WUAS Associate Professor Shares Travel Stories on Blog and YouTube channel
Having visited 48 countries, Wittenborg associate professor Vanessa Menezes combines her passion for travelling with her blogging and video-making skills. Menezes, who is Brazilian and teaches various subjects in the fields of tourism and hospitality, has her own blog and YouTube channel, both named “Vanessa’s Diaries”, where she shares travel stories and tips in Portuguese.
From a very young age, Menezes became interested in travelling and, during her childhood and teenage years, she also kept journals. In 2005, after a visit to Balneário Camboriú, a resort city in Southern Brazil, she started her blog, focusing on her experiences as a tourist, with the goal of keeping her memories and impressions. Initially centred on her trips within Brazil, the website gradually expanded to include other countries and regions of the world as Menezes’ studies and career became more international. Throughout the years, as the blog developed, its audience grew and, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were occasions in which the page would get more than 11,000 monthly hits.
More recently, in 2018, Menezes started her YouTube channel, encouraged by her nephew and niece, who are now 11 years old. “One of the reasons I created my channel was because I have a close relationship with my brother’s children, who live in Brazil, and all of their heroes are YouTubers. The kids are very happy to have a YouTuber aunt, and always want to know everything about my trips,” she says.
Menezes adds that, because her niece and nephew are tech-savvy, they gave her many tips on how to edit videos, and she also learned from watching and reading online tutorials. “In the beginning it was difficult, and it took me a while to figure out how to edit videos, but eventually I got there, and I always celebrate when I learn a new trick. All my videos are made with cell phones, and I often have the help of travel companions to make them.”
After showing some of her videos to her former Brazilian tourism students, as in-class examples and information sources about tourist attractions, she realised that people reacted more enthusiastically to this medium than to the blog. Since then, Menezes has been focusing more on her YouTube channel. “Digital media are wonderful tools to connect with other people. In my videos, I show things from my own perspective and often share information about not-so-well-known attractions and destinations from different countries. The audience is very responsive, and many people have posted comments saying that they have found information and learned more about other places through my channel.”
Asked about her most unique travel experiences, Menezes highlights the occasions in which she has been to countries where few people speak English. “These are challenging trips, because you have to be really creative to communicate with the locals. In situations like these, I have used mimics and drawings to ask for information, but things do not always work and sometimes you end up taking the wrong train or missing the bus stop where you want to get off. But I really like exploring new places, and sometimes this is the only way to do so.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Menezes has not had the opportunity to travel much and, as a consequence, her blog and YouTube channel have not been updated so frequently. “But when travelling gets safer again, I plan to restart with these activities. Because my content is so personal, I have always created it in my mother tongue, Portuguese, but perhaps I will try my hand at making some videos in English, which would be a new thing for me,” she says.
by Ulisses Sawczuk