Being able to travel the world while doing what you love is the dream, right? Although it feels like a lofty aspiration, there are indeed people who’ve been able to combine their professional career with the opportunity to explore overseas. One person who has done just that: TV personality Julana Dizon, who started in modeling and has been traveling the world since 2013.
We caught up with Dizon to talk about her experience working in entertainment and how that has gifted her the opportunity to have a lifestyle that balances travel and work.
Matador Network: Can you tell us a little about what you do professionally?
Julana Dizon: I work in the entertainment industry as an on-camera host and TV personality. I cover everything from red carpets to corporate events, talk shows, and travel segments, which are my favorite. I also model for lifestyle and fitness brands and have been doing that professionally for 10 years.
How did you get into the industry?
Funny story actually, I worked as an animal trainer at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay right after college, I needed some extra income, and some of my friends in the entertainment department there encouraged me to audition for their live shows, and that’s where I started hosting events!
How often do you travel with work?
I travel a lot, mostly for modeling and filming wildlife locations around the US. Pre-COVID I was on a plane one to two times per month, and recently I’ve been traveling to jobs about once a month. On average, I’d say I take about 15 trips per year for both work and for pleasure.
When you travel for work, are all your costs covered?
It depends. Sometimes the company has a large budget and will cover all costs, which is great. Other times I agree to work as a local, which means travel expenses are my responsibility, but if the rate is high enough that I will still make a profit, I’ll always go…especially if it’s in a place I’ve been wanting to visit!
Do you get the opportunity to travel outside of work?
I try to plan a personal trip once every other month. These are usually places that are closer to my home base like national parks, coastal cities, or somewhere that we can camp. I love camping with my husband and our two dogs.
What is one of your favorite places you’ve been to and why?
Chiang Mai, Thailand, because I got the opportunity to visit Elephant Nature Park and spend the day with elephants. That experience was one of the most memorable and magical days of my life. It was this experience that encouraged me to start creating more wildlife-based travel content since I realized that so many people love animals and want to interact with them, but most don’t know the difference between ethical animal tourism and the bad guys.
What motivates you to choose a specific destination for personal travel and where are you going next?
I look for places that have a lot of wildlife and outdoor adventure opportunities. I want to do all the things: snorkel with sea turtles, sled down volcanoes, go on a safari, zipline through jungles…everything! I love being able to see the natural beauty and different landscapes of Earth. One of my favorite things to do is to visit animal sanctuaries, which I highly encourage as long as you do your research and make sure it’s an ethical one. My next trip is to Hawaii to see the whales.
To hear more from Julana, check out her interview on Matador’s No Blackout Dates podcast:
When you travel independently, do you do so with a fixed budget?
I don’t plan a fixed budget, but I keep track of my spending meticulously. I’ve always been very budget-conscious and am definitely not a luxury traveler. I love a good Airbnb and a cheap mode of transportation. I always keep a list of all my expenses on a trip because I like to look back and know that “I spent $1,500 for 10 days in Thailand.” Plus, I love nature and animals, so most of the experiences that I seek out while traveling are free or not too expensive.
Have you ever been tempted to work remotely from another country?
Once, when I was modeling in Cape Town, South Africa. I was on contract there for three months and when it ended, I seriously contemplated living in a few different countries for a year or so, but ended up moving here to LA instead.
What are some of your favorite items you’d never travel without and why?
I’m a big fan of multiple-use outfits, trial-size skincare products, and camera gear. I usually only travel with a carry-on pack and I am an expert at packing minimally and finding items that have multiple uses (such as sports bras that double for bathing suits). My go-to outfit is jeans, a white or black tee, and a flannel. I also always bring black leggings, a GoPro, and a travel tripod.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who would like to break into the industry?
Talk about it all the time, and then say “YES!” To get started, you have to tell people what you want to do. You never know who in your circle might already have a connection that could be helpful to you. Once you’re started, saying “yes” to every opportunity is such a great way to make connections and learn from those around you. Even if you’re unsure or think you’re not ready yet, saying yes will help you build those skills and push you out of your comfort zone. I used these methods for both my hosting and my modeling career, and it’s gotten me pretty far so far.