Originally from New Jersey, Christina Lau is one of those lovely photographers we love to see popping up on our Instagram feeds. Quite like many Dame Travelers out there, Christina is a full-time employee (working on e-commerce strategy after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology seven years ago) who works on personal content and photography part time. To offset her 9-5 office job, she’s always seeking out new adventures and planning her next trip. Sound familiar for some of you? We love Christina’s involvement in the Dame Traveler community, and are beyond thrilled to get to know her a little better today!
Hi Christina, thanks so much for chatting with us today! Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who isn’t following you yet?
I’ve always been a tri-state area girl, coming from New Jersey and moving to NYC for college. For years I wanted to work in fashion, hence my choice to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As a student there I started sharing my outfits on Instagram when it was still in its early stages as an app. Unexpectedly, I met a ton of amazing friends on the platform who were creating similar content and slowly started working with brands on content creation. Because of that community I started experimenting with lifestyle photos, and a few years later that is now my main content focus! I love being able to share everything I love about life, without siloing myself into a particular category. I do have a full-time job in e-commerce, so I’m thankful for this ongoing side project that gives me some creative balance.
Did you always want to travel the world? Where do you think your curiosity for adventure came from?
I had always enjoyed traveling with my family, but it wasn’t a main priority of mine until I had the opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai for a semester. Because of that experience, I learned to truly immerse myself into another culture and explore unfamiliar areas on my own. Having that independence for a few months in a new destination really fueled my love for adventure.
What has been your favorite destination so far and why?
It is so hard to choose, but right now I’d have to say Japan! I had extra time between jobs earlier this year and used it to visit Japan for three weeks. I immediately fell in love with everything from the overall culture to the food (it helps that sushi is my favorite kind). I think your individual experience can easily shape how you feel about a destination, and I was fortunate to stay with a close friend who lives in Tokyo. Having the opportunity to explore local spots that I may not have otherwise found, along with enough time to travel around the country, made a huge impact on my trip. I also happened to visit during cherry blossom season, which was an added bonus on top of an already amazing experience. Eventually I’d love to go back for every season of the year!
Do you know any travel hacks or tips?
Download Google Maps offline, and mark any restaurants or sights on a custom map. This will just ensure that you can do everything you’ve planned for and avoid as many navigation issues as possible. I also swear by the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card for avid travelers. The benefits for travel are incredible — I’ve already booked several flights fully on earned points!
What are you tips to stay safe when traveling?
Do your research ahead of time, and keep others updated on your location/plans. Save any important documents in a separate place, i.e. online or in your phone. Overall, stay aware of your surroundings and follow your instincts just as you would at home.
What was your first big trip abroad? What experiences did you have? Did it leave an impact on you?
The first trip that really had an impact was a family vacation to China while I was in high school. This trip inspired my choice to study abroad in Shanghai years later, because I knew that I hadn’t truly appreciated the experience with my family. It was my first time visiting a country outside of North America, and I was nervously distracted by culture shock the entire time. Looking back, we had some incredible experiences that included walking along the Great Wall of China and watching the stunning light show on Hangzhou’s West Lake. Throughout high school I visited a few other countries with my family and started to understand the value of travel. I feel very fortunate that I was able to revisit China with a new perspective in college — I hope to go back again soon!
What lessons have you learned from your experiences traveling?
Be open to unfamiliar experiences (with your safety in mind, of course), talk to the locals (respectfully!), and understand that not everything will go as planned. The best trips can come out of spontaneity!
Why do you travel? What do you seek each time you hop on a plane?
I travel to fuel my curiosity and learn more about the world around me. I’m a naturally active person and rarely spend full weekends at home. There is so much to learn from travel, whether that means taking a day trip an hour away or flying halfway across the world. It reminds me that there is so much more than what we know from our daily lives. Travel keeps life exciting!
Why do you think it’s important for women, specifically, to explore the world?
Along with providing adventure, travel fosters community. I really felt this when I traveled alone and made friends with some awesome women from around the world. Travel allows for connections that you may not otherwise make while at home. It challenges your perspective and opens up your mind in a way that nothing else can.
Have you faced any struggles traveling as a woman? Can you tell us about your experience and how you overcame it?
There aren’t any specific moments I can remember, so fortunately, not really. I typically have safety in mind when I travel, and this was especially true when I took my solo trip to Portugal. It was my first time traveling alone to another country, but thankfully Portugal is a relatively safe destination. During that trip I made sure to introduce myself to other female travelers in my hostel. I ended up making new friends as a result, which made the trip even better! For other female travelers, I’d recommend always telling a trusted person your location/plans. My mom still never fails to ask me for my itinerary before a big trip. In general, trust your gut and don’t be afraid to say no.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to Dame Traveler for including me in this series! I’m glad there is a platform like this for women to connect about all things travel, and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.
Thank you so much for chatting with us Christina! We hope to see you out there somewhere in the world some day. Be sure to follow Christina on adventures via Instagram… and thank us later!
Looking for more inspiring female travelers to follow in Instagram? Check out our other Faces Of Dame Traveler interview subjects!