Katja Presnel is someone I’ve long admired in the social media space. She and I both go way back; we’re pretty much dinosaurs in the blogosphere. But she’s always been someone with vision and a savvy business mind — definitely a leader in this space. She is someone I value for her advice and insight; she never steers me wrong.
Her blog, Skimbaco, is all about living in the moment and her goal is to inspire others to enjoy every day and live life to the fullest. It’s one of a kind, and now she’s charting new waters again with her new eBook, Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World.
I love watching Katja’s Instagram feed because she posts the most amazing photos from her travels around the world, but I had no idea she was actually using Instagram as a tool to plan those travels. I asked her if I could ask her a few questions about her eBook and the inspiration behind it, and of course she obliged because she’s awesome like that. Here’s what she had to say.
JL: For those who don’t know you, tell me a bit about yourself and your brand.
KP: I’m Katja Presnal and I own SkimbacoLifestyle.com online magazine. My husband and I have been traveling and moving around Europe and USA together the past 16 years and we have 3 kids, all born in different countries. I started my first online business in 2004 so I could work from anywhere in the world, and Skimbaco was born a few years later. Skimbaco name comes from a Finnish word “skimba” for skis/skiing and “co” means Colorado and at the time living life to the fullest to us meant skiing in Colorado. Skimbaco’s mission is to inspire people to find their own “skimbaco” wherever in the world they are, and we bring inspiration and ideas how to do it and where to travel to get inspired.
JL: I absolutely adore Instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform. There’s just something about seeing people’s lives in photos that is super fun, and so much more intimate than just reading about them on Facebook and Twitter. Your “good morning” photos are among my very favorites. How did you get started doing that, and what was your inspiration?
KP: I love Instagram too! About a year ago I posted a few “good morning from Sweden” photos from a gorgeous sunrise on my backyard and went a few days that I didn’t post a good morning picture and people started asking why I haven’t posted one for a while. I hadn’t even realized that it was a “theme” and from that day forward I have been posting a good morning photo almost everyday, with a few missed days, like when we stayed in a ski lodge in Norway without wifi.
JL: Are your Instagram photos straight from your iPhone? Do you rely solely on the Instagram filters, or do you use any other apps to enhance them?
KP: I only post iPhone photos, and about half of my photos are with no filter and for the rest of them I use the brightening button or Mayfair or Amaro filters. When I first started I was using more filters and liked to play more with enchanting the photos, but the past year I have just wanted to show that our world is a beautiful place and you can find something beautiful anywhere – and share that with others just using your phone and not even photoshopping the pictures. I like to keep things simple.
JL: What inspired you to write this eBook?
KP: During the past year I have traveled in over 15 different countries on 3 continents, and Instagram has become my personal travel guide. As someone who has traveled for years I noticed that there is just something completely different about using Instagram as your travel guide versus using more traditional methods. I give real life examples in my book how my Instagram community helped us to plan a trip to Rome and how anyone can become a travel expert by using the tips I give in my book. The key really isn’t just the tool, it’s connecting with amazing people, and the supportive community I have on Instagram was really what inspired me to share my tips.
JL: I love how you’re creating a travel community on Instagram with your hashtag #IGTravelBook. What are some of the places you’ve discovered from other users that you wouldn’t have without Instagram?
KP: Thanks to Instagram-inspiration I’ve discovered several restaurants, smaller neighborhoods or landmarks for my past travels, for example I learned the artichokes were in season while we were in Rome and ate in a restaurant recommended on Instagram. A few trips I also want to do in the future are to see Southern Thailand and see the James Bond island. I also want to take the Bernina Express train over the Alps in Europe and visit Portofino in Italy after seeing the photos on Instagram.
JL: I’m not a big traveler, but I’d love to change that. I’ve always said that I don’t want to travel as a tourist, but I’d rather stay with friends and get to know the REAL locale. So I can totally relate to you when you said this: “We didn’t want to visit Rome as tourists. We wanted to live like locals. I put my own tips in this book to good use, and came across some great local people to follow in Rome, and saw so many pictures of the neighborhoods that we wanted to visit.”
KP: The thing is… When you connect with people from all over the world via Instagram, you will be connected with the local people no matter what your destination, and you will always get the experience like “your friend gave her best local tips.” My Instagram friends have already gotten to know me, and they can recommend places for me that they think I’d like. And even if you won’t actually STAY with the friends… you can always rent an apartment from sites like Airbnb.com and truly live like local. When you have the network of local people or Instagram friends who have visited the destination several times, you will feel like you can get the best experience of each place.
JL: See, that is amazing. Makes me want to start planning a trip right away!! Honestly, I had no idea you could do so much with Instagram — even though I love it and use it daily. You’ve definitely inspiring me to use Instagram in a whole new way. Thanks for sharing your eBook with me and for the link love.
KP: I just hope it inspires you to live life to the fullest – and share it with others too!!
Katja’s eBook, Instagram as your Guide to the World, is now available on Amazon.com for an introductory price of $4.99 for a limited time.