Carrie Ma is an Australian Chinese traveler blogger who migrated to Australia in 2016. As a frequent traveler, Ma started posting her own personal experiences as a solo female independent traveler on Instagram (carrie_solojourney) in 2017, and after six months began to receive requests for commercial collaborations, including paid partnerships with various destinations. To date, Carrie has travelled to over 107 countries.

In 2018, Carrie published a book, I Won’t Let You Travel Alone, about her cultural travels across 7 continents and it features fascinating chapters on her adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Americas (north, central and south), Antarctica and one special chapter detailing her experience hosting more than 100 couch surfers at her house in Sydney, offering them free food and accommodation, which was her way of repaying back the kindness she had experienced on her own journeys. As of December 2018, the book had sold 350,000 copies. Jing Travel talked with Carrie about travel blogging, collaborating with brands, and what’s next for this young intrepid traveler

What are you trying to achieve with your travel blog?

“I don’t aim to express anything on purpose, Instagram is just a record of my life, and I post whatever I feel is right the mood. I feel that as a solo female traveler, I have a different voice about culture and religion and my travel experiences have given me an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about a destination, its culture, and people.”

Do you consider yourself a travel influencer? 

“I prefer not to define myself as any certain kind of influencer. Traveling is not about sharing beautiful photos; it’s more about sharing deep thoughts and experiences after experiencing a country and its people. It’s more about wiping away the stereotypes brought by various biases, and to learn, to respect and to tolerate the differences, and to encourage people to explore. I tend to be a pure traveler, so I would not consider sponsored or commercial work unless the concept of the journey really interested me. I would rather experience something that I am genuinely interested in rather than do something because I am being paid for it.

Carrie at camel festival

Carrie visiting the biggest camel festival in Pushkar, India.

You have been working with Tencent on some tourism collaborations; can you talk a bit about that partnership? 

I wrote a book about my solo journeys last year. Tencent invited me to make some travel documentaries based on my book’s perspective so I did filming in India for nearly a month with my team. Some of the videos that have been published so far cover some interesting cultural themes from visiting the biggest camel festival in Pushkar, India to attending an Indian marriage to visiting the biggest red-light zones in India. All great fun! Tencent pays very well and I learned a lot about filming, budgeting, pre- and post- production. Making travel documentaries can be very challenging. But as I mentioned I don’t enjoy traveling for work, I didn’t agree on further cooperation on this project to other countries.

What platforms do you find are most effective for sharing your journeys?

I share my stories on Instagram, Weibo, Douban, and WeChat. Instagram is great for sharing photos. WeChat is good to write long form articles, to talk deep and to learn from people’s comments.

What is coming up for you in the future?

I’m a university guest professor teaching in journalism and communications. The Swiss Government has also invited me to go there for a short-term visit as a scholar. And I recently got invitation from Indonesian embassy, so I might visit Indonesia again soon. But more of all, I love visiting a new destination and exploring the culture—on my own.