Influencers + Tastemakers

Q+A with Nicole Isaacs (@nicoleisaacs)

There's no question Costa Rica made beautiful backdrop for Jetsetter's first #LikeAJetsetter trip, but it was the tastemakers we traveled with that helped bring the place to life. While on the road, we caught up with LA-based Instagram influencer @nicoleisaacs, whose work has taken her from Tunisia to Colombia and everywhere in between.

Tell us about you!

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated with a degree in World Arts and Cultures and Dance from UCLA. Although I’m an LA native, I’ve always had a love for travel, food, and culture and would travel any opportunity I could get growing up. During college, I worked in the entertainment industry as a dancer/choreographer and ended up moving to Berlin, Germany, to be in a pop girl group. We released an album and had two Top 10 singles. After more than a year abroad, I moved back to LA to finish my degree and started a food blog just for fun. After graduating, I got a job at E! Entertainment and worked as a field producer on Fashion Police with host Joan Rivers, but continued to blog on the side as a hobby. Three years ago, I got the courage to quit to travel full time and try and make a living out of it. I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, moved my belongings to storage, bought a one-way ticket to Italy, and haven’t looked back since.

Nicole Isaacs carrying fruit

Have you always been interested in this kind of work? When did you decide to pursue Instagram full-time?

I always knew I wanted to create but that a 9-5 wasn’t for me. I dabbled in different fields in the entertainment industry throughout and after college, from choreography to directing, producing, and being in front of the camera. Although I loved my job at E!, my true passions were in the world of travel, food, and culture. When I quit my job, I had no back-up plan—I was just going to go for it and see what happened! I feel extremely blessed to be able to do what I am doing now. I’m still a long way from my goals but I know I’m headed on the right path.

Girl in Greece
Nicole Isaacs in Venice, Italy

I love how travel-themed your feed is! How do you choose where to go next?

I used to plan and invest in trips on my own, but now, most opportunities I receive are invitations from brands, hotels, or tourism boards. There are still times I want to choose where I want to go and have the freedom to curate my content how I want, so if I have some free time and want to get away, I’ll use a flight app that tracks the most affordable airfares around the world on designated dates. Sometimes, it’s as simple as picking the cheapest flight!

Do you have any tips on how you pack for these kinds of trips?

As much traveling as I do, you’d think I would have mastered the concept of packing light! Unfortunately, my bags tend to still be overweight. Between clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup, bathroom/hair products, and camera equipment, packing light is a constant challenge. I try to plan my exact outfits ahead of time, which helps. Also, stuffing things in shoes, hats, and purses is a great way to compact things. When I show up at the airport check-in counter, I always hope for the best!

Girl dancing

What is your favorite part about what you do?

I love experiencing different cultures and connecting with people from all over the world. It’s a blessing to be able to share my experiences and I only hope to spread love, acceptance, and inspire people to get out of their comfort zones, take risks, and live life to the fullest.

Girl standing in a pool in costa Rica

What was the biggest highlight of the Costa Rica trip?

There were so many special moments. One of them was getting caught in a heavy rain at the La Fortuna Waterfall. At first, we all were bummed because we had just gotten ready for the day (our looks! our hair!) but we all laughed it off and enjoyed the moment together with that epic and breathtaking backdrop.

Have you traveled anywhere recently that spoke to you?

Tunisia is a place I haven’t seen many people travel to and I prefer visiting less touristy places like that. I always try to capture the culture and soul of a place, and I think the best ways to do that is through food and interacting with and capturing the energy of the people. It’s important to connect and have human interactions around the world—not just through social media—and to open our eyes and see life through both sides beyond just a tourist standpoint.

Are you working on any other business ventures beyond your feed?

I started my production company HungryApe last year, which specializes in digital media content for brands, tourism boards, and hotels around the world.

Where are you headed to, or dreaming of, next?

There are still so many places I want to visit. Although I want to see every inch and corner of our world, the top places on my bucket list right now are Japan, Morocco, Kenya, and Cuba, which I hope to go to in the coming year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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