Let me start by telling you guys I am not a writer. I’m a luxury travel hacking nomadic artist and a passionate vegan fitness enthusiast! So please bare with me while I attempt to make my first real blog haha.
But since so many of you guys were asking me how to live nomadically, travel on a budget, work remotely, etc – I decided it’s time to blog!
It was fall of 2007 and I was on the verge of failing everything. Finals were around the corner, and soon i’d be on winter break – likely with a big, exciting F.
I was lost.
For the past four years, I had tried all different majors and nothing seemed to be the right fit for me. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, and everyone around me was persuading me to try popular majors like Psychology, Communications, Business, etc. My parents had always been extremely supportive, but my significant other at the time had a stronger influence on my choices at the time – and even though I loved art – he and his family didn’t believe there was a successful career path in that field. So I went on to try many different majors in my college career, but no matter how hard I tried, no amount of Adderall could help me focus on anything I hated doing. ADD has been my blessing and my curse. If I love something – I can learn at warp speed; yet if I dislike something – my brain puts up a blockade from learning.
At 20 years old, I still felt like a kid, but there was this stressful realization that I was only a few years away from adulthood. Whatever major I picked would determine the rest of my existence. I was close to three years out of high school and already wondering, will I be a success, will I become complacent or will I fail?
All my life I loved art and technology. I was raised by two artists that loved technology as well, so it’s no wonder that these are two of my greatest passions. I started out creating with pencils, pastels, paint and clay and as I got older started working with digital media. In high school I started designing art with photoshop and rendering 3d characters in programs like Poser and 3DSMAX. Since I hated the idea of working, I sold many of my characters online for some extra weekly cash.
When I was in college, social media sites started exploding in popularity. Everyone had a myspace, a Facebook or both. At the time, since I was in a community college, we weren’t invited to Facebook (which is pretty funny to imagine) so I used myspace. Facebook at the time was great for connecting with friends and staying in touch with people you wen’t to high school with and others you were in college with while Myspace was for making new friends and creative expression.
Before I joined Myspace, some of my friends were already on there and were growing massive followings. They were getting recognized in the street, it was like they were local celebrities. I signed up and started to become fascinated with the ability for random people to become “famous” online – without having to actually do much.
I watched and learned how other people created stunning marketable personal brands and mirrored what I saw. I used my graphic design skills to create exciting myspace layouts and small coding experience to make them interactive. Within a few weeks I had 4,000 friends. But I unfortunately hit a road block. My boyfriend at the time hated the idea of social media and forced me to delete my account. We eventually broke off our long and unhealthy relationship, and I decided to start focusing on my life again.
When I turned 21, I got back into social media and started to really have fun building a presence. I started networking with other influencers (including some traditional media celebrities) and trading branding work for promotion and I grew in just a few months to 30,000 followers. I was blown away by how many requests and followers I was getting on a daily basis, and also how much engagement my pictures, posts, lifestreams and bulletins were getting.
During this period of time, I was also working for my dad selling office machines to businesses and libraries. One day at work, I wanted to see if I could use myspace to get leads rather than cold call off a list. I posted a bulletin talking about the services our company offered and within seconds I had 15 pages of over 100 messages from people in the tristate area that were interested in the company’s products and services. It was amazing to watch leads roll in from all over the ti-state area. But what really excited me was watching leads come in from all over the world. At that point I realized about any business could become international by optimizing social media.
It’s important to realize that originally, social media wasn’t built for businesses. It was built to connect people, so everything we made was a personal profile. The majority of people I spoke to about social media for business got a kick out of the idea and laughed it off – uninterested in experimenting. But one person saw something there.
I was hanging out with a friend one night and discussing the future of social media and where it was heading for businesses, and he told me I should connect with his friend Keith who was had started a business. He mentioned that his friend had discussed similar ideas and he thought maybe we could collaborate. I agreed to meet with him, and we got together and discussed the future of digital media. We talked for hours about the current state of the industry, the new social media giants, and we discussed his company and how it could leverage this new media for growth. It was incredible to talk to someone who really saw the future of marketing and media the way I did.
Keith was brilliant. He was only 19 at the time and had created an awesome health and fitness magazine and digital platform called “Young Muscle” for millennials. When Keith was in college, he noticed many students binge drinking, and taking recreational drugs, dangerous workout supplements and mental performance enhancers. He was passionate about learning and sharing ways for young adults to embrace a healthy lifestyle, so he started Young Muscle Magazine. Keith dropped out of school before finishing his first semester to market his magazine, curate content, and find advertisers to come on board for future editions.
I decided to go into business with Keith as his creative director. I helped him create exciting new graphics and market his brand to an online audience. We created groups, pages and bulletins and within 24 hours he had more international subscribers than local. It was a pretty exciting time for us and we had big dreams for brining the magazine online as a digital publication.
But soon after, the economy crashed and people halted spending. Brands weren’t interested in buying advertisements especially in a new magazine with under a 500 subscribers. So we had to try to figure out what we’re going to do, should we make a new magazine, should we just wait out the storm. We decided to pivot. Brands weren’t interested in paying for advertising, but they were blown away by our digital presence and understanding of the new media space. So we transitioned into a branding agency where we could help businesses build their online presence through web development and social media. It’s important to realize many businesses had very basic static websites (if they even had one), lacked on SEO, and had little to no social presence at the time.
Our new company was GenerationYM – we launched in 2009 with our CTO DJ. We would approach all kinds of businesses (local boutiques to national companies) and build their digital presence through web design, dynamic and responsive site design, social media creation and branding, and grow their presence through SEO, SEM, and social media marketing.
In 2010 we started taking on lots of clients. We were living at home, going from one parents house to the other. We spent most of our days working in the library or from my parents kitchen. We started thinking about getting an office and an apartment for ourselves in Manhattan. I reached out to a friend to find out what NYC rates were and I was stunned to discover just how much it would cost. I didn’t understand how people my age (23 at the time) lived like that, putting so much income into rent. Although we were making a decent living, the idea of paying someone else’s mortgage (when we could pay off our own) didn’t sit right. But we also weren’t ready to settle down and invest in real estate anywhere just yet. So we decided that the best situation would be to travel around the country and get more experience for our dollar.
I also had a realization that was almost 24 and I had barely been anywhere around the world. I didn’t travel much growing up, and I always wanderlusted about exotic new places. Many of my friends traveled in college, going on school trips or studying abroad but I never did anything like that.
Our first big move was a summer in Florida. Our co-worker booked a gorgeous rental in Fort Myers with two bed rooms, a pool, a stunning community center, and we were in heaven. The rate was close to $1,400 a month, only $700/room. We were already saving so much compared to living in New York and loving every bit of the experience.
We really started to fall in love with traveling. We decided our next big trips for the next 5 months would be California, Europe, Utah and Costa Rica. We were making great income doing online marketing and branding, building digital products, and exploring all different areas of business development. It was becoming easier and easier to work remotely.
So I discovered a website at that time that had just recently started taking the world by storm, and that was Airbnb. And I was shocked to find so many amazing rates for London, for Paris, for Amsterdam. And I just said to myself, let’s see what we could find and let’s travel for a month. And this was really exciting for us, we had never been to Europe before in the first place so traveling for a month really freaked everybody out, how are we possibly going to do that? So we booked our flight, I got a great rate, at the time it was something like $600 round trip from London to New York or from New York to London and we just went.
I booked Airbnb’s for a week in each place that we visited and we got incredible rates, every place we stayed was under $100 a night and it was beautiful. Other people were booking hotels paying over $250 a night for the same quality of life. And we were booking amazing locations. We had a couple of hiccups, some places were a little smaller than we expected but for the most part we loved it. We stayed in some bed and breakfast where we got to meet some amazing people and explored different towns, and go out on the town with different people, and they got to show us around in a way we would have never experienced on our own. And in other cases we just rented really beautiful places and got inspired and felt like what it was like to be a resident in another country.
Ever since we fell in love with traveling, we knew it would become a long term lifestyle. So to make it possible, we’ve had to learn tricks and hacks for optimizing budgeting, saving and spending. We save anywhere from 25% to 80% on every trip through travel hacking – without having to really play around with rewards programs, special memberships or secret codes.
We hope to help others learn how to save big on travel, but you will also learn ways to work remotely and invest in real-estate to join the B&B community and offset your expenses and cashflow!
We hope you guys enjoy our blog!