Meet Julia Eskins and Aleyah Solomon of Here & There Magazine, a quarterly publication covering art, design and fashion in cities around the world. The Toronto-based duo met in 2012 and have been collaborating on projects ever since. With Aleyah’s experience as a photographer and Julia’s background in journalism, it made perfect sense for these two creatives to partner together and launch their own magazine in September 2015. Having traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Central America and South America, the co-founders both have a passion for exploring new places and chronicling their adventures. On The Traveler Series, Julia and Aleyah share what inspired their magazine and their best advice to budding writers.
What inspires you to travel?
Julia: I love how travel challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone and see the world from different perspectives. It’s introduced me to new people, cultures and ideas, all of which have helped me grow as a person. I’m interested in telling stories from around the world and documenting my experiences. Luckily, my profession allows me to merge my love of journalism and cultural exploration. Since launching Here & There Magazine, I’ve been even more motivated to continue globetrotting.
Aleyah: For me, it’s the desire to learn and experience different cultures. When you travel, you suddenly become aware of how many people are in the world. It brings a new perspective to life and allows you to meet new people, and hear their stories. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our busy lives. When I travel, I’m much more open to learning and experiencing as much as I can during that time which brings on new inspiration and creative energy. Sometimes you need to get away to further your mind.
For those who don’t know you yet, can you explain your travel style?
Aleyah: For as long as I can remember, when I travel, I like to ‘travel as a local’ meaning, I will go into a random cafe with my laptop and do some work (and probably start chatting to other locals) and walk around with my headphones, exploring, getting lost but always finding cool new spots that aren’t highlighted on the maps. The best way to learn about a place is to walk, and get lost, but always walk!
Julia: To say our trips are busy would be an understatement. Our time spent traveling for the magazine is usually filled with several interviews, photo shoots and a lot of walking! My goal is to experience each destination as if I live there which means networking with locals and skipping the tourist traps in favour of authentic experiences. Though working while traveling isn’t as relaxing as a beach vacation, it’s worth it because we completely immerse ourselves in the cities we visit and compile so much great content to share with our readers.
How do you afford your travels?
Julia: I fund my travels through the writing and editing work that I do. Along with running Here & There Magazine, I often collaborate with other publications and do a lot of freelance work
What has been your favorite destination and why?
Julia: This is a really tough question and it’s almost impossible to choose one place. I really enjoy the expat culture in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the arts scene in Berlin, Germany and the charming aesthetic of Hoi An, Vietnam. Turkey is one of my favorite countries to visit for its diverse landscapes and attractions. From the bustling markets in Istanbul to incredible hiking in Cappadocia to beautiful beaches on the mediterranean coast, there’s so much to see and do.
Aleyah: Not an easy question! I feel like everywhere I go has different aspects that make that place special to me. But, if I had to pick one place, I would say Colonia Del Sacremento in Uruguay. There was something so incredible about this small town. The people were beyond friendly! And, to this day, I have yet to find a better churro!
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would it be and why?
Julia: Just one? We keep joking that the ideal scenario would involve me living in London, England and Aleyah living in New York City! Both cities have such amazing energy and architecture. We were recently in New York interviewing artists and designers for our next issue and met some of the most inspiring people. Of course, I would also need an apartment in Paris! I’ll always keep Toronto as my Canadian home base. The jury’s out on whether I’ll ever settle down in one location forever though!
Aleyah: In North America – New York City! Nothing compares to the energy I feel in NYC!
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
Aleyah: From smiling at a very stern German security guard in the airport to having no clue if two Vietnamese people were screaming at each other or simply conversing, there are definitely some cultural differences I’ve noticed coming from my Canadian, Western-culture home. Even walking across the street in Hanoi is an experience in itself! “Don’t slow down, just weave between the cars or you will be hit!”
Julia: Vietnam certainly has its quirks! I was always shocked at the locals swimming in their jeans and sweatshirts at the beach while I was in my bathing suit. I’m also really fascinated by how communication norms differ from place to place. When I was in Sri Lanka, I couldn’t walk anywhere without locals stopping to chat with me. “Hello. Where are you from? Where are you going?” Most of the time, they weren’t trying to sell you anything but were just genuinely curious about your travel plans. I was often approached by people in Asia asking to take a photo with me. As a result, I have so many hilarious shots of myself surrounded by strangers.
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations?
Julia: In the past I’ve collected postcards and I also like buying a piece of jewelery from each destination. I’m especially drawn to silver rings although I’m running out of fingers to put them on.
Aleyah: I always buy postcards from every gallery I visit. Also, if a place has a special impact to me, I usually add something that reminds me of that place, be it an actual object or an art style, to my tattoo designs. Each of my tattoos marks a place I have been, at a specific time, among other things. But I definitely incorporate my travels in my designs.
What’s the one thing you cannot travel without?
Aleyah: My cameras. I bring at least 3-4 cameras wherever I go, a phrasebook and my music.
Julia: I always need to travel with a good book and music. I also never leave the house without my iPhone as I often use it to record interviews and share my adventures.
Have you ever traveled solo? Share your experience!
Julia: I did quite a bit of solo traveling after graduating university. I went to Berlin, Germany to study abroad and Helsinki, Finland to do an online media internship. Along the way, I did trips to Sweden, Russia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. The whole experience was so exhilarating! I went into it completely open minded and ended up meeting the some lifelong friends and creating some unforgettable memories.
Aleyah: I often will go places alone. I either meet people along the way, or a friend might meet up with me after a few days. When I traveled to Argentina, I happened to become friends with the girl sitting next to me, so, we ended up spending Christmas together and then met up with other friends. But, my intention was to be there for a few days alone. I have traveled to New York alone quite a few times. There is so much to do there, you don’t really notice that you are alone, and if anything, it allows for you to do what you want, when you want.
What are your go-to travel apps?
Julia: Though it’s not necessarily a travel-specific app, I’m addicted to Instagram because it allows me to share my experiences abroad and get inspired by the travels of others in a very visually-focused way. I also find the TripAdvisor, Google Translate and AirBnB apps really helpful. I recently learned about Hopper, an app that monitors prices to find the best deals and times to fly. I’ll definitely be using that one more!
Aleyah: I don’t really use many travel apps but Urban Spoon or Yelp are helpful if you want to find a spot to eat and read the reviews.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
Julia: The best piece of advice I’ve followed is to not plan everything in advance and keep your travel itinerary open. This is tough for me since I’m a natural planner and love scheduling everything ahead of time. However, I’ve learned that it really does pay off to give yourself a bit of leeway for surprises and recommendations from locals and fellow travelers. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll discover on the road.
Aleyah: I am not a planner. I like to wake up and see how I feel and decide what I should do. That being said, you should at least have a general guide of what you want to see and do while in that place – just make a list and mark if certain museums are closed on specific days, etc. Always know what you want to do, but don’t make an itinerary because other things may present themselves… you don’t need to fit everything in, either! And don’t hide behind a camera the entire time, make sure to experience being there, and then take a couple shots if you want, but actually be there. A lot of people just take photos and walk away and look later.
How did you launch Here & There Magazine?
Julia: We launched Here & There Magazine after noticing a huge void in the Canadian publishing industry – there were hardly any beautifully designed art and travel magazines geared for millennials. We believe that magazines have evolved to become a luxury item. Gone are the days of buying throwaway glossies; people are now investing in gorgeous books to keep forever. With this in mind, we aim to highlight artists and designers from around the world and deliver editorially-driven stories that are timeless and inspirational. We plan to print the first four issues as a ‘Volume 1’ booklet in 2016. Rather than just traveling to a city to do another ‘top 10’ guide, we try to capture every destination through the eyes the city’s creative inhabitants. The name Here & There was a perfect fit for us since our city-specific issues can appeal to both locals and readers from around the world. We also still cover stories in Toronto but frequently travel. While brainstorming names, Here & There was the one name Aleyah and I both wrote down without any prior discussion! We thought that was a sign, so went with it!
What is your best piece of advice to budding travel writers?
Aleyah: Make sure you know what else is out there, so you know not to copy that. And always go with your instinct – most of the time, your first instinct is right!
Julia: Find a niche and run with it. There are a lot of travel writers out there so you really need to offer something unique to cut through the noise. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other creatives who can bring something new to the table. It’s surprising what you can do when you team up with someone who has a different skillset than you.
What’s next for you in 2015/2016?
Julia: We’re getting ready to launch Issue No. 2: New York City in December. We’ve recently been working on some freelance stories for Suitcase Magazine and are excited to share our collaboration. We’ll also be heading to Chicago and Miami soon!
Aleyah: 2016 is going to be very busy and exciting for us. We will be focusing on two more cities to complete our first year of Here & There Magazine and we also have some really amazing travel plans for 2016 including Cuba, Peru and Portugal!
Make sure to check out all the inspiring travelers featured in The Traveler Series! To be featured in an upcoming post, contact me.