Last Updated on May 14, 2021
Jessica van Dop DeJesus is a Washington, DC – based travel media specialist with a focus on food and attainable luxury travel. She began traveling as a young Marine almost 20 years ago and has been to 45 countries on and off duty. Jessica comes from a bicultural upbringing as she grew up in Puerto Rico and Western NY State. All of these experiences give her broad perspective on food and travel.
In addition to being an Intellifluence Influencer, Jessica is known as The Dining Traveler and runs a popular blog under that name which focuses on travel and restaurant inspiration. Jessica has been featured in Huffington Post, Travel Channel, Telemundo, Eater DC, Conde Nast Traveler, Univision, FOX and Southern Living to name a few.
As a world traveler, what would you say are your top three destinations, from the perspective of a foodie?
Well what one of the things I always is say is that in travel people love adventure or some people are city trips, country trips, whatever. But eventually everyone has to eat so that’s one thing whether you are an active person or a beach person. So I feel like we bring people together with food and sometimes when I look back at my travels perhaps five/six years ago I might not remember exactly what place- what monument I saw but I definitely can remember like a restaurant or a meal or that that I had. And I think that that’s something that’s pretty universal from what I see. People can debate a lot of things but everybody loves food.
There are a lot of food bloggers and a lot of travel bloggers out there, but you manage to seamlessly combine the two. How did you develop your approach to appeal to two different audiences at one time?
I get this question a lot and I have so many so I actually have divided it by continent to make things much easier. I was recently in Peru and I was completely blown away by their food. Everything from food stuff in the mountains down to the beach down from Central, which is super expensive, to roadside shacks everything was amazing. And for me secondly- and Europe I lived in, I’m a bit biased on this one. I lived in Belgium for six years and I think it’s one of the most underrated culinary destinations. It’s a conversions of Europe, you have a lot of people who have come from Greece, from Italy so you have great authentic from southern Europe but also the Belgians have a great cuisine as well. Like I mean I could never have enough mussels. And number three for me would be Japan. I’ve been to several cities in Japan, I lived in Okinawa. So whether you’re down south or you’re in Tokyo the food is amazing.
As someone who has a very busy schedule, how do you structure your day and how do you stay on schedule as an influencer?
So for me time management is not my number one strength but I do manage to get through it all. Because I do have- right now I’m working, I have a full time job, I do dining traveler, I have also a social media business, I have a baby so I try – so I’m always multitasking. If I’m In the metro on my way to work I’m doing my posts.
If I’m – now my baby is a little bit bigger but even when she was a newborn I would be nursing and sending emails. So I’ll always be trying to find ways to do two things at a time and it’s easy. I think a misconception when people see influencers and they seethe posts on Instagram they’re like “oh that’s so easy like somebody’s just sitting on the beach and writing post” , it’s a lot of work. Like I don’t remember the last night I went to bed before midnight and I wake up at six thirty in the morning to go to work.
What had been your favorite brand to work with to-date?
To date I’d have to say I have a great relationship with Samsonite, I’ve done three campaigns with them already. And I love for them it’s beyond the product, you know obviously travel, luggage. But they also – when they do their campaigns they so want to talk about the journey. One of their slogans is “We Carry the World” and I started- one of my first campaigns with them I was pregnant so we played a lot with “We Carry the World” and it was a lot of fun. And I just love how they- they’re not “like oh look at my..” you know a lot of brands are like “no you have to do this post and you need to make the product front and center” but their creative teams just has a cool vision and they give you a lot of freedom on how you want to create that content.
What is the weirdest request you have ever received from a brand?
I think that in the was – it wasn’t that it was weird but it just was the expectations that they had and I’m not gonna. So a big booking site, which name I shall remain anonymous, so they’d send an email and they’re like “oh, you know, we would love to feature you on our website” I’m like “you know, great” and then it was like all this list of things that almost sounded like a campaign. So I was like “oh, you know, that’s great. What’s the budget” and they were like “oh no it’s free. It’s just exposure” and I’m like “wait so you want me to write a series of blog posts, send you my own photography but you want it for free..okay”.And I find that a large of brands do that and where as I find smaller brands are more- I guess that because a lot of people it’s one person that starts with a vision and they know how difficult it can be. Like even if it’s something small they still offer you something.
What is your favorite social media platform at the moment? Do you prefer more visual-centric networks or ones where you write longer posts?
So for me I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram because I think everybody – I think that everybody you interview has a love/hate relationship with the algorithm. But at the same time I like I it’s one of the easiest ways to connect with people.
I actually have friends in real life that I met through Instagram. Here in DC. that blogger community is really tight and a lot of people I met through Instagram. So I feel like we don’t have much of that anymore than it was , let’s say three years ago when I had way less followers. But I still try to do my best to reach out to new influencers and new bloggers and I actually have a blogger group called DC travel blogger. So I’m always looking for new people to bring in to the community
Do you allow your followers to choose your activities or next destination or how do you pick what you are going to do and where to go?
Well I don’t put it out to the followers to decide where I’m going to travel because it does cost money to travel. But what I do like to do is put it out “hey does anybody have any recommendations” or like reach out or even like I’m also proactive to reaching out to other people I see on social. I’m like “oh you live in Taiwan like can you give me some recommendations or I’ve seen that you been there” so from that angle. Like I always put a tweet out “hey I’m going here does anybody have any recommendations” or on Insta stories and those mediums.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the co-host of the Influencer Spotlight series.