Women & Travel: Part V, The Catch Me If You Can | RES IPSA - RES IPSA

Women & Travel: Part V, The Catch Me If You Can | RES IPSA

Res Ipsa wanted to hear from women who love to travel. Why? We want to share these amazing stories, inspire others - especially women - to travel more, and feature some enjoyable content worth reading. In our interview series, we hear from some of the most successful young women in the travel, art & photography, and health & wellness industries about why they love to travel, who inspires them to travel, some of their best and most recent travel memories, and how their personal lives and perspectives on life intersect and take shape from their travel experiences. 

In part V, we interviewed Jessica Nabongo, formally known as the The Catch Me If You Can. Jessica is someone we look to for inspiration to travel. As a professional photographer, Jessica interconnects her passion through the vehicle of travel to educate and inspire others to see and experience the world around them. Jessica is a first generation American born and raised in Detroit, MI by Ugandan parents. 
She attended St. John’s University in New York, where she earned her undergraduate degree in English literature. In just a few years after college, she started (and ended) a career in pharmaceutical sales, moved to Japan to teach English, and completed a graduate degree at the London School of Economics. She captured her experiences along the way, honing her photography skills. As her career path changed, Jessica realized that travel, writing and photography continued to show up as vehicles of self expression and were essential parts of her life, leading to the creation of this site, The Catch Me If You Can. She uses her blog to share her story and build a community. 

Follow her passions at:

Jessica Nabongo - Cred James Anthony
(James Anthony / photo)

What have you learned from traveling? About the world? About you?
The biggest lesson that travel has taught me about the world is that most people are good. Most people are not racist or sexist or prejudice. Like all of us people just want to have enough food to eat, adequate shelter, love from family and friends and a community to experience life with. For me, travel has taught me that above all my freedom is most important. I no longer feel connected to a career or stereotypical ideas of success. I love being able to go anywhere at anytime and meeting people along the way. 

How do you approach food when you travel? 
I am not a very picky eater, but I also am not a super adventurous eater. When traveling I usually will yield to the local person that I am with or the waiters at restaurants so that I can make sure that I am getting a taste of what local people eat. I usually avoid restaurants that have other tourists in them. Sometimes that means eating at places that, on the surface, do not look like the most sanitary places. 

Jessica Nabongo - Photo Cred Elton Anderson
(Photo / Elton Anderson)

What inspires you to travel? 
It is my curiosity about the world that inspires to travel. I want to see how people live all over the world. I really just love talking to people and hearing different people’s histories. I feel like it helps me to understand why people do what they do. 

When did you being traveling solo?
I first traveled solo in 2009 on a last minute trip to Costa Rica. I just needed to get away and booked the trip three days before I traveled. I had no idea what I would do on my own. I skipped a few meals simply because I did not want to be alone while eating. Now I gladly eat on my own when I travel. Since then I have traveled to 33 countries on my own on five continents!

What advice would you have for others, especially women interested in traveling for fun and/or a profession?
My best advice is to just go, just do it. I think people spend so much time asking people for advice and creating really intense and detailed plans that it takes them forever to get started or eventually never go. We create excuses all the time for why we can’t do things, but the fact of the matter is people never just try. Obviously make sure that you have enough money to sustain yourself or have a way to make income while on the road, but in the end you just need to start.  

Jessica Nabongo - Photo Cred Elton Anderson
(Photo / Elton Anderson) 

What’s one thing you can’t travel without?
My iPhone! It seems cliche but it is how I capture pictures, video, take notes, keep up with flights, email, etc. I would be lost without it. 
    Would you recommend solo traveling to others, especially women?
    I do not think that solo travel is for everyone, but I think that it can be an interesting experience because generally you will meet more people because you aren’t just talking with the person that you are traveling with, but I also think that it is so dependent on people’s personalities. I travel solo, a lot, but I prefer to travel with friends. 

    What’s your favorite trip you took in the last six months? 
    In the last six months I have visited 34 countries of which 25 were new countries. My favorite trip in the last six months is a close tie between Namibia and Sudan. Both were absolutely magical. The landscapes in Namibia were breathtaking and I cannot wait to get back there. Sudan has so much history and cultural and I was lucky enough to experience both places with great friends. 

    What trip are you looking forward to this year?
    I am going to be exploring Central Asia for the last two months of June and I am super excited about Uzbekistan. I know that I am going to fall in love with Samarkand and all of the textiles in the region. 

    What brands do you think of when you travel? 
    I spent a long time looking for the absolute best travel accessories and I found the perfect mix with the Away Bigger Carry-On. It is the perfect size and I can pack for at least two weeks of travel in that one bag. I pair that with Spacepaks from Flight001. I do not travel anywhere without them. I also love their family passport wallet to keep everything in one place. Using code CATCHME people can save 15%. Those re the items that you will NEVER catch me without. 

    Jessica Nabongo - Elton Anderson
    (Photo / Elton Anderson)

    What do you read or watch for travel news, inspiration, or updates?
    I think like most people I find inspiration for travel on Instagram. It is hard to sift through so many of the very popular instragram travel influencer accounts because so many people are going to the same exact destinations. I recently started following @facehunter and he just finished a trip through Central Asia so I have gotten a lot of inspiration from him for my upcoming trip. I also enjoy following @glographics because she has been to a few places that I've never been. 

    What books are you reading right now as you travel? 
    I am currently reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is in the queue. I’ve read it before but want to reread it so that I can reincorporate the principles into my life. I am always looking for book recommendations! 



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