Photo Source: Jenny and Instagram
This TCT feature is chalked full of life lessons that expand beyond travel. Jenny, a HR Manager and Travelista, reminds us that frequent travel isn't only reserved for travel professionals and the importance of using your PTO. She reminds us of the powerful effects travel has on us personally long after the trip is over. Jenny even shows us that waiting for your friends to be travel ready isn't always the best idea. You'll walk away from this blog feeling, motivated, inspired and of course ready to book your next vacay.
Tell us about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? What inspires you to travel?
I’m a 34-year-old Haitian-American travelista. I was born in New York and raised in Haiti. At the age of 18, I moved to South Florida to continue with my studies. I double majored in college and graduated with Bachelor’s Degrees in both Biology and in Neuroscience and Behavior, with a minor in Science Education. My plan after college was to attend St James Medical School in Anguilla; however, I started working instead as a Nurse Recruiter, while taking graduate classes. A year later, I received my Master’s in Healthcare Administration and transitioned into my career in Human Resources. I’ve always been very focused on school and getting my professional career on track that I’ve never really traveled much, apart from the usual trips to New York, Florida and back to Haiti. One day, I woke up and things weren’t the same anymore. I renewed my expired passport, applied for a flight attendant position with American Airlines, went through the entire interview process but did not get selected for the job. I always had the impression that the only possible way to travel and see the world was to become a flight attendant. I wanted that excitement in my life, that feeling I get when I’m packing for a trip, the excitement, and the anticipation of a great vacation. So, I moved on and continued my career in HR but started taking small trips every opportunity I had. Eventually it became more frequent, I would plan trips every holiday, most weekends, and I would use my PTO more often. There is so much of this world that we do not know, and I love being able to meet people that have walked different paths of life, get new perspectives, and make long lasting memories. Traveling redefines the meaning of life; you go on all sorts of adventures, some good and some bad, and those experiences shape you into a better, more rounded person.
Why is empowering and inspiring women to travel important to you? What is your motivation behind this?
We’ve been conditioned here in the US to think that life is all work, paying bills, and that’s it. Yes, those are important but what is a life of all work and no play? We rely a lot on social media and look at other people’s lives and say, “Must be nice”. No, you too can live your dreams, have nice things and enjoy your life to the fullest. You simply must learn the best ways to save and manage your time and money to be able to do so. Everybody has a bucket list, something they wish to accomplish before they die, something they look forward to. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize that your whole life went by and you’ve never seen much of the world. Traveling affects how we see things, how we think. Everything isn’t always black or white, yes you can read things and learn about culture in a book but experiencing a culture first hand allows you to understand more about how the rest of the world is living, some of the challenges people face and allows us to see different perspectives.
To those wanting to make frequent travel their reality, what is your advice to them?
My advice to them is to just book the flight. Don’t give yourself time to think things over, otherwise, you’re going to talk yourself out of it. Especially when it comes to solo traveling. A lot of people wait for their friends or family members to be available to travel with them, and they wait forever, and it never happens. I say pick a place you really want to visit, do some research on their safest areas, and go on that trip solo. Once you get your first solo trip out of the way, you’ll be more at ease with the idea of solo traveling. Also, they should use their time wisely. I work full-time and still manage to make time for traveling. Honestly, the easiest way to accomplish your travel goals is to jump on every opportunity, save your sick days and PTO and use them for trips. Don’t forget to take advantage of long weekends and holidays to travel.
What was the trip that had the biggest impact on you? What happened on this trip and what was the result?
Most of the trips I go on are usually solo, and it was thanks to my first international trip. I had booked a trip to Barcelona with one of my best friends at the time and I pretty much planned the whole entire trip because that’s what I do. I usually research the places I am planning on visiting from top to bottom. I like knowing about the safe areas as well as the unsafe ones. I also study the map and pin things on google maps to refer to once I'm there. And it also makes it easier to avoid getting lost in an unknown city. Soon after the trip started, we realized how different we really were, in not only personality but what we find enjoyable; we could not agree on anything, even where to go eat and I ended up having to pay for dinner for both of us because she didn’t have enough money, although it was my birthday. Long story short, we ended up having a big argument and we pretty much took off on our own and decided to explore the rest of the trip separately. Honestly, it was the only thing that salvaged this trip for me. I am naturally an introvert, or at least I want to think that I am, but I was put in a position to really get out of my shell and I met so many people that showed me around the city and I discovered places not explored by many tourists. That is when I realized I enjoyed traveling solo more than I thought I would. It’s okay to be selfish and do the things YOU want to do; I can wake up as early or as late as I want, go wherever I want to go, I can deviate from my planned itinerary if I want to, everything is up to me because this is my trip. You learn so much about yourself, it gives you the chance to listen to your intuitions, build confidence, make connections and discover yourself. And that’s the beauty of solo traveling!
If you had to relive a single vacation you've already had over and over again which vacation would it be and why?
Costa Rica for sure. It’s the most peaceful I’ve felt. I was in the process of starting a new job so I decided on a week-long trip to San Jose. I rented a small apartment in the city and explored the surrounding neighborhoods. I was surprised with how much there is to do near San Jose. Everyone I talked to or every blog I read only mentioned San Jose as a quick stop to the most popular beach towns, so I did not expect to like the capital so much. San Jose is a modern town with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly residents. You do not have to go very far to experience the beach, the mountains or climb a volcano. The neighboring towns, Jaco, Alajuala, and Cartago have it all. Costa Rica is rich in culture and the food is absolutely delicious. They also have a vibrant nightlife, but the best parts are how inexpensive everything is and how safe I felt walking the streets of San Jose. There is nothing better than feeling at ease and not having a care in the world; this is really Pura Vida.
Where else can folks find you?
They can subscribe to my website, where I share tips on how to travel smarter, alternative ways to save money while traveling and how to stay safe when traveling solo, along with itinerary guides from previous trips. I also own a luxury pop-up picnic business, The Picnic Booth, and a floral/event planning business, Lush and Grace. Both can be found on Instagram. I would love to meet like-minded individuals so if you follow me on Instagram, feel free to shoot me a DM. I’d love to get to know you guys.
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