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1. Tell us about your side hustle.
I am a luxury travel advisor. I provide personalized service by getting to know my clients. I curate unique private travel itineraries and recommend the right cruises for their travel style or tour groups as desired. I also provide support throughout my client’s travels.
I know many people who want to travel but are scared or don’t know where to start. I spend time with clients, getting to know their likes and dislikes. They may think they want a certain type of vacation because a friend did something similar, but upon further discussion, if it doesn’t sound like the right fit, I may suggest something different. I use my knowledge and travel experiences to develop the best trip for them.
I’m just starting, so I’m still refining my niche. I want to focus on new and seasoned adventurous solo travelers in their 30-50’s who want community in the form of small group travel but are ready to elevate their experience, pamper themselves and experience unique, curated adventures away from the usual hordes of tourists. They have outgrown budget group travel but find luxury group travel often skews toward retired, less active people, and they aren’t ready for that type of travel yet.
That’s where I come in. I use my international connections and knowledge to create unique, curated adventures that awe, excite and pamper. I want my clients to return home with new friends, refreshed in mind, body, and spirit, with a new appreciation for the world around them. I want to leave them awed and inspired to continue exploring the world. My clients want to share their experiences with everyone while asking, when is the next trip?
2. What inspired you to start your business?
I first had an inkling in 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I met a man during an ice cream break in a gorgeous park. He was originally from Croatia but had been a tour guide in many parts of the world. He was managing some local Airbnbs. We talked about working together in a partnership where I would send business his way for a fee or commission. I liked the idea, but I was hesitant because I didn’t have a way of truly knowing if he were someone I could send people to and know they would have a good experience or not, and I didn’t know all of the business ramifications of a partnership. Then COVID hit.
I have worked in healthcare for over 16 years, and COVID burned me out. Last January, I participated in Mac & Cheese Productions’ Secret Sauce Squad. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do instead of healthcare, but I felt stuck. I shared my love of travel with the group. One of the women in the group suggested I become a travel advisor, to which I said, “I have no idea how to do that or where to start.”
She introduced me to a woman she knew through a Mac & Cheese Productions offering who was a travel advisor. Kristin told me how she got started and gave me some information about where to start looking. I spent six months researching and organizing before settling on a training program and starting in October 2022.
3. How did you make your first dollar?
Funny enough, I made my first dollar on a commission from travel insurance I bought for myself for a trip to Europe for a group travel symposium and river cruise expo!
My first actual client dollar was from my aunt, who traveled to Mexico in February.
4. When can you work on your side hustle? How do you make time for it?
I work four days a week (32 hours) and spend the evenings learning and setting things up on my days off. I am single and don’t have kids, but I have to optimize my time. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know!
My year-long program includes business and marketing, with multiple Zoom calls weekly. I have a 40-minute commute each way, two days a week, so I take that time to listen to recordings of the calls I can’t attend.
5. How has your side hustle impacted your personal and professional life?
My friends have been supportive, although I have been working on expanding my network to include other entrepreneurs as none of my current friend groups have side hustles, so they don’t know what it’s like. Some of my family has not been as supportive, which has been challenging.
However, my two coworkers have been very supportive. They both would like to segway out of healthcare or at least diversify what they are doing so they get why I want something else, and they know how much I love to travel. I haven’t told my manager about it; at first, I felt weird about it, but now I don’t care as I’m not using company time to work on my side hustle.
I’ve talked about it to others I work with, and most are supportive, even if they don’t understand what a travel advisor does or why you would use one.
6. What challenges have you faced while working on your side hustle, and how have you overcome them?
Fear, uncertainty, and overwhelm have probably been the biggest challenges. Oh, and figuring out my business name and niche! Leaning into community has helped tremendously. Every day I am thankful for the training program I chose. It’s year-long, but there is so much to learn. I can’t imagine how anyone does a three-month or less program!
The host agency and our mentors are excellent! Amy always reminds us, “you are deeply loved and cared for,” which I didn’t realize I needed to hear sometimes. Then they dish out sage advice, answer questions, and encourage us to wade through the stream of fear to the other side.
7. Do you have any resources to recommend to someone looking to start a side hustle?
I became a podcast fiend when I started researching becoming a travel advisor! They all have websites, but I will share the podcasts because that’s my go-to:
- Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher
- Keep What You Earn with Shannon Weinstein
- Yo Quiero Dinero with Jannese Torres
- The Legalpreneur with Andrea Sager
- All the Hacks with Chris Hutchins
- Girlboss Radio with Avery
- Bigger Pockets Business
8. What advice would you give to someone considering a side hustle?
Find a community to support you! I don’t think I could have done this if I didn’t have a community.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with your side hustle?
It’s scary and not easy, but I’m so glad I made the leap!
Where to find Brianna online:
I will attend a Group Travel Symposium in March on a river cruise with AMAWaterways on the Danube River from Vienna, Austria, to Budapest, Hungary. In addition, I will attend the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) River Cruise Expo in Budapest. I can tour approximately ten ships and meet representatives from half a dozen river cruise companies. Follow along on my social media to see what it’s all about!
In May, I will be attending Gifted Travel Network’s annual conference in Mykonos, Greece, where I will have the opportunity to connect with various travel partners from around the world. I hope to add a week in Albania beforehand to showcase a hidden gem that deserves more attention. Follow along on my social media channels above to learn more!
KUDOS on this exciting and new adventure! As long as I have worked with and known you, I’ve felt you can do anything you choose. This sounds just like your “calling”… I too burned out working during COVID and left healthcare – today I can see how your smile is lighting up the room again. Best of luck. In the future, consider inclusion of over 50 folks – we tend to travel often too.
As I mentioned in my interview, I’m still trying to figure out my niche. Between the time of the interview and when it was posted, I had already decided against limiting my business to an age range. I believe everyone deserves an amazing vacation experience regardless of age and I would love to plan it for them! This includes you 😉