Tag: Turkey (page 1 of 2)

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!

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

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Ahmet Seckin Yilmaz. 

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Current city: A two thousand year-old, small fishermen’s town by the Aegean Sea called Foca (Phocaea), Izmir, Turkey.

Age: 40.

Total countries visited: 38 countries in 88 different trips. I did not sleep on my bed for 447 nights to be precise.

What makes you interesting: Photography is an important part of my travels. I always have my camera with me – no matter where I am. The world is a beautiful place and I want to see as much of it as possible and share the beauty of it with as many people as I can through my photographs.

What brands do you love: I love every single Apple product and my Nikon camera and lenses.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Saint Augustine once said “The world is a book, and those who do not tavel read only one page.” One of the gratest lines I have ever heard. I learned not one but many lessons: Appreciate the simple things in your life… Around the world, most people are good… It’s the people you meet who make your travels worthwile… A smile and a wave makes a big difference anywhere in the world. The best part of travelling though, is coming home with great memories you made.

Most magical place on earth: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar). It is truly another world. Strolling through more than two thousand temples, watching the sunset on top of them and finally ballooning over them at sunrise. Words can not describe the experience. It’s an absolutely breathtaking place.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: I had three childhood travel dreams. Number one was to see the Northern lights, number two was to visit Machu Picchu in Peru and number three was to see the Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. I was so lucky to see the Northern lights back in 2006 in the Finnish Lapland. I was in Machu Picchu on my birthday back in 2009. I was so close to go to Easter Island back in 2014, but my wife Ozlem gave birth to our beautiful daughter Yaz. So, I wouldn’t say no to a free trip to Easter Island.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: I’m a good company, very easygoing, I have lots of funny/scary/amazing travel stories to tell: How we got in trouble on the Peruvian-Bolivian border with my wife, why you should wear a sticker in a Burmese airport, how I got the chance to take a photo with Tom Cruise and many more. Oh and I have thousands of travel photos to show you.

Is there anywhere you will not travel to: As long as I have good travel partner, I would go anywhere.

Where did you go for your first travel experience and at what age: Prague. I was 25 years old.

Next travel destination: Indoneisa for a nine-day photography tour with a friend of mine. Very excited about it!

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Kathy Marris from 50 Shades of Age. 

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Current city: Gold Coast, Queensland.

Age: In my 50s.

Total countries visited: I think I have visited just over 20 different countries, some of which are small islands.

What makes you interesting: Maybe you should ask my husband or friends this one! I guess the most interesting thing about me is that I started a lifestyle/travel blog in my 50s and I travel around a lot. Last year my husband and I circumnavigated Australia in a 4WD and caravan, covering over 25,000kms for 7 months.

What brands do you love: Apple, New Balance, Country Road and Witchery Fashion Clothing.

What’s your favorite passport stamp: Turkey was the most interesting travel destination that I have been to.

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

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited: If I’m still alive then, (which is unlikely) I would be proud to say that I have visited most of the European countries including Eastern Europe, South America, South Africa, Middle East, China, Japan, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Is there anywhere you will not travel to: I’m a little hesitant to visit the Middle East but I wouldn’t discount it. Also some parts of South America may not be safe to travel.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: I am an experienced savvy traveler who likes to get off the beaten track and explore the ‘real’ places instead of the touristy places. Plus I am willing to try most things.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Don’t take too much luggage and always check your flight details before the day of the flight.

Next travel destination: A cruise from Singapore travelling to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and Cambodia.

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Jonathan Look, Jr. from Life Part 2.

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Current city: Vientiane, Laos PDR

Age: 54

Total countries visited: I don’t do a running tally, but I would estimate around fifty or so. I believe in immersive travel and prefer to measure travel in experiences more than with stamps in my passport.

What makes you interesting: Wow, that is a hard question! I know have met a lot of travelers and I think many of their stories are more interesting than mine.  I guess the most interesting thing about me is that after 25 years on the typical consumerist treadmill I stepped off and started living life the way I wanted to; not the way most of us are trained to do. I broke away and started chasing my passions and dreams, and living life on my own terms, not by the usual societal standards.

Also, I think to qualify as interesting a person, someone needs to be intensely interested in things that are bigger than and beyond themselves. I guess if being fascinated by exploring new worlds, living life as an adventure and enjoying as much variety as possible makes you an interesting person, then maybe I qualify.

What brands do you love: As you may know I am not really a “brand” sort of person. Because I travel and move around so much, I greatly limit the number of my possessions. When I do own something I expect it to be of good quality, last a long time and perform well in a variety of situations.

I use Canon cameras because they are familiar to me, they make great photographs and, especially at the higher end, they are capable of taking a fair amount of abuse. For processing my photographs, I use Apple products because the phones, tablets and computers all perform in similar ways and there isn’t this huge learning curve when moving between products, or when there is an upgrade.When I travel I generally prefer to stay in smaller, locally owned, guest houses and hotels, but I do find it hard to resist ultra-luxury accommodation every now and then. For that, it is hard to beat the Ritz-Carlton or the Peninsula brand of hotels. Lately, I have had the opportunity to stay at several Onyx Hospitality properties at different places in Asia and I find them to be very agreeable.

When I fly somewhere I usually choose by schedule or by price. I do find some airlines, in terms of service and comfort, to be superior to others, but I am still searching for one to fall in love with. I like Laotian coffee, French cheeses, Chilean wines and a great hamburger every now and then.

What’s your favorite passport stamp: Probably Bhutan, or Myanmar. Peru. France. China. Australia. Cambodia. I don’t know. I guess the closest answer would be the next one I don’t have yet. As I mentioned, I tend to measure travel more in adventures had, than in which borders you had to cross in order to have them.

What’s one thing you have no problem breaking the bank for when traveling: I will pay a lot of money to get off of the tourist trails in order to see something unique. That may mean buying permits or sometimes hiring guides or fixers. It may mean hiring unusual or non-standard modes of transport such as long-tail boats or private drivers. It just seems wrong to me to spend a lot of time and effort getting someplace spectacular or off the beaten trail and miss something because you wanted to stay on some arbitrary budget.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: You can’t stand on the ruins of Angkor Wat, knowing that it was by far once the most prosperous and populous place on the planet, and not KNOW that everything is temporary. You can’t spend days in the third world with the poorest of the poor and see that they are often the most generous of all people without it changing your priorities.   The very act of leaving the comforts of home to see new places and have new experiences brings new confidence and perspective to my everyday life. Traveling beyond my comfort zones and outside of my old bubbles has forced me to realize that we are all one people, but we have all too often been divided by deliberate manipulation, ignorance, fear, and greed.

What motivates you to travel: I have this insatiable curiosity to see new horizons and meet people from different cultures. I want to know what is over that hill, behind that door, what that tastes like or what makes other people tick. I have a very low threshold for boredom and I know at the end of this wonderful ride we call life, I won’t be wishing I had stayed home in a comfortable chair, on the golf course or wishing I had bought more stuff.

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: If you travel with me you will certainly have some new stories, maybe have a few new secrets and a lot of new memories. To get a true understanding of a place you sometimes need to put away the guide books and find your own way. Just wandering around and intentionally getting lost is a great way to discover things off of the tourist trails, and usually more wonderful because your experiences will be unique to you.

I like to fully embrace all aspects of travel. Like everyone I enjoy some comfort and pampering, but you can only have so many spa days, or sipping cocktails by the pool days, before they become just another routine. Let’s be honest — lazing by the pool at a luxury hotel in Paris really isn’t that much different that lazing by the pool at a luxury hotel in Phnom Penh. It is wonderful, but probably something you even could do in your home town.

I believe in variety and enjoy taking a journey without limitations. One day you may find me sleeping in a cheap hostel or guesthouse, the next may find me in the penthouse suite. With the right attitude, airplanes, oxcarts and everything in between are all fine modes of transportation. In order to get the most out of travel you need to experience — not just passively observe — different cultures,  landscapes and cuisines. Try the food, hang out with locals, walk the trails, dive the oceans. I know the true magic of travel doesn’t really begin until you get, at least a little, outside of you comfort zones.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: I have really been wanting to go to Mongolia. Meet some of the locals and photograph their way of life and see the wide open spaces. Also, I hear so many conflicting stories about Iran, I would like to go and see things there and meet the people for myself. Cuba is also way up there. I want to spend some time there before the inevitable mass tourism takes over.

Next travel destination: I always have something open and two or three things working at a time. I am now in the process of trying to plan a mid-winter trip to somewhere in Scandinavia to see the Northern Lights. If I can’t get that together before the end of the season I think I will take my camera to Istanbul and rural Turkey for a few weeks. After that, I am planning a trip to explore around Taiwan and see if it would be a good place for us to base from a while and explore more of Asia. I have a charity spot reserved to run for ActionAid in the London Marathon at the end of April. In March, I want to travel someplace conducive to training (cool, clear and flat) before going to England to run the race. After the marathon, Sarah and I are planning to walk the Camino de Santiago from France through Spain to the Atlantic Ocean.

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