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TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Jenny Feng, contributing writer at The Outbound Collective.

Current city: Home is Calgary, Canada

Age: 27

Total countries visited: 23

What makes you interesting: The diverse life experiences I have accumulated. I grew up and spent my childhood in China and lived in Canada since my early teens. I built a career in corporate banking in the last five years which I’m extremely proud of. I recently left banking to work on a new project (in stealth mode). Instagram has been a wonderful creative outlet for me the last year. I have traveled to five different continents (6th in 2 weeks!). I’m an adrenaline junkie and have done everything from skydiving in Dubai to cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa. I love house music. I love geopolitics. I love meeting new people from all walks of life. I ran a full marathon in Spain in 2012. I have always believed in giving back to the community, making a difference, and have always been involved with different charity organizations since university. I live for new experiences!

What brands do you love: Google – I admire companies with such incredible innovation and creative capabilities, and their power to change and disrupt the world as we know it.

Where are you the most authentic you: Anywhere and everywhere – because why would you ever be someone else?!

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited: Egypt (check), Dubai (check), Philippines (check), Machu Picchu, Kenya, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Antarctica, and hopefully as close to 195 countries as possible!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Don’t take everything at face value, and don’t believe everything you see or hear. Go experience for yourself.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: Travel has made me more humble as a human being, more understanding of our differences, and more grateful for this interesting little journey we call life!

Next travel destination: Sydney and Cairns, Australia, and moving to Cairns this winter!

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Sabina Trojanova from Girl vs. Globe!

Current city: Vienna, Austria

Age: 23

Total countries visited: 40

What makes you interesting: Being a full-time blogger is an interesting job in its own right, but I know bloggers are a dime a dozen these days! What makes me unique is my perspective. I’ve recently committed to living more responsibly which has completely changed the way I think about travel. Despite being 23 I’m also not new to exploring the world. I first moved abroad with my family when I was 13 and on my own at the age of 17. I’ve lived in five countries so far and speak five languages, which makes having really authentic local experiences much  easier.

What brands do you love: I love brands that take time to think about the world we live in. I don’t want to name any particular names here, but would like to urge everyone to look at how their favorite companies operate.

Where are you the most authentic you: Anywhere, as long as I feel comfortable. That usually depends on the people I’m with rather than the location.

What is your most favorite travel memory: I’ve hitchhiked through France dressed as a nun, spent hours at a Russian police station and went on a sunset mountain hike in Iceland. In other words, I’ve had my fair share of hilarious and memorable travel experiences. But my favorite memories are always times spent with local families. Staying with a Berber family in Morocco, making dumplings with a Chinese family in Beijing or learning about authentic Italian recipes from an elderly couple in Tivoli – those are the kinds of things that really stick with you!

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: Antarctica! Cruises aren’t exactly my thing but this would be the opportunity of a lifetime.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: Travel has taught me a very valuable lesson. The people you meet on your travels may look different, sound different and lead vastly different lives, but at our core, we’re all very similar. We all love to laugh, spend time with our loved ones and enjoy life to the fullest. I believe that’s the most important lesson we can learn in today’s world, filled with so much hate and fear mongering by the media and politicians.

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: I spent a month living in Beijing and studying Mandarin. This was the only time in my life I’ve truly experienced culture shock. Going forward I want to turn my focus to places outside of Europe and North America and be pushed outside my comfort zone again. It’s exhilarating, not to mention eye-opening.

Describe yourself in three words: I’m curious, ambitious and a little bit crazy. You have to be to do this job!

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited: Syria, Somalia and a handful of other countries where violent conflict has finally subsided. That’s my biggest wish.

Next travel destination: I’m going on a nature and wildlife trip to Wales in the United Kingdom. I’ll be hiking, sea kayaking and hanging out with seals, puffins and dolphins. I’m beyond excited!

TWIPPER OF THE MONTH – October 2016

Twippers of the Month – October 2016: Nick and Dariece from Goats on the Road.

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“We are here to inspire you to create a happier life for yourself.” Nick and Dariece are the Goats, a Canadian travel team dedicated to teaching all how to finance their trips around the world, and how travel blogging is a reliable source of income. One of their goals is to inspire others to travel the way they have. The Goats embody the idea that material possessions weigh us down. They financed their first trip by selling their house and using the money they had saved up over the years. Once they started traveling, they knew it was going to be how they would spend the rest of their lives. They worked for a year in Canada and soon after they taught English in China. With these jobs and free accommodations from being paid to house sit, they are proud of their success as travel bloggers.

Since their first journey in 2008, they have been to 46 countries in 5 continents and have also seen five out of seven wonders of the world. Their goal is to say they’ve seen the world. With a working knowledge of finance, determination, and a solid support system, these two are on their way to achieve just that, and it’s why we are naming them our Twippers of the Month for October 2016.

Oh, and why are they called the Goats? Because no matter where we travel in the world, there seems to be goats roaming the roads!

TWIPPERS OF THE WEEK

Twippers of the Week: Roel and Eugénie from Take Us Anywhere

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Current city: Groningen, Netherlands. This is where we have been living for the past 30 years.

Age: Eugénie just turned 47 and Roel is 50.

Total countries visited: About 76.

What makes you interesting: It’s not something we’ve ever given any thought to. We’re rather unpretentious people, so others should be the judge of that. What we hear from other people is that they’re amazed by how many countries we’ve visited despite having full time jobs. We try different styles of travel (we even went on a cruise) and are not solely sticking to the beaten path but always mix in some surprising, less visited places. We just started our own blog Take Us Anywhere in January to share our travel stories and pictures which many seem to enjoy.

What brands do you love: We choose what appeals to us, and what fits our needs and tastes which change over the years. The best purchases in the past year have been our Sony A7 camera, GoPro 4 silver and Samsung S6, all giving a boost to documenting our trips.

What’s your Travanality: The culturist probably describes us both most, but with many of the other Travanality types mixed in to certain degrees. We like our trips to be about seeing the incredible things human hands have created over many centuries, but also enjoy being amazed by wonders of nature, relax at tropical beaches, street art or visit a local sports venue. Roel definitely is somewhat of a victor and maverick too, much to the dismay of Eugénie sometimes.

If you wash up on a deserted island with your luggage in hand, what’s the one thing you’re thanking God you packed:

Eugénie: prescription sunglasses because without them I would not be able to see Roel and I would be squinting all the time because of the sun (we’re talking about a sunny island, right?).

Roel: sun block because I burn easily (I’m on the same sunny island as Eugénie, right?). 

What is the furthest northern, southern, eastern, and western point you have traveled: Furthest north would be Iceland, on a short stopover on the way to New York. We’re not really into colder climates. Furthest south is Santiago de Chile. Strangely enough in over 20 years of traveling together we only crossed the equator two times, in 2013 and last year. Furthest east is Japan. Southeast Asia is our favorite part of the world. Furthest west is Oahu, Hawaii. Furthest away from it all is Easter Island.

What is the best part about having a travel partner: To always have a like-minded person with you to share travel experiences and to be able to lean on each other when things aren’t going as planned (who takes care of you when you get sick, for example). This only gets better when this travel partner is a significant other. Being on the road you have the opportunity to grow even closer. We can’t imagine a life traveling without each other. On a more practical note, things get cheaper when you travel together.

What do you enjoy doing the most during your travels: First and foremost we travel because our world is such an amazing and diverse place. We love to experience countries as a whole – cities, nature, people, food culture, music et cetera – and try to immerse ourselves as much as possible. For us this means traveling by public transport if we can (nothing beats the microcosmos of an Indian train), eating street food at road side diners, walking through local villages, staying at local guesthouses and watching people going about their daily lives.

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: We’re not easily shocked. During our travels we’ve seen a lot of poverty and seen things that through western eyes may seem atrocious. We always travel with an open mind and try to see it through local eyes. What often surprises us is how much happier people in poorer countries often seem to be compared to our western world where consumerism is king. We’ve experienced most of what many people consider shocking: Filthy pit toilets, people spitting food on the floor in a train, lewd grabbing hands, livestock being butchered at markets, open air cremations, beggars covered in rags, following a blood trail to find treatment at a flyblown hospital and obscenely huge meals in the U.S., to name just a few. Our most absurd memory was the hotels in Tibet refusing to wash our socks and underwear.

Next travel destination:  Berlin in July, Edinburgh in September and 4.5 weeks to South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho in October-November.

Gillian Morris: The Great Mind Behind ‘Hitlist’

“Help you travel more for less” is exactly what CEO of Hitlist, Gillian Morris, has set out to do – and accomplished – by helping travelers find the best deals for their next flight. In addition to being recognized as one of the 35 young leaders in the travel industry, Gillian has received many awards in the tech field, like Audience Choice at Women 2.0. She is passionate about all things tech and travel since her college years at Harvard. Her experience traveling abroad has helped her learn that by taking risks, there comes rewards, which has led her to her biggest reward to date, Hitlist. Read about Gillian’s journey creating Hitlist and the life as a CEO in travel tech.

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Who is the ideal customer for Hitlist?

Hitlist is made for everyone, but especially for the nomads: those who have more stamps in their passport than pairs of shoes, who trust that venturing into the unknown holds more promise than a ‘just OK’ routine, and who love and respect the world’s diversity. We want to make it easy for you to travel more by highlighting the best flight deals.

Hitlist has been recognized by The New York Times, CNBC and TechCrunch. What makes this travel app different from others apps in the industry?

We’re rethinking the travel planning and booking process from the ground up. The leading flight search engines of today are all pretty similar: you ask them how much it costs to fly to a particular destination on a given day. If you’re flexible, you’ll have to do hundreds of searches to understand all your options – and of course the prices are changing constantly. At Hitlist, we think a lot of people are at least somewhat flexible on where and when they’re traveling: they might want to go to Europe this summer, but are interested in a number of different destinations, or they might want to visit their friend in Chicago, but willing to go almost any weekend. So we ask people to create alerts for trips – however defined or flexible they may be – and we alert them when there are cheap fares so they can book.

What experience did you have that made you come up with the idea of Hitlist?

I worked in a number of developing countries in the Middle East and Central Asia as a journalist and risk analyst. I saw firsthand how transformative travel was for both the local communities and people who traveled to more off the beaten track places. I also personally experienced the frustration of trying to book travel when I was flexible about destinations and dates. I felt like there had to be a better way, so I started experimenting with ideas at hackathons and startup weekends until we came up with Hitlist.

What are the biggest hurdles being a woman entrepreneur in the travel tech space?

I face the same hurdles every entrepreneur faces: acquiring users economically, getting investors and hires to believe in what we’re building, and facing a steep learning curve doing something I’ve never done before.

If you could start over creating Hitlist, what you would you do differently?

So many things! I would have concentrated my fundraising efforts on stage-appropriate investors (angels for the first round, not wasting time with seed firms who were happy to talk but would never place a bet so early). I would form an advisory board earlier on. I would fire underperforming members of the team earlier. It’s natural to have a bit of hit and miss as you try and build your team. I like to think I’m getting better at finding people who not only bring the right skills but have the right attitude.

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You recently moved Hitlist from New York to San Francisco. Why do you believe this was a strategic business move for the company?

The depth of experience in consumer-facing mobile apps in San Francisco is unparalleled. We miss New York, and Hitlist was very much formed in NYC, but as we began to scale we found ourselves over in SF more and more often meeting with investors and advisors who have helped companies like us break out from a couple hundred thousand users to millions.

On the Hitlist site you have Wandertab. What is this feature and how did you come up with the idea?

Wandertab, our Chrome extension, shows a beautiful picture of a destination and how much it costs to go there every time you open a new tab. I originally conceived of the idea with a friend named Max Izmaylov, CEO of Roomstorm, who I met at a hackathon. We wanted to feed the sense of wanderlust most people have and help them realize that their dream destinations don’t have to be so expensive.

You went to Harvard for Government and Medieval Studies. How did you enter into the travel and technology industry?

I was lucky enough to be at Harvard when Facebook was just getting off the ground, and I had a number of friends start tech companies. I was always intrigued by the idea of ‘getting into tech’, but wanted to live abroad and work in international development. After a couple of years, I kept on returning to the idea of applying what I’d learned on the road to making a more efficient and user-friendly travel app.

You have received many awards including Audience Choice at Women 2.0, winner of THack SFO in 2012 and 2013, as well as being recognized as one of the 35 young leaders in the travel industry in 2013. Is there an accomplishment that you are the most proud of?

I’m most proud of building Hitlist to over half a million users worldwide and facilitating tens of thousands of trips (and many more to come!).

Describe your English teaching experience in China and traveling through Mongolia, Russia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey for five years after college. What did you learn from this experience? 

I didn’t plan anything, so there wasn’t a unifying theme to my travels. The number one  thing I learned from moving around like that was that the world is, on the whole, a very friendly and peaceful place. If you respect the local culture in places you visit, and are working on constructive things, people open up to you and better things than you ever imagined can happen. I’d say every risk I’ve taken has been rewarded – and that’s given me the courage to take the biggest risk of all and start this company.  

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What valuable information about the travel tech space would you give other women who wanted to become an entrepreneur?

Make sure you’re building something that has a real market, not just something for you and your friends. Validate through surveys, pilots, and studying other companies that have tried to do similar things.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Please download Hitlist!

More facts about Gillian:

Personal Mantra: “We can!”
De-Stress Technique: Overnight trains never fail to put me to sleep.
Latest Gadget: None – I try to have as few as possible. Computer and phone are the only electronics I own.
Favorite App: Hitlist
Favorite Travel Brand: Hitlist. If I have to choose another one, Instagram.
Next Vacation Destination: Hong Kong

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