It’s no lie when people say that long-term traveling changes your life. It happens every day. Most of the time it only takes one trip, and sometimes it even causes them to do nothing short of center their life around it when they return.
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Recently I’ve been posting interviews with regular people who started their major travels as AirTreks clients then took the calculated risk to follow up those trips with an effort to make travel a full-time career.
Today I’m featuring Alexis Grant as part 4 of the AirTreks Customers as Entrepreneurs series. Alexis has appeared before on the AirTreks Travel Blog, at the launch of her ebook, and her relentless dedication to the travel ideal made her a perfect candidate to be part of this series.
Not only has Alexis managed to parlay her travel-focused social media management skills into a consulting career, she’s got a book in the oven about her solo journey through Africa and subsequent volunteering effort. Her tireless advocacy of solo female travel is nothing short of inspirational.
Today I’ll be asking her my questions to see how she’s been making the most of her travel resume.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and what’s on your entrepreneurial plate?
I’m a journalist by training, now making my living as a slasher — a freelance journalist/social media strategist/entrepreneur. On the solopreneur side, I’m focusing on offering digital products — ebooks and courses — on my blog. My social media clients are mainly small businesses and startups, some of whom are in the travel space. Working for myself also gives me time to write; I’m finishing up my first book, a travel memoir about backpacking solo through Africa.
What made you decide to take your first big trip?
I’d wanted to take a long backpacking trip for several years, but it wasn’t until I had enough money in the bank and experience on my resume that I finally made it happen. After traveling in New Zealand, Europe and Africa, I wanted to try traveling for months at a time, long enough to stop thinking about my to-do list at home and get away from the rat race for a while.
Where did you go?
During my 2008 backpacking trip, I went to West Africa — Senegal, Mali, Burkina faso and Ghana — then Cameroon, South Africa, and Madagascar. I tried to stick to French-speaking countries so I could improve my language skills. And yes, I used a string of flights put together by Airtreks!
Of those places, which one do you think had the greatest impact on you?
My favorite country was Madagascar; I loved the intersection of African and Asian culture. But Cameroon had the most significant affect on me because of the people I met. I’d traveled there once before, while studying abroad during college, and I visited my two host families during my return trip. One of those families is polygamous, and I’m constantly fascinated by the lifestyle. My host families in Cameroon have become like families-away-from-home for me.
How important was that trip in either establishing your blog or launching your ebook?
Super important! I started my blog because of that trip, mainly to keep in touch with family and friends… and then it turned into something more. My experience backpacking also became the foundation on which I wrote my second ebook, How to Take a Career Break to Travel, a guide for anyone who wants travel to be a bigger part of their life.
How did you first hear about AirTreks and what made you decide to choose us to purchase your tickets?
I think I found you through a basic Google search. I called for a quote, and your service was great; the woman I talked to initially ended up walking me through buying my flights and helped me figure out how to bring down the cost of my tickets. I’d first wanted to go “around the world,” but with her help, I realized it would be cheaper and more worth my time to stick to one continent. I chose Africa.
Any places on your travel radar at the moment?
It looks like I’ll be heading to Nicaragua for a few weeks in March! I’m psyched. But there are so many places I’d love to visit: Tasmania, Thailand, and Iceland, to name a few. And while I’ve seen a lot of Africa, I’ve never been to East Africa, so that’s gotta be on the list, too.
What advice do you have for people thinking about taking a trip like you took?
Figure out how to make it happen! Too often we consider following through on big dreams, but put off doing it… and then never get around to it. If you really want to take a big trip, you’ve got to make it your priority. That means thinking outside-the-box about how to overcome whatever obstacle is holding you back: money, your job, a relationship, whatever. It’s never going to be “the perfect time,” and there’s always going to be something standing in your way, so if travel is at the top of your bucket list, go for it.