Welcome to the second interview of our #inspiringnomads blog series! In this ongoing series, we go on a hunt to find inspiring travelers to share their tips and stories with you. We want to prove to you that it’s easier than you think to travel more and that there are already so many people living their lives to the max and following their dreams. Are you next?
Today we interview #inspiringnomad and freelance travel writer Alyssa from My Life’s A Movie! Here Alyssa shares with you what inspires her to travel every 2 weeks, how she funds her international travels by freelance writing and some great tips to help you get saving for your next trip!
Let’s get started…
Hi, I’m Alyssa. I’m originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, but I was born in Miami and have a full-Cuban background. I went to Florida State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, which is only useful now for beating people at Trivia Crack. I accidentally moved to LA about four years ago when I came to visit for the weekend and never went back. Since then I have been fortunate enough to discover my passion of writing and traveling, and am now a full time travel writer for my blog, a magazine called Geo Chic, and various other travel websites.
When did you first start travelling internationally and where did you go?
My first big trip abroad was in 2008 — one of my sorority sisters was going on a Eurotrip and trying to convince other people to go with her. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to afford it but mentioned it to my mom in conversation. She asked how much it was and to my surprise, offered to help me pay for it so that I could go to about 13 countries in 36 days!
I went to Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Prague, Switzerland, Amsterdam, France, Spain, and a couple smaller places in between.
What then inspired you to travel more?
I have a strong desire to always do more. I’m not satisfied with being successful in one place or doing one thing, I always strive to do more, see more, learn more, and accomplish more. That mentality led to a three week trip I planned that went one full revolution around the world, to three continents; Africa, Asia, and Australia. I volunteered, solo traveled, and paid for the trip myself, which in turn, inspired a lot of people to travel.
So now, my inspiration to travel more, is to inspire other people to travel as well!
What are your 2 favourite travel destinations and why?
Cuba is my top travel destination, but I’m biased because I have a lot of history there. Recently I got to go there to write a magazine article, and got to meet some of my family there for the first time, and see where my grandmother grew up. It was also very fascinating to see the culture and history, and how the Revolution has caused Havana to deteriorate, Although that may very well be changing soon!
Number two is a tough one…I loved South Africa because I volunteered there and the kids stole my heart, but there was also so much to see like Cape Town, Muizenberg beach, the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, and the little sight-seeing safaris on the Garden Route. But I must say, Ao Nang, Thailand was probably the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in my life.
If you could pick anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be?
Well. Right now Antarctica is number one on my list because it’s my last continent out of 7 that I haven’t been to. Unfortunately it’s also one of the most expensive, and difficult places to get to so I might be working on that one for a bit…
What is your travel style? Do you prefer to travel cheaper + longer or splurge on short vacations?
I never splurge on anything which is why I’m able to travel to so many places. I’m perfectly fine sitting in economy with three layovers if it will get me to Africa, and although I can usually afford a decent hotel (or now, am lucky enough to get hotel sponsors), I do look at prices first.
Plus my travel style is more adventure/living like a local, so I don’t really like the whole luxury, relaxing vacation thing.
How often do you travel and how do you fund this lifestyle?
I would say I travel at least twice a month. I try to spend two solid weeks at home working and saving up before jetting off again, but I’ve been getting more opportunities lately with travel sponsorships (like hotels, travel companies, brands, etc) which have sent me places that I wouldn’t have been able to afford right away before.
It took me a while, but now I am making all of my money as a travel writer. I get ad sales from my blog, and get paid per article that I submit to a few different websites, then get paid even more to write articles for the magazine. Since everything is online, I can work from wherever I am, which means most of the time when I’m traveling, I’m writing and working at the same time to fund it!
Do you have any pre-travel money saving tips you could share?
Depending on how much you make, take 10-20% of your paycheck out and put it in savings and don’t touch it. It also helps to budget out how much your trip would cost, so you have an idea of how much and for how long you need to save up for.
Oh, and my own main pre-travel saving theory is to only spend money on rent, food, wine, and dog food. That means I don’t spend money on expensive purses or shoes, and I don’t go on shopping sprees or choose the expensive hair salons in Beverly Hills. If something costs more than $50, my brain automatically says, “Nope, that’s ¼ of a plane ticket somewhere”.
What are your top go-to resources for booking flights and accommodation?
I’ve found the cheapest flights on SkyScanner, but Kayak is good too. My top recommendation when using sites like those are to not pick specific dates and play around with the options they give you with flexible dates.
I use Booking.com for accommodations sometimes, but I also like to ask people for recommendations. There are tons of travel experts to Tweet or look at their sites who have been to the place before and can give a good rec!
What 5 items do you always pack no matter what?
My MacBook Air, GoPro, “travel-kit” ( a pre-packed, TSA approved kit I created with things like travel toothbrush, Wrinkle Release, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, Peptobismol, perfume, etc), business/social media cards so people abroad can find me, and this black long-sleeved shirt that I literally wear on most flights and in most places I travel to for some reason. My iPhone doesn’t count as something I pack since it’s usually glued to my hand, right?
Where to next?! Have you got any exciting travel plans coming up in the future?
I have this feeling that Bali is going to be in the books next, fingers crossed! Other than that I know I have a trip to Hawaii in late July, but there’s just so much time until then, that I’ll probably end up traveling in between!
A great insight into the life of a freelance travel writer here from Alyssa of My Life’s A Movie! We especially liked finding out where all her different sources of income come from while she’s travelling. Working online truly has it’s perks!
Curious to learn how you can earn a living while you travel too? Click here to find out exactly how!
A big thank you to Alyssa for today’s travel inspiration! Stay tuned for another #inspiringnomads interview on the blog next Wednesday!