We read a lot of travel blogs and talk to a lot of travel bloggers online, but realized we wanted to get to know them a bit better. Why did they choose to be a travel blogger? What do they love about travel? What better way to get to know fellow bloggers than by starting a dialogue? This is the first post in our new series, Meet the Travel Bloggers. Say hello to Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape.
When, why and how did you start your travel blog?
I started the Velvet Escape travel blog on New Year’s Eve 2008. I was a corporate and investment banker for ten years when I left my job in July 2008 to travel around the world – thinking that I would return to banking when I got back. When I returned five months later, the financial sector was in crisis and there were no jobs. I figured I could wait until the sector recovered but I needed something to keep me busy in the meantime, so I started the blog. By the time I got my first job offer about nine months later, I was hooked on blogging and social media and I didn’t look back.
How did you name it and what does the name mean to you?
When I was a banker, I viewed travel as an escape from the ‘rat-race’; an opportunity to experience a different rhythm, and as a means to reflect, expand my horizons and simply be myself. Moreover, I always travelled comfortably, flying Business Class whenever possible, staying in luxury hotels and eating at good restaurants. When I thought of a name for my blog, the word ‘Escape’ was a simple choice. I sought a word that conveys the way I like to travel and what it means to me and I’m glad I settled for ‘Velvet’. Velvet is soft and plush (reflecting the way I like to travel, i.e. comfortably) but when you run your hand over velvet you know there is a certain depth and richness to it; you know you are alive. That’s what travel means to me.
What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
The fact that it’s something I’ve created myself. Blogging is so multifaceted, from content-creation (text, photos and videos) to branding and marketing, it never fails to fascinate me.
What excites you about travel?
The opportunity to see the world’s natural beauty, meet new people and gain new insights.
What kind of traveler are you? Luxury, bargain, backpacking, a mix and why?
I grew up travelling in luxury – it helps if your father’s a pilot. During my student years, I backpacked often and when I became a banker, I returned to luxury, simply because I could afford it.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
I’m always in for a new travel experience, especially one which challenges my boundaries. I’m also a big foodie/wine fan!
Is being in your comfort zone important to you? What trade-offs make going out of it worthwhile?
Not really. I’ve gone out of my comfort zone many times. Skydiving in Spain (I’m scared of heights), eating stuff like bulls testicles in Brazil and fried bugs in Cambodia, swimming with sharks in Malaysia and the list goes on. I like trying new things and don’t mind stepping out of my comfort zone if it means experiencing something new or challenging myself.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever and why?
That would have to be my trip to Costa Brava in Spain last year. Within the space of a week, I got to explore the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres without anyone around, sky-dive and eat at two of the best restaurants in the world. That trip was a string of unforgettable moments.
What’s your favorite place on earth? Why?
That’s easy. Amsterdam! It’s small but world-class and has a vibe that’s infectious. It’s a privilege to be able to call Amsterdam my home.
Where are you off to next?
Cape Town, South Africa, for a week. Then Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list and why?
Sitting in the Virgin Intergalactic with Richard Branson, and seeing the Earth from space.
Is there anything we haven’t asked that you feel you’d like to share about your travels or your blog?
I would encourage anyone to travel. It’s the best school on the planet! Go with an open mind and an adventurous heart. Oh, and get your travel inspiration from Velvet Escape.
Keith Jenkins is the Founder and Publisher of Velvet Escape, a luxury travel blog. Based in Amsterdam, Keith left his ten-year investment banking career to travel the world and carve out a new career as a travel blogger and social media advocate. He has visited more than 60 countries across six continents and writes about his travels on his blog. He exhibits his travel photos on The Happy Explorer. Keith often speaks at travel and social media conferences. He also offers social media consultancy and marketing services via his Velvet Connect and iambassador brands. He is the co-founder of the Global Bloggers Network, an online community of more than 1,000 individual and corporate travel bloggers. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Editors note: On August 4, 2012, Keith Jenkins’ @VelvetEscape was named as one of the 15 Travel Twitter Accounts To Follow by Mashable (@mashable) one of the top Social Media websites on the Internet. We are honored that he was the travel blogger to launch our new Meet the Travel Blogger series.