Alexandra: The Nomad's Direction
"LET US SAY YES TO OURSELVES MORE OFTEN"
As a young woman raised in the United States, it is easy to feel pressure to fall into what we are taught as “The American Dream” or what I like to call, The Structure. From childhood we are socialized to believe that it was not only encouraged but necessary to follow these steps:
Having this timeline ingrained in us during crucial times of development can leave us thinking that we are unsuccessful if we choose to reject it. What was practical to most felt suffocating to me. Remaining within that universal outline of what life should be felt too much like others were giving me a formula rather than having the freedom to create my own potion. Why should I be limited only to what those who have been placed in my life by chance and not by choice, taught me? I wanted to redefine The Structure for my life.
I started traveling at 18 when I studied abroad in Italy. I loved the fear and excitement I felt when visiting a new place where I didn’t know anyone locally. This later led me to planning road trips across the US with friends and eventually backpacking alone for months at a time. Now, at the age of 25, I am proud to say I’ve visited 29 countries all on my own dime.
The questions I am most frequently asked about traveling alone are usually based around fear. How do I battle the fear of traveling; especially as a woman and even more so, alone?
- Accept that anything can happen, anywhere and at any time. Many of the worst things that have ever happened in my life occurred in the privacy of my own home, and some of my favorite memories were created in foreign lands like the rice fields of Vietnam, or the peaks of New Zealand.
- Good energy is a universal language. You’d be surprised to know how many people were willing and eager to help me when I was friendly and smiled.
There are highs and lows that come with traveling for long periods of time. Once I relieved myself of the pressure to constantly have an amazing time, I realized the beautiful part of traveling alone. I am myself everywhere I go. Those who I connect with around the world are drawn to my path because of who I am and the energy I exude. When I came to understand this, I embraced the quieter moments on long bus rides where my thoughts would wander into an existential black hole. I actively remind myself that every positive and negative experience I’ve had has been crucial to my growth as a woman. What matters most is that all of the lessons learned, has lead me to the path I’m on.
At 21, as a fresh college grad, I experienced a pivotal moment while spending the summer in the Pacific Northwest. While hiking through North Cascades National Park, I met a group of three young scientists studying butterflies. A woman named Marian, casually and modestly mentioned that she had given a TED Talk in my hometown of New York a few years ago. I found Marian’s talk and learned that she had invented a device from scratch as a teen. However, her presentation’s focus was on “The Philosophy Of Yes” or the concept that no idea is too small or too naive to be brought to life. In other words, let us say yes to ourselves more often.
A few days later, while in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I felt the impact of Marian’s words as I had discovered my own “good idea”. Time and time again, while traveling or after returning home, I’d have a barrage of texts and messages from various people asking me for travel advice. Where do I book my flights? How do I come up with my itinerary? Where to stay? What to do? And how the hell am I able to afford this in my early twenties?! I’d always respond thoroughly, which sometimes took hours because I would include all of the links and travel guides that helped me. As the sun started to set behind the Grand Tetons, I realized that there was a unique demand for my knowledge. Sure, everyone wants to travel, but they’re specifically coming to me for help, and I believed I could profit from this beautiful life I’ve created for myself and invested my time in. I wanted to show young people that they, too, can travel the world and do not need to be rich to do so. The Nomad’s Direction was born.
I introduced my business to the world simply with a Facebook post to see who would bite and how far this “good idea” would take me. A new client would fill out a questionnaire indicating their desired destination(s), budget, and areas of interest. Using that information, I would create a customized itinerary for the exact specifications provided by the client. It was a side-hustle as I focused on my then-career as a freelance photographer and event producer. As word of mouth spread, I started to see the potential of my business and more importantly, I was having tons of fun doing it.
In 2017, I moved to Brooklyn and focused all of my attention on The Nomad’s Direction. As a result of the “Philosophy of Yes”, I was able to transform my side-hustle into a full-time job by investing in myself, expanding my skill set, and strengthening my relationship with my clients. I currently have office space in downtown Brooklyn, amazing partnerships with other companies in the industry, and I get to write for inspiring blogs featuring female entrepreneurs. My target audience has expanded from just young people to now include honeymooners, group retreats, solo travelers, family vacations, business trips, and more.
This October, I will be visiting my 30th country. The dreams I had at the age of 18 and 21 still exist, but I have learned not only to trust the path, but to know that I am the path. Right now, The Nomad’s Direction is my biggest pride and focus. I do not know what is to come in the next five years, but then again, why should I have to?