Michelle Arrazcaeta waved goodbye to her stable job as she donned a backpack and a mission to inspire more women to travel solo. Check out this NYC-based Travelista below...
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently on my self-given sabbatical! I quit my job in January to travel the US and Latin America, work on my side business and practice my Spanish. My side business, GirlGoTravel, gives girls the guts to travel solo by offering free practical resources, featuring solo travelers and travel consulting/confidence coaching. It's all about teaching women to embrace fear. I figure, when is there a better time to work on it than when I'm traveling solo?! I'd love for it to become a profitable business down the line.
How was the idea for your business born?
I think it's been swirling in my head ever since I took my first solo trip three years ago. I came back so empowered and confident that I told all my girlfriends they have to try solo travel. Most hesitated from fear and unfamiliarity of the idea. I couldn't believe they would miss out on such an experience because of misinformation. Since then the business idea has had a few forms. It's always about empowering women but its execution is constantly evolving.
How do you balance the demands of a job and daily life with nurturing this dream?
It was actually quite hard to have a full time job, long distance boyfriend and start this side business. My desire and commitment to work on it sacrificed my social life. At first that doesn't sound like a big deal but it was. I wasn't balanced. I was close to burning out because I wasn't giving myself time to breathe, relax, enjoy time with friends and recharge. Now I have a rhythm. I work in the mornings when I write best and take the afternoons to explore the current city I'm in. Then every week or two I force myself to take a break from exploring altogether (I get FOMO easily and want to see everything). I need to have relaxed days where I only focus on work. I go to a beautiful place with not much to do. There are less distractions and temptations there.
"I truly believe if you lean into what makes you happy, more of that will come your way."
What has been your boldest career or life change?
It's got to be this 6-month sabbatical. I quit a really good job without having another job lined up. But I knew it was right. I was ready for a change in career. I also realized there were some dreams I wanted to live out before jumping back into corporate/career life. I wanted to backpack longterm, try this digital nomad/travel blogger lifestyle, learn, grow my side business and see more of Latin America. It was definitely the right move. I couldn't be happier that I made this decision. I did it for myself and didn't care what other people would think. I will no longer dream of what it would be like or think "what if." I've done it. And by doing it I think the right role or job will come my way. I truly believe if you lean into what makes you happy, more of that will come your way.
How would you like to impact the travel industry?
I'd love to make female solo travel mainstream. My dream is to no longer see people react like a deer in headlights when I or another girl says she traveled alone outside of the US. I swear it's like they've seen a ghost. I hope I can be part of the movement that sheds light on the solo experience and its empowering impact on one's life.
Have you ever taken a trip alone? What’s your advice to women who are hesitant to solo-travel?
OMG this is such a huge question for me! There's so much to say because this is what I'm about- embracing fear and living courageously. But if I'd have to make my advice simple and sweet, I'd say talk to women who've done it. Ask them questions, get advice, listen to their stories. There's no better way to ease your fears than realizing this girl, who is just like you, just traveled solo and has amazing stories to tell.