Travel Blogger Set to Create One-of-a-Kind Guide to Puerto Rico
As a travel blogger, social media is a big part of how I promote my brand. I have been inspired, made meaningful friendships, and created amazing memories through my blog, The Dining Traveler. One of the things I noticed during my 5 years of blogging is that an image can speak a thousand words. A photo on Instagram has sparked my interest on many destinations, hotels, and restaurants. That being said, I felt there was a void in imagery when it came to travel guides. This is how the idea of the Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico became a reality.
Cueva del Indio Beach at Royal Isabela in Puerto Rico. (Photo Courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus)
I have visited 42 countries and had love affairs with places such as the Opera in Vienna, Beaches in Okinawa and the souks in Casablanca. However, Puerto Rico will always be my first love because I grew up there. My first travel experiences were of road trips around the island with my late father. It is the place I always turn to for comfort even though I have not lived there permanently since I was 14. It’s the perfect combination of the familiar and the unknown for me. I have visited too many times to count, but the list of places I want to visit on the island never ends. There always seems to be a new beach, experience or restaurant.
Behind the Scenes of the Kickstarter Promo Video Shoot at Crashboat Beach, Aguadilla. (Photo Courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus)
Although there have been many great articles written about Puerto Rico, there are seldom I’ve seen on traditional travel media written by a Puerto Rican. To me, that was the biggest motivation to start the project. With the traveler demographic becoming more diverse and adventurous in our country, I felt it was time to tell the story about the island from a Boricua perspective. Along with a Puerto Rican-American editor (Nina Alvarez) and a Venezuelan photographer (Italo Morales) and me – as the writer/producer – it will be one of the first all-Latino produced multimedia travel books to be marketed in the United States and Europe.
The concept of the book is to have a hardcover photo book to have in your home or office. I want to create something beautiful for readers to flip the pages and be inspired to travel to the island. However, the Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico will have an e-book companion for travelers to have our tips on hand as they travel around the island.
Fried Red Snapper with Tostones (Fried Plantains) at Santaella Restaurant. (Photo Courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus)
As many know, Puerto Rico is going through a tough time. A financial crisis has driven many industries off of the island, which also means that jobs have been cut. However, one of the things I have noticed through my multiple visits to the island is the resilience of the people. I have had the opportunity to experience this while scouting locations to feature in the book. One of my main objectives for the guide is to feature locally-owned experiences. I have been amazed with all the wonderful Puerto-Rican owned hotels, restaurants, and services I’ve encountered on my journey.
Jessica inside the Puerto Rico Helitours’ helicopter. (Photo Courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus)
I was taken by the Benitez family of Puerto Rico Helitours. A former police officer, Captain Benitez started his business from the ground up. Now, he and his wife organize amazing helicopter tours around the island. I recently stayed at the idyllic Royal Isabela Hotel owned by several local families. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out one of the owners also owned the stables where my dad would take me horseback riding as a kid in Guayama, Puerto Rico. I’ve visited the only aquaponic farm (fish farm) in Puerto Rico, which supplies many of the locally owned restaurants in the San Juan area.
I decided to fund the project via a Kickstarter campaign because I wanted the book to not only have my input, but also provide my readers and followers with the opportunity to suggest and add new places. More importantly, I want this to be the first of many travel books that will focus on places that are close to my heart. Help us make this vision a reality! The campaign ends December 10.
– By Jessica van Dop DeJesus
Jessica van Dop DeJesus is a travel and food writer with The Dining Traveler. She was also one of our advisors of 2015 All-American vacations. She lives in Washington, DC. Along with Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, she has founded the #womenofcolortravel group which will have its first event in Washington, DC on November 17th at the Park Hyatt Washington.