14. How to Travel (Ethically) on a Budget with Netflix’s Jo Franco

April 26, 2022

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Travel Ethically Without Breaking Your Budget with Netflix’s Jo Franco

Wanderlusters unite!

This week’s episode of Financial Feminist is for all travelers, whether your favorite getaway is a weekend escape or a month-long European adventure. We’re joined by the incredible Jo Franco –– creator, traveler, polyglot, and host of the Netflix show, World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.

Jo shares her story of going from an undocumented immigrant who couldn’t step foot out of the US for years to a world traveler and now a full-time creator. You’ll love her wit, her stories, and her heart for travel. She shares travel budgeting tips, some of her favorite locations, why she believes that being “well-traveled” doesn’t always mean having the most pins on a map, and how she travels safely as a woman of color.

If you’ve got the travel bug, we have so many resources for you here at Her First $100K, check out some of our favorite travel blogs below:

Traveling Safely as a Woman in 2022

The Best Travel Credit Cards in 2022

5 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Digital Nomad

How to Travel to Europe on a Budget

Another great travel hack is using a travel credit card, which rewards you with travel perks like lounge access, points towards flights and hotels, and much more. If you’ve been looking for a great travel card, we’ve compiled a list of Tori’s favorite travel credit cards.

P.s. in today’s intro, we also shared about our free mental health challenge –– learn more and join the challenge!

Watch the promo:

Meet Jo

Jo Franco is a content creator, writer, traveler, polyglot, and host on Netflix’s The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals. Her fascinating story is a journey from undocumented immigrant to global influencer, giving her a multicultural perspective in her approach to travel and life experiences. She has created content for over a decade in several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Greek and Italian across more than 600 videos on the internet across two YouTube channels DamonAndJo and JoFranco, amassing over 1.3 million subscribers. She’s the creator and host of Not Your Average Jo, a podcast that gives listeners tangible takeaways and tips for self-development every week so we can all be a little less average. Jo is also the founder and CEO of JoClub, a global online journaling movement where she leads workshops and events around writing for self-discovery, and personal evolution. Currently, JoClub’s members are located in over 20 countries, and meet regularly to share their innermost thoughts in the name of growth and community.

Jo’s Links:

Netflix: The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals
Not Your Average Jo Podcast
Jo’s Language Resources


Tori’s Credit Card Recommendations
May Mental Health Challenge
Tori’s Book Pre-Sale
Free Money Personality Quiz
Her First $100K on Instagram
Financial Feminist on Instagram
Subscribe to Financial Feminist on Spotify
Subscribe to Financial Feminist on Apple
Leave Financial Feminist a Voicemail


Tori Dunlap (00:00:00):

Welcome back, financial feminists. This is our kickoff guest episode of season two. It is so good. It is so good. I am coming to you all stuffed up with the cold to end all colds. I’m giving you raspy, snotty today, which I’m so sorry about. Maybe it’s sexy? I don’t know. You can tell me. Tweet at me. Tweet at me if it’s doing it for you. All right. As a reminder, we are bringing you weekly guest episodes every Tuesday for the foreseeable future. Make sure you’re subscribed on your preferred podcasting platform so you never miss a minute. Before we dive in, we have a lot of exciting news over at Her First $100K. Some of it I can’t tell you yet. I’m so sorry. It’s coming, I promise.

Tori (00:00:45):

I am excited to share about our May mental health initiative. We’ve built out a three week mental health challenge starting on May 2nd to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month. Every day of this free challenge, you’ll receive an email prompt to help promote better mental and financial health. I talk about it a ton, but your mindset is so incredibly important when it comes to changing your finances. We’re hoping this challenge encourages you and starts you on your journey to better mental health.

Tori (00:01:12):

If you’re looking to better, your financial health, take care of yourself, financially, do a little bit of financial self care I recommend listening to episodes two and 11 too, about overcoming your psychological around money. We guide you through an amazing journaling exercise, working through some of that financial trauma, some of those narratives, you might be believing about money and how to overcome them and how to set financial goals. Then episode, I believe, 11 is all about practicing and implementing financial self care, which is so important in our total self care journey. I encourage you to listen to both of those episodes, especially during this month. Head over to HerFirst100K.com/mental-health-challenge to sign up for this completely free challenge. Again, HerFirst100K.com/mental-health-challenge. We’ll also have the link in our show notes.

Tori (00:02:02):

Okay, let talk about today’s show. I am chatting with the incredible Jo Franco. When my team got word that we were bringing Jo Franco on the show, our head of marketing and our project manager have been obsessed with her for years. We were just so excited to chat with her. She’s a world traveler, writer, creator, polyglot. This woman speaks like nine language, eight languages, and is constantly learning more. She’s also the host of the Netflix show, The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals, which if you want some like serious travel inspiration, if you want to be bitten by the travel bug, this is where you go. This is the show you watch. She’s created content for over a decade in several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Greek, and Italian, across more than 600 videos on two YouTube channels, Damon and Jo and Jo Franco. She’s amassed over 1.3 million subscribers on both of those channels.

Tori (00:02:58):

She’s the host of Not Your Average Jo podcast, which I have also been on. We did a little dual record. If you want more of our conversations, especially more geared towards money, you can check out my episode on her show. She’s also CEO of Jo Club, which is a global online journaling movement, where she leads workshops and events around writing for self discovery and for personal evolutio
n. Okay.

Tori (00:03:20):

Today we’re going to talk about how to not be a basic when you travel and ways that we can support global and tourist heavy communities, instead of harming them when we visit. We’re going to talk about budgeting tips, how to set a budget and keep to it when you travel. How travel is more of a state of mind, rather than actual destinations. We talk about so much travel goodness in this episode. If you’re not already a fan of Jo, you will be after this show. Let’s roll.

Tori (00:03:47):

Well, what time is it? It’s eight hours, seven hours later, so it’s eight o’clock?

Jo Franco (00:04:06):

It’s 8PM. It’s time for wine. I’m having the two best things, wine and conversations about money with a very smart woman. Cheers to that.

Tori (00:04:14):

Thank you. Cheers. I’m drinking part of a chocolate and hazelnut smoothie that has lipstick all over it.

Jo (00:04:22):

Very LA.

Tori (00:04:22):

That’s what I’m drinking. I know. Pretty thrilling. Yes. Oh, no. I came to LA and I was like, “I am only drinking smoothies now.” I drink green juice and this is the … When in Rome. It’s just a lot of green juice and salads. Yeah, that’s it. I’m so excited to have you. We literally are coming off this conversation of me coming on your show. We’ve already chatted for an hour and I’m excited to chat for more time. I’ll give you a softball right off the bat. What is your absolute favorite trip you’ve taken and how did you budget to do it?

Jo (00:04:58):

Ooh, that’s a great question. I feel like my scrappier days were the funnest days because there was so much room for error and spontaneity. One trip I highly recommend for everyone is getting a Euro Rail pass. It’s the train system in Europe. I forgot how many countries I went to. It was like 20 countries in like 20 days. It was a mad chase, but it was so much fun because the way that those passes work, is you basically, you get on a train if it’s available, you don’t plan out … You can be super meticulous and plan every single train you’re going to take, but odds are, you’re going to get to a place fall in love with it, stay a little bit longer. Then it becomes this improv travel experience and the characters that you meet on the trains and the countries that you end up going to because the local train is going to take you three hours longer, so you’re going to take the express train and end up in crack off Poland. That trip is a trip of a lifetime. It’s pretty cheap, honestly.

Tori (00:06:01):

Wow. Yeah. When you’re traveling, I imagine part of it is figuring out, do I want to go to the major city in a country or the major cities, or do I want to go to the middle of nowhere? For you, what either country or city you the most? What was the logistic or the thought process of, do I go to Rome or do I go to, I don’t know, Crema, Italy, or somewhere you’ve never been before and that nobody’s ever heard of?

Jo (00:06:30):

Such a great question. Honestly, I got to tell you the truth. When you’re traveling in your early twenties, it’s a completely different thing from your early thirties. I’m 29 now. But I consider myself in like the early 30 categories with like … I now rent cars. This is something I would’ve never done in my early twenties. In my early twenties, I’m going to a city, I’m taking public transportation, I’m walking my ass everywhere. Now, I take cars. Now it’s easier to get to the little tiny towns and I prefer that, because that’s where the culture is, that’s where the language is, that’s where the history is, those really off the beaten path moments.

Jo (00:07:05):

To give you an answer, it would be what state of mind am I in? I think travel is more affordable in cities because obviously there are more people there. You could find the $1 pizza or the €5 kabob deal. You can find that in cities, whereas if you’re off the road or in a tiny village, you’re going to have to either cook at home, which is cheap too. But that means getting to the grocery store. Accessibility becomes different.

Jo (00:07:34):

As far as favorite, and what’s surprised me, I think I’m actually surprised by the fact travel has changed in my life so drastically. When I started traveling, I was 18. A little bit of backstory, I grew up undocumented, which means I couldn’t leave the country for 12 years. A lot of people think that I was raised traveling. No, I wasn’t. I was born in Brazil. Then I grew up in the states. After turning five, I moved to Connecticut. In Connecticut is where I stayed. All I did in those 12 years was being in preparation. I was in preparation, Tori. I’m studying French and studying Italian. I’m looking up study abroad programs. I couldn’t even leave the country because we were on the wait list for our citizenship, for our green card so that w
e could leave.

Jo (00:08:22):

I grew up internationally. I grew up speaking to relatives in Portuguese. I grew up having my accent be made fun of in both English and Portuguese. To me, travel was inside. It wasn’t something I necessarily needed to do, I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do it though. Then I finally got my green card, went college in New York and I started taking these smaller trips. It was a day trip. Let’s go to the Cloisters. What is that? Nobody in our grade has gone. It’s this thing in uptown Manhattan. Let’s go explore it. Let’s go sleep overnight and wait for SNL tickets. Not because we’re traveling very far, but because that’s an experience. When I was younger, I realized travel wasn’t this thing that you needed to do to get on a plane. It was a state of mind, and it was this spirit of wanting to change what is routine to give yourself something worth remembering. That hasn’t changed.

Tori (00:09:15):

Can you just stop right there? One more time. Travel is not getting on a plane, it’s a state of mind. No, you just dropped the little beautiful cherry blossom and you just like went right past through it. No, I love that. That was my experience traveling very early on. I wanted to talk to you about this anyway. There was this feeling that travel didn’t “count” unless you got on a plane, or unless you drove a certain amount of hours. The glamorous part of traveling was the getting on the plane. I love that, for you, it was like, let’s go to a different neighborhood. Let’s go an hour away from the city I’m in. Let me stand outside all night for Saturday Night Live tickets. A state of mind. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful, Jo.

Jo (00:10:09):

It’s true. I think it came from the fact I didn’t have money. I didn’t have money to get on a plane. I couldn’t even get on a plane at the time when I was undocumented, but I was always curious. The reason why I love language learning it’s because it allowed me to travel in my own mind. When you’re learning a language, suddenly you’re getting access to this snapping of fingers. It’s giving you access to new music, to new movies, new culture, new people. You don’t even need to speak to someone necessarily to feel like you’re traveling when you’re learning a new language, because your mind is already traveling. It’s already imagining itself on that little cafe in the corner street in Athens. It’s imagining itself elsewhere. That to me is travel.

Jo (00:10:50):

When you actually get to go that’s when things get even better. I guess my advice to anybody to traveling, especially if they’re budgeting, don’t think necessarily that you need this glamorous, luxurious trip to go anywhere or to feel the spirit of travel because you can make that happen on a Saturday afternoon, simply by deciding I’m going to get a coffee in a new coffee shop, I’m going to bring my journal, I’m going to bring my film camera and I’m going to have a moment. It’s going to be a travel moment. You could live in the city and feel like you’re traveling.

Tori (00:11:20):

I feel like we can end the podcast right there. That was just amazing. No, it’s so accurate. I really caught the travel bug. For me, it was studying abroad in Ireland as I got to live there for six months. I wanted your thoughts about this; early in my two twenties there was this feeling that it wasn’t so much about traveling, it was about checking countries off a list. Did you ever feel this way where it was like … A very early like Instagram, circa 2013, 2014 was like, “How many countries have you been to?” It was like the bragging about the amount of countries. When I was in Europe, there was almost this like feeling that, “Okay. If I go to London for three days, at least I can like check that off the list.”

Tori (00:12:10):

Then being in Ireland for six months and realizing that what I loved about Ireland was, of course, being there, I like Dublin, but it wasn’t Dublin. It was Galway where I lived and it was going to Limerick and driving the Irish countryside. Again, all these like little tiny towns that you’ll never experience. For me now, I very much more prioritize slow travel, than trying to check a bunch of countries or a bunch of cities off the list. I’ve been to Italy now twice for a good chunk of time in the past two years. I’ve gone back to Italy, because I love it so much. When you think about like the United States, it feels like every pocket of the US …

Tori (00:12:57):

I’m based in Seattle. Seattle is so much different than two hours south in Portland, or three hours south in Portland. Is so much different than Eastern Washington. I think there is this feeling that, “Okay, I’ve been to Croatia so I can check it off the list.” But you’ve only seen Dubrovnik. Or, “Oh, I’ve gone to Australia, I’ve gone to Sydney so I can check it off the list.” Was that a feeling for you too? Was there the temptation of checking things off in order to feel like a traveler?

Jo (00:13:26):

Brilliant, brilliant question. I think that with Instagram came the pressure of that. How many could you have you been to? Even the questions of like, what’s your favorite place? This is not how we should look at travel. These traveling experiences are enriching. It doesn’t matter how many countries you’ve been to. I’m actually the opposite of a checklist traveler. I call that a checklist traveler. I will willingly stay for a month in a place, as opposed to going to five countries nearby because I feel a responsibility to communicate and to give the people of that place, accurate representation. As opposed to being like, “Hey guys, I’m in Thailand for two days. Here’s my pad see ew.” That’s bullshit to me. I would rather embed myself.

Jo (00:14:14):

I’ve gone to Italy like seven, eight times, I’ll go back to Croatia for the third time. I go back to Greece, every chance I get. I would rather go back to places to understand it. Also, linguistically, I couple my travels with language, because with language, you actually experience a whole new place. You could go back to Italy five times. But if on that fifth time you speak Italian, that’s going to be a new country for you. For me, when I look at travel, I go back to the same places. I’m living in London right now. I’ve lived in London before. I could easily have gone to, I don’t know, freaking Serbia. It’s like, “No, I’m going to live here because I’ve been here. I will make it there eventually.”

Jo (00:14:55):

I think that when we look at travel, we really got to zone in on what we want because travel has become this very flashy thing. There’s this peer pressure of checklists and locations. Ask yourself, what do you actually enjoy? Because at the end of the day, this is your money, this is your time. If you’re going for the sake of having something to brag about, that’s quite frankly, bogus in my opinion, because those people that you’re bragging to, aren’t the ones living your life. They’re not the ones night after night in the hostile or the Airbnb or fighting the person on the train. They’re not you. Who can cares? Who cares what they think?

Jo (00:15:33):

I actually feel strongly the opposite. When somebody asks me how many countries I’ve been to. I’m like, “That is not the question you should be asking me.” That’s not the question because that says nothing because I could have easily said, “I’ve gone to 90 countries.” I’ve not learned one language and I’ve not learned one thing about the culture and I’ve not made connection. It’s bogus. If you want to ask me how many languages do I speak, how many friends do I have in those places, then let’s have a conversation

Tori (00:16:00):

That is so well said. Yeah. For me, I keep going back to Italy and Ireland. I just keep going back. I even do the thing in my brain where I’m like, “We’re going back to Italy again? Go see somewhere else. You’ve already checked Italy off the list.” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve done Southern Italy, but I haven’t done Northern Italy.” For me, food is like the big thing when I travel. This is why I love traveling with my best friend, Christine, because for us, the priority is what is the best food here? What is the most a take food here and where can we find it? Then we’ve eaten. When can we eat next? The difference between cuisine and Southern Italy and Northern Italy is so different, even in how they make their pasta. Southern Italy, no egg. You’re blasphemous if you use egg in your pasta, versus north, there’s the expectation of egg. It’s just something is simple as that. I could talk to you about this for hours.

Tori (00:16:55):

Okay. Something you’ve mentioned repeatedly, and that I’d love to talk to you about, you’re a polyglot. I have an issue with languages. I speak enough French to get by. That’s the only language that I can speak, other than English. In my fantasy, I speak fluent French, and I’m very sophist. I just admire you so much. The fact that like this is an attribute, or something you’ve worked hard for. What is the difference, as someone who speaks multiple languages, between traveling to a country where you know the language and one where you don’t?

Jo (00:17:30):

Great question. Two completely different experiences. I do have to say, you don’t need to be fluent to get the respect of the locals. For instance, I was in Croatia and I don’t speak Croatian, but before I even landed, I started looking on Spotify for Croatian artists. I started adding songs to a Croatian playlist. This is something I do. It’s a great travel tip. You kind of mark the memory. Look up the top artists of that place. I do this everywhere I go. It’s really fun. Not only is it fun, but it’s also a window into the language. For instance, I got to Croatia. I didn’t speak any Croatian. I was going to spend it was a week turned to a month. I didn’t know I was going to spend a month there. I was like, “Okay. I’m going for a week. I don’t need to learn this language, but let me look up my basics. Let me look up [foreign language 00:18:15], which is thank you. Let me look up. How are you? Let me look up all of these things.”

Jo (00:18:22):

Right when I landed, I started asking the Uber driver, how do you say this? How do you say that? How do you say this? That is an opener. Not only is that creating an experience of its own, but you’re getting the tools that then you could use in your next interaction. I don’t think anybody needs to be necessarily fluent in a language. But if you’re curious about the language and if you’re speaking to the locals with that curiosity, that’s already going to make your trip different. People will look at you differently, if you are asking them unexpectedly like, “Hey, how do you say thank you in your language?” They’re just giving your food. Suddenly they’re like, “Oh, this isn’t just another dumb tourist. This person is curious.” They will treat you better.

Jo (00:19:04):

Let’s look at the other side of the spectrum. If you pull up and you’re fluent in the language or your intermediate enough to speak without having a switch, that is when things get wild. The amount of activities I’ve gotten to do, or places I’ve gotten to stay or things I’ve gotten to see simply because I became friends or connected with somebody in a language that they did not … They didn’t speak English. We’re talking about somebody I would not have met. I wouldn’t have met this person if I didn’t speak Italian, or if I didn’t speak French or if I didn’t speak Portuguese or if I
didn’t speak … The list goes on.

Jo (00:19:40):

That, to me, is mind blowing because the world is filled with people just like us that are speaking languages we don’t understand, until we try to understand them. It’s crazy. Right now on the other side of the world, there’s probably a podcast recording happening just like ours, but in Korean. We’ll never know unless we spoke Korean. When you look at language learning as a way to unlock life, it becomes way more interesting than dusty high school Spanish.

Tori (00:20:11):

I love that so much. I experience that firsthand. I speak enough French to get by and my friend, Christine speaks better French than I do. Literally, we had anticipated trying to go to France for a month, which is what we ended up doing. We went to France for all of September, except for a couple days in Ireland, because I couldn’t help myself. Then we went to Italy for all of October.

Jo (00:20:30):

You love Ireland.

Tori (00:20:30):

I love it so much. I literally get teary eyed when I talk about it, because I transformed there.

Jo (00:20:36):

Go move. Move. Let’s be Europeans. Come on. Done.

Tori (00:20:40):

Girl, I’ve thought about it. I’m halfway there already. The plan is after LA, New York and then probably Ireland because yeah, I can’t stay away. We anticipated hopefully, spending some time in France. We hadn’t taken French classes, for her since college, for me since high school. We took a community college class. I didn’t learn much more, but it was a good refresh. Then we stayed in an Airbnb in this tiny little town outside of Dijon that no one’s ever called Arnay-le-Duc. it had less than, I think, a thousand people. we called them French mom and dad. We stayed at an Airbnb with French mom and dad and they would bring us cake and they were so sweet but spoke, not a word of English.

Tori (00:21:20):

We had to navigate that. It was also the feeling of accomplishment. It was in no way perfect. I was saying very elementary vocab trying to communicate. It was the accomplishment of I stayed in rural France for three weeks and communicated with somebody in their language, even if I had to Google some stuff in the moment, even if I said something embarrassing. That was just the coolest thing. To your point, never would’ve met them, never would’ve had a conversation about them or with them. That was just so cool. No one’s heard of this city. No, one’s heard of this tiny little town, but we’re driving around literally looking at castles and going to the middle of nowhere in the French countryside that no one’s put on a 25 places to see before you turn 25. No one put that on a list, but it was so, so cool.

Jo (00:22:16):

I love that. It’s that, it’s exactly that. These things that you get access to aren’t on lists. I think we have kind of burst the knowledge bubble in a way. I think, five years ago, seven, 10 years ago, let’s even say 12 years ago people started posting a shit ton of travel content. So much content on the internet was being posted. I was a part of that as well. When I started my YouTube channel back in 2012, that was the brand. It was travel, it was travel. For us it was travel with this very cheap approach. It wasn’t checklist travel. It wasn’t, let’s try to hit every country, but we ended up seeing a lot. We ended up traveling to a lot of places and it was all cheap and affordable because we were broke. We were broke until we weren’t. In this process, I see that we’ve contributed to the over touristification, the over tourism of these places. People are tired of seeing pictures on the poly swing. People are tired of going somewhere that they’ve seen on Instagram and seeing nothing but people selling fidget spinners and laser beams.

Tori (00:23:20):

The white walls of Santorini.

Jo (00:23:22):

Yeah.I went to Santorini and I felt like I was going to roast and die because there’s not any sun coverage. It was in the middle of summer and white walls just reflect the sun. It becomes like a big tanning booth. I didn’t like that experience. When I was living in Athens for a month and going to Greek classes, that’s what I loved. I think we’re just at an age where we’re tired of doing the cookie cutter things. We’ve got to get creative with how we access culture and people and travel. I think, language is a huge gateway to that. A million percent.

Tori (00:23:55):

Literally my next question. It was a perfect transition into it. How do you take care when you’re traveling to avoid harming these local economies that exist? Especially, I’m conscious, as a white woman, when I’m entering a certain place. How do I not be another basic white who’s traveling?

Jo (00:24:19):

I thank you for that question. I’m just a basic brown bitch, so we’re not that far off. It’s true. It’s true. No, it’s something that I think about a lot. This is why I really do get up and I study my languages and I encourage people to do it because I feel like that’s a way to honor and respect cultures that are not ours and that are not convenient to us. I think as Anglophones people who speak English, we’re just by default, privileged as hell, because around the world, people have to learn English or French or Spanish, but mostly English. What a missed opportunity it is for us, as Anglophones, to not have to learn something else. Right off the bat, When you think about psychology, you’re essentially saying everyone else has to work twice, says hard, but you guys that speak English, ah, you’re fine. It creates this like privileged energy when it comes to travel.

Jo (00:25:14):

Our passports are huge, when it comes to privilege. Having an American passport is the golden ticket. If anybody listening is an American citizen and doesn’t have their passport, please do me this one favor, get your passport. For 12 years we couldn’t get one. I always thought about my friends who were American, who didn’t have a passport. I’m like, “Are you kidding me? You have the golden ticket.” We have so much access to countries simply by being from this country that gives you a passport that you can enter in so many places without a visa. Other people don’t have that. When I travel and when I befriend people from abroad, the inequality with this stuff is crazy.

Jo (00:25:53):

My Egyptian friend tried to get his visa to go anywhere other than Turkey and kept getting denied simply because he was from Egypt and had an Egyptian passport. This guy is a great person, has never committed a crime. They simply won’t give you the visa. My dad, from Brazil, couldn’t come visit us for 12 years because his visa from Brazil to the states kept getting denied. This is a reality that’s very near and dear to my heart, but maybe not to other people because they don’t understand. This is not their story. They don’t have friends that have these stories. This is why I want to share these stories. The first thing to not, not being basic, it’s like being aware of the privilege of where you come from, of the language that you were born speaking, and then doing your absolute best to be curious about someone else’s perspective, someone else’s language, someone else’s realities, because that shit is not fair. This life is not equal. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from these travels.

Jo (00:26:50):

I know we talked about this on my podcast of how you do this every day for a living. You’re pulling back the financial layers and every day you’re in shock, because you’re like, “Damn! That’s so unfair. Okay. Let’s keep diving. Damn!” That is my experience in the global travel spectrum. Where I’m like, “Holy shit! That passport is basically like you’re not going to go anywhere. It’s by no fault of your own. It’s just simply how the world works.” As an American traveler or as an English speaker or someone with an EU passport even, showing up with curiosity is the baseline.

Jo (00:27:26):

Beyond that there are other things that you could do to find accommodations that are eco-friendly. You’ve got to pick your areas. For me, I geek out on solar panels and some kind of Airbnbs. I filmed a Netflix show and every time we stayed at an eco-friendly home, I was the one being like, “Guys is so cool. This whole thing is powered by solar. Oh my God.” I think we could do some work there to look up how much waste we are contributing because when we travel too, there’s such a damaging footprint. If you’re going to the beach and you’re leaving garbage or staying at a place, that’s just … We can’t be perfect. We cannot be perfect. This is why I think staying local, learning local language, shopping at local vendors, all of these things are small steps in the right direction. Shoot, maybe my next venture is going to be all about that. Tourism that doesn’t shoot it all over the beautiful places that we love.

Jo (00:28:28):

For instance, I’ve lived in Playa del Carmen, which is in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Back in the day, it wasn’t a big tourist tub. It was either Cancun or Tulum, but I stayed 45 minutes away. It was super local when I lived there. I lived there in 2014, 2013. It was 2012 actually. It was a long time ago. It was 10 years ago. It was a pristine beach town, only locals. There were a few shops, nothing crazy. I go back, Tori, maybe five years later and the beach, there’s just everywhere. Not only are there massive hotels, but the dirt and grime, and I saw the ocean receding. I was just in shock because it was the first time that I really saw what tourism does to a beautiful place.

Tori (00:29:17):

Yeah. I think about Hawaii a lot because it’s a very popular destination. I’ve been multiple times. I absolutely love Hawaii. You look at what tourism has done to those islands and to the people of Hawaii. It’s just absolutely insane. To the point now where they’re so reliant on tourism, it’s this like necessary evil where their entire economy now is built around it. It’s also taking land and taking their coral reefs and killing their turtles and causing housing prices and the cost of living to go up to the point where now native Hawaiians are having to leave. Yeah. I love visiting Hawaii. I grapple with that, again as a white woman, of like I’m coming into this place to be this tourist. How do you honor a place, honor the people who live here, honor their traditions, honor their space and be the least basic possible, do the least harm possible?

Jo (00:30:18):

It’s so hard. Hawaii was like heartbreaking. Wen I first went to Hawaii, I was expecting this island filled with native locals. Then you just dive i
nto the history of Hawaii in general. Their language was banned. This is happening all over the world. I love Greece so much. The Mediterranean has my heart a thousand percent, but Greece is a place that I keep going back to, Italy as well. Wen you want to do a little Italy trip, let’s go. We’ll stay sustainable. We’ll eat [inaudible 00:30:46].

Tori (00:30:46):

Girl. I’m trying to do Sicily. I’ve done Northern. I’ve done Southern and now I want to do Sicily. That’s next on the docket.

Jo (00:30:53):

Let’s go. Let’s do it. I’ve never been. I’ll go back to Italy or I guess even Italy and Greece. Right now, something I want to do is like buy a property in Greece. Then I’m thinking to myself, I’m like, “Damn. I would be contributing to the problem,” because the locals cannot afford to buy things. The locals can’t even afford to rent things. The average salary in Greece is 600 to 700 euros. Now Airbnb are double that. Even if you’re not talking about Airbnb, the rent prices have gone up. Here’s the irony too, these countries are creating incentives for digital nomads because they need the tourism dollars. Where at this very interesting …

Tori (00:31:40):

Right? What is it, Portugal, I think put somebody up for like a year. You had the option of like moving to Portugal for a year, I saw that at the beginning of the pandemic. Crazy

Jo (00:31:47):

Tax deductions. In Croatia, they have a digital nomad visa where you could stay for a year and you get these crazy tax benefits. The government is creating these visas because the government needs money that’s more sustainable than tourism. They know that the external dollars will bring it in. What it’s doing is it’s like stuff I fleeing the local. To give you an answer, I don’t have an answer, but I think being aware of it is step number one. It’s being curious enough to ask the questions and to have friends and to be like, “Hey, if you were me, what would you do?” My Greek friends don’t have an answer. The Greek friends that I have, left Greece to work in London, for instance, to make their money. This happens all over the world. My Italian friends, same thing. The world is not fair. I think that’s the baseline. It’s not a happy ending. Being aware of it and doing your best to be informed and be knowledgeable and be kind is the basic. You can be basic and not be a basic.

Tori (00:32:47):

Transitioning, a lot of our audience, 95% are female identifying, women identifying. There, I think, is still this huge stigma or nervous energy around true traveling alone as a woman. I’ve done it. I fucking love it.

Jo (00:33:03):

It’s my jam.

Tori (00:33:05):

No, it is my jam as well. Or, again, traveling with Christine. I don’t think we’ve discussed this. We discussed this on the podcast, but we go on what we call a friend moon every year. We go on a honeymoon style trip as best friends. We do this every year and have done this for four years. We like just hold hands and tell each other how much we love each other as platonic best girlfriends. It’s the thing I look forward to the most every year. Even, she and I, traveling together, a lot of the questions we get is it’s like, “Ooh, that seems risky.” Or like, “Oh, how do you make sure you’re safe?” Christine is an Asian woman as a woman of color, I know there’s even more of a risk of that. What are some of the things you had to consider when you travel, especially traveling alone, to make sure that you’re safe and make sure that you’re covered?

Jo (00:33:51):

Great question. AI would be lying to you. If I told you racism is a myth. It’s very much real. I’ve seen it several times on my trips. I have. But like everything I smile and I continue with grace. Every time that I show up to a place, especially when I’m alone, it’s such an opportunity. I think it makes you really strong and it makes you very sharp. You know this, because you’ve done it. You need to know your exits. You need to know your allies. You need to know weapons, if it gets to that point. You just start thinking on another layer of awareness of like heightened awareness. You become your own bodyguard. You have to have you.

Jo (00:34:33):

I think as an exercise for anybody, it’s really important to go places alone. What I recommend for somebody who wants to travel alone, but they’ve never done it, it’s take yourself out to dinner in your town alone and test the waters and see how you feel. Then if that feels good, take yourself out on a solo date, go to the movies alone, do a whole day, eight hours of bookstore coffee shop movie night. What does that look like?

Tori (00:34:58):

That’s my favorite shit. Going to an art museum alone. I am my favorite person to hang out with. I get to leave when I want to leave, I get to stare at this Jackson Pollock painting for 30 minutes if I want to do that. I love it. I love doing shit alone.

Jo (00:35

Exactly. That’s the thing too. You get to actually hear what you want, because if you are constantly surrounded by people, your desires are likely swayed by what they want. If you’re a team player, you’re probably going to be like, “Yeah, I want to stare at this painting for 30 minutes, but everybody wants to go to dinner. I guess I’ll do it for 10 minutes.” That was not a fulfilled moment for you, but you’re doing that for the sake of the team. When you’re alone, you don’t need to sacrifice any desires for better or worse. I think for me, solo travel, it’s like a rite of passage. It’s also a necessary exercise. If people are scared, take themselves out for these mini day trips or take a road trip by yourself, see how that feels. There’s nothing more empowering than going somewhere alone and not only surviving, but thriving. I thrive when I’m alone.

Tori (00:36:10):

Me too.

Jo (00:36:12):

I get super cranky when I haven’t spent time alone, which is confusing. Because people think I’m an extrovert, but I think I’m actually an introvert who likes being around people.

Tori (00:36:21):

That’s literally me, Jo. That’s literally me. I get so much energy from people, but also, I need to have at least one night a week, preferably a couple, where I’m just sitting by myself at home doing nothing.

Jo (00:36:35):

Yeah. Give your inner voice waste some time to shine and to talk to you and to hear what’s up. I love journaling. I actually have the journal club, Jo Club, which is a whole company dedicated towards maintaining the habit of journaling. We do this with a global community where we meet twice a month. These people came into the club alone and now they’re friends. One thing that I’ve learned, across the board, it’s like, journaling to me has always been a part of my life for 15 years, 16 years.

Jo (00:37:03):

All of my travels are journaled. Then when I examined that, I’m like, “Damn. When I was alone, I wasn’t actually alone because I had my journal as a companion,” which is like a mind banger. Which is something I say to be like, it’s a shocker, because it’s like my voice got a chance to do its thing in the pages of my journal. When I’m alone in a bar or in a restaurant and I’m journaling, what that does is it invites people to come and speak to me. They’re like, “What are you writing about?” Then they actually give me a story worth writing about. It’s this weird symbiotic, cyclical thing. Huge tip; if you’re travel alone, bring a journal, bring your magazine, bring your book.

Tori (00:37:42):

Bring a book. I do that a lot. I bring a book. I literally sat on a beach in Hawaii with a mixed drink, a volcano or some rum bullshit which was so great, on the beach, brought my book. I knew I was going to be there two hours and I’m like, “I don’t want to be on my phone. So I’ll bring a book.”

Jo (00:37:59):

That’s the thing too. I think a lot of people will resort to being on their phone. That’s a huge, critical point. When you’re alone, really be alone, be unplugged. I mean, have your phone there for safety. That’s obviously your number one defense when something goes wrong, but enjoy yourself. Get that book. Spend those two hours. Not texting anyone.

Tori (00:38:18):

Yeah. I think, in addition to the potential safety risk, which I think, yes, to your point, be conscious also do trial runs. For me, I think one of the other things is like not mentioning I’m alone. If somebody asks, “Oh, are you here by yourself?” Especially if a man asks me that, I’ll say, “Oh, no. A partner’s waiting for me or my friend’s waiting for me back at the hotel,” or something like that. There’s also this fear when you’re alone, that people are watching you and judging you and being like, “Oh my God, she’s out to dinner alone. How embarrassing.” Can you speak on that for me? I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t think anybody actually is staring at you going, “Who is this girl, who’s so lame by herself?”

Jo (00:39:04):

I do think that’s a barrier for some people. I’ve definitely felt those stares, but I think you have a choice in that moment. You could either let that drown you or you could let that empower you. Whenever I get those stares, for those split seconds where I’m like, “Dang, are these people really giving me the side eye right now?” I choose to remind myself how badass it is that here I am …

Tori (00:39:29):

You are the main character baby.

Jo (00:39:31):

I’m the main character. I’m not sitting with anybody because I don’t want to be. That is a choice. That is a freedom and I’m exercising the out of it. That, my friend, is beautiful. Yeah. I think, people could get in their heads about that, but that’s a moment of growth, that’s a moment of empowerment. Again,
journal. Get that journal out because if you’re ever feeling awkward … I’ve had some journal entry, I’m like, “The table behind me is staring. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking how dope it is that I’m here.” It’s like a conversation is happening with myself as I’m alone.

Tori (00:40:06):

Yeah. I wasn’t planning on asking you about this, but you brought up journaling. My relationship with journaling has changed so much in the past couple years. I was a very sporadic journaler. Now, I try to commit to at least a brief journal entry every day. It’s been absolutely transformational for me. I think, for me, what prevented me from journaling for a really long time was I almost felt like I had to have something to say, or I had to almost perform the act of journaling, in order for me to look back in a year or six months and be like, “Oh, that was so poetic.” It almost felt like it had to be perfect. I would buy these journals. I would spend hours finding the perfect journal, but then I would never touch it or only write one or two entries because I was even conscious while I was journaling that future me would see this.

Tori (00:41:04):

For me, what I think transformed that was realizing journaling’s not for future me to look back on, it ends up being something that’s beautiful and la time capsule of what I was doing. Journaling is for me, in the present, to work through some or to talk about how I’m feeling. I don’t know if you’ve had a similar experience as well, but it prevented me from having a really good relationship with journaling and with reflecting because I was already going, “How is this going to look in two years? How embarrassing is this going to be in a year?” As opposed to being like, no, what I need to do right now is talk about how much I want to cry and talk about how much things suck at this moment or how beautiful things are and how like cheesy it sounds. I’m so glad I’m here in this moment.

Jo (00:41:47):

That’s super common. You’re not alone with that. I think, when it comes to journaling everyone and should do it. It’s the number one thing that’s held my sanity together and allowed me to really get to know myself. It’s a space for your inner voice to shine, no judgment. Anne Frank said, “Paper is more patient than people.” It’s true, paper is more patient than people. Before I even knew that I was doing that, I was writing because it felt like nobody heard me, nobody understood me. I was the youngest of three. My mom is super loud and outgoing, my sister is too and they would always fight. My brother. And I would kind of like shrivel in. Where I got to be myself was in my journals.

Jo (00:42:31):

Ans I got to be a teenager or in college days, I started doing the same thing that you were doing, which is being a little bit performative with it, like writing down the things that I thought would be cool to read back. I think just the sheer habit of doing it day after day after day after day after day, you can’t hide from yourself. You have to be real. You have to be authentic. What are you going to do? Put up a mask for yourself every single day. No. That’s why I think the habit is really important. When I think about journaling, it’s not just like, oh yeah journal once every year. No journal as often as you can.

Jo (00:43:09):

There was this masterclass with, I forgot who it was, but she’s a writer. She said something that stuck with me she’s like, “Write when you’re happy, write when you’re sad, write hen you’re energized, write when you’re tired.” I always think about that because I feel like in those moments where we don’t want to write, it’s when we need to write the most. When it comes to journaling, and everything that I do, honestly, it’s never just this performative, one time thing. It’s not like I’m a sprinter. I ran long distance for a reason. I write in journals for a reason. I learn languages for a reason. Because the power is not in being perfected … The power isn’t in perfection, the power is in progress. When you journal you’re journaling a progress. There’s no pressure because the progress never ends until you’re dead. We can keep doing this until we die.

Jo (00:44:03):

When it comes to the pressure of like, “Oh, shit. I have nothing to write about.” That’s not the point. The point is another page. That’s it. That’s all you got to do is just one page. One day, one page time. Then at the end of a book, you realize, “Shit. I’ve written a book,” but it was one page at a time.

Tori (00:44:22):

Yep. Jo, I feel like you’re my soul sister. It’s so good. I’m just like, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is it. This is it.” Okay. I want to transition to talking about your business, your career, how you made travel your profession or part of your business. Very simply, how do you get paid to travel?

Jo (00:44:41):

Man. You spend a lot of hours editing videos and content and posting it and engaging and repeating. I started by filming my adventures with my old business partner, Damon. From 2012, until 2018, 2019, we just spent those years grinding hard on YouTube. I remember the first few days and months and years, even, no one gave a shit. I had to bake cookies to convince people to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Even then, they didn’t subscribe. This is a numbers game, like you know. It’s just the amount of content you have to put out on the algorithm to get picked up. That’s that’s how we lived.

Jo (00:45:25):

< p class="" style="white-space:pre-wrap;">All of this was happening while I was in college. I was studying international business in Manhattan. I interned in seven different place. I had side jobs to make money as a waitress , hostess in restaurants. I did everything. At the same time, I was a resident advisor at college, so I could get free housing, desk attend in the summers because I wanted to stay in New York and intern. All of these experiences kind of got me this really nice resume, not just for the paper resume, but a resume of skills to pitch things and to market things that I used in the YouTube channel. When we started the YouTube channel, my goal was never to just be a YouTuber, it was to pitch a TV show. We pitched several executives and they all said no. They said, “Young travel will never sell.” Meanwhile, I was working at a travel agency.

Tori (00:46:15):

How does it feel to have egg in your face now, executives? How’s it feel, bud?

Jo (00:46:21):

I mean, shit. I had to work so hard to get that egg on their face. Even then, it’s the crazy things that you learn along the way. The executives kept saying no, but we were pitching TV shows left and right. I was living in New York, flying to LA, figuring out how to get there with no money in my bank account, nothing but student loan debt piling up. Finally, I graduated college and had to make a choice; was I going to accept a full time job or take a risk and move to LA. Damon, my old business partner was like, “I’m out, deuces.” And I’m like, “Shit. Okay. I guess I got to make a choice.” I was offered a full-time job. I turned it down and quit, moved to LA. Within the first three months with no plan B, we made the same amount of money as I was offered from that first job offer. I’ve not worked for anyone else ever since, that was in 2015.

Jo (00:47:14):

That started off just one video a week and then two videos a week and then three videos a week and really creatively pushing ourselves like, “Okay, we did this video in French, now let’s do one in Portuguese. Now let’s do one in English.” People started seeing us as hosts, so it wasn’t just like, “Oh, we’re YouTubers.” They saw that we could speak and speak well. Then we started getting hired to host shows for web series’ and traveling and also still posting content. Now, we’re dipping our toes into two worlds. It’s like we’re content creators, but we’re also hosting things. I always wanted to be a business woman.

Jo (00:47:50):

At the same time, I’m like, “Shit. What is the business. What are we doing to build something bigger? I don’t want to be traveling for the rest of my life.” The irony here is when you make a career and travel, nobody tells you will need to get on a plane to make money. That sounds stupid of me saying that, but it really makes a difference when you have family members and you have nieces and nephews and you have boyfriends or girlfriends. It makes a difference because you’re peeled away from the people you love and the things that you care about because you have to go to make money. It’s something that I didn’t anticipate, but it happened. For all of those years, from 2015 to 2018, sacrificed everything, sacrificed everything. Content, content, content, content, content, content, filming, everything. My family got involved. Everybody knew. I rediscovered this relationship with Brazil because we started making Portuguese videos and we had a huge following in Brazil.

Jo (00:48:47):

I was like, “Okay, we hit a million subscribers. I’m done. This is where I, personally, am done because I’ve sacrificed seven years of my life for this. I’ve gotten to where I wanted to get. It’s time for more,” because I feel like even though this was an amazing venture, I have so much more I want to talk about. There’s so much more where things like journaling, financial literacy, languages, like all of this was sitting in my journals. I have journal receipts, Tori, of all of these ideas. My podcast, Not Your Average Jo was written in 2015 in a journal where I’m like, “I would love to have a podcast.” You know when I launched it? This year. 2022. It’s all of this to say, I had to walk away and say, it’s time for me to do what I need to do on my own.

Jo (00:49:37):

This is also when I got the email about an audition for a Netflix show where it would be a travel show, which is ironic because I was like, “Shit. Do I want to keep traveling? I do, but I want to do it on my own terms.” I got the show, which was really crazy. I can’t believe I hosted the show and we did two seasons. In 2020 I was traveling. I got this whole experience as a travel TV host. Technically I was an employee. I was an employee to Netflix. You’re taking an entrepreneur, for seven years, and you’re putting her in the seat of an employee again. I had that entire conversation in my mind, but it was Netflix and it was an amazing opportunity. I got to see these beautiful places, all around the world, and learn so much about myself all while journaling and starting my journal club.

Jo (00:50:27):

Jo Club was born at this time. We filmed for six days a week on Sunday’s my one day off. I would host live journaling sessions with Jo Club members, still happening till today. That’s been going on for two years. After the show came out, I came back home and I’m like, “Okay, what’s next?” This is where we’re at now, where I’ve picked up travel content, picked up language content, picked up journaling content. The career was made simply by blood, sweat, and tears and doing something authentic and posting on the internet, which is exactly what you did.

Tori (00:51:04):

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s so in
interesting, because I am in the midst of talking with production companies and talking about TV shows. It’s exactly right, is, you went from being your own boss for seven years and continuing to do that, of course, but also now having a boss, and that boss happens to be Netflix. How is the process different working with a full production versus you having produced and created content on your own?

Jo (00:51:35):

A beautiful question. Nobody asks me that. People are always like, “What was your favorite property?” I’m like, “Nah, y’all. We got to talk about the other stuff.”

Tori (00:51:42):

No, you can go watch. Go watch her show Netflix. No, I want to talk about how it was different because it’s so … Yeah. Also, for me, I’m thinking about where I’m going and I’m like, “Okay, this is going to be an interesting … ” Not sacrifice of course, but just an interesting thing of you have less creative control, I’m sure. Yeah. You are now Netflix property.

Jo (00:52:07):

Exactly. There’s a lot that I can say about that. The main thing was, it was the first time in seven years that I would show up and get a paycheck. Shocking. That’s a shocking concept, for better and for worse. For better, because it’s like, “Okay, I can have an off week and I don’t have to push it, push it, push it. I can show up, do my job. I don’t need to be a super shining star this week. I’ll still get a paycheck.” I was always showing up. I showed up with my research, but the idea that my paycheck is covered, because I have a contract that to me was foreign because for seven years, if I didn’t wake up and edit videos, I would not get a paycheck. The downside was that if I was excelling and performing extremely high and showing up with top quality work, my paycheck would never go higher than what it was.

Jo (00:52:57):

When you’re an entrepreneur, your ceiling doesn’t exist. When you’re an entrepreneur neither does your floor. When you’re an employee, at least you have a floor. You can fall down and you know that you have a paycheck, but you’re capped at a ceiling, which is negotiated by you, your employers, whatever. You’re contract, in this case. When it comes to the creative control, I think, if you’re a creative, you’ll find ways to be creative even in a tiny box. The box just might get a little smaller. Even though I didn’t have full creative control, I had creative control with how I displayed my properties with the story I wanted to tell. That was an exercise, in itself, because I was used to commanding the ship. Now, all I had was this property that I had to introduce to my co-hosts and I had to present this property and tell them why.

Jo (00:53:42):

It was actually really fun for me to be like, what is the most creative way I can do this? It gave me the opportunity to be really good at one thing. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to be really good at everything, which means you’re really bad at everything. At the same time, I told my boss and the production company, I’m like, “This is actually the dream job because for the first time, in seven years, I’m getting paid to research and learn and think. I don’t have to edit. I don’t have to post. I don’t have to do business contracts. I can just like think and perform.”

Tori (00:54:20):

Right. It’s the ideation, as opposed to the creation all of the time. That’s something I struggle with too, where I don’t have a lot of space or time to do a lot of big picture thinking anymore, because I’m just in creation mode. I’m just in production mode.

Jo (00:54:38):

Exactly. When you have a show, you have to surrender to that limitation, but it’s also very freeing. All of this, it’s hypocritical and there’s a paradox there, where it’s like … I think, there’s a big value in doing a TV show in a show because it teaches you so much about yourself, that you wouldn’t have access to. My favorite part about it too, was that I was working with other people. You can have employees when you’re a business owner, but to have true colleagues was a luxury. I’m in this room filled with people that know stuff I don’t know and that to me was worth more than the paycheck. Those relationships, the experiences that we had, all the behind the scenes moments, that’s what was worth it to me. It wasn’t the followers and it wasn’t the fame and it wasn’t the resume item and it wasn’t the paycheck, it was the collaboration in making something huge, way bigger than I could have done on my own. It comes at the price. It comes at the price.

Tori (00:55:34):

Right. We’ve tiptoed around this and we touched on it a bit, but I think a lot of people don’t believe they can travel, either because they don’t have the income that they think they need, or they have this idea that traveling has to, be in order to do it correctly. I put correctly in quotes, that it has to be like super luxurious or expensive or very Instagram worthy. You’ve given some amazing advice already. Any takeaway tips, specifically for women, who want to travel, but are unsure how to make it work, budget wise?

Jo (00:56:09):

I think, financially being realistic with yourself is number one. I’m very much a saver and for better or worse I’m a scarcity mindset kind of a person. Maybe once every year I’ll splurge, but for the most part, I stay below my means. I very much live below my means. When I travel, I try to find those experiences that are free or those experiences that can p
ut money back into my pocket. The main thing that I would recommend, is, I started making videos about traveling because I knew that if I kept doing it would actually pay for my travels. It’s ironic. You can find ways to make it work. If you’re doing this thing already, how can you maximize on that financially? If you’re traveling around, how can you turn that into a money making opportunity? That’s number one.

Jo (00:57:07):

Number two, it’s take the day trips, take the cheaper trips, stay in hostels. Hostels are a branded horribly. That movie did not help. Sometimes they are terrible, but there are enough good hostels out there that I can highly recommend them. It’s a great way to meet people, as well. Especially, if you’re in your early twenties, mid twenties. When you get to your late thirties, late twenties, late thirties, it’s probably better to take a group trip, which ends up being the same cost as a hostel. Find these activities where you can go and learn cooking and stay in Mexico for a week and you can go alone. You’re immersed immersed in this experience where you’re together with people, that then become your friends. Group trips are a really good way to get access to these things as a solo woman, traveler, if you’re feeling a little nervous.

Jo (00:57:59):

Save up. If you buy coffees every day, cut that out, make your coffee at home and put the coffee money in a jar. By the end of a month, you’ll have enough to buy a trip. It’s really these habits that we have in our day to day lives. I know we spoke about this when you gave your final thoughts, which is, think about what you’re spending and think about what it’s doing to you. When it comes to travel, I spend most of my money on travel, so I don’t spend much money on other things, to be honest.

Tori (00:58:29):

Right. You’ve said that’s a valuable for you. If you like coffee, keep buying coffee. But if you are like, “Travel is where I want to spend my money.” I talk about this all the time, we call it value-based spending at Her First $100K. This idea that if you want something and you want to spend money there, it means spending unabashedly in that area and then cutting a bunch of shit of you don’t like, or the bunch of the shit you feel lukewarm on. For me, I don’t love coffee. I’m not a huge coffee drinker. If you love coffee, and you’re a listener, amazing. For me, that’s not where my priorities lie. I would rather take that $3 a couple times a week or $5 a couple times a week and instead put it towards a night at an Airbnb or a cooking class somewhere in Europe. I would rather use my money there because I can’t buy everything. I can’t afford absolutely everything. If I’ve designated that travel’s important to me, then that’s where I want my money to go.

Jo (00:59:28):

Exactly. It’s day by day, it’s page by page, it’s dollar by dollar. It’s these small little habits, that amount of big, big things. I would also highly suggest taking that opportunity, if you’re saving money for travel, think about how can you maximize that in other ways. Whether it’s creating content, whether it’s pitching yourself as a freelancer wherever you’re going. That to me has been my saving grace. It’s not just like, “Okay, I’m going to save money and take a trip.” It’s like, “No, I’m going to save money, take a trip, document it. That documentation is going to turn into the money making machine that’ll allow me to pay for my next trip.” That’s how I’m thinking. With money, in general, that’s how I think.

Jo (01:00:08):

I bought a treadmill. I was like, “Damn. Am I really about to spend $600 on a treadmill?” It was super cheap too. My mom wanted it and I bought a house for my mom. My mom was like, “Oh, my doctor said I need to walk more.” I bought this treadmill for my mom, because we live in Connecticut and it’s winter and you can’t go outside. You can, but it’s freezing. I get this treadmill. And I’m like, “You know what? I’m going to make money back on this treadmill.” You know what I started doing? I started running on the treadmill, learning Greek and Arabic and I used Pimsleur, which is a language learning software. I highly recommend. I signed up for their affiliate program. Every time I posted myself running on the treadmill, practicing my Arabic, I would put the link and I have paid that treadmill over and over and over and over again.

Tori (01:00:49):

Smart girl.

Jo (01:00:50):

This is how I see everything I do. If I’m spending money on this, how can this money work for me? That’s my conclusion. I think travel’s very accessible, but you got to be strategic.

Tori (01:01:03):

I love it. Thank you so much for coming on. I already have the travel bug and, literally, I’m getting the itch, as I’m speaking with you, where I’m like, “Okay. Where are we going next? What are we doing next?”

Jo (01:01:15):

Let’s go.

Tori (01:01:16):

I know. I just love everything you’re about and what you’re doing. What is next for you? Where can people find you?

Jo (01:01:24):

What’s next for me, I’m surviving my 21 day language challenge, which is a daily challenge where I’m encouraging people all around the world to learn languages with daily tasks and journal prompts. Scaling Jo Club, my journaling club, which is a piece of my heart. I’m really curious to see how that’s going to play out. I have my podcast, Not Your Average Jo, where I interview dope people like you, that help people be less average. That’s been such a beautiful project. I have my YouTube videos that I am going to start releasing again, where I actually have content from an Italian road trip, tons of food. My best friend and I also do a similar thing. We just haven’t branded it, but very smart branding on friend moon. Love it.

Tori (01:02:12):

Where did you go in Italy? Where did you go?

Jo (01:02:15):

We started in Milan. We went to Lake Como. We went all the way down the middle to Rome and every step of the way we’re eating.

Tori (01:02:23):

That’s literally what we did. We did Southern Italy in 2019 for eight days. I always want to put the G in Puglia. I want to pronounce to Puglia, but isn’t it Puglia?

Jo (01:02:34):


Tori (01:02:36):

Puglia. Oh, yeah. I’m bastardizing, I’m Americanizing it. Yes. Did that region and then we did the Amalfi coast and that was amazing. Yeah. This trip was Northern Italy because we’re obsessed with Call Me By Your Name. We did the full Call Me By Your Name, Crema tour, we did like Como, we did Milan. Then we ended up in like a winery. We lived at a winery for two weeks outside of Pisa, again in middle of nowhere town.

Jo (01:03:01):


Tori (01:03:01):

Yeah, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to watch.

Jo (01:03:05):

[foreign language 01:03:05]. Let’s go to Sardinia. We should totally go.

Tori (01:03:08):

[foreign language 01:03:08]. Yes.

Jo (01:03:10):

[foreign language 01:03:10]. Yes. We went to Saturnia. Have you been there?

Jo (01:03:15):

No. I wanted to go. The hot springs?

Tori (01:03:20):

There is a five star hotel there that was kind enough to put Christine and I up, in exchange for some posts. I will send you the link. This is a not sponsored plug for them, but honestly, it is the most beautiful spot. If you can ever get the opportunity to go, we’ll link it in the show notes. They were the kindest. I flirted with the bartender. It was a great time. It was amazing. Yeah. It’s in Tuscany. Probably, I think, we drove for two hours outside of Florence to get there. You have to go, Jo. It’s so cool. It’s beautiful.

Jo (01:03:53):

I will go. I’m going to check the show notes.

Tori (01:03:54):

I will send you all the …

Jo (01:03:55):

I can’t wait.

Tori (01:03:57):

I’ll send you the link. Again, thank you so much. Thanks for coming on. I so appreciate it.

Jo (01:04:02):

Thank you. You’re a joy.

Tori (01:04:06):

Y’all, we recorded that episode back in March and I am still loving it. I loved where the conversation went. This is the coolest thing about hosting a podcast where you bring really thoughtful people on, is you think you’re going to talk about one thing and you end up talking about that thing, but you also … I didn’t expect to talk about journaling and talk about my experience there. It was such a cool, impactful episode. Jo and I have now become friends offline. It’s just been so amazing. I appreciate you, Jo, for joining us. We’ll have links in the show notes to Jo Club and her YouTube channels, as well as her Netflix series and other ways to connect with her.

Tori (01:04:42):

If you are someone who loves to travel, a travel rewards credit card can be a great financial tool. I’ve talked about them on Instagram all the time. Literally, using the points and the benefits from my travel card got me to Europe for free. It paid for my round trip flight to Europe. It gets me into airport lounges. It helps pay for my car rental insurance when I rent a car. You get cash back. You get hotel stays just by using your credit card responsibly and smart. It’s a complete game changer, when you’re traveling anywhere, but especially when you’re traveling internationally. You can see some of my favorite credit card recommendations ar herfirst100k.com/money-tools. We’ll also put it in the show notes.

Tori (01:05:23):

If you’re looking for more travel tips, check out the show notes for this episode where we’re linking some of the best blogs on travel and specifically travel credit cards. Besides some great blogs, we’ve also got free downloads and eBooks to help you plan your travels coming very, very soon. We dedicated the whole month of June to travel resources and tips. Make sure you follow us on Instagram or sign up for our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss a thing and you come back for that June content. Again, everything you need linked in the show notes.

Tori (01:05:52):

Can’t wait to see you again, financial feminists. I’ll talk to you soon.

Tori (01:05:58):

Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist at Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Charise Wade, Alena Helzer, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning and Ana Alexandra, researched by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton. Photography by Sarah Wolf and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound.

Tori (01:06:28):

A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests and episode show notes visit financialfeministpodcast.com.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

Facebook Group