WE WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO INTERVIEW WITH KENZO YONENO, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LOJEL TRAVEL. HE HAS 17 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE DESIGNING TRAVEL GOODS IN 6 COUNTRIES OVER THREE CONTINENTS. HE IS CURRENTLY BASED IN VANCOUVER, CANADA.
WHAT DO YOU THINK INSPIRES PEOPLE TO TRAVEL?
It may start with simple curiosity, or exposure to amazing photography. The experiences on the road can be exhilarating to everyone. Once people get home however, it becomes apparent that travel is a highly effective way to remind us of how little we truly know. Testing our resilience by getting out of the comfort zone of home, challenge our stereotypes and assumptions, as well as generally stimulating our creative thoughts. Travel can quickly get addictive.
WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE THING PEOPLE ALWAYS FORGET TO PACK WHEN TRAVELING OVERSEAS?
It might be simply, “an open mind”. Leaving your assumptions and expectations at home are a good way to make sure you enjoy your trip better! We all see stunning images on Instagram or magazines, but usually the reality is a lot more messy – keeping an open mind and a willingness to evolve with unexpected situations is essential. On a more practical note, not bringing the right tools to charge one’s devices is a classic mistake. Make sure you have the chargers and necessary foreign adapter plugs to avoid lugging around a useless device.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A DURABLE/RELIABLE BAG WHEN TRAVELING?
You can only travel as far as your gear supports you. Once your travel gear breaks down, your ability to make the most of that precious time away can be severely compromised. With a reliable bag, you can go further, and focus on what matters.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO TRAVELS A LOT, BUT WOULD LIKE TO EAT HEALTHY WHEN FLYING?
When possible, bring your own food. Sounds crazy, but bringing a simple food container can help you avoid the industrial food product that is usually served on planes (and avoid extra food fees on domestic flights).
IF YOU HAD TO PICK 3 PLACES IN THE WORLD TO SEE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE AND WHY?
1. Ethiopia. A very ancient and diverse culture, as well as home of the coffee bean.
2. Trans-Siberian Railway. I’d like to do this before it becomes a high-speed train route.
3. British Columbia, Canada. You could spend years just exploring the province
Some others would be Haida Gwaii, Great Bear Rainforest, Muskwa-Kechika, the list goes on.
DO YOU THINK CREDIT CARDS WITH FREQUENT FLIER MILES ARE WORTH THE ANNUAL EXPENSE?
It might be if you’re a serious frequent traveller and have a card with perks that you could make heavy use of. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense for an occasional flier.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GO ABOUT BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY? (I.E. DICTIONARY, YOUR PHONE TRANSLATOR, FIND SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS THE SAME LANGUAGE YOU DO)
Sure, tools like phone translators get the job done, but I tend to enjoy just winging it and asking the locals. You need to bring a willingness to make a fool of yourself, and then simply cobble together what few words you know, make abundant use of creative hand gesturing, and sometimes a pen and paper for sketching. It can be farcical and often futile, but can
sometimes yield amazing responses that go above and beyond your expectations.
IS THERE A WAY TO AVOID PAYING HIGH LUGGAGE FEES?
You can always just diligently follow the airline rules but I find that using a bit of charm can help you beat the system if you can avoid automated check-in, and find a friendly face behind the counter. Depends on the airline and the country, but you’d be surprised by what you can get away with.
WHAT’S THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF PACKING A BAG FOR TRAVEL?
I would recommend making a pile of things you want to bring well in advance, and just adding to it occasionally as you come across items you’ll need around the house. That’s a pretty good way to avoid forgetting small items that are nonetheless important to have on your journey.
HOW DO YOU STAY COMFORTABLE ON LONG FLIGHTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY?
The key tool for me is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. It’s amazing how an incessant ambient buzz can wear you out over long-haul flights. The visual conditions on a plane (dark, bad lighting, cramped) aren’t ideal, so I tend to focus on audio entertainment only – podcasts, music, or simply headphone-enabled silence.
YOUR FAVORITE TRADITION WHEN TRAVELING?
I like to wander the streets of a city I don’t know well using a natural sense of direction to keep track of my location relative to my starting point. I try to avoid using maps or geo-location on the phone if possible and build a mental map of the city with the help of directions from locals. Medieval cities like Kathmandu or Rome are great for developing spatial awareness and randomly discovering interesting things. I’d recommend asking a local about where the rough areas are in advance though!
ONE ITEM, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WORLD, YOU NEED TO HAVE AT ALL TIME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It’s obvious, but it’s my passport –I would drop all my possessions in an extreme circumstance but I hold onto my passport so that I would have freedom of movement across borders. I don’t mind going deep into an unknown place, but having some sort of means of escape is crucial.
ALL PHOTOS USED ARE WITH THE PERMISSION OF LOJEL LLC.