Each week, The Pin The Map Project turns towards the travel community to highlight the stories of travelers, writers, photographers and bloggers. This week, meet Tracy Zhang of Just-In-Time Travels. Tracy is a freelance travel and lifestyle photographer who specializes in capturing the natural beauty and urban essence of a destination. Tracy is currently living in San Francisco and grew up in Vancouver, Canada where she learned to recognize home by the smell of fresh mountain air. Tracy picked up her first camera at age 16 and hasn’t stopped capturing the world one photograph at a time ever since! So far, Tracy has lived on 3 different continents and traveled to over 30 countries. Here I interview Tracy on her photography, favorite destination and best piece of travel advice.
What inspires you to travel?
I love to discover hidden corners of the world and beautiful sceneries and I look forward to discovering the flavor of new places.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
I’m sort of a “comfort traveller.” I don’t really splurge on luxury travel but I’ve also moved away from backpacking and hostelling, which I did a lot of 3-4 years ago.
How do you afford your travels?
Other than freelancing as a photographer, I also work in Marketing. Both help fund my travels.
Where has been your favorite destination?
Cuba was very memorable for me; I spent a week snorkeling with beautiful fish, swimming in old caves, horseback riding on sugar cane farms and just being in Havana. The country has this warm and welcoming atmosphere, but is also plagued by pretty obvious poverty. I felt very present the entire time I was there.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
Tough call but I think I would have to pick Vancouver, Canada. I know it’s not an exotic place but there’s something very natural and laidback there – both in the place and in the people who live there. Where else can you go to the beach, go for a hike in the mountains and go skiing all the in same day?
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy)
I don’t usually get a keepsake for myself but I like to send a postcard home to my parents. I think snail mail is a beautiful tradition and I want to support if whenever I can. I don’t get to see my parents very often and they are not very accustomed to international travels, so I like to share my travels with them via postcards. They have a whole collection of them at their house.
How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
My camera. =)
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
As a photographer, I find it hard to put down the camera when I’m traveling. I heard a memorable quote once that has helped me keep things in perspective, “Some moments are not meant to be captured, they are meant to be lived.”
I started Just-In-Time in 2010 when I was in college. I was looking for an outlet to share my photography and felt that a blog would allow me to have my own voice. The blog has evolved a lot since then and my photography has too.
I’m terrible with naming things and at the time when I started the blog, I was taking a business class on supply chain management systems and we had learned about the concept of Just in Time. I thought it would make for a cool name for a blog.
What is your one piece of advice to budding travel writers looking to start a blog or website?
Find a purpose – and be super clear what it is and what it isn’t. Just be honest with yourself on why you want to start a blog/website. There have been a few times when I seriously came to question why I was maintaining a blog and if you have a clear mission statement and this bigger purpose, then it’ll help define everything else – type of content you should post, whether to engage in advertising or not, who you’re writing for, etc.
What’s next for 2014? (Trips planned, etc.)
I’m going on a big trip throughout South East Asia–including Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia. I’ve never been to any of these countries but I think I could actually live in Vietnam for the rest of my life.
Follow Tracy and her travels here: