A few weeks ago, we attended TravelCon in Austin, Texas, and met up with some truly amazing and inspiring people. In an effort to help anyone out there looking for more inspiration to travel, we’ve decided to interview some of these terrific people. This way, everyone can learn more about them and about how they started to take the steps to fulfill their dreams.
First on our list is Michelle Della Giovanna, and her blog is Full Time Explorer. She’s from a small town north of New York City. Currently, she splits her time between Nepal and Myrtle Beach, SC, where her family lives. So, let’s get right to it and find out how she came to spend so much time traveling.
What led you to start traveling? What motivated you to start exploring new places?
It’s funny because I could actually say that failure led me to start traveling. I say that with a smile on my face now because it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I owned a small wedding dress company and had a side hustle as a fashion stylist. The company I styled for filed Chapter 11 and the money they never paid me caused my own business to go under. At the same time, I was going through a breakup. I was kind of a hot mess and decided I would take off and travel the world. I didn’t have anything tying me down, so I took lemons and made lemonade.
Where have you been recently?
In the last two weeks, I’ve been to Austin, Texas where I attended Travel Con (a travel blogging conference). I also went to New York City to visit my friends there. I don’t often travel within the U.S. so it’s been fun getting to see a new state and city in my own country.
What inspired you to start blogging about your travels?
When I decided to go travel, a friend told me to start a blog so I could get free trips. I realized pretty quickly that’s not really true, and having a blog takes a ton of work. On the other hand, I started to do it simply because I realized that I love it. Since then, it’s become my passion and my career.
About a year into blogging, I visited Nepal and fell in love with the country. The more time I spent there, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more interesting my blog posts became. One day, I was trekking in the mountains and realized that my blog should be about Nepal since I’m so passionate about it. I still write about the other places I go, but that’s my main focus.
Nepal really is the most interesting place I’ve ever been. There are 125 different ethnic groups and 123 different languages. Every time I become friends with someone, I get the opportunity to learn a whole new culture including food, language, festivals, and traditions. I feel like I could never get bored. It’s also famous for its trekking since the Himalayan Mountains run through almost half of the country. On top of all of that, Nepali people are the kindest I’ve met anywhere in the world thus far.
What is the craziest travel story you have? Has anything weird or strange or chaotic happened to you during your travels?
There’s probably too many to mention, but my favorite is when I tried to summit a small peak in the Everest Region of Nepal. It was my first time mountaineering, and we got hit with a snow storm while we were above 5,000m (16,400 ft) in altitude. I couldn’t see more than ten feet in any direction. I could hear people talking but never actually saw them which was bizarre, to say the least. Being at that altitude, it’s extremely hard to breathe and every single step takes effort. We walked in the clouds for eight hours, but the next morning the sky cleared, and I got to see the most incredible view I’ve ever witnessed. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
How do you save money before and during a trip?
On my first trip, I planned to spend 8 months in Southeast Asia. I worked in NYC for almost two years to save. Luckily, I had a good job that made it fairly easy. I was really fortunate that it worked out that way. To keep motivated, I compared every single purchase to a day in paradise. For instance, would I rather have a $30 shirt or a day on the beach in Bali? Do I want to go to dinner and drinks with friends for $50 or visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand? I stayed home a lot those two years, didn’t make unnecessary purchases, and ate a lot of ramen noodles. But, it was totally worth it.
While I’m traveling, I have an excel spreadsheet that I made to track my spending. I have a $30 a day budget so it calculates everything for me. That way, I can see if I’m over or under budget. I stay in hostels a lot, eat local food, and take local transportation. It’s not always convenient or easy, but those items are always cheaper.
Do you have any travel advice for others?
Smile at everyone and talk to everyone you can. Having lived in NYC for half my life, it took a while for me to open up to strangers. Now, when people begin talking to me on the street, I stop and listen. If I’m sitting alone at a restaurant, I ask someone if I can join them. I’ve met so many incredible people and learned so many individual’s stories just by smiling and listening to them. It really gives amazing insight into the places you travel, especially if you can interact with locals.
What are your future plans, travel or otherwise?
I’m planning to head back to Nepal in January, where I’ll spend another five months. I’m planning to do one easy trek and one difficult trek along with a myriad of other activities. Nepal is an amazing country and a large portion has been left unexplored by tourists, so I’m hoping to find some off the beaten path places to direct future tourists to. I try not to plan too far in advance because I’ve learned that the most interesting adventures are often spontaneous. So we’ll see where it goes!