Though most of us can’t physically travel right now, there’s still a wonderful world out there for us to explore together. Traveling IQuarantine spotlights people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities… and in the process expand our Traveling IQ.

Pride flag in Edinburgh hills
Jenna Howieson

Traveling In Quarantine: Jenna Howieson in Edinburgh, Scotland

Jenna is a Scottish gal with a passion for travel and talking about all things queer.

Her mantra is “Unapologetic, Queer, Unstoppable.” That’s just her way.

Jenna has been roaming the globe since 2010 and has visited 39 countries so far, documenting the journey on her blog: The Jenna Way.

She is currently based in Edinburgh, where she works as an inclusion & diversity lead.

Traveling IQuarantine interviews Jenna Howieson and together we explore Edinburgh, Scotland:

Jump for joy in Edinburgh's Dean Village
Jenna in Dean Village, Edinburgh

IQ: How did you get involved in travel?

Jenna: As a kid I grew up taking caravan and camping holidays with my family. So international travel only properly came into my life when I left high school. I took my first big independent trip when I was 18 (to China), in the summer before university, and I was hooked! After that I did everything I could to travel everywhere. I studied abroad in the Netherlands and I worked as a camp counsellor in Western Massachusetts for 5 summers throughout university. When I graduated, I got my TEFL certificate and moved to Vietnam for 6 months. Now I’m more settled, working a full-time office job and living in Edinburgh again. But I still take advantage of every opportunity to travel that I can. Last year I managed to visit 12 different countries and take 42 flights. This year.. well, let’s see!

What are three things you’d like readers to know about you: 

Oh, interesting question! I recently qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water diver which has been a major bucket list goal of mine. It was an amazing experience to qualify in Brazil last year and I’ve been on one dive trip so far (to Thailand). Secondly, I am actually a massive introvert, despite being pretty vocal online about LGBTQ+ issues and travel. And lastly, something most people don’t know is that I have a Law degree. It feels like a lifetime ago, but that was my background before I got into the travel industry.

Where are you from and where do you live now? 

I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland and although I’ve visited 39 countries, I live in Edinburgh right now too. I also went to the University of Edinburgh so I’m pretty passionate about how much I love this gorgeous city. 

What makes Edinburgh unique? 

Edinburgh is such a unique city, I think that’s why everyone who visits loves it so much. For me, its biggest selling point is that it has everything in one small space. It is a big capital city, but within 30 minutes from the centre you can be at the sea or be immersed in the hills and nature. Edinburgh is built on 7 hills, so no matter what area you’re in, there’s so much nature and hiking opportunities. Not to mention it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter for any fans out there!

What makes Edinburgh a place for LGBTQ travelers?

Edinburgh is a great LGBTQ+ destination. The biggest attraction is the World’s Largest Arts Festival (The Fringe), which happens every year. It’s not exclusively queer, however there are countless LGBTQ+ performers and events throughout the whole month of August. Over the rest of the year, Edinburgh is very welcoming and safe for LGBT travel too. Scotland is a progressive country and is generally accepting of most LGBT identities. 

Perfect picture spot: Dean Village in Edinburgh
Dean Village in Edinburgh (Photo by Jenna)

What are three spots that you love in Edinburgh and why?

 This is so hard to pick three!

  • My favourite spot in Edinburgh is in the Pentland Hills, at the top of Allermuir Hill. The Pentland hills are on the outskirts of the city but easily reachable by public transport or car and offer countless walks and hikes with stunning views of the city and hills. 
  • The most photogenic spot in Edinburgh has to be Dean Village. This is a unique spot right in the centre of town, by a river that looks like it fell straight out of a Fairy tale. The colourful cottages and passing Water of Leith makes it such a picturesque spot and an oasis of peace right in the middle of the city.
  • The best spot for foodies has to be The Shore. Right in the north of the city, by the shoreline lies a hub of bars, restaurants and independent cafes. The Shore is perfect for brunch, dinner or an evening out and I love heading there at the weekend to try out all the unique food spots it has to offer. Not to mention, in the summer its a gorgeous place to sit by the water with a coffee and cake. 

What are three LGBTQ highlights in Edinburgh?

  • The Fringe Festival is the city’s highlight every August for sure and it’s such a great time for LGBT travellers to visit Edinburgh. 
  • If you’re visiting Edinburgh in June, then Pride is such a wonderful, locally focused and family friendly event. I love Edinburgh Pride for how accessible and welcoming it is to everyone. 
  • If you’re visiting at another time, Edinburgh has some great LGBT Bars too. CC Blooms is the most renowned and popular bar and never fails to provide a great night out. 

If Coronavirus is magically cured overnight and quarantine ends abruptly, where will you choose to celebrate?

It wouldn’t be an Edinburgh celebration without a night at CC Blooms (the locals call it CCs). So I’d definitely be headed there as soon as I could. Once travel opens up domestically again, being quarantined in Edinburgh has made me appreciate Scotland so much, so I want to explore more of it. Scotland has a famous road trip called the North Coast 500, so I really hope to explore it soon.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to Quarantine, where would it be and why? 

As much as I love Edinburgh (can you tell yet?!) I think I’d have to pick somewhere with heat and the beach! Perhaps Koh Lanta, Thailand. I visited in January and it was such a beautiful island and pace of life. 

To explore more of Jenna’s adventures… 

Follow the Traveling IQ (In Quarantine) series, highlighting people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities.

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