This is an excerpt from our new podcast series, Unfiltered, and has been edited for length and clarity.
Instasize: Hello everybody and thank you so much for tuning into another Instasize Unfiltered podcast. I am here with the lovely Layla from LA Travel Girl and we are currently at the top of our hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
LA Travel Girl: Nice to be here.
IS: Layla, thank you so much for joining us on this tour. I know it's been a whirlwind of the past, you know the past couple of days have been super, super hectic.
LTG: So fun.
IS: But I'd love to talk to you about kind of your adventures with Instagram, if you will. Kind of how you got started, are you creating full time, but I'll give you the floor and you can kind of share your story.
LTG: Awesome. Yeah. Currently I'm creating full time. Previous to this, my profession is a registered nurse, so I was working full time for about five years and then creating content for Instagram and social media and my blog.
IS: So you're doing both? You're trying to balance everything?
LTG: I was doing both. Yeah. Which was exhausting. So recently, last year in August I decided there's so many opportunities coming up and it's just once in a lifetime opportunities that I didn't want to miss while I was working as a nurse. So I decided to go full time for content creation, which is really nerve wracking cause you don't know what's going to happen.
IS: Absolutely. You're just kind of taking it one day at a time.
LTG: Yeah. But it's been amazing. It was the best decision of my life. And now I'm doing full time LA Travel Girl and latravelgirl.com and I also have LA Foodie Girl. So I've been as busy as I was as a nurse, but doing something you love, you never feel like it's work. So-
IS: Absolutely. So Layla is one of the only creators on this tour who runs several accounts. And I've noticed as we've been around out and about shooting, not only are you shooting content for your main Instagram, but you're also shooting for La Foodie Girl.
LTG: Yes. LA Foodie Girl.
IS: So what has been your favorite dish that we've had thus far in Japan? Because we've had some authentic Japanese food. We had sushi in the morning at 7:30 AM the other day.
LTG: That was an experience.
IS: It was an experience.
LTG: I think that was my favorite culinary experience in Tokyo. When you think of Japan, you think of sushi, what better place on earth than Japan and Tokyo to try sushi. And the first morning we are here, we woke up super early. We were walking around the city and we found this amazing sushi spot that's really well known for just breakfast, sushi for breakfast. And that's something that I think Americans and westernized countries are not really used to cause we generally have sushi for lunch or even dinner especially and we got there for breakfast. It was already crowded around 4:50 or 5 o'clock, sat down. The experience was amazing from start to finish. We sat at the bar, fresh fish cut and made right in front of you. And it was a different experience I've ever had. And I'm from LA, which there's loads of delicious sushi places. Best sushi I've ever had, hands down. That was an amazing experience. And also ramen.
IS: The ramen, the ramen was fun.
LTG: It was awesome.
IS: That was our very first night. Everyone was just kind of getting to know one another, so we figured we'd break the ice by going to get ramen and pot stickers. I guess I didn't realize how picky I am until I came to Japan. I'm a picky food eater.
LTG: She's doing good though. She's been trying, so it's good.
IS: I've been wholeheartedly trying to make it work. But yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of fish and sushi at 7:30 was a little intense. But prior to you, I mean I guess before you go to like a new country or a place to visit and shoot, do you kind of scout out restaurants or do you just kind of figure it out when you get there?
LTG: No I scout out for sure because I don't want to waste time, you know, looking on Yelp. But at the same time when I am in a country and I figure out a place I want to eat or go to or if there's an itinerary already made for me, I'll ask people, a lot of my audience. "Hey guys, I'm heading to, for example London or I'm heading to, I don't know, Cambodia, have you been to this city? And if there is a place that you could, you know, recommend to me to see, things to do and what to eat", I always add that because food is a major way to learn about the culture of the place that you're going to. And there's loads of people who are locals who say you need to go to this place. Nobody really knows. Malaysia, I had loads of people say Kuala Lumpur is a food capital, you need to go, this, this, that. That restaurant's only open on Wednesdays before two o'clock so that's another way that I kind of grab recommendations without doing it on my own.
IS: I was going to say and I feel like that's such a great way to incorporate your following and your audience into your travels. They must love that. Being able to recommend someplace and then have you actually go there. That's-
LTG: They love it, because I mean I would love it if somebody took my advice and then after they said they went, that was amazing. Thank you so much. I feel like, oh that's so great, they had the same experience as me, I'm so happy. So yeah, it kind of builds community and makes you feel like travelers all can be at this place, that they're sitting in their office and then they see you at the place that they went two years ago and you're happy. They're happy. It's awesome.
IS: I have to ask, have you ever gotten food poisoning anywhere while being on vacation?
LTG: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. So it comes with the territory when you want to try things. I recently, I was hospitalized actually in Sri Lanka. It had nothing to do with Sri Lankan food, it was actually from a hotel resort, so, Sri Lankan food is safe, it's clean. I mean it was a one off thing and never ever stopped me afterwards trying foods. I still continue being, you know, adventurous with foods and trying foods and food markets and things like that. Food markets and markets are my favorite place to go because you learn about culture, you meet locals. The vendors are fun. They're amazing. Yeah, it was a bad experience, definitely, but it makes you stronger.
IS: You survived and you're here.
LTG: Now I'm here and I'm trying to Sushi for breakfast. Let's go!
IS: Okay. So back to adventuring in Tokyo. I know the other day we shot for 16 hours. It was a very long day. We woke up at 4:30 I talked to Sadie about this. And just out of curiosity, what's been like your favorite location, to shoot? What's been the most fun for you since being here? Like if you were going to recommend to our viewers something they have to see while in Tokyo, what would it be?
LTG: Okay, so I would say that the best place that we went was Harajuku, because it's another planet. It's nothing like you've ever experienced when you go to a city, they have, you know, very similar centers, city center or they have the business district or whatever. Harajuku is unique on its own in Tokyo. If you want to go see people that you would imagine, you know with Harajuku relations, like pink hair, foods that are outrageously amazing to shoot, aesthetically pleasing and delicious.
IS: Did you guys do the rainbow grilled cheese?
LTG: Yeah, rainbow grilled cheese. We did a lot of street food. We even got a massive cotton candy triple my head. But you have to do this stuff when you're in Harajuku. That's amazing. Of course, temples, I'm not going to be specific with the temples we went to. I'm saying all temples in Tokyo are as equally beautiful. You definitely need to go see the temples no matter what season. If you're here for autumn, which is beautiful with the flowers, I mean the color changing or if you're even here for cherry blossom season, even greenery that we were here for. It's absolutely stunning. So-
IS: So we've been super lucky with this trip because you knew some of the creators that were already here. And I can imagine being able to travel with friends is definitely an added bonus for press trips and brand trips. But for those, I know you do a lot of solo traveling and that is kind of a scary thing, especially being a woman, having to travel on your own comes with a lot of uncertainties, if you will. So being a solo traveler and doing it so often, do you have any advice to share with women who maybe want to do that but are too afraid to make the jump and commit to traveling somewhere on their own?
LTG: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like in general, for sure women, solo travel, it's difficult. In general, solo travel is difficult for a lot of people. Male, female, very young if you're graduating out of high school and elderly. But specifically for women, especially since I am first generation American, we have a lot of, you know, stigma about leaving a safe place. Your family's like, "why are you going over there alone?" So if you're just starting out and you want to veer off, you know, solo travel, what I recommend is to go to a place where a lot of other solo travelers go from other countries as well. Not specifically your own country. Start off somewhere like Ireland. You know that there's going to be other solo travelers there and you run into them and they talk to you and you never feel really solo. But for me, I like being alone. A lot of the times I could really enjoy myself and meet locals, take out my camera and start videotaping talking to myself.
IS: How do you shoot on your own? Do you set up a tripod or-
LTG: Yeah, so I set up a tripod. It's my insta-husband.
IS: Ladies, you don't need a man. You can insta-husband, your tripod.
LTG: Yeah. So she's actually my insta-wife I guess cause she's a female. My tripod, I set her up, I kind of frame my shot of what I love and then I have a self timer. I click, turn, spin, do anything I would like go back, check it a few times and it's easy. You don't have to go up to strangers awkwardly and ask them to hold your very expensive equipment. So yeah, my tripod is my main thing and then a lot of the times the creators I work with who are there, they'll help me as well. But when I'm solo traveling tripod all the way and-
IS: I apologize if it's really loud up here because we're literally on the roof of our hotel as you can see the view. We're actually going to be heading to that building later today to shoot which is super exciting. Have you written any blog posts about solo traveling that maybe our readers could check out or our listeners could check out?
LTG: Most of my blog posts have a lot of sections on when I was alone and what I did and what could help you in the situation. I don't really generalize on solo travel because I try to make it like an experience for everybody to go, you know, you could do this, but there was also always little sections where I was alone in this area or I was sick and so I did this and if this happens to you and whatnot. A lot of the times on my captions for Instagram that will be like more specified. You could find like this is what I did when I was solo. I have the behind the scenes of my stories, go check them on my highlights. So there's plenty of resources if you are traveling solo as a woman, especially minority, if your parents are kind of like don't go here, it's like the movie Taken. Don't worry about it. I have a lot of tips for that too.
IS: Amazing. Well we'll include all of Layla's links in whatever subscription bar down below, so make sure you guys check that out. And aside from solo traveling, I want to throw in just a couple of random questions in there just for your audience to maybe get to know you a little bit more, a little bit better. So, if you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?
LTG: So, of course I have like loads going in my mind of what I would want, but related to my hobby and my job, I would love to know every single language in the world, know how to speak it. I think that-
IS: Such a good super power.
LTG: Yeah, everyone's like, invisibility stuff like that. But I'm like, no, I don't want to be invisible. So why I would want that is because, I'll give you an example and I'll tell you why. I spoke Farsi, my first language was Farsi so I started to speak Farsi with my family. Although I've never been to Iran, which I'd love to one day
IS: Hint, hint brand deals. Hint, hint.
LTG: So my family always wanted to kind of keep our roots although we were assimilating to US culture. So we spoke Farsi from the beginning, which is fantastic because my grandparents, they speak English but not well.
And if I spoke to them in English only, I wouldn't really know who they were, their past, their history, their emotions. So speaking their language, I really get to know them really well on another level. And I think if I have that-
IS: It adds a layer of comfortability.
LTG: Exactly. If I have that super power where I could speak to somebody, first of all, they're not uncomfortable so they're open, like that's super open. And then the other thing is the way that you explain certain terms, it's more emotion in their own language. So you really get to know the culture when you get to know the person. And I wish I could speak every language so I could get to know cultures all over the world because if everybody understood each other, maybe we'd have a little bit more understanding and peace and it wouldn't be so separated.
IS: I love it. I love it. Well thank you so-
LTG: And then invisibility. So I could sneak around and not have to pay for flights.
Yeah I'd be like whispering in different languages in invisible stuff.
IS: Awesome, so your super power would be to be able to speak several languages. I love it. I think mine would be to read people's minds because I'm always curious, like first impressions are so important to me and I would just love to be able to understand, you know, people's point of view and their perspective.
LTG: A lot of people don't think in your language, so if you don't have my power you'll just hear somebody thinking in Japanese and go, okay, so you need mine too.
IS: That's a good point. Okay. Last but not least, if you had the attention of the entire world for five minutes, what would you tell everybody?
LTG: I would say to be kinder because everyone is going through struggles that you don't know and a lot of people walk around this world assuming everybody is, you're in a happy mood, everybody's happy. So somebody you know is not in a good mood, you should understand that. You should think that other people are going through a lot of tough times. This world's hard, life is hard, so let's make it a little bit easier and beautiful and be kinder to each other.
IS: Cast those positive ripples.
LTG: I love it. I love it.
IS: So Layla and I first met at the airport when we got off our flights in Tokyo. I found her in the crowd and I was like, oh my goodness, welcome to our creator tour. And you have genuinely become one of my really close friends while being here. Definitely you are literally one of the funniest people I've ever met.
LTG: We laugh all the time. I think that you just feel that when you meet somebody that's easy to talk to. So I agree.
IS: So appreciative that you're here and I wish you nothing but luck in all of your future travel endeavors and if you're ever in Utah, hit me up, girl!
LTG: Of course. Thank you so much.
IS: Thank you guys. Give me a hug. Thank you guys for tuning into another episode of the Instasize Unfiltered podcast. We will catch you guys in a couple days.
Connect with Layla on Social
- Instagram: @latravelgirl
- Instagram: @lafoodiegirl
- Instagram: @travelinladies
- Twitter: @LAtravelGirl
- Website: https://latravelgirl.com