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Traveling for a living, the Icelandic way

Author: Bungee Girl Media

Lately everyone’s been talking about Iceland. It can be a shorter flight for New Yorkers than going to L.A. where you can see the northern lights, meet real Vikings and experience the most picturesque glacier lagoons. You’ll hear stories of trolls and elves still shared today and rejoice in the pride each Icelander has with tracing their lineage over a thousand years. It’s liberal, feminist as hell and one of the safest places to travel to. It’s the perfect destination for solo female travelers and has its own set of fierce, independent and adventurous travel girls. One of them manages to travel for a living while being a fulltime student.

Meet Sigrun…..She Travels to be free, happy and in control of her own life.

Sigrun in Iceland
Sigrun in Iceland – “Summers in Iceland. Cold but amazing!”

Let’s be real, we all wish we could travel more if our work or lives would permit. If you’ve got the luxury, you can get clever and find a line of work that allows you to travel often. Sigrun did just that and for the past 5 years has been a flight attendant for the Icelandic airline WOW Air while also pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Journalism. Sigrun isn’t a 9-5 person, so this job suits her perfectly because she gets days off in the middle of the week or can squeeze in a mini holiday once in a while. The airline is a relatively new company, it was founded five years ago so it still has a start-up vibe, which she loves, even though it has grown significantly in the past couple of years. The non-routine life makes it easier to mix work and study.

Peace out in Nicaragua
Sigrun in Nicaragua

Like Sigrun, you shouldn’t fall victim to your wanderlust, but conquer it. We all may not have the financial means to travel the world as much as we like. Not all of us can afford to take a year off work to backpack Asia or use each and every one of our vacation days venturing to far off places. Some of us have to keep working. Some of us have debt that won’t pay itself off. But don’t be discouraged. You shouldn’t give up your travel aspirations. Travel is one of the most life-changing and educational experiences a person can have. For some travel has meant finding a new home, meeting your spouse or best friend, discovering your ancestry, learning a new language, uncovering a new talent or passion. Maybe you desperately need alone time or that perfect environment to finally write that book. Maybe you’re checking off your bucket list before you leave this earth. Maybe you need to get real with yourself and reevaluate some things. There’s no better way to take a mental health check than to take a much needed trip. If your current situation allows for it then you should explore all the potential options there are to travel for a living. One of the most popular ways to do this is being a flight attendant as Sigrun has done but there are so many more:

  • Work on a cruise ship
  • Be a digital nomad (such as a freelance writer, virtual assistant, web designer)
  • Teach English aboard
  • Be a travel agent
  • Try out a secondment as an expatriate
  • Start a travel blog (this may be a very crowded space now but if you stay authentic and find a very niche market you have the potential to be very successful)
  • Take care of children as an au pair
  • Be a photographer
  • Make money renting your apartment to travelers using home sharing sites like Airbnb
  • Join the Peace Corps

The list can go on and on…and although many of the options available aren’t realistic for everyone, there’s definitely an opportunity out there that will allow you to live out some of your deepest travel desires.

Island hopping in Thailand

Although working for an airline means a lot of short stops in and out of different locations which many would say doesn’t constituent as “traveling” it still provides for the opportunity to interact with the locals from each destination, hear new languages and learn something new about a different culture. Sigrun has been all over Europe making these shorter stops but has been lucky to have layovers in US and Canadian cities that can last a day or two.  “There are some perks working for an airline, I would say the really, really cheap flight tickets are the biggest perk of all. It makes all the long working hours totally worth it. This job has made it possible for me to travel around the world. The layovers are also super nice to get to know your way around a city. I’m a big foodie and I love going out for dinner so I usually try to find exciting restaurants or cafés during my layovers.”

Enjoying a coconut in the jungle in Sri Lanka

When she’s not whipping across the Atlantic Ocean attending to guests, Sigrun is taking advantage of those job perks and living out her true Bungee Girl spirit. Sigrun has been all over the world and has had many memorable experiences. “I had a very scary moment with an elephant in a national park in Sri Lanka. I came too close while I was trying to take a photograph of the elephant (always trying to capture that perfect Instagram photo).  He started running towards me and I completely froze and thought that this would be my last moment alive. All of a sudden he stopped and I ran towards my scooter and drove away, alive and well but a little bit shaken. I think the elephant was warning me to not step on his turf. That was noted.” One of Sigrun’s favorite destinations is Cuba because of its rich culture, scenery and atmosphere. But she’s got her eyes set on venturing the other side of the equator into South America including Colombia and Brazil.

Market trip in Nicaragua
Driving around Havana, Cuba in an old American car !

Whatever you do, don’t suppress your curiosity. Don’t put limits on your nomad tenancies. If there’s a will, there’s a way. For many traveling can be intimidating or overwhelming or worse, seem completely out of reach. Sigrun has found a way to travel for a living and pursue her educational aspirations. While that arrangement might not work for everyone nor do some of you want to do, whatever your travel roadblock may be there’s a way to overcome it. GIRL, MAKE IT WORK! 

So you’ve got the travel bug and want to live out some of your travel goals? Heading to Sigrun’s hometown might be a great fit. For obvious reasons, Reykjavik (the capital city in Iceland) is an ideal and sought out location for solo female travelers. Sigrun suggests you rent a bike to cycle around the city and don’t forget to party on the weekends when Icelanders really get wild. “Reykjavik is a small city so it’s easy to go around, and it’s very safe. I recommend trying the seafood, it’s amazing. The food scenery is great in Reykjavik. Remember to bring warm clothes since the weather in Iceland is insanely unpredictable. We have days where we experience all the seasons (rain, snow, wind and sun). There are so many places around Iceland that are truly amazing to visit. 2-3 days in the city should cover all the things to see there, then rent a car and head to the countryside. All of the places in Iceland are beautiful. The Vestfjords have a special place in my heart.”

Sigrun even helped Founder and CEO of Bungee Girl, Maxine Outerbridge, have an epic experience on her recent solo trip for her 29th birthday with some great tips and advice. They connected on the Bungee Girl App and leveraged the insider knowledge of each of their home cities to help the other on upcoming trips

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
Maxine in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Continue reading Traveling for a living, the Icelandic way

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As a black female traveler, I belong in this space too!

Author: Bungee Girl Media

Karen knew that taking her first solo journey at the age of 19 wouldn’t be easy. Karen knew that exploring the world would come with a whole host of unexpected experiences. What Karen didn’t expect, was how often she would have to reclaim her right to be in the spaces she traveled to. The right to travel somewhere and be respected and understood. The right to travel somewhere and be represented. The right to travel somewhere and not be treated like the main attraction in a circus freak show. Traveling as a black woman meant she got to embrace new cultures, try new food and see sights that last a lifetime. But it also meant, going against the desires of her family, explaining to her community why breaking out their box was so necessary, showing unearned empathy to people who had never seen a black person before and having the energy to always enlighten others. It meant spending all her hard-earned money to travel to a country and be called a “Nigger”. It meant being compassionate and considerate even when she’s tired. It meant being enthusiastic about challenging social norms and being dedicated to progression. Karen’s journeys have shaped the person she is today and have had a powerful impact on the people she’s met and new friends she’s made. Karen has more than proven that as a black female traveler, she belongs in this space too!

Meet Karen…She Travels to see the world beyond London and help spread positive messaging about her blackness to the rest of the world.

Karen was born and raised in London but her family originally came from Ghana. Although Karen always had a healthy exposure to her Ghanaian culture, she felt a sense of suffocation like she was caged in a box in London and really yearned to venture off. Traveling with friends became less appealing because their cultural curiosity didn’t align with hers. Her mom thought she was crazy when she decided to go to Thailand for 2 months but it was a life-changing decision. Karen got to visit Bangkok and many beautiful islands including Ko Tao. It was in Thailand that Karen found her passion for protecting human rights. “I saw so many protests and it ignited a desire within me to help people which is why I am currently in the process of qualifying as a human rights lawyer.” It was also in Thailand that Karen experienced what it was like to be around people that had never seen a black person before. She was overcome with unsolicited attention through constant stares and uncomfortable gestures.

(Karen ins Tangier, Morocco in July 2017)
(Karen ins Tangier, Morocco in July 2017)

Karen would soon come to understand her position in the rest of the world and have many more of these experiences feeling like she was on “full display.” As Karen continued to travel the world, there was more staring, name calling, pointing, violations of personal space, inappropriate questions and straight up racism. Often, she would get asked if people could take a picture of her or with her. It wasn’t flattering to her. “I felt like a clown, like I was in a circus. I am human, I’m just black, that’s it! They need to see me as a human, an equal person.” To her discontent, Karen would also quickly learn the perception a lot of the world had about black women as being prostitutes or uneducated. Do you know how many times men would solicit sexual favors from Karen? They would call her “chocolate” and “mulatto”, express their excitement with finally meeting a black woman and confess their sexual fetish desires to “be with a black woman”.

(Karen in Dubrovnik, Croatia being asked by a group Chinese tourist to take a picture with her in May 2017)
(Karen in Dubrovnik, Croatia being asked by a group of Chinese tourist to take a picture with her in May 2017)

“I could’ve been bitter and angry but I realized that it is our responsibility to inform and educate other people and change the way the media portrays us. I don’t just assume people should know these things. I don’t just assume people are racist. I ask myself…why would they do that or say that. It could be a culture thing. Let me help change their understanding, change their perception .

There are times when Karen would just ignore or walk away and other times she would take the opportunity to explain to her offenders that the things they were doing or saying were hurtful and unacceptable. For some she saw the breakthrough and it validated that the positive awareness of her blackness she was presenting to the world was making an impact.

(Karen in Palais Royale in Fez, Morrocco)
(Karen in Palais Royale in Fez, Morrocco)

 

(Karen in Chefchaouen, Morocco)
(Karen in Chefchaouen, Morocco)

 

Despite these challenges Karen has continued to travel and has visited countries that span from Spain to Amsterdam to Dubai and so many more. Although Karen genuinely sees the benefit in having people of color educate other communities that are unfamiliar with their blackness, it was just as important for her as a black female traveler to understand it was her right to belong in the spaces she traveled to. “As black women, we need to combat all these insecurities and break the boundaries we set within ourselves. We need to stop thinking we don’t belong in this space, or that we aren’t qualified to be in this space. We need to stop thinking “we can’t do that or say that”. Now I know I belong and deserve to be here too”.  Learning to reclaim her right to the spaces she traveled to or finds herself in in general has been one of Karen’s biggest life lessons.

Even the most difficult trips were still rewarding for Karen because with each journey she made new friends, learned about a different culture and changed minds in the process. Some of her proudest moments were traveling to Ghana and Cuba. In Cuba, even more so than in Ghana, Karen was treated with the upmost respect and felt it was the best place for self-growth as a black woman.

(Karen in Havana, Cuba in the summer 2016)
(Karen in Havana, Cuba in the summer 2016)

Back at home in London, there was this notion that she was a “different kind of black girl” because of the way she traveled and the places she chose to travel to. Karen felt she had more in common with her white friends from a travel perspective than any of her friends of color. Karen often got backlash from her own family and community which she perceived to be a common experience and a reason why other women of color aren’t experimenting with more diversity in their travel destinations and embracing solo travel. Many in her community would question her choices and chastise her financial decisions. “But you can’t put a price on liberation!”.

The amount of personal development Karen has achieved throughout her travel journeys have far outweighed any damage from the few painful encounters she’s had. It is her deepest aspiration to see more black women feel comfortable and confident about taking on the world, especially through solo trips. While Karen knows it is important for black women to be real with themselves about what the experiences could be like, she hopes they won’t be intimidated and even open-minded about taking on the burden of enlightening others.

(Karen at Xcaret Park in Quintana Roo, Mexico)
(Karen at Xcaret Park in Quintana Roo, Mexico)

There’s no stopping Karen any time soon. She calls herself @theblackvoyager on Instagram and has plans to take on the rest of Europe, with solo trips to the South of France, Italy, Albania and Russia coming up soon. Although Karen’s experiences are her own and may mirror the experiences of many other black woman which she hopes would be more accurately portrayed to the public (that includes from bloggers too), her message is for all women. “It’s all about freedom. Be who you are. Don’t be constrained by the “boxes” that the world sets for us and expects us to be in. One day, I imagine walking and not seeing a glass ceiling!”.

If you want to see more from this storyteller, creator and activist follow her @theblackvoyager, you’ll be sure to be inspired. Karen is the essence of Bungee Girl and why we’re so determined to make travel safer, more accessible and realistic for women.

Join an empowering and secure network of aspiring female travelers using our Girls-Only travel app Bungee Girl App. Our app is expanding and will soon allow users to book home sharing rentals with female hosts, get access to ticket deals and get the best tips and ideas for each of our featured cities. For more info sign-up at www.bungeegirl.com

More stories for the “SHE TRAVELS” series are coming soon at www.bungeegirl.com. If you’ve got a unique travel story and want to be featured get in touch with us at support@bungeegirl.com  

Follow us at Instagram/Bungeegirl or Facebook/Bungeegirl.

“There is more to me than my hijab!” Traveling as a Muslim woman

Author: Bungee Girl Media

One thing that is very wrong with the way travel is advertised to the public is the one-sided perspective that you get. How often do you see a depiction of what it is like to travel from the perspective of people from all walks of life? Ask yourself, do you REALLY know what it is like to travel for a mom with kids, a disabled person, a black or brown person, a gay or trans person? What about someone suffering with depression or is morbidly obese? Everyone has a story and their travel experiences will vary based on who they are and where they go? In our continued effort to bring authenticity back to the travel industry and provide wholesome travel inspiration for women, we see the value in providing a diverse set of stories. We believe the more we acknowledge our differences and provide representation across the board, the more human we will all appear to each other. So, next up in our SHE TRAVELS blog series is the story of a woman who’s helping us see that there is more to her than her hijab.

Meet  Houda…..She Travels to prove that as woman this world is ours to discover too!

(Houda in Ubud, Bali)
(Houda in Ubud, Bali)

It isn’t farfetched to consider that the experiences of a Muslim woman might be different from others when traveling given it’s 2017 and islamophobia is at an all-time high. However, why do we so easily rush to this judgment? When you’re standing on a long line waiting to enter the Palace of Versailles, do you ever ask yourself what might be the religions practiced by the people standing around you? You probably don’t. But when you see a Muslim woman there’s probably a few things that cross your mind: “Is she allowed to travel or did she need permission”, “Does she want to cover her head or body”, “Does she feel oppressed”, “Does she even want to practice Islam”. For many, it is the presence of her hijab that either makes you feel a sense of empathy because you assume she’s having a difficult experience as Muslim woman in our society today or you feel a sense of fear. Bravo to those of us who don’t even bat an eye and consider nothing of the sort. But too often people consider one or more of the extremes. Houda’s story, as a strong and fearless spirit, who loves to travel shows that her experience isn’t much different than many others and should help us all see that there’s so much more to her than her hijab.

Houda, an English teacher in her hometown of Marrakech, Morocco, found a passion for traveling and wants to inspire women to not be afraid to venture. “Traveling is really important and impactful because it means more open-mindedness, more freedom, more tolerance and understanding of others.” Outside of Morocco, Houda has visited several locations in Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Sweden with London and Bali equally her favorite. “London is such a huge and diverse city, one never sees or learns enough when there. Bali on the other hand is something of another world. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s green everywhere you go, and coming from Africa that’s something to be in awe of. The scenery is to die for, and the Balinese people are so kind and cheerful.” Traveling as a Muslim woman hasn’t been much of a challenge for Houda as many people would assume. Before setting off on many of her travels, an incident would occur and hatred towards Muslims would soar (or as the media would want us to believe) that would cause Houda to worry about how she will be treated. But most often her experiences were uneventful and more positive than not.

(Houda in Istanbul, Turkey)
(Houda in Istanbul, Turkey)

“So far, there has only been one incident in Montreal, Canada where a lady talked to me and my family disrespectfully just because 3 of us were wearing Hijabs. It was really hot that summer and everybody was feeling uncomfortable because of the heat. So, this lady comes out of the supermarket into the parking lot where we were standing and before going inside her car tells us that it would better for us to just take off our Hijabs since it was intolerably hot. We told her that it was none of her business. She then continued to say that she is against our religion and I quote “islamo-terrorist”! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing”.

 (Houda - Spring in Glasgow, United Kingdom)
(Houda – Spring in Glasgow, United Kingdom)

Other than that, in the dozen other cities Houda visited, she never experienced any racist or Islamophobic comments or even looks that would make her feel uncomfortable. On the contrary, people would initiate conversations with her on the train or the bus and make small talk. In London, where she went to a summer school last year, two of her classmates, both Italian girls, came up to her on separate occasions and asked in the politest way about her religion and why she chose to wear a Hijab. Another classmate, a well-known judge in Italy told her how her encounter with Houda changed her ideas about religious people.

Now, by no means are we trying to downplay the experiences that many Muslim women may experience when traveling. There is still so much hatred and prejudice that many Muslim women and their families unfortunately experience. But Houda’s story is quite refreshing and sheds light on the subconscious insensitivities and over-empathetic impulses many are prone to exhibit when meeting or being around Muslim female travelers. Houda does acknowledge there is a bit of adjusting that needs to take place to accommodate some of her needs which can pose challenges like finding a place to pray or looking for Halal food. But who doesn’t need to adapt or adjust while traveling based on their unique circumstances?

(Houda at a beach in Nusa Dua, Bali)
(Houda at a beach in Nusa Dua, Bali)

Besides finding a travel buddy, nothing has ever held Houda back from traveling and she’s determined to continue to travel to as many places as she can, spreading vibes of tolerance and acceptance wherever she goes. “I want to break out of this bubble called “A Man’s World”, and prove to everyone that this world is ours to share and to enjoy, not to dominate one another. I think the reason a lot of people around the world are close minded is because they don’t travel. When a person, or even a society, doesn’t know what lies behind its borders, it makes sense how very limited their ideas might be as well.”

Houda’s influence is starting right at home in Marrakech as she is passionate about helping and inspiring others which is why she started teaching. As someone who can also speak English and French fluently and is conversational in Spanish and German, Houda is determined to help others, especially women discover the world around them. Some of the great advice she gave for solo female travelers visiting her hometown of Marrakech includes: Checking out the old architecture and handicrafts in Jamaa El Fna square, taking a walk in the narrow streets of the Medina to enjoy the smell of vintage goods. If you want to enjoy some peace and quiet while being in the Medina, Houda recommends you visit Le Jardin Secret. For more peace and quiet and a sight of palm trees everywhere, take a cart to Les Palmerais which you won’t regret it. For the natural scenery close to Marrakech, head to the country. As a caution, expect a lot of catcalling once downtown, especially from street vendors. The best thing to do is pretend you didn’t hear anything, as responding to it won’t make any difference, it’s a matter of mindset.

(Houda in Dresden, Germany)
(Houda in Dresden, Germany)

Houda is the perfect image of what Bungee Girl is all about. A woman who sticks to her true values but is open to exploring the world, learning and accepting our human differences and wants to empower and support other women. If at the very least, we hope her story and perspective has opened your horizons. We should all be checking ourselves more often and be aware of our own innocent ignorance. We should all seek to learn about the experiences of people who are different from us whether it is through travel or during your regular routines. We should all think twice before making the hijab or other religious customs one of the first things we bring up when meeting a Muslim woman even if we meant it in a polite way (although desiring to learn about someone else’s faith is a beautiful thing to do). We should all want to see people from all walks of life experiencing the wonders of travel even if it means they need do it in a different or unique way. Travel is equally beneficial and empowering for us all so we want to promote that inclusive environment. We’re keeping it real and fighting against the relentless fakeness seen too often in travel blogging and instead want to bring you genuine content.

Get inspired, join an empowering and secure network of aspiring female travelers using the Bungee Girl App

More stories for the “SHE TRAVELS” series coming soon at our webpage If you’ve got a unique travel story and want to be featured get in touch with us at support@bungeegirl.com

Follow us at Instagram/Bungeegirl or Facebook/Bungeegirl.

WHY some bloggers are ruining travel and WHAT WE plan to do about it?

Author: Bungee Girl Media

When you realize your beautiful picture of Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains means nothing to so many but you can travel all the way to South Africa to stand in front a pastel colored wall and suddenly your likes are blowing up, there’s something seriously wrong going on.  Even though you have this epic story about your adventurous journey to this historic landmark, nobody cares unless your picture has perfect lighting, with no tourist in the background and you look like a model in the most unrealistic outfit. Don’t forget to wear your fancy hat just in case you get caught off guard gazing off into the scene in front of you. And don’t get us started on the perfect tea parties in the middle of the desert? We get it, it’s a business and we’re not here to bring down someone’s hustle. But we can’t help but notice the value of travel experiences rapidly deteriorating and too often see people more concerned with replicating the photo of a travel blogger than visiting locations for all the glory they have to offer. You do know they’re getting paid to recommend stuff to you, right? Not to mention it is completely setting people up for utter failure because the images many travel bloggers share are a combination of the most unnatural series of events and do not correspond to actual experiences people have. When did we start caring less about those “eatpraylove” stories? Those stories are raw, where you learn the good, bad and the ugly. Remember when you traveled to face your fears, learn a new language, meet people who didn’t look like you, find out about yourself, discover new interests or try some new kinds of food? Ask yourself, have you been losing sight of that too? We hope to inspire you again. We’re starting our new “SHE TRAVELS” blog series where we feature a bunch of bad ass travel-loving women as they explore the world on their very REAL journeys.

Meet Chrissy…..She travels because the world is too big and as an American has had too many westernized travel experiences.

Photo02
Chrissy in front of the Twelve Apostles in Australia.

Chrissy is doing what so many women want to do but don’t have the courage: solo travel. After getting over the initial butterflies and reassuring her family, she set off to get out of that westernized bubble. “I was inspired to travel solo by a high school friend who was on her journey for 14 months. I would sit at work following her on Facebook. I began to feel the wanderlust. I began to ask myself, “What is stopping me from seeing the world?” I had a strong calling to get out there and take the risk. I started to do research and put a plan in place. The first thing I did was set a “leave by date”. Mine was December 30, 2016.  With a goal established, it was so much easier to achieve. My mom was super supportive. She knew the struggles I had with “finding my passion” so she thought it would be a great way to get out and explore that. I was ready for that “finding myself” journey. My dad, on the other hand, was extremely apprehensive at the thought of my solo travel. He asked me a million questions and wanted me to find a travel partner. With lots of assurance, and promises to call every day, he became more relaxed.”

Photo03
Taupo, New Zealand – January 2017 – Tongario Crossing –Chrissy reflecting after going on a 19 mile trek through an active volcano.

How many of us can admit that we get too comfortable even in our travels? Like many Americans, Chrissy didn’t get “outside” the box for so long. Traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean and staying in 4 or 5-star hotels never really gives you a true sense of culture. For her solo travel trip she decided to travel deep and venture for an impact.  I enjoy and crave the type of travel where you can get out and explore. Get lost in a city and just wander. Eat street food, interact with the locals, really experience the culture and embrace the differences.”

Photo04
Queenstown, New Zealand – January 2017 – Chrissy on the World’s Biggest Swing,  suspended 160 meters high with a freefall to catch a swing while accelerating into a 300 meter arc at 125kph  “Crazy if you do, Crazy if you don’t”.
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Sydney, Australia – January 2017 – Chrissy at the Opera House.

You know a woman is finding her way when she starts embracing new things and having no regrets. You should come back from all your trips having tried a new challenge, faced a fear or learned something new. Sometimes it takes getting out of your regular environment to realize you have more courage than you thought you did. Sometimes you need to get away from that same circle of family and friends to do different things because you don’t have to deal with their judgment or opinions.  Chrissy has fully flourished into her adventurous spirit during her solo journey and has tried so many new firsts including the world’s largest swing, cliff jumping and jumping out of a plane. “My next bucket list item is scuba diving. I tried doing it in the Great Barrier Reef, but I freaked out. I have such a fear of drowning. I think with practice in a pool, and the right training, I will be ready on my next go-around. I’d really like to do a dive in the Philippines and swim with sharks.”

 

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Whitsunday Islands, Australia –February 2017 – Airlie Beach Sky Dive Australia – As we all know, things don’t always go as planned on a trip. This is actually Chrissy’s second dive within 24 hours of the 1st one! Due to a tech error all the pictures and video from her first sky dive were completely lost so she begged and pleaded with the Sky Dive company to let her do it again. It was even more incredible the second time around.
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Byron Bay, Australia – February 2, 2017 – Mojo Surf Camp – First time standing on a surf board.
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Cairns, Australia – February 2017 – Millaa Millaa Falls – Chrissy perfecting the famous hair flick where they shot the Herbal Essence commercial. Effortless!.
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Siem Reap, Cambodia – March 2017 – Angkor Wat – Largest religious monument in the world – “I’ll take a pinch of Angkor Wat”.
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Dalat, Vietnam – March 2017 – Abseiling – “Before I hit the rock, I let go of the rope and fell from almost a meter up into what they call “washing machine”. From the rushing water, I’m sure you can see where it gets its name.”
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Cat Ba Island, Vietnam – March 2017 – Breathtaking view of  Cat Ba National park.

Inspired yet? You should be! Chrissy is a reminder of the deep personal growth that travel can bring. It’s not always roses and butterflies but these kinds of experiences will change your life and shape the person you’re destined to be. These are the kind of experiences that open your eyes and bring a new level of awareness. These are the kind of experiences where you have that “Ah ha” moment. We don’t want you to lose sight of that. We don’t want you to fall victim to the glamorization of travel. We don’t want you to chase Instagram likes but travel because it serves a real purpose and has a true meaning for you. Be like Chrissy and be the difference. We’ll keep sharing stories of women who live for the adventure.

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Bangkok, Thailand – March 2017 – Wat Pho – taking in all the culture.
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Bangkok, Thailand – April 2017 – Lebua Sky Tower – Same spot where they shot Hangover 2.
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Chiang Mai, Thailand – April 2017 – Happy Elephant Home – Chrissy visiting the cruelty free elephant sanctuary enjoying the company of the most amazing creatures ever.

Solo travel doesn’t have to be scary but you’ve got to be willing to take a leap of faith. Chrissy wasn’t scared but did have to get over that first initial anxiety. “I’m so independent I’m just used to being by myself. When I left I had a few butterflies in the tummy, but once I got to my destination, got to the hostel, and met people, all of that went away rather quickly.” Find out where Chrissy goes next. Follow more of Chrissy’s journey on Instagram @itschrisssyyy.

Get inspired, join an empowering and secure network of aspiring female travelers using the Bungee Girl App or at our webpage

More stories for the “SHE TRAVELS” series coming soon at https://bungeegirlcom.wordpress.com.

Follow us at Instagram/Bungeegirl or Facebook/Bungeegirl.

 

 

 

Why one of the most powerful women in the world said I inspired her!

It still sounds weird to say Hillary Clinton considers me to be a friend but it’s true. Earlier in the year she didn’t even know who I was. Now she introduces me to her family as “the woman who inspired her”. Here is my powerful personal story she found out about and my journey to start Bungee Girl.

It’s no surprise that I’ve taken on the challenge of Bungee Girl even though I have zero tech background. It’s definitely been a lot of work and intimidating, there’s still days I think “what the hell am I doing” but this is who I am and have always been. It’s almost as if I do better when taking on difficult challenges. Nothing has been more difficult than becoming a mom at 19. I found out I was pregnant in my first semester at Penn State University, it was really devastating. I had been quite an overachiever most of my life and my family didn’t agree with my decision to keep the pregnancy so initially I got little support. I wasn’t welcomed home when that semester finished. I watched as parents came to pick up their kids and help them move out their dorm room but no one would come for me. At a couple months pregnant, I had to rent a Uhaul truck and pack myself up to make the nearly 8 hour journey to Rhode Island where my daughter’s father was living with his roommate. I was so determined to stay in school, so I transferred to Bryant University (in Rhode Island) and was lucky to get a full academic scholarship.

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Life was still super hard, we had no money and no family living near by to help.  I had to go on welfare and work a campus job to get by. My daughter’s farther and I rotated watching her since we couldn’t afford daycare, he went to school at night and I took morning classes. He was from Bermuda and on a student visa so he wasn’t eligible to work either and all his family was in Bermuda so we really had no helpers. I took on 6 or 7 courses at a time so I could graduate early. Like a true fighter, I was determined to not become another statistic. My greatest motivation was proving everyone wrong and making something of myself and I did just that.  I graduated with honors and went on to work for a top accounting firm (PricewaterhouseCoopers). While working for PwC, I also got a Master’s degree and a CPA license. My financial situation had dramatically changed in just a few years and I was making my way up the corporate ladder.

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Now if you think being a full time student, taking 6 courses, working 20 hours a week and having an infant child was hard…that was a piece of cake compared to what was the most difficult thing I had to overcome. Being a teen mom was one hell of a title but so was young wife. We got legally married at age 20 (of course we couldn’t afford a wedding). About a year into the marriage, he started to abuse me. It was 4 years of living in hell and experiencing the horror of physical and sexual assault before I was in a good position enough to break out and survive on my own. Like most abused women, I didn’t tell anyone what was going on for so long. I felt so trapped. I depended on him to help watch my daughter and worried that I would have to transfer schools again if I really wanted to leave him. I was obsessed with school, it was my golden ticket. In a sick and twisted way, I was willing to go through that horrible abuse as long as I could finish my undergraduate program. Maybe it was a survival mechanism but I was so good at hiding what was going on. To this day, when people find out what I had endured they are so shocked and tell me that I must’ve been so good at keeping it together because they had no clue. At some point my nerves became so shot that it was hard to conceal my plight anymore. I worked in the Admissions Office at my school. One day my supervisor told me she needed to talk to me and asked me to step out into the hallway. She said she knew something was wrong with me because she could see my hands shaking. I was able to keep my facial expressions normal but eventually I couldn’t control the shock to my body from the abuse which started to show to others. I did tell her he was hurting me but for some reason I couldn’t talk about the rapes. Only until recently have I found the courage to mention that additional detail.

Like most women, we all have a particular threshold, a breaking point, a limit to how much we can take. I got to that point in 2013. We were living in Bermuda at the time where I worked for PwC and had a successful start to my career. I gave it all up to flee and go back home to NYC to start fresh with my two kids (I had another child at age 24). My dignity and self-respect was priceless to me. I tried to leave him a few times before, I even once checked myself and daughter into a domestic violence shelter in Rhode Island but i’d always run back. I knew it would be impossible to be on my own and in school full-time. But this time I was finished with school, had all my degrees and a CPA license, had saved up a decent amount of money so there was nothing holding me back. He always accused me of “using” him to get my footing in life. Maybe he was right, but I had to do what was best for my kids. I knew I would have to be strong for them. I knew I could handle being a single mom once I was educated with a corporate job so  for years I patiently waited for the day I could break free. I left just about everything behind, material things meant nothing to me. On June 26, 2013 with two kids, two suitcases and a pet carriage with two kittens, I boarded a plane to NYC and made a final decision to never endure that treatment again.

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This time around, I had a lot of support. My parents and close family members were so happy that I was home and safe. Although I had a shaky start eventually I got on my own two feet and one great thing after another started to happen. Maybe it’s karma, who knows! I eventually found love again, landed a great job with people that were so flexible and supportive and became financially comfortable again. Being the typical LEO, I can’t seem to sit still. If I’m not volunteering then I’m taking on a new business venture. It’s just who I am.

So how did Hillary Clinton find out about this?

Earlier this year I got the attention of Hillary Clinton, who I am a big supporter of because I  wrote a letter to her campaign.  I was just as shocked as anyone else to find out that her campaign reads every letter that comes in the door. I wrote the letter because I was so bothered by the headlines stating she was doing so poorly with millennial voters. I knew that some of the policies she fought for, continues to fight for or issues she has taken a passionate stand on had serious implications in my life. For example, I really benefitted from the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) she helped set up which gave full health coverage to certain kids of low income families. This was a life saver while I was in college. I would often struggle with eligibility for most of the welfare programs because of my student status or scholarship which is ridiculous because as a teen mom, I clearly needed the help. But the CHIP program never let me down. Health insurance for my daughter was critical for me. I would never risk her being uninsured. That factor alone could’ve forced me to drop out of school. As a survivor of domestic violence, I feel so passionate about her positions on ending violence against women and a woman’s right to choose. I could keep on going but I don’t want to make this too much about political policies. I wanted to simply send her a few words of encouragement, I could never anticipate what would follow. Her campaign was so inspired by my story that I was quickly thrust into the political arena.  Not only was I asked to feature in a promotional video for the campaign, and do a variety of speaking engagements but I also got to speak with Hillary Clinton at a rally in Staten Island (definitely the highlight of my year).

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She was personally so impacted by my story that she got her campaign to continue to get me involved. She felt my story was so important and people needed to continue to hear it. They empowered me use a voice I didn’t even know I had.  I went on to be selected by her campaign to be the youngest delegate from NY at the democratic convention and was recently selected as her special guest at the first presidential debate.

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I got to sit in the front row, next to Mark Cuban and the Clinton family. It is just a testament to her commitment to the “little people”. And the end of the debate when she came to the front to greet us she was ecstatic to see me. She introduced me to Chelsea Clinton and told her how much I inspired her throughout this election. It’s quite motivational when one of the most powerful women in the world says that “YOU” inspired her! It wasn’t just the fact that I had endured all those difficult challenges and overcame them that impressed Hillary but it was the perseverance, the unwavering strive for greatness, the courage to end a cycle of violence and poverty for my kids and the determination to live up to my greatness potential.

Hillary was equally excited to learn about my ambitious drive and desire to found a startup. I talked about how the idea for Bungee Girl was inspired by my first solo trip, a 12 day vacation to London and then South Africa in 2015.

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I had a very close friend living in each of those locations that I stayed with. It was the best trip I’d ever been on. I had the best of both worlds. I got to do my tourist thing during the day while they were at work or carrying about their lives and then on nights/weekends, they would show me the city “their way”. My favorite night in London we went to a pop-up food market, it was in this sort of dungeony looking warehouse from the outside but inside it was a really rad spot full entirely of local hipsters, a delicious variety of finger foods, great music and amazing drinks. The vibe was so nice and I quickly realized I would never have found that spot without my friend nor would I feel like I “blended” if I wasn’t with a local. It was awesome. She kept taking me to new spots and unique locations only a local would know.  I had a similar experience in South Africa . Not only did I save a ton of money that way, but my friends really helped me feel comfortable navigating their cities alone whether it was detailed instructions on taking public transportation, tips on saving money, advice on what spots to see and where to eat. I felt like I was traveling more like a local than a tourist, and I felt safer that way too. Even when I would get lost or confused, I would find a Starbucks for wi-fi, turn on my phone and start messaging my friends for help, it made me feel so much more confident than the intimidation of solo travel.  When I returned from my trip, I wanted to replicate this type of travel experience in other parts of the world but I thought “If I don’t know anyone there how can I do this? I don’t want to just keep going to the same places where I already have friends and I can’t think of an opportunity that would arise to allow me to meet new people living where I want to go”. I’m a woman living in NYC with this dilemma, so I figured there must be someone in the spot I want to visit that has the same dilemma and desire to come to NYC, how great would it be to create a connection that would allow us to solve our problem. That’s where the idea for Bungee Girl came from. It’s an app that connects solo travelers, and the connection is specific to the equal interest in visiting each other’s city. Users get connected when they click on each other’s city, showing a mutual interest. My researched showed that sites that help travelers find accommodation or locals to crash with like Airbnb and CouchSurfing aren’t made for women who are much more personable by nature and need to first interact with and find a connection with someone before feeling comfortable enough to just wing it and go visit them. On the app users can also find potential travel buddies in their own home city.  I am a loud and proud feminist so the underlying mission of Bungee Girl is to grow into a lifestyle brand that encourages and empowers women to get out of their comfort zone, take on more challenges, develop themselves by interacting with and learning about the rest of the world, sticking together so we can have these experiences but in a safe manner and experience some amazing things in the prime of our life (hence the target to millennial women). The app just launched and started out in 6 locations (San Fran, Nyc, Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen and London) with new cities being rolled out soon based on demand. I wanted to do it that way to make sure there was always a match and enough people to be equally interested.

After every speech I give where I detail these difficult personal experiences and my overly ambitious personality, I have women come up to me afterwards telling me how much they can relate, how much my words touched them and gave them much needed encouragement. If you get nothing else out this post, which is my first blog post EVER, I hope you know that you are in control of your destiny. We may not be able to control each and everything thing that happens to us but we can control our reaction, our attitude, our thoughts and feelings, our future. My favorite quote from my favorite book (Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill) is “Thoughts Become Things”. This concept governs my life.

-Maxine Outerbridge

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