Hello! I’m Irene. I’m a software engineer, language nerd, traveler, and lover of puns. I have a passion for learning new languages and experiencing culture at its core. I started teaching myself Spanish when I was eight (and later on formally studied it in school), and since then have taught myself the basics of various foreign languages, especially before traveling to a destination. While it requires time and energy, it pays off when I can speak to a local in their native tongue and understand their stories.

I’m a planner. I’ll spend a good amount of time figuring out what to do before a trip (the exceptions have been with some travel groups that I recommend). This usually means cross-referencing various blogs and travel books and aggregating everything into a Google spreadsheet to create an itinerary. It takes time, but at the end of the day, I don’t mind it. I like having context and knowing where I’m at.

The Smart of Travel is a comprehensive guide I always wished I had when traveling. Unlike other travel blogs, it combines the practicalities of travel (e.g. itineraries and money-saving tips) with the cultural and language know-how to navigate the unique landscape of each destination.

After all, travel is much more than seeing beautiful scenery and capturing Instagram-worthy pictures. It’s about participation: understanding the local pulse of the community and embracing unfamiliar norms. While you may never truly live life like a local (and that’s okay!), I hope you’ll learn from my experience and travel with fresh perspective.