Happy Monday, Dame Travelers! If you’ve noticed, we’re loving the opportunity to introduce you all to some of our most inspiring women in the Dame Traveler community on the blog recently. Today is no different! Meet Aubrey Daquinag – a published author, travel & lifestyle photographer and blogger. She explores slow solo travel as a form of self-love through her blog, The Love Assembly, and her internationally published book WANDER LOVE. (We’ve been obsessed with her book since its release last year!)
We’re excited to introduce Aubrey to you all today and add her name to our Dame Traveler interview series! Without further ado, here’s Aubrey!
Thanks for chatting with us today, Aubrey! Could you give our readers a quick introduction?
I was born and raised in Australia, yet being ever so curious about the world I took my love for travel and photography to start theloveassembly.com in late 2012: a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to inspiring and motivating young women to live a more creative and curious life.
After just 18 months of The Love Assembly being live, my work received worldwide recognition for the quality in travel content creation, partnering with Condé Nast Traveler in New York in 2014 as the first contributing Australian lifestyle blogger.
From landing my first sponsored trip with Countrylink Australia (after just one month from launching) — to collaborating with global brands like Condé Nast Traveler, Paypal, and numerous Tourism Boards and Airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Garuda, Emirates, Tourism Japan, Stockholm, New Zealand, Peru, Australia, Hong Kong and Indonesia — releasing my debut internationally published travel book, WANDER LOVE. I for one can definitely stand by saying that stepping out of your comfort zone can lead you to some pretty incredible places in life that you would have never even dreamed about!
I love new experiences and creating quality content for The Love Assembly audience and for brands that align with my values and aesthetic. Following the release of my book, I have started partnering with brands and business on holding creative workshops, including STA Travel and Panasonic LUMIX cameras, as well as speaking on my experience of using solo female travel as a form of self-love.
My main message of inspiring and empowering women to Design A Life They Love has lead me to my most recent venture of WANDER LOVE CLUB, where I’m working on teaching and helping aspiring heart-centered creatives to find their authentic voice, build their brand online, and upgrade their content to share with the world.
What inspired you to write Wander Love? What was the process of writing the book like?
From the very early stages of starting my blog I knew that one of my goals was to publish a book. I saw the world through my lens and my specific curation of places that were unique, before we had so much access to places now that Instagram geo-location and Pinterest images can lead you to.
When my publisher approached me to create a book it was purely for a Travel Photography coffee table book. But I had just come back from a 3 month solo trip to South America where the only plans I had were no plans. I arranged it off the back end of a photography and blog job that I had in Brazil and had put all of my belongings into storage. So after that, I had to pitch back to my publisher to say that it can’t just be filled with my photographs, I have sooooo much to say and share about going deeper into the philosophies of travel and what it can bring to a woman.
I structured the chapters to unfold as you would naturally get to know someone—in layers.
You’ll find the Digital Nomad Essentials where I share how I work around the world and how you can do the same, photography and packing tips and tricks, travel guides for six destinations around the world my heart has wandered to (with yours waiting to do the same), and a collection of the must-visit markets for treasure hunting around the world, plus a lesson in how to barter like a #boss. Then I eventually get deeper into the topic through travel philosophy and the life lessons it can bring.
I spent the majority of my time still flying around the world and working, but also giving myself time in each city to go to a cafe, sit in nature or the departure gates and just write – write about the destinations and tips and tricks that everyone wants to hear but also the deeper parts of travel and what solo travel gives to you if you use it as a form of self-love. This is what my message is truly about and I definitely feel that the opportunity came to me at a time when it was supposed to because the content structure and chapters just flowed effortlessly. The response has been incredible and I got the dream stockists that I had always wanted like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and of course all bookstores worldwide. It even got picked up in its first year to be printed in a foregin edition which is super exciting!
That is so exciting! Going back a bit – did you always want to travel the world? Was travel something you always were inspired by?
From an early age my family and I would go camping a lot, which was really fun. Living so far in Australia didn’t allow for much international travel throughout my teens but once I hit my 20’s I knew I wanted not only to explore, but live a location-independent lifestyle that allowed me to work online whilst traveling.
I’m not too sure where my curious nature and sense for adventure comes from (but it’s so high and I don’t think it will ever go away) as no one in my immediate family has gone down this path – even my star sign says that I’m a homebody and hate change when I’m the complete opposite and have solely based on my business and work/career around travel, creativity and the love of change.
We can completely understand that feeling! What was your first big trip abroad? Did it leave an impact on you?
I’m originally from Australia and my first big trip was to India and Bali. All that was missing was Italy for an Eat Pray Love moment, that’s for sure! Hah! A lot of my friends at the time were having their first European summers but that never appealed to me at the time.
I wanted to experience something of extreme diversity; something so different to the way I was living and to the way a typical early 20-something would travel those many many moons ago! That’s exactly what I got. But if you have or ever get to see India in your lifetime you will see that it is a photographers dream. There are so many colors, scents and sights that are beyond this world. When I saw the Taj Mahal up close it was nothing like I had expected. I had dreamt about it for so long as I was so familiar with the story behind it and how much of a romantic gesture this piece of architecture was, and had photos of it from afar. The thing is you see these photos online but when you finally visit the place for yourself and take your own photo, it’s something else. What blew me away though was the intricate details of the tiling. I didn’t expect this and it’s something that you can only really notice if you get up close and see it for yourself.
Sounds like an adventure of a lifetime. In your book, you write a lot about the importance of solo travel. Could you explain to our readers why do you believe solo travel to be so beneficial and important?
My work as a travel and lifestyle blogger and photographer has led me around the world to so many incredible destinations and experiences – often solo, other times with good company. Apart from this I use the act of traveling solo as a form of self-love, which is so important for any individuals’ well being and beneficial in a women learning to be strong and independent. It’s the lens that I see it through because I see solo travel as a time to do so much introspection and become more self-aware.
I don’t think anyone can ever explain it better than Italian poet Cesare Pavese, he says: “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
What lessons have you personally learned through your experiences traveling?
Oh gosh, so many! This is actually the last chapter in my book, titled “Life Lessons from Solo Travel.” I’ll hit you with one from there: ‘When you become comfortable with being uncomfortable, you allow yourself to grow.’
Most of the time I am traveling for work (which is also pleasure), then an extended part on the back of a work trip for play, and to explore this beautiful world. “The great affair is to move”
Thank you so much for all of your insight Aubrey! Let’s end on a light note – what is the go-to item you’re always happy you packed… and what is your number one travel hack/tip?
A hydrating mist (because planes suck out the moisture from your skin!), my camera of course, a scarf, and although not an item – a good Spotify playlist.
My number one practical tip is to always download Google maps offline when traveling solo to a new destination. It allows you to access your location even if you you’re not connected onto wifi. That way, you’re free to wander and get lost, knowing that even if you don’t remember how to get back to your hotel you can always check, just in case.