proud to introduce Jojo Aquino, the founder of Traveling Petite Girl, a blog for creative-minded female travelers. She is an incredible photographer and is a social media strategist who is in the process of building her own social media management empire, Piña Social Media. So far in her career, she has visited the Philippines, Vietnam, Guam, Japan, México, Canada, and the United States. She has been traveling throughout her life.
Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to be a social media strategist?
I did not! I graduated with a BFA in Photography yet here I am being a social media strategist. Before I graduated, I completed a social media/photography internship because I want to take my travel blog far. Next thing I knew, I actually had a knack for it because it combines my free, creative side with my analytical, orderly side.
How does social media play a part in your life and career?
In my personal life, I would use it like any other person; catch up with news and people in my life, and post here and there. But because it’s my career and right now, career is life, it’s EVERYTHING! I’m on it all the time. I actually have to set reminders on my phone to get off social media otherwise it gets too much. I make sure to set clear boundaries between my life in front of the screen and my life in front of something that’s not a screen like a person or a beach.
How do you maintain relationships considering that you travel frequently?
I’ve been used to long distance relationships with my family since I was 7 and since then, have learned how to maintain relationships with family and friends by always being in communication. And what I love about social media is that it makes it easier for me to stay connected to people who matter to me. I love seeing photos of my parents having dinner together and selfies of my girl friends hanging out when I’m on the other side of the world.
Is work travel hectic? Do you get enough time to explore the destinations you visit?
It would be hectic if I were bouncing from one place to another but that’s not how I like to travel. Despite my love for travel, I like to be grounded wherever I am. And I wouldn’t be able to fully absorb a city in a short amount of time especially if I’m working half the time. So how I like to travel is to live in 1 place for months at a time, slow traveling basically. That way I can really get to know the city, the culture, and the people. I’m not the kind of person who can instantly connect with locals in a few days, I’d rather be able to connect with them in a longer, deeper way.
Conversations and connection with people are my thing and I love to experience that wherever I go.
You’d be surprised that no matter where you go, you’d see yourself in every person you meet, and you’d love them more for that because you’re able to put yourself in their shoes and understand who they are much more.
A funny/embarrassing moment you witnessed while working or traveling?
I was in Panglao island in Bohol, Philippines riding a tricycle at night to transfer from one resort to another. We were in the middle of a dark road when saw a local man driving a motorbike real slow. I thought that looked suspicious so we kept ourselves on guard, next thing I knew, the closer we got, I found out he was only driving slow because his caucasian passenger sitting behind him was pulling his large luggage along the road probably also transferring from one resort to another.
Then my tricycle driver said, “Nakita mo yan, kuripot ang taong yan.” (You see that? That guy is cheap.) “Oo nga, buksan mo naman ang wallet mo ng kaunti!” (I know right? Stretch your wallet a little!) And then we laughed together as we drove off like sassy teenage girls cackling away in a convertible. That really sounds elitist now that I’m writing this but it only costs ~$2 more to ride a tricycle to save time, money, and convenience, not to mention paying for another luggage because you’re ruining the wheels of the one you’re dragging. That said, I’m sure it was a unique experience for him! And we’re all about those kinds of experiences while traveling right?
What is the hardest part of your work?
Balancing work with relationships and health! There’s only so many things you can do in 24 hours each day and I love to sleep so to make sure I have time for everything, I only do 2 work-related things per day. I’m a detailed person who likes to get everything right so it’s in my nature to get into the nittiest of the grittiest of tasks but that takes too much time. So instead of doing that, I focus only on the important tasks and do it well. That way, I have time freed up to work out, cook, spend time with people, and relax at the beach with a book.
What do you love most about your work?
The freedom! I love working with a structured life and schedule but I want to work with my structured life and schedule. Along with that, what I love the most about my work is that it not only makes me happy but it makes others happy too and that happiness fuels me to keep doing what I do. I don’t want to sound too preachy but when you finally reach a point in your life/career that what you do daily isn’t only to serve yourself but to serve others, you experience a glow within yourself that whoever walks into it experiences it too.
What is your favorite destination? Any place you still haven’t visited?
That’s a popular question that’s tough for me to answer because my answer always changes! When I think of destinations, I think of places to live in and so far the top of my list is Sapporo, Japan. It has enough of a fast-paced city vibe that I like but not too much that I could kick back anytime by going out to any nature spot in Hokkaido. Also, my favorite beer is Sapporo so what better place to enjoy it in, right?
For a place I haven’t visited yet, it would be any destination that is a gastronomic feast in itself and right now I’m looking at Bangkok, Thailand and Taipei, Taiwan.
What’s next on the road ahead?
Career-wise, I’m in the process of my starting my own business as a social media strategist and getting that to a point where I’m able to move anywhere I want to. A measurable goal of mine is to be able to live in a high-rise condo by a white beach in México and dance salsa every night for a few months in 2018. For personal goals, to take my family out on travel trips that I’m able to pay with through my travel blog and social media business.
What is your advice for a person interested in becoming a social media strategist?
Everyone says this but just do it. Screw getting everything right from the beginning and go straight to making mistakes because even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re learning and gaining experience.
You know you’re going the right direction when you’re making mistakes, not when you’re doing the right thing.
This is what I tell myself everyday.
Learn how to live minimally. Get rid of all the things that add extra weight in your belongings and in your life. Focus on things that spark joy and trash the ones that don’t. As a result, you not only end up with less luggage to carry but you also end up with lighter feeling in your heart which allows you to experience travel in a deeper, soulful way.
We would like to thank Jojo for taking the time to share her experiences about her travel and work. Her refreshing perspective and dedication getting to know cultures individually and in depth are truly inspiring. Thank you, Jojo. At TakeMeThereToday, we hope that this series inspires you to follow your travel dreams and explore careers that enable you to strike those destinations off your bucket-list.