Eat, Pray, Love and Travel with Chloe Williams (@_lovelygiselle)

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There are many things to brag about when it comes to Chloe Williams  (her faith, her accomplishments, her bravery, and many more), but this talk is all about travel. Some background on Chloe, she is a 24-year-old Maryland native who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Clark Atlanta University and stayed in Georgia to pursue her technology career. But, that’s not all Chloe has been up to! She’s been traveling non-stop since graduating and shared with me major gems about how to travel properly. Keep reading to learn more about Chloe, the places she’s been, where she wants to go, and how traveling has changed her life.

Where is the first place you remember traveling?

The first place I traveled to was the Virgin Islands; St. Thomas and St. John. My best friend and I traveled to the Virgin Islands to celebrate our high school graduation and going to college in the next months. This trip was the reason I have a passport to this day. My best friend had already been out the country a couple times with her grandparents, but this was a new thing for me. I find it interesting that back in 2010 when we traveled to the Virgin Islands a passport was required, but now you can travel there without a passport!

Do you have a full-time job, and how often do you travel? How do you juggle work and travel as far as time off and expenses?

Yes, I do have a full-time job. I work 8am-4pm unless projects are going into deployment and/or a release which requires me to work longer hours or weekends. When I first started at GM, I had 15 vacation days. My second year, 18 vacation days and my third year, 20 vacation days. For the next year or two, my vacation days will remain at 20. With that being said, I have a list of countries and states I would like to visit and I am constantly looking for flight deals or an all-inclusive deal (which is even better). If I can run a trip through a weekend those are two free days, and if I can run my trip for instance on Good Friday and Easter Monday that is a 4-day trip, so I still have my 20 vacation days because those are holidays at my job. Since I have been at GM I always planned a trip during that time. I look at it as a “free trip”. I also try to travel when I know it is going to be “slow” at work. A good practice we have at the company is primary developer and secondary developer. So, if I am out of the office the primary developer will know the work that needs to be done for the projects I am a secondary developer for and the projects where I am the primary developer the secondary developer will cover. I suggest for future travelers if your place of work does not have the following practice maybe trying this out with a close teammate can allow for more work-life balance.

As far as expenses, we spend our money on what we value most! I learned early on from a frequent traveler to have a travel savings as well as a regular savings account. There are tons of great inexpensive out the country trips, we just have to be willing to do our research and book trips as soon as possible.

The departure location also plays a role as well. For instance, I went to Paris in February 2016. The round trip from Maryland to Paris was $383. My friend was in Maryland, so he paid the $383. I paid the same price as well, but since I live in Atlanta I had to purchase an additional flight. Although I purchased an additional flight I still was able to book a nine-day Paris trip for under $900. My friend that lived in Maryland at the time paid $683 total for flight and HomeAway (similar to Airbnb).

My mom and I are traveling to Rome in January 2018 for $450 roundtrip from New Jersey. Once again yes, we both had to purchase additional flights since we do not reside in New Jersey, but with flights and hotels, we are traveling to Rome for under $1000 over a holiday weekend which is great. As soon as you go to Google and look at flights out the country, a one-way ticket is already starting at $1000 and up. Lastly, it is imperative when I travel to include transportation to and from airports, my dog’s doggy day-care fee, hair, nails, and etc. all ties into the expenses.

How important is traveling for you? Is it something you passively do, or is this something that your soul needs and can you tell through your mindset, and/or overall mood when it’s been too long since you have gone on a trip?

Traveling has played a significant role in my life for the past two years and I would like to travel for as long as possible. I like to travel to broaden my horizons and learn the ways of living through foreign cultures. Traveling is something that I do more than often whether it is out the country or out the state. I am always on the go, so as of now I cannot say I can tell through my mindset and overall mood when it has been too long since I have gone on a trip. It is actually the opposite for me, my soul needs more relaxation and “me-time” every once in awhile. With me always on the go, I can tell when it is time to give myself a break.

How do you deal with potentially not having friends financially stable enough to travel with, or just not interested in the same things you are?

When I first started traveling there would be certain friends I would have loved to join me, but everyone spends their money on what they deem most valuable. My friends who are not financially stable at the moment, have an understanding of their current circumstance, so I always bring back souvenirs to make them feel as though they were there too. We know that one day the right trip at the right price will come and they will be there. I had to learn that not everyone will be able to go or do everything I am able to do and vice versa. If we wait around for that friend, family member, and/or significant other, we would be waiting forever and the trip or whatever it is will never happen.

Tell me about your “Eat, Pray, Love” trip, and the expectations you have for it.

“Eat, Pray, and Love” came from the movie Julia Roberts starred in years ago. I decided to have the same theme for my upcoming trip to Bali, Indonesia. This trip is designed to take a moment to reflect on my year of growth in Christ Jesus, my celibacy journey, to plan for next year, and most of all connect with my inner spirit. I plan to try new foods (which is big for me because I am a very picky eater),  pray and meditate on scriptures to fall more in love with my new journey and trust God every step of the way. This will be my first time traveling alone, so the expectations are high for my “Eat, Pray, and Love” trip.

What are three tips you would give to a person that wants to travel but have something holding them back?

  1. Find a set destination with reasonable flight and accommodation prices within your budget range.  

  2. Do your research on must see/things to do.

  3. Pack your bags and go! If not, you will never go!

What is your favorite part of planning a trip? Do you have any packing secrets?

Experiencing all the thoughts that come rushing in after the destination has been set in stone is my favorite part . All the places you must visit, the new foods to try, buying souvenirs, being in a new environment is exciting and never gets old. The only packing secret I have is how I learned how to pack. In almost every group trip I have been on I have the smallest suitcase, but the most stuff. When I was younger I would go to overnight camps during the Summer where I learned the rolling method. The rolling method for packing your clothes leaves a little extra space for miscellaneous items.

How do you plan to incorporate traveling into your life long term? Are you the traveler? Do you want to help people travel?

In the long haul as I get older I plan to continuously be intentional with traveling. I have faith that my future family will embrace traveling and we will be the family that travels. At least two trips minimum a year I believe will suit. Yes, I am the traveler and yes, I want to help other people travel. Recently on social media, I have been able to help others with travel tips and giving ideas on where to travel. A few friends have given me the opportunity to plan their upcoming trips. I am honored to do so, but nervous because I have only planned trips for myself. Helping others travel is something I love to do genuinely. I believe everyone should go out and see the beautiful world God has created for us. There’s more to life than just our “daily lives”.

What is your favorite place to visit and why?

My favorite place to visit is Paris and I cannot wait to visit again. Paris was absolutely beautiful and my experience was magical. I feel as though I could live there for a few years. My favorite dish there was the spaghetti dish from a restaurant that was across the street from where I stayed. Although spaghetti is a well-known dish, the sauces were made to perfection. I don’t prefer spaghetti from any other place now. I also tried escargot for the first time which had a weird texture but was seasoned well which made it yummy. My most favorite part of Paris, which is the top reason I have to go back is the well-known museum, Le Louvre. Le Louvre is the best museum I have ever seen. We went to visit Le Louvre two days in a row and still were not able to tour the entire grounds. A fun fact we learned about Le Louvre is if you spend 25 seconds in each room, it will take you two months to tour the entire museum. How crazy is that? Every room I walked in I was in awe.

Which trip changed your life? And why?

The trip that has left a huge impact on my heart was Haiti. I have visited Haiti three times now since 2016. The first time was for my 23rd birthday. On the day of my birthday, I wanted to give back to the orphanage. We met a friend a day or two before and Children of Grace Orphanage is where he took us. I brought my first bag of clothes for the older girls and had no clue I would be back a second and third time bringing more. When I came home from Haiti, I came back more humble and grateful for everything God has provided for me. I learned that the people in Haiti operate on a daily basis with much less than Americans, but their spirits are more fruitful. I aspire to be more spirit fed.

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