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Podcast Episode #05 – A Travel Content Creator’s Journey | Rachael Levine – Tripping Millennial

podcast-episode-#05-–-a-travel-content-creator’s-journey-|-rachael-levine-–-tripping-millennial
Podcast Episode #05 – A Travel Content Creator’s Journey | Rachael Levine – Tripping Millennial

We’re thrilled to present the latest addition to Afluencer’s content lineup – our podcast series featuring insightful conversations with influential brand owners. In this inaugural article, we have the privilege of introducing Rachael Levine, the visionary founder of Tripping Millennial, as our esteemed guest.

Meet Rachael Levine: The Mind Behind Tripping Millennial

Rachael Levine, the innovative mind driving Tripping Millennial, takes center stage in the Afluencer podcast series. With a wealth of experience in the world of influencer marketing, Rachael shares captivating insights, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped her brand’s journey.

Podcast Premiere: Delving into the Tripping Millennial Universe

Join us in exploring the enchanting world of Tripping Millennial through the eyes of Rachael Levine herself. We’ve embedded the riveting YouTube podcast video below, offering an exclusive glimpse into the transformative power of influencer marketing.

Also, listen to the Afluencer Podcast on:

Transcription Insight: A Peek into the Conversation

Gain an insider’s perspective as we burrow into the transcription of our engaging conversation with Rachael Levine. Discover the strategies, anecdotes, and wisdom that have fueled Tripping Millennial’ success, all captured in this in-depth transcription.

In Conversation with Rachael Levine, Founder of Tripping Millennial:

Brett:

All right. Thanks for joining us today for our influencer podcast. We’ve got Rachel Levine from Tripping Millennial on the Line, and the reason that we wanted to invite Rachel, it’s her story, is something that we want to share near and dear to my heart. As I was kind of reflecting on the journey from being a kid to going to college to eventually getting a job, I think one of the most depressing moments of my life was when I started my real job and realized there was no summer ahead. You always have that as a kid. You kind of look forward to that summer. I had my eight year old, now she’s on her first week of summer break, and she’s declaring how she’s turning her brain off all summer. I mean, she’s eight years old. I don’t know what was so stressful about the school year, but she loves this summer college. You still kind of get that with the internships. Then all of a sudden you start working and I know that’s when I have my moment. When, when is the break? When does this stop? So we got Rachel. Rachel managed to take a gap year in the midst of a professional real career. So we want to talk about that. But first, Rachel, can you give me the backstory from that journey, from I guess kid hood to being an adult to starting tripping millennial and your travels?

Rachael:

Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for having me, Brett. I’m excited to talk about these things today. It’s something I’m passionate about. So I had a pretty standard American upbringing, a very middle class. I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and midway through my childhood, my family moved us to Austin, Texas, which is where I still am today. It’s still my home base. And I went to the University of Texas. I had a desire to study something that was going to be marrying some kind of interpersonal skills, but also analytical skills. I wanted to make some kind of money out of college. So I studied finance, had a wonderful time at ut, and then I built my career just out of college working in investment management. And so that was really formative for me because it helped me understand all matter of topics around financial planning.

I worked with financial advisors, was surrounded by people who were much smarter and had a lot more money than me, and I got to kind of sponge off of them from those professional topics, but also got to see how they approach things like travel and how they leverage things like credit card points and retirement accounts and so on and so forth to make those travel dreams come to life and had a great career there. I spent just about seven years at one firm, most of my twenties. And then as you alluded to when I was 28, I decided I just needed a change and I had a shift in priorities and then took this adult gap year.

Brett:

That’s awesome. So were you traveling in your childhood in Austin? Were you traveling in your twenties or not so much? Were you just kind of working as I was in my twenties. I mean, I remember when I started to get to two weeks of vacation. So you don’t have a lot of time. Did you manage to do any travel or was that just planting the seeds on that you wanted to travel?

Rachael:

Oh yeah, definitely. So my upbringing, I didn’t do a whole lot of travel again, we were very middle class, so I did not fly in a plane, for example, until I was in my teens. I didn’t travel internationally until I was in college, but I always had the desire and the drive. I remember even going to a hotel three hours down the road was a thrill for me when I was young. I loved it. And I remember taking French class growing up and learning about the French way of life and French students and thinking that that was so fascinating and how I really wanted to experience that one day. So I had the drive. I just didn’t really have the independence or the means to make it happen in my childhood. And of course as I grew up, I started to incorporate that in my life really at every opportunity, looking for cheap flight deals when I was younger and really couldn’t afford to travel, but still wanted to make it happen anyways, basically maximizing my P t O and kind of optimizing it to where if I take this day off here, then I actually get seven days instead of the normal six or whatever it is.

So that was always a part of my life, but there was something missing, I think to a degree as well in that I wanted to see the world in a deeper way, in a longer term way. And I think that’s what started to really draw my attention to the idea of traveling for an extended period of time while not working.

Brett:

Cool. So I assume you quit your job then at age 28, 7 years in, so you could travel take the year.

Rachael:

Exactly, yeah, and it was a bit, of course, I didn’t do it on the spot. It took years of considering this for a while. I was thinking about maybe just moving to another country and working out of a country somewhere in London or in Singapore, for example, big financial hub since that’s the world I lived in. I came to realize that I wanted to see more than that, and I kind of wanted to just really take some time off. I think a lot of people felt a bit of burnout during the pandemic. I certainly felt a bit of that. And so during those pandemic years, actually my husband and I, we kind of tested out the nomadic way of life in a very small scale fashion. So we went from Austin to all around the western us. We did a little bit of Mexico living out of Airbnbs, and that really sparked our interest in going out and traveling on a grander scale and actually doing it for a longer period of time. So at that point, as you alluded to, at 28, I did quit my job and then I left to go take that same method and apply it to the global scale.

Brett:

Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. Funny you mentioned Singapore. My wife and I ended up there about, it was about 12 years ago on her sabbatical, and I remember a conversation I just say with a bartender there where all he talked about was all the cool places you could go from there. Once you’re there, it’s very nice, but it’s kind of boring. There’s only you’re on an island, right? On a city state. So it’s funny, it sounds so exotic, and you get there and it’s cool, but then after a few days even, you’re starting to look around, okay, well can I get to Thailand there? Right down Australia. So you’re looking to bounce anyway as you end up there. So we were talking earlier, you’re up to 36 countries?

Rachael:

That’s right. 30 total in my lifetime.

Brett:

One to 36 in pretty short order.

Rachael:

Pretty short order. Yeah. I think we probably, I don’t know the exact number, but I had probably nailed down somewhere a little over 10 countries because I kind of did the classic kind of to your point earlier, it’s like we don’t have a summer anymore. So when I had my last summer in between college and starting my full-time job, I did what is common in America, which is kind of taking my signing bonus and spending it all by traveling Europe. And it was only for two weeks, but somehow, or maybe three weeks, but I think we nailed down several countries in western Europe and that process, most of which I went back and revisited on this gap year. So there was certainly a bit of overlap there. But yeah, 36 countries and I just turned 30, so I’m really excited to have hit the kind of 30 before 30 guidepost.

Brett:

That’s awesome. Congrats. Yeah, yeah. Still ahead of the curve. You’re good, right? You got a top three or four you want to share in terms of, hey, if you haven’t been here, you need to put it on your list.

Rachael:

Absolutely. So some of them I think will be more familiar. Maybe some are more surprising. We started our gap year by spending six weeks in Bologna, Italy, and of course Italy is like it’s for most people, that’s the first place they want to go. Sometimes those places can be overhyped, but in my experience and my opinion, I think there is such great depth to Italy, especially beyond the big cities, going to those smaller towns and really getting a feel for their way of life. It’s still one of my favorite countries of all time. So Italy kind of an obvious one. We spent a good amount of time in Asia as well, and there’s so many treasures to Asia. Japan, again is the more obvious one. I think that is another one of my favorite countries, if you can tell. I love places with a rich food culture. So two places that just have amazing food, one that I think is a little less commonly mentioned in Asia is Hong Kong. I absolutely adored Hong Kong. Some of the things you mentioned about Singapore, about it being a little bit boring and small, I feel like Hong Kong is like if you take Singapore and just add a lot more of a richness of character to it while still having this interesting mix of both western and eastern influence, and it’s a beautiful country as well. Great hiking, things like that.

Brett:

Yeah, it’s cool. They got the peak right there in the city, which you wouldn’t expect, right? Yeah.

Rachael:

That Victoria Peak. Yeah, I take the little tram car all the way up to the top. So yeah, I didn’t hike that to be clear. I’m sure you can. I’m sure it’s beautiful.

Brett:

Yeah, we went up. It was tough. Yeah, I had a friend who was there. It was funny, I had a couple days in Hong Kong and it was two different cities. There was a city where we’re just wandering around finding our way, and then I had buddy from college who had been there for four years and he knew everything. And then when we went around with him, he’s like, oh, well here’s where you get di some. Here’s foot massage. So it was a different experience having the inside. That’s so

Rachael:

I love it. Yeah, we had a few locals showing us around too, which is super helpful anywhere you go. And I obviously think that augments the experience. And one more, I don’t know if it’ll be a single place, but I do think the Balkans are just a wonderful part of Europe and we got to explore kind of all around the Balkan area over a course of about a month. And I think that for sure, if people are asking me what is a place that is primed to be the next hotspot destinations, Croatia has obviously been very popular for a long time, but I think the countries around it, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, all those places I think are just magic.

Brett:

Those are good tips. Yeah. Get there. Now you see these countries. Portugal was kind of that way like 15 or so years ago, right away. Yeah, the first time then. And then back about five years ago. And it’s funny how everyone had moved there in between because like, oh, this,

Rachael:

And now it’s a problem. There’s too many people there

Brett:

Right now. There’s too many people now you go to place like the Balkans looking for the next one. So more advice, Rachel, for the, let’s talk about the 20 something, 30 something, even 40 something, right? People who, they’re doing their jobs, they want to get out, they want to do this, they want to travel, they want to figure it out. What’s your advice in terms of just tactics, like saving money so you can float it? Are we talking figure out flexible work, talking about doing your own thing, what’s your advice having been through it for someone who hasn’t taken a gap travel year but is listening to this, it’s like, I got to do this.

Rachael:

Absolutely. Well, I think those are all great questions and there’s so many considerations to keep in mind, especially depending on where you are in your personal life. Are you married, do you have kids? Where are you in your career? I think coming from my background, coming from one that is very, I think practical and financial planning oriented first, my number one advice is that this is a feasible thing to do and it is not an irresponsible thing to do. It is sometimes portrayed, especially on social media. I see so many videos all the time where it’s joking about having $10 in your bank account, but doing all this travel, and for me, that kind gives me a bit of anxiety. I appreciate the travel urge for sure, but I don’t think you have to sacrifice having a meaningful retirement or being able to put your future kids through college in order to pursue something like this.

I think that there is a happy medium and a balance where you can achieve both, and it’s completely, again, within the possibility for many people working in corporate America to do this. And so some practical advice I would give is to consider a saving plan that allows you to save up at least an entire, whatever the budget you need to sustain you through travel. For me, I used my average monthly living costs in Austin as kind of my rough guidepost and then add, I would say 20 to 25% on top of that to give you a reasonable buffer so that you feel if things go wrong, which anyone who’s ever traveled, they know things go wrong, as well as if you just need a little bit of time to get back on your feet whenever you come home and are kind of thrust back to potentially normal life.

Those kinds of practical savings tips. I highly recommend doing things like credit card points. Hacking is immensely helpful as well, and having somewhat of a strategy around that, even if you’re not an expert, I think is another hugely important thing. But also not forgetting about your other goals in life and not being shortsighted about this one goal. So a huge thing I advocate for is, yes, let’s build in a plan that can allow you to save and take a gap year like this. Maybe you do this every 10 years in your career or whatever frequency you want, but let’s also not forget about saving for retirement, which I know nobody loves to talk about. Let’s also not forget about saving for a house that is something that you desire to purchase desire sometime in your life. Again, I think it’s all a matter of balance, and I’m an advocate for you really can have it all. You don’t have to neglect certain areas of your life entirely in order to pursue something that I think should be more deliberately pursued by people in America.

Brett:

Well, it’s great getting your advices from a financial planner standpoint and not just like you said, the memes that you see on social media. So another benefit from my vantage point from you and other people who are thinking about the gap year, and I guess from my own experience also of if you’re going to start a company or start a business, it is very helpful to not have a day job at that point in time. When I was starting my first company and trying to do it on the side, it was to me the most miserable thing ever. You get done with your day job and you’re excited about it, but it’s, it’s not what you want to do. You kind of want those core hours to work on your business and your passion and not necessarily the afterthought at the end of the day. So you started, when did you start tripping millennials? Can you take us through that? When you started your journey there, your business on the travels? Yeah. How that all worked out for you.

Rachael:

Yeah, a lot of people. It started really as kind of just a passion project and creative outlet. So this was actually rewinding a little bit back to the pandemic, and my husband and I, as I mentioned, were traveling across the Western us. We were going to a lot of national parks and my dms were just going wild back and forth with me asking people, where should I go in Yellowstone? What should I do in Seattle? And then flip side of that, as people were asking me, oh, I saw you were just in Yellowstone, what should I do? And it just felt so archaic and just not scaled for me to share these recommendations socially. And so I realized maybe this is an opportunity for me to not necessarily start a travel blog, but just to start some kind of repository resource where I just post you’re my top five things that I think you should do, and all of these places that I’ve traveled take it or leave it.

And then if you give me your recommendations, I’ll compile all of these together and create some crowdsource guides for us to use people that again, are of similar age of similar interests. Something that I think would resonate a lot more than going to impersonal sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp where it’s all matters of kinds of people that are posting on there, and it’s hard to know if that’s really the type of recommendation that would resonate. So that’s where it started. And then I started, TikTok came along and I started posted videos alongside that just for fun. And then this opportunity to of course leave my job and travel for a year meant that I would have this amazing access and insight to places all around the world. I could get content from places all around the world. So I really started to ramp up my consistency and posting and started to develop an audience across platforms, and it took months.

So a lot of people think that it’s an overnight success, it takes a long time, but now that I’ve kind of developed this audience, this kind of these people that are expecting certain things, I’m able to now work in brand partnerships and really treat it more of a business, to your point. So it started out as again, a creative outlet for someone who frankly was a little bit creatively deprived working in such an analytical field, and now it is turning more back towards analytics where I’m trying to understand how can I run this, monetize this and treat this more like what it is, which is an expanding business of sorts.

Brett:

Yeah, that’s great. And I think to your point, I mean, months can feel like a long time when you’re doing it every day, but your months, that was fast really where this is the type of thing if you’re only doing a part-time can take years. So that having that focus to ramp up in months and to build your following in months is really awesome. So tell us about the brands then. Did brands start to find you, how’d you find your way on the business model side? I’m sure it was always in the back of your head as you’re building out your content, you’re doing your reels on TikTok and this and that. Were you getting approached, were you getting dms randomly by brands, travel brands saying, Hey, Rachel, we want you to promote this, or what did that look like? That whole process is still, I would say, and this is our industry, but it’s still very new in terms of how everyone works together. So I’m curious to hear how that started for you and where the brands were at in terms of how they approached you and what they were thinking and what they wanted to work with you about.

Rachael:

Yeah, it was very exciting at first to get those first dms because again, I’d never worked in this space. I’d only posted on social media for my friends and the way most people do. So yeah, I remember starting to get those dms and I’m like, oh, I kind of am somebody, people care. I’m posting, maybe I can get some free stuff out of this. That’s all I really cared about at the outset of it was, oh, this is cool. I didn’t think too much of it until some time had passed. And as I grew my following, it started to be more brands that I truly aligned with both reaching out to me and then me starting to reach out to them as well. So obviously in the beginning it’s kind of just smaller dms that it’s hard to even distinguish if they’re like scams or real or things like that.

Now as I’ve grown, I’m actually starting to again, work more on email rather than dms work through platforms like Influencer to actually formulate more solidified relationships with these companies. And so now I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had a few of these partnerships under my belt with various travel related brands. Again, I’m pretty picky about who I work with. I want it to make sense, not just for my audience, but for me personally as well, since the brand really at this point is mostly just me. Nobody else is working on this. So now that I’ve gotten a few under my belt, we’re now in the process of doing longer partnerships and relationships with brands and really deepening those relationships, which is certainly much more my area of expertise. My old line of work was very relationship driven. It was very long-term, almost like a consulting type relationship in many ways. And so I’m happy to start to get back into that mode of conversations rather than purely outbound inbound all day long.

Brett:

Right. That’s great. Yeah, and I think from what we see on the brand side is a lot of brands are looking for the same thing. They want the long-term relationship, but then there’s the courtship or dating process, if you will, where you get to know each other and you’re figuring out how you’re going to work together and is this a person who can promote our product? And from your standpoint, is this the type of product I want to promote? What do the mechanics look like then in terms of these partnerships or what are you having the most success with? Are you kind of getting the product and then doing the videos, the reels, since those are getting kind of premium placement now on TikTok, and I know that’s something we’ve been talking about is Instagram has been, since we’re trying to copy TikTok, they’re trying to get all the reels up. So has that been sort of the mechanics where, okay, if it’s working out or if it’s the type of brand you want to work with, then we’ll do the reels and we’ll do ’em every so often over a long-term partnership?

Rachael:

Exactly. Yeah. So I have always been a video content creator. I’m not really in the still photography world at all. So it was kind of a sweet spot in terms of my timing when a lot of brands were looking to shift more towards focusing on video-based content, which is a skill that I had been developing again over the course of this past year. And now I certainly can see the difference looking back at my videos that I posted in May of last year versus May of this year, for example. So yeah, the mechanics of that really are primarily based on if it is a physical product, then of course sending me the physical product. And then I’m trying to move away from working purely on a gifted basis. So it’s usually involving some kind of pay for video or something along those lines in the contract in addition to the gifted product.

And I’m trying to kind of work out as I get more products. I try to live a very minimalist lifestyle as much as I can. I live in a very small house, so I don’t have a lot of space to try to identify how can I either donate these items or give them away now that I’m starting to develop somewhat of an inventory. So that’s kind of my newest challenge that I’m working through now. But yeah, that’ll be in exchange for One Reel or TikTok or post It on both platforms. I’ve done a little bit of U G C based work as well. If it’s a not physical product, there’s usually a little bit more, I think, creative opportunity there for me. How do I position it? For example, talking about different travel based apps where you could really talk about anything under the sun. And it is convenient that I have content for 30 plus countries on my phone, so I can really just deploy that whenever needed. And that’s valuable to brands because now they don’t have to go track down content in seo, South Korea or in Montenegro or in London or wherever. I can leverage that, pair that with information about their brand or their app or whatever it is, and it’s a very symbiotic relationship in that way.

Brett:

Yeah, that’s great. And I’m glad you brought up the U G C because brands are starting to figure out, hey, there’s all these benefits to working with someone like Rachel. You can potentially post to TikTok, you can record these, like you said, the unique generated content, the U G C posted to TikTok Instagram, and then assuming that it’s worked out ahead of time, you’re also okay with them repurposing or having the U G C that’s just worked out between you and the brands ahead time.

Rachael:

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I think a lot of young creators, I’m still not young in age necessarily, but young in my creation career, I’m still figuring out a huge piece for all creators is how do I value my time? How do I value my work? And that is for sure a work in progress for me. I think with every new partnership, I’m retesting the waters of what is my work worth and worth, thankfully, always getting a little bit more, I think, and trying to push that number a little bit higher at this point. It’s an interesting kind of inflection point where I’m trying to identify how much can this side be monetized and where is my upper limit in terms of just creative exhaustion and how do I monetize other parts of this brand that I’m building in a way that is most scalable for me in the way of life that I want to live? So I’m taking a lot of cues from a lot of people. Literally just before this podcast, I was listening to another podcast on the influencer economy and in what opportunities there are and who the winners are in this space. So I’m fascinated by it. It’s completely different from the world that I grew up in finance, but I love learning about it and forging this path.

Brett:

That’s great. Yeah, it’s brand new. That’s why it’s exciting. And a lot of the brands that come to us, they’re new, almost apologetically, so about it, I say, no, it’s new to everyone. It’s cool. You’re doing the right thing. Instead of spending money on Google ads where there’s no real value anymore or spending money on the Facebook ads where it’s really tough to get value partner with somebody like Rachel, promote your brand, especially now before your rates go up and up. Right. So

Rachael:

Brett:

Yeah, lock it in now. Get a long-term agreement or get some sort of agreement in, and I think that’s the way to do it. So I’ll get you out of here on this one, Rachel, since actually, yeah, I’m myself. I’m always bouncing to get the brand demo where we show people profiles like yours. But let’s talk about how brands, especially travel brands can find, you can partner with you. We’ve got Tripping millennial. We’ve got your influencer profile that we’ll put under the show notes here, but how can brands reach out to you and invite you to collab with them?

Rachael:

Absolutely. Thanks so much for the opportunity. My email is tripping millennial@gmail.com, so that’s always the best way for brands to reach out. If not on platforms like Influencer, you can also always dmm me on Instagram at Tripping millennial. I’m also on TikTok at Tripping Millennial. And finally, I do have a website as well, www dot tripping millennial dot ComCom with a weekly newsletter called The Travel Edit.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, thanks so much Rachel. And again, for our brands, for our influencer brands, we’ll get Rachel’s link here and you can also invite her to collab, get you linked up and get something going with Rachel before her rates go up. That’s my advice. Okay, thanks so much, Rachel.

Rachael:

Thanks, Brad. Appreciate it. Have a good day. Thank you.

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Reflecting on a Journey of Innovation and Influence

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