“Even in Exotic Food Places, I Try to Find French Fries.” — A Conversation with Travel Blogger & Content Creator Shea Powell

Shea Powell is the Adventurer and Creator behind the travel blog, The World Up Closer. With a wandering heart and an inspired mind to travel, her thoughts have led to a world experience she is happy to share with like-minded globetrotters, travelers and dreamers. Born and bred in the Parish of Clarendon, Shea took her first solo trips in South America, which has widened her perspective and served as an appetizer to continue to experience, explore and inspire others with full-time adventures via one continent at a time.

So far, Shea’s journey across the globe has taken her to over 34 countries, while travelling on a Jamaican Passport. Her website features travel stories from all over the world, travel tips, and where to travel visa-free for Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals.

1. What is your connection to Jamaica?
Jamaica is home. Though the world has become a place I’ve made my playground, I grew up in a small rural town in Thompson Town, Clarendon. Whenever I am not country hopping, you can find me somewhere between Clarendon and Kingston.

2. What is your favorite travel destination so far?
I just finished travelling around in Southern India-Kerala and it is high on my list. Currently, I am in Japan. As far as my favourites go: Iceland, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Colombia, and now adding India.

3. What do you like about the food and culture?
Whenever a new destination is on the horizon and I am always in search of the best street food. Nothing too fancy, nothing too expensive. I think it is one of the best ways to experience the culture and to connect with the locals.

4. What is your top tip for budget traveling?
Travel offseason! I often recommend to travel off season. It’s cheap in most cases, less crowded and better travel deals are available.

5. What was the first trip you took as a child?
I think my childhood trips were pretty similar to any Jamaican child growing up on the country-side: Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon was a regular highlight. On major days, we would venue out to Dunns River Falls or the Portland Jerk Festival, if it was that time of the year.

6. What is the most important thing you have learned from your travels?
I’ve learned and still learning. One of the most important things I’ve gathered from all my trips is that you’ll never truly experience it until you go for yourself.

7. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
Whenever I am home. I escape to Portland, Jamaica. Most of my viewers will agree with this, as I often share the experience. Portland is sort of my hideaway spot. I often go to recharge and relax.

8. Where have you traveled that most remind you of Jamaica?
So far, a few countries in Latin American remind me of Jamaica. The Caribbean side of Mexico reminds me of Jamaica due to its landscape and beachy vibe. The people and energy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also reminds me of Jamaica. I often relate Jamaica to Brazil, with Jamaica being on a much smaller scale. Colombia too has a lot in common with Jamaica; similar fruits, weather, and landscape in some places.

9. Where would you like to go that you have never been?
Most of the countries that are on the top of my to-go list right now are in Africa. I would love to visit Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Turkey, and Jordan.

10. When you go away, what are your must-have items?
Apart from the essentials like camera, iPhone, etc., these are my must-haves for all destinations:

During my daily excursions, I travel with a backpack, no handbags or side backpacks. I need something that can fit my camera, water bottle, charger pack, and something that’s comfortable on my back.

I have to travel with pairs of socks (even to tropical destinations), a pair flip flops, rain jacket, running-shoes, motion-sickness pills, and clay face masks from Shea Butter. If I do not have these with me, I do not feel completely prepared. Haha!

11. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re traveling?
Even in exotic food places, I try to find French fries. It is my guilty pleasure wherever I go. I may or may not have had some in Tokyo, Japan less than 24hrs ago!

Shea Powell

Follow Shea’s travels on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.