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Starting My Journey as a Travel Entrepreneur — Advising, Blogging, and More

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Danielle's Dérive: Drifting into My Newest Endeavor

My impulse decision to become a travel entrepreneur and finally level up my hobby

I think that the most telling thing about how fast I made the decision to finally create this website is that my "welcome" post isn't even my first blog. I actually wrote my first article about the difference between traveling and vacationing in about 30 minutes at 2 a.m. as I was building my site on a random Monday night.

Javá Rooftop in Lisbon, Portugal June 2022

I'm Danielle. I'm 22 years old and a certified travel advisor powered by Fora Travel. The first country I ever visited was Sint Maarten in June 2021, the friendly island. At the time of this blog's production, I have since visited 6 countries and 8 states total, but Sint Maarten still remains my favorite.

My destination count isn't that high compared to many other frequent travelers, but my journey's pace is based on the fact that I was the first in my family to get a passport, I started my adventures as a full-time cheap college student and then went on to work in digital marketing full-time right after graduation. I'm not mentioning these things to make it seem like my low count is a bad thing that I have to make excuses for, it's more so to remind myself that I've done a lot more than I sometimes give myself credit for given my circumstances.

How it Started

2021 was the year that I and most of my friends were turning 21. To celebrate this milestone, a few of my friends made the unanimous decision that they wanted to go on an international trip. I would've probably planned one to if I didn't have school (my birthday is in September). Anyways, I found myself being the unofficial travel advisor of these vacations as I found the flights, hotels/AirBnBs, activities, and pretty much sent out all the important announcements in the group chat (which of course some people still didn't pay attention to—group trips are stressful).

During these trips were when I felt a certain level of peace and joy that I had never experienced prior. I've always been an extreme over-worker, challenging myself nonstop to be the best of the best at everything I did whether that be having the highest grades, being captain of my volleyball team, or using any free time I had left to work multiple jobs at once. I rarely took breaks, and when I did, I felt a sense of guilt and thought: shouldn't I be doing something productive?

Cupecoy Bay Beach in Sint Maarten June 2021

That same sense of guilt is the reason why it took me a while to start my travel entrepreneurship journey, no matter how often it was suggested to me by people who believed I could easily see success from it. I had a habit of turning everything into work. I'd be interested in something, let's say, when I played the violin, for instance. I started, I became obsessed with becoming the best at it, then got bored and lost my passion for it. It started to feel like a chore rather than a hobby, which was the case for a lot of things I've tried over the years. I didn't want that for travel—I had no interest in becoming an "influencer" or that annoying girl who stops and records every single second of the trip because she's GOT to get the content, right?

But then I realized... I'm literally already doing all the work of a travel advisor/influencer for free. I'm the go-to friend for trip planning, restaurant finds and excursion recommendations. I began to create travel content on social media for fun in February 2022. So then I thought—this could actually work. Traveling truly is something I will never get tired of. Life is short, and I will continue to prioritize seeing all its beauty and achieving senses of gratitude.

The Birth of Danielle's Dérive

I started my travel Instagram over a year ago just to have somewhere to dump all of my adventures other than my personal page. People who know me kind of made traveling one of my personality traits, so I wanted to have a designated place where it was the only type of content I shared. I didn't care how many followers it got or who interacted with it, it was just fun for me.

When deciding on a name, I literally Googled "travel words that start with D" (because my name is Danielle and who doesn't love alliteration). I found the term "dérive," a French noun that translates to "drift" in English. I don't use that definition, though... when I say "dérive," I'm referring to the definition within psychogeography (specifically by theorist Guy Debord) which describes a spontaneous journey where the traveler lets the architecture around them attract which way they will go.

I liked this word a lot, because it's very far from the way that I have operated most of my life. I'm a pretty adventurous and outgoing person, but I like my adventures to still have a plan. I like to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of situations because I'm a detailed person who doesn't often act on irrational decisions. However, this typically only applies to my everyday life. When I travel, there is nothing I love more than freely exploring the new environment around me and seeing where the day takes me—unless I booked a nonrefundable excursion, then I'd better be ready on schedule.

Taking the Next Step as a Travel Entrepreneur

When 2023 began, I had a strong urge to start something new in my life. I get travel ads on social media all the time, but one from Fora Travel intrigued me a bit more than the rest so I decided to check them out. I loved the framework of their travel agency and decided to give it a shot. I got accepted as an advisor, completed the training, and became certified all within a month. I wanted to have it be a side hustle to start, and began accepting friends as clients until I build a broader book of business.

Then, I got hit with a curveball. Unfortunately, I was affected by a company group layoff at my first ever "big girl" job. I was in shambles because it was the first time I've been unemployed since I was 15. I had my bad day, or maybe a couple of bad days, until I decided that this was an opportunity rather than a defeat. Doing something for myself was long overdue, and now I finally had the time to focus on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still very actively searching for a new job (life unfortunately isn't free), but I am glad that I received a push to work harder towards my passion. Now, here we are. Welcome to my website.


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