1. What are three things you take on every trip?
1. Hand sanitizer wipes, 2. Airborne, 3. Eye mask/Ear plugs
I used to get sick when I traveled. I couldn’t figure out why. I went to my doctor and she told me to wipe down the armrest and tray table and a take an airborne when I fly. I do this every time now when I fly and haven’t gotten sick since (knock on wood).
2. What is your best remedy for jet lag?
I am a non-napper. When I get to wherever I am going I force myself to stay awake until it’s “bed time.” For example, if I am on a 12-hour international flight and I land at 10 a.m. local time, I will keep myself busy and make sure I stay awake until its 9 p.m. no matter how tired I am. Then I get one good night’s sleep and I’m ready to rock the next morning. Some days are better than others but the non-napping approach works for me!
3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?
The first thing I do after I unpack and shower is hit the streets and grab a drink. Whether it’s a glass of Champagne in Paris or a macchiato in Rome nothing says “Welcome to the neighborhood” like the local beverage of choice.
4. What place has the best food? The worst food?
Food is so subjective. I love bread, cheese and wine so with that in mind my least favorite place to dine is Taiwan. My favorite is Tuscany or anywhere in Italy for that matter! The worst meals in EAT-aly could rival the best meals just about anywhere else on the planet.
5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life?
Italy. Sinking your teeth into the essence of Italy starts by taking the road that’s often more idealized than traveled. It is a journey to the crossroads where culture, cuisine, and community come together. Some have called it La Dolce Vita, but after traveling to Tuscany I realized it’s more than a motto. It’s finding meaning in the mundane, it’s elevating the everyday, it’s having harmony and happiness without needing a reason. It only takes one day of soaking up the sun-kissed scenery to discover La Dolce Vita is more than a Fellini film. In Italy the sweet life is the way of life.
6. What is your favorite travel quote?
Do I get extra credit for two quotes? “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?
Hide the credit cards when this song comes on! Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole
8. What is your craziest true travel story?
I don’t know how crazy it is but it’s true. My sister and I traveled internationally for the first time when we were in our early twenties. We were headed for Spain and ready to paint the red or on our budget perhaps it was closer to a light shade of pink. We wanted to go to Ibiza but were staying in a remote part of Spain called Calp. Why were we staying in Calp you ask? (See budget comment above.)
I would like to remind you that this was pre- Tripfilms, TripAdvisor, pre- just about everything useful. We had heard about these fun party boats to the island of Ibiza but of course we didn’t have anything planned in advance. So we got all dressed up in our best twentysomething party boat to Ibiza outfits and wondered into the first place that said turístico boat rides to Ibiza we could find.
I was pretty fluent in Los Angeles restaurant Spanish at the time and figured I could crack the party boat code. So I sauntered in my stilettos up to the counter and asked the lady for dos entradas barco de fiesta to Ibiza (pronouncing it (eye-bee-za)). The lady shook her head No comprende. Now I knew she was mistaken because even with no TripAdvisor at my finger tips I knew Ibiza was the place to partaayyy! So I tried again: “Dos entradas barco de fiesta Ibiza” only this time I did a little dance move to really accentuate the PARTAAAY. Then she looked like she was finally starting to pick up what I was putting down and said Si Ibiza! Only she pronounced it the Castilian way (Ee-bee-tha) not my LA way (Eye-bee-za).
She handed us two tickets to Ee-bee-tha and we handed her a small fortune in pesetas (pre-euros). Keep in mind, this party boat ride was at least three hours long and we didn’t arrive at the island until 2 a.m.! No matter to the twentysomething Soltani Sisters who were ready to meet our future boyfriends on the best party boat to the hottest island in the galaxy.
We rushed to the boat as fast as we could only to find it filled with chickens, pigs, and a few sad looking fisherman. Then the ship set sail into the dark abyss in the middle of the night on a three-hour tour, yes, a three-hour tour. As my sister and I sunk down in our seats shivering in our halter tops and capri pants we huddled in a in a corner and reality started to sink in. With no boys, no booze and no party boat, we realized we were taken for a ride all right…
9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?
I think travel videos are fantastic for people who aren’t filmmakers. Whether you are planning your next vacation or never have any intentions of leaving the comfort of your couch. When you watch a travel video you can explore the world without leaving your living room.
10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos?
Every person, place, and thing has a unique story to tell. Whether I’m interviewing a person, highlighting a region or uncorking a beautiful bottle of wine there is an extraordinary story in there somewhere and it’s my job to discover it.
11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?
Step One: Shoot everything. My motto is if I didn’t shoot it it didn’t happen. Meaning video is a visual medium (stating the obvious I know) so therefore if you don’t capture it on camera you can’t show it to your viewers. So shoot, shoot, shoot away and figure out what to do with all the footage once you get home.
Step Two: Get a mic. There is nothing worse than bad audio.
Step Three: Find your voice and have fun!
12. What is your best travel tip?
Pack light! Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown!
Watch travel videos by Monique Soltani here.