Seth Freedman: Thank you for tuning in to The Best Travel Podcast brought to you by Driftr and hosted by me, Seth Freedman. We’ll be interviewing some of your favorite travel bloggers and influencers, getting you the real scoop, the dirt, and all the things you really want to know. The true stories told by the storytellers themselves. For the traveler, by the traveler. Let’s get into it. Hi, Alyssa, how are you doing?
Alyssa: Hey, I’m in Bali right now, so no complaints.
SF: Tell me what got you interested in travel. What was it that really got you jump-started?
Alyssa: To be honest, I started traveling a little late. Most people start traveling either before college, in college, or after college, and I’ve just never had the encouragement to go travel. I just jumped straight into life. I took the typical route: get a job, get a relationship, and do the whole life thing. And then when I was 26, I was like, “I haven’t really seen anything besides the U.S.” So out of nowhere I was like, “I want to go volunteer in Africa.” I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I just went by myself and it was awesome. Since then, I’ve been traveling.
SF: You started your travels with philanthropy. That’s pretty amazing.
Alyssa: Thank you.
SF: What were your feelings before your first trip to to Africa?
Alyssa: There was a lot of pressure because I wasn’t sure that I could afford it. I wasn’t sure I should be going alone. I had all these ideas in my head that it wasn’t safe for me to go alone. It wasn’t considered acceptable for a girl to be traveling by herself. So there were a lot of things leading up to it that I was very nervous about, but the second I got to the volunteer house there with people from all over the world, it was just like, “Wow, this is actually normal. No one told me about it. Wow, wow, wow!”
SF: Would you consider yourself a philanthropic traveler? What type of traveler would you consider yourself to be?
Alyssa: My technical niche is ‘solo female adventure travel.’ I don’t like to sit by pools and tan. I like to go chase waterfalls and jump off high things. I’m also very heavy into philanthropy and I always have been. One of my jobs before I started travel blogging was charity event planning. I’ve always wanted to give back. After that first trip to Africa, I started my own charitable organization called Heart Sleeves. The purpose of it is to use a second free checked bag (if you have one) and bring something from the U.S. that they need in a country that you’re going to.
SF: All right everybody, make sure to check out Heart Sleeves. We really support that type of travel. Helping is always a good thing. We really appreciate travelers that like to help. So, I just want to get into some of your memories of travel, some good, some bad, some romantic. What was the most amazing moment in travel that really stood out? What was it and why was it so special to you?
Alyssa: I have so many of those.
15 of 30 Most Epic Adventures Before 30🙌: Bolivia Salt Flats & Biking Down Death Road! 🚴♀️ 😱🙋♀️ . This was one of my first solo travel adventures that I did AFTER hiking the Inca Trail for four days…I took my first overnight bus to Bolivia where I luckily made friends who helped me get everything I needed to cross the border. I then proceeded to mountain bike for the first time…down the deadliest road in the World (OUCH), then I was off to the Uyuni Salt Flats for some serious perspective! See more photos and tips for getting here on my Stories! . OH. And I found out a few weeks later when I got back to LA that there’s a mini Salt Flats a few hours away near Death Valley! . #30before30 #Bolivia #uyunisaltflats #boliviasaltflats #selfie #solotravel #mylifesatravelmovie #alyssaramostravels #travelblogger #bucketlist #southamerica
SF: If you had to pick one or two, what would your top moments be?
Alyssa: My top one is going to be one of my first times traveling because I was so blown away by the fact that I was even doing it. It was my first paid trip as a writer where I got to go somewhere to write about the area. I kind of finagled my way, you know, fake it ‘til you make it. I said I had traveled a lot solo before, which I hadn’t, just so they would let me go. It was to Cuba. The incredible moment was discovering my Cuban roots. I was so proud of myself that I had made it to Cuba on my own. I was getting paid to be there to write a story about my family. The moment that I arrived in this small town in Cuba where my grandparents grew up and where I still had family members….it was just heart-wrenching. It was such a success to see my family for the first time in 27 years. Super magical. The second one that stands out was another one of my first solo trips which was to Iceland. I had never really been anywhere like Iceland before. I rented a car on my own, I was there doing collaboration again, and I was so proud of myself. It was my first time actually seeing a waterfall like that in nature and not in a park. I just started screaming. I was so excited in the car by myself.
SF: Did you jump off the waterfall?
Alyssa: It was so cold. I was running up to it and was already soaked and I didn’t care. By the time I got down from the waterfall, I was like, “Oh my god, I need a heater or something!”
SF: It’s that moment when your emotions are out. I can imagine that was pretty amazing.
SF: Let’s go to the other side: worst travel moments. Are there one or two that stand out, when you literally didn’t want to be there anymore or something that was just a horrible experience?
Alyssa: There’s been a few moments where I was like, “Oh my god, get me out of this country right now!” I’ve been very fortunate in not getting sick because I take really good care of myself. Knock on wood. I did get food poisoning in Singapore and I wanted to die. It was half my fault because I’m a vegetarian and I didn’t fully hear what they were telling me about this really fancy meal. It was like a little pillow of something that you eat in one bite. I thought it was cheese but it was really mashed up veal. I ate it and I got super sick. I wanted to leave immediately and go to the hospital. Another time I got locked in the Sydney Aquarium at night.
SF: That sounds like a good experience!
Alyssa: That’s what my mom said. She was like, “You probably did it on purpose!” No, mother. I was traveling by myself. It was only the third country I had been to by myself. I was terrified and I couldn’t get out for like, two hours.
SF: Wow. And you just kind of slept with the fish, huh?
Alyssa: I finally busted out of the emergency exit.
SF: Wow, nice. That’s a good story. So this is something I talk to everybody about if they’re okay with talking about it: romance. If you’re traveling a lot, I would imagine you may not have a significant other or maybe you have more than one significant other. Can you tell us about some romances along the road? Do you still keep in contact with anyone? Is there somebody in your life?
Alyssa: Yes. It’s really hard to travel full-time, but it’s my career. It’s hard to find someone who’s either a) okay with you being gone most of the time, or b) can travel with you all the time. Last year I was fortunate enough to meet someone. We were actually in the same Huffington Post article about top travel bloggers and I saw his account. I was like, “You’re really good at pictures.” He was like, “Yeah, I’m pretty much obsessed with everything you do.” Ironically, we ended up meeting in Bali a year ago and hit it off right away. We accidentally had a honeymoon before even dating, which was interesting. We stayed at all the city reserves in Bali. We stayed in honeymoon suites because he had collaborations with them. I do more affordable travel and he does luxury travel, which is weird. It should be the other way around, but it’s not. I was like, “You do your collaborations and I’ll come with you.” This was ultimate full-time traveler goals to find someone who’s like, “Let’s go to more countries together.” You just go, “Absolutely.” It was pretty awesome. He’s from Europe and I think that’s part of why it was easier. I haven’t met many Americans that are just like, “Let me take off work so I can come travel with you.” A lot of people thought I was absolutely nuts to be traveling so much but now they’re like, “Can I come visit you?” We went to four more countries together, including India. We basically tested the crap out of a new relationship in all ways possible. We did the hardest things that you should not do until you’re married. We went to India and then went into Sri Lanka, and then we went on another honeymoon! We lived in Thailand for a couple weeks and then we did Singapore, where I got food poisoning. Then I kept going. He had to go back because the way that his travels work is he works a couple of months and then travels for a couple months. And I was just working, traveling, working, traveling….continuously.
SF: Do you think you’ll meet up again soon or is the romance kind of over?
Alyssa: He’s actually in Bali again, ironically at the same time as me.
SF: Let’s get him on the phone right now!
Alyssa: He’s he’s actually coming by in like an hour or so.
SF: Okay. So this is perfect for you because you’re the money saver. What are some top money-saving tips for traveling for people that want to try to do this? What are some for you?
Alyssa: Another program that I do is called Waterless Workers and it’s a savings and makings program where I teach people who aren’t trying to be a travel blogger or influencer….people who have their own jobs but want to make more so they can save to travel. It’s hard for me to teach it often but I can tell you what I teach in the program, which are my top three tips. The first thing I try to teach them is to go on a spending diet. I make them write down everything throughout the week that they’re spending money on. I tell them to keep spending money, but to just to write down what it was and how much it was. On the second week I say, “Okay, now do the same thing.” I tell them to write down how much the purchases are, but to not actually spend the money. At the end of the week, I tell them to add up all the money they didn’t spend and put it in a savings account that’s for travel only. So that’s the savings diet, which gets people to stop spending money on random stuff and gets them to put it away so that they have a little cushion going. The second thing I teach them is to pick up one to two freelance jobs. This is how I started making money for the current career that I have and how I learned how to do everything for blogging. I would go on websites like ELance, freelancer.com, or Upward. My biggest hit was actually Craigslist. I would just apply to any freelance job that I thought that I would be capable of doing from my computer. I googled how to do the majority of them and lied for the majority of them saying I had experience. But I got them. I got really good at them and I was making enough money to pay rent and to travel. I was teaching people how to do the same thing and a lot of people ended up saving and making thousands of dollars and actually traveling. I also teach them how to do flight roulette / flight hacking which is how I get the majority of my cheap flights. Instead of just picking a destination and a date, I say pick your home departure area, search for anywhere in the world, and any date in a certain month. See where it says is closest to the destination you want to go to. Fly there first and then make a connection. It’s hundreds of dollars cheaper.
SF: That’s some great advice. If you had to give people three Internet resources….you’ve kind of already said Craigslist…. what are two other big Internet resources that you would recommend? (Until Driftr comes out, of course.)
Alyssa: I’m pretty basic with using websites that aren’t secret….there’s just secret ways to use them. I use websites for flights like Skyscanner and Kiwi. Again, I use the flexible option tool and that’s how I get all my cheap flights. Then for hotels, I do the same thing where I search for last-minute deals. That’s how I get a lot of my cheap hotel deals. I would use booking.com or Agoda. If everything looks too expensive, then I switch over to Airbnb.
Day 3 of 7 trek to Mt. Kilimanjaro 🏔: They call this climate/environment zone the “Arctic Desert”…and also one of the most difficult days since we summit to a place called Lava Tower (4600 meters) to acclimate. 💪🏼☃️🏔💃 . Luckily I had just came from the actual Arctic (btw GREAT way to train before Kili!), and my outer space tights kept me motivated to keep climbing higher into the sky! 😜💖💫 . Swipe left to see my full obnoxious hiking gear (purposely all black, pink, and white), and stay tuned for my official packing list and hilarious tips for trekking Kili! . If you’re already convinced that you want to do a Kili trek with @whoatravel , you can get $100 off by using my code, ‘MyLifesATravelMovie! . 📸photo assistance by the lovely Whoa GALs @jurasky and @radwaym 💖 . OH! And also if you’re interested in making that big leap into full time travel blogging/social media “influencering”, I’m doing a special pop up bootcamp in LA in a few weeks! Check my Stories out for full details!! . #kilimanjaro #whoatravel #trektokili #mtkilimanjaro #mylifesatravelmovie #alyssaramostravels #travelblogger #arcticfox #spacex #hike
SF: Got it. Okay, so I want you to give some advice….you’ve given a lot of advice here, but this is a specific question. If you had to give any advice from your experience to somebody that’s trying to be a full-time traveler or someone trying to travel not for a week, not for a month, but for an extended period of time, what advice would you give them?
Alyssa: Honestly, I’m not trying to self-promote but reading people’s blogs (not just my blog) who relate to you will make you feel a lot better about traveling. I’ve had a lot of people say that just from reading my blog they’re like, “Okay, well you make traveling seem not as terrifying as everyone else makes it seem” and then they go do it and are like, “Wait, this is awesome. We just had this idea in our head that it’s going to be super hard and super expensive and we’re going to freak out and die.” Read other people’s experiences, talk to other travelers, join travel communities, research the places you’re going to just know that you’ll be comfortable when you get there, write down all your hotel information, and write down your flight information. Don’t worry about the things that are probably not going to really matter. A lot of people think, “I can’t go to this country because I don’t speak the language” and that makes me laugh really hard because a lot of people don’t realize that the majority of the world speaks English. Even if they don’t speak English, they can communicate with you. If not, it’s really easy to just pull up a map or an address on your phone, show it to them, and boom! You’re right there.
SF: That’s great advice. This is a big question….if you had to say what your biggest success is, what would that be?
Alyssa: I mean, I would say that’s a hard question because I’m sitting here….in Bali….in my bed, talking to you on the phone about my life. I’m a full-time traveler.
SF: Alright. Definitely noted. So this is a little bit morbid, but it’s a question that I ask everybody. If you woke up tomorrow and you knew you only had two months to live, after spending time with your loved ones, where would you go and what would you do?
Alyssa: I was actually thinking about that question and it’s not really morbid to me because I’ve literally done so much already. I’ve been to 70 countries, seen seven world wonders, seven wonders of nature, and I’m about to hit my seventh continent. If I woke up tomorrow….instead of going to my seventh continent in December, I would go there tomorrow. It would be really cold, but I would do that. I would also probably get all my loved ones and take them places because I’ve been traveling by myself for so long and I’ve seen so much already that I’d rather spend it showing the people I love the things that I love. Then I’d probably create a small army of my fans to teach them my ways and my teach them my philanthropy ways and try to keep what I started going for everyone else after I’m gone.
SF: It’s a beautiful thing to take your loved ones with you. I love it. We’re going to wrap this up now and I just want you to give everybody listening a piece of you. It doesn’t have to be something embarrassing, just something they might not know that you might not get from your socials, just something about you.
Alyssa: A lot of people look at my Instagram and think I have this glamourous, pretty life and that I must have a lot of money. Something that I think is funny is that people don’t know that I grew up poor. I always been poor, but I’ve always just been so savvy and independent. I’ve worked my way into freelance jobs, as you know. I’ve always been the outlier. I was in a sorority and did not fit in. I’ve always done my own thing. That’s why I say I like to chase waterfalls because it’s kind of like like a reference to always chasing this dream. I just want to go off and explore on my own and just do life. I’m really actually an introvert. I try to say I’m an outgoing introvert, but you wouldn’t notice in my photos that I’m this way, which is actually why I started a second Instagram account. It shows behind-the-scenes of my bank account and it shows me just being goofy. It shows me setting up my pink selfie stick on a tripod and taking my own photos and just being ridiculous. I’m just a real person!
SF: Alyssa, I really appreciate you coming on our show. You have been wonderful. You are a giving person and I really like to have those type of guests on our shows. You live a glamorous life but you are a really good person. Please check her out @mylifesatravelmovie on Instagram or mylifesatravelmovie.com. Also check out Heart Sleeves and Waterless Workers. Alyssa, thank you again for coming on our show. I really appreciate it. I hope to have you on again in the future.
Alyssa: Yeah, maybe I’ll be stateside soon too.
SF: Great. Thanks for tuning into another episode of The Best Travel Podcast. If you know anyone who is passionate about travel, please subscribe, rate, and share this episode. By sharing, you can inspire others to discover the world because let’s be honest: besides friends and family, that’s what’s important. I want to thank Street Joy for providing the music for this podcast. Please check them out on Facebook or SoundCloud. This is Seth Freedman. See you next time.
To listen to the full podcast interview click here.