Maybe it’s just unfortunate coincidences or a case of really bad jinx, but the interview with YouTube star Johanis Sani was prefaced by delays.
Severe food poisoning forced the 19-year-old to call off our first appointment. Then the next rendezvous was pushed to a later time too because her Instagram account got hacked.
“They tracked it to a school around here. So it might be a student,” she reveals with a sigh when we finally meet at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Just a small price to pay for fame, she reckons.
“The worst case scenario is that I’ll have to create a new account,” she shrugs. Her manager isn’t too keen on shutting down her account, though.
Over the years, Johanis has garnered over 100,000 followers on the social media who are enamoured with her YouTube videos. Most of her vlogs (video blogs) – which feature music covers and beauty tutorials – usually garner thousands of views.
And popularity has its perks. Tour company Contiki recently sent Johanis on her first solo trip to Europe.
“I was there for eight days and visited Rome, Florence, the Swiss Alps and Paris. It was amazing!” she gushes.
It took some persistent persuasion to get her parents to allow their youngest daughter to travel alone, though. And while she was initially nervous at the idea of solo travel, Johanis is glad she made the trip.
Here, the teenager reveals some holiday vlogging tips and how halal travel is something that’s close to her heart.
Have you always enjoyed travelling? Or was it something that you’ve only recently discovered?
Growing up, my family and I did travel around Malaysia and to places like Jakarta and Australia. But I’ve only recently discovered that I like sightseeing. I’ve always been more of a tourist. But through travelling alone in Europe, I learned to take the time to enjoy the beautiful sights.
How did you convince your parents to let you travel alone?
Mum was really worried (laughs)! But she let me go after I pleaded with and convinced her that I will stay safe. She did remind me to be careful of pickpockets and not to talk to strangers. That’s bad advice because when I was there, I had to ask strangers for directions (laughs).
Tell me more about your Europe trip.
I enjoyed the visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris where I had a picnic with some really nice Nutella crepe. The Swiss Alps was fun because I had cheese fondue for dinner. There were various types of cheese and I just dipped my food into every sauce I could find.
Rome and Florence were kind of similar in terms of the architecture. The details in every single building are just amazing. I like Florence better because it’s more slow-paced compared to Rome. I prefer places with a slower pace. In Rome, I made a wish at the Trevi Fountain, just like in The Lizzie McGuire movie.
If there’s any place in the world that you would like to move to and settle down in, where would that be?
Maybe Australia… I was about to say Paris, but the driving there is crazy. I’d consider moving to Australia because it’s easy to find halal food.
How important is it for you to travel the halal way?
Really important … it’s something that I’ve followed since young. At the same time, it’s becoming much easier for Muslims to travel these days because more places are offering halal food and holidays.
What are the items that you absolutely have to bring on your travels?
Money because I want to buy and eat nice food.
Camera for vlogging. Even if I don’t upload the videos, I would want to look back at the recordings.
And make-up – foundation, concealer, the whole set (laughs).
For those who are new at making travel vlogs, what advice do you have for them?
You don’t need to have a really good camera. A compact point-and-shoot camera will do. Your hands have to be steady while recording, and be sure to take your time.
I try to film reactions sometimes because they could turn out funny. If you want to make it entertaining, just talk about what you’re doing while you’re on camera.
Isn’t it embarrassing though to talk to yourself while you’re recording in a public place?
Well, you don’t know all those people, anyway (laughs). So just have fun and don’t care what other people might think.
What other things do people need to keep in mind when making vlogs about their travels?
Just record things that are special to you and experiences that you cannot get all the time. Oh, and make sure the battery in your camera is always full.