Boarding Pass – Jess of Skip Town

After a brief hiatus, I’m so happy to be back in full force with Boarding Pass, my weekly column exploring the creative ways people see the world. Today we kick things off with Jess Lillico of Skip Town: an online resource for creative travelers. As a graphic designer with a love of photography Jess’s blog is “dedicated to skipping town, to explore, enjoy and document the world.” The site is often a collaboration with her photographer boyfriend, Sean Fennessey, and they’ve combined their passions to create a fabulous (and well designed!) Field Guide to Photography. The whole site is a great example of my own love of design meets travel – read on! Thanks, Jess!

{A rainy day at Shibuya crossing}

last trip taken:
My boyfriend Sean (photographer and Skip Town contributor) and I recently went on a five day drive around the South Island of New Zealand. I’ve never seen such blue lakes!

{Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand}

next trip on deck:
Japan (via South Korea) for my good friend Emily’s wedding. We’ll stop in Seoul for three days of serious eating and shopping on the way over, then it’s off to Sapporo, Hokkaido, for the wedding. I’m looking forward to spending a few days in the city and a few days touring the rest of the island, including a Japanese music festival!

{Tokyo photobooth with Emily and Sean}

one place you would go back to again and again:
It seems that the answer to that question must be Japan since we’re currently planning our third trip! It’s a great all-round destination – wonderful food, great shopping, history and enough of a culture shock to make things interesting. Also, it’s really not as expensive as its reputation suggests.

{Unicycle troupe, Osaka}

Place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Perhaps my island home, Tasmania! Hobart is a lovely pocket-sized city (have you heard of MONA? It’s a really exciting new museum and gallery) and we have some really beautiful wilderness that you can explore without mega-crowds.

{Bay of Fires, Tasmania}

preferred method of transportation:
Rail travel is not that common in Australia (we fly between cities since they’re all so far apart) so I always get a kick out of high-speed trains when I’m abroad. I like being able to relax and watch the scenery go by.

{From the train to Bodo, Norway}

{Ballooning in Love Valley, Turkey}

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Italy, regional USA, South Korea, Portugal… I could go on!

{Pony rides for hire, Goreme, Turkey}

place you’d never go back:
Maybe Shenzhen, which is a city in China just over the border from Hong Kong. I went there for a day trip and the attention you get from people trying to sell you things is incredibly overwhelming.

{Shopping centre, Shenzen, China}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
In 2008 I spent 6 months travelling around Europe and the US. I have so many good memories, but if I had to pick one, it might be my visit to the Lofoten Islands way up in the arctic circle in Norway. After two 8 hour train rides and one ferry ride, the mountainous islands finally appeared on the horizon and I spent four days hitch-hiking around by myself (don’t tell my Mum) which was kinda lonely but lovely.

{The amazing Richie’s tavern in Ballyduff, Ireland}

how do you prepare for a trip?
I read blogs, maybe buy a guidebook, and make a list of all the interesting little shops and galleries I want to visit.

{A rooftop in Brooklyn}

{Typical café seating, Vietnam}

{Lantern stalls in Hoi An, Vietnam}

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
I take photos and collect interesting flyers and packaging. For my first couple of overseas trips I kept really detailed diaries complete with collages and drawings. Now I just try to write what I did each day in one paragraph as a memory prompt, so that I don’t forget.

{Spread from my journal showing Helsinki bits and pieces}

{Manga café waitress, Tokyo}

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Being a graphic designer, I like taking photos of details, patterns and signs. Sean takes amazing portraits so I usually leave that to him.

{Sunglasses at Venice Beach, Los Angeles}

{Photographing the fox-gloves near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Not as many as some people – about 30 a day, perhaps. Sean takes many more.
{Celebrity photo-ops at Santa Monica, Los Angeles}

{Selection of crowd at folk festival, Riga, Latvia}

what’s in your “designer travel kit”?
I take my Olympus Pen (digital), Sean takes his Canon 5D, and then we usually have a little point-and-shoot for going out at night, and an Olympus Trip 35 (film) camera for fun. The results really vary – which is why the photos featured here all look so different. I also take a little notebook, pen and glue-stick.
{A post-card collage of my first big round-the-world trip}

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
I usually edit my shots down to a ‘facebook’ folder (the bare minimum snapshots I think my friends and family would be interested in) and then another folder with my personal favourites. Many of these will eventually be used on the Skip Town website or blog. [This happens] within a month, maybe.

{Souvenir collection, USA}

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
Fabric, magazines, packaging. postcards… I have a big shoe box full of stuff that I can’t bear to throw out.

{Check out the Skip Town Field Guide to Photography – available for download}

{At the beach near Hoi An, Vietnam}


Check out more editions of Boarding Pass on the column to the right!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *