Love at first ‘site’ led Ashley-Ann Dennis to Island Diaries
The more she travelled, the more liberated she became. What began as love at first ‘site’ for Ashley-Ann Dennis quickly progressed to several sweet getaways. But it was the curiosity of others that led this creative to document her life and adventures in the ‘Island Diaries’ series.
The travel vlogger told The Gleaner, “I love that I get to experience new things, sometimes with new people. Visiting a new place is like entering a new world every time. There’s nothing holding you back from making the most of your time there. That’s the way I see travelling, and that’s why I’ve fallen in love with it.”
After making several sightseeing posts, people grew interested in the featured locations and wanted to learn more. In September 2020, Dennis went ahead and made it official, sharing more details on her YouTube channel.
“The ‘Island Diaries’ theme is something I recently started on my channel. Centered around my Jamaican lifestyle, I thought ‘Island Diaries’ would be the perfect name,” she said.
Working in social media has certainly helped her vlogging since she genuinely enjoys the creative process. “My vlogs tend to be a lot calmer and minimalistic as opposed to most Jamaican content, giving a look into my everyday island life as a millennial living in the city of Kingston, Jamaica. There is no pretense about what I think my audience wants to see, or what they think Jamaica is. I showcase my real and authentic life.”
Some of the memorable places she has visited locally include Negril and Portland. “They have a very special place in my heart,” she said, adding, “They are so different from each other but they both possess such unique charm. They’re perfect if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
Negril, she highlighted, covers a beautiful stretch of beach, complemented by many restaurants, bars, and hidden gems to experience, “Though a tourist spot, it’s still very chill and I think that’s my favourite thing about it.” While Portland gives the ultimate rainforest getaway experience, “It’s also perfect if you’re looking to go off the grid for a bit and become engrossed in nature. It’s beautiful.”
On trips of this exciting nature, Dennis is never without her sunscreen (applied to both face and body), insect repellent, a swimsuit, a bucket hat, and sunglasses.
Overseas, Toronto, Canada was her favourite city to visit, because she believes the diversity and melting pot of cultures one can experience through the festivals and the food is remarkable.
With consistency being her biggest challenge, she is most appreciative of the reward earned from putting out her content. “When I started, I wanted to show just how much there was to experience on the island of Jamaica, as a local re-experiencing her country with fresh eyes. It takes a lot to capture and produce content consistently, and this is done for a long time without breaks. You can definitely experience burnout like I have.”
Feedback, so far, has been pretty positive. And she attributes this to the unique vibe delivered in her visual presentation.
Behind the scenes, the social media marketer and content strategist usually does research on her sites ahead of time. She then decides on what vlogs to shoot and what content pieces to capture for Instagram. In some cases, Dennis even creates a mood board for Instagram as well, which is one of her favourite parts of the artistic vision.
From the travelling perspective, Dennis is looking forward to visiting the top 10 countries on her bucket list: Indonesia, Ghana, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, Panama, Cuba, Singapore, and Japan.
“My advice to those who dream of becoming travel content creators is just go for it. People are always looking for new channels to watch and never think that it needs to be perfect. You will find your tribe,” she said.
As for those seeking to travel, there is so much to see and experience. Even if this means going on your adventures solo, Dennis recommends doing so, “Don’t hesitate too much. Make a plan and go see the island and the world.”