It’s episode 21 and in today’s episode, I’m going to tell you how and why I travel, and a little bit about my background.
[01:19] How it all started
I grew up a child of divorce. This meant that I was often traveling by myself across the country, at a young age, to visit my dad. I say “travel”, but it was really between Nashville where I went to school and wherever my dad was stationed (he’s a retired marine) in the summer.
[03:02] The Big Trips of the Year
Back in my school and college days, I took two “major trips” every year.
One was the Classic Football Game in Atlanta where TSU would play every year.
In my college years, the other major trip of the year was Freaknik, also in Atlanta.
So, actually, the major destination for me every year when I was younger, was Atlanta, Georgia. That doesn’t really qualify as traveling in the sense of taking an actual major trip.
[05:14] College Debt
Once I got out of college, I gave up my apartment, and got a financial planner, just to get rid of my debt.
[06:25] The Game Changing Cruise
My dad and his wife had a trip scheduled to Africa, which he decided not to go. My dad got his money back, and he used that money to send my sisters and I on a cruise. That decision was an absolute game changer to me.
[09:57] Discovering FAMs
FAMs are familiarization trips. These are when resorts and hotels want you to travel to experience their hospitality and services, so that you can recommend them to your clients.
It sounds great and all, but these trips aren’t free, and even being a travel agent doesn’t make it free either. Sometimes you pay the taxes, and sometimes you pay transportation to the resort.
[11:15] Where’s the money coming from?
So, I had the travel business, and it wasn’t making me any money yet.
How did I pay for all of these things? Out of my pockets.
That’s right. At the time, I was working a full-time job to support my travel business and pay for all my travels.
[11:43] The power of planning early and creating a budget
Did you know you could put a deposit down on an all-inclusive vacation? Neither did I. I only learnt this once I started my travel business.
That’s why I’m here. To teach you these things, because that means you can start early, make payment plans, and budget so you don’t have to settle for less than the vacation you really want to have.
I was able to make 2 to 3 trips every year just because I planned ahead and
committed to the budget.
[13:56] Travel for Free or on $25 a Day?
I’m sure you’ve seen this on Instagram and YouTube: “Learn how to travel for free”.
EJtheTravelDiva is not about that life.
I want to have the vacation that I want to have, and I can’t have that for $25 a day. I’m not going to be sharing a room with strangers or get on to couchsurfing. I’m serious about my safety, and I’m not comfortable unless I can travel the way want to travel. I will not apologize for that.
[17:07] Becoming Vacation Erica
Every time I travel, something in my life changes. Vacation Erica is amazing – she’s relaxed, creative, and a little more laid back than Reality Erica.
Coming home after every trip, Vacation Erica chips away at Reality Erica, and I love it.
Vacation Erica was having coffee on her porch on vacation. Now Reality Erica has her dinner, lunch, and sips her coffee and cocktails on her porch at home.
[20:05] Guilt-Free Travel
I travel several times a year.
I used to feel guilty that there were people who couldn’t do what I did. It was a terrible feeling, and other people probably didn’t even care that I was traveling.
I finally decided I wasn’t going to feel guilty anymore. It isn’t my fault or my
responsibility if other people don’t travel. They can do it. They can budget the way I budget. They can travel the way I travel, and I’m putting out the information on how to do it, so it’s not my problem if they don’t want to take it.
[23:30] You can do it too
I got out of my debt. I saved up money. I was dedicated.
I want you to know that you can do it too. It’s okay to pay off your vacation over time. It’s okay to have a savings account where you put money every now and then.
[24:00] It’s okay to travel solo
If your friends don’t want to join you, that’s not on you. Waiting for other people to wake up to your dreams will make you miss those travel opportunities.
My goal is to inspire you to travel, so that you can experience the life that you want to experience. I hope you listened to this episode and decided to get out there and live your best life.
“Travel will truly change who you are as a person.”
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Check out the links to some of the things mentioned in this episode:
- The Erica James Travel Show Podcast Community
- Erica James on Instagram
- EJtheTravelDiva YouTube Channel
- EJtheTravelDiva on Twitter
- Erica James Travel Facebook Page