Relax into uncertainty. Give into it. Surrender to it. Your entire life and career will revolve around it so better get use to it now. Letting go of what you cannot change gives you the greatest freedom.
Kristen Slizgi is the founder of The Luxury Travelist, a travel consulting company that focuses on planning and executing affordable luxury trips. Kristen was born and raised in San Diego, California but quickly moved to Nicaragua after college where she ended up working in marketing and PR at a hotel near the coast. It was in Nicaragua where her passion for travel and exploring really took off. She currently resides in Nantucket during the summers but if she’s not there, she’s typically off on an adventure such as trekking in the Atacama Desert, soul-searching in the jungles of Honduras, exploring ancient ruins, taking elephants on walks or warding off monkeys in Southeast Asia. When she’s not writing about her own travels or working on client’s trips, you will find her planning her next escapade to some undiscovered and off-the-beaten-path destination. Kristen caught the travel bug early on in life and is a firm believer that life should not be lived in one place and has been jumping from place to place ever since, with no plans of slowing down.
Where did the idea for The Luxury Travelist come from?
I’ve always loved the term “travelist.” To me, this means someone who wanders for wonder to fully experience a new place: the culture and the people. It’s a person who attempts to learn the “hows” and the “whys” to the everyday common life that we all endure—it’s a person who is eager to learn, to be inspired, to deepen the soul, enlighten the spirit and refreshen the mind.
And the word “luxury” to me means exclusivity and unique experiences. And with that, luxury is defined in two ways. For many, luxury is associated with cost—flying in a premium cabin, staying in top hotels, having meals at fancy restaurants. For others- Luxury is a feeling—experiencing a new place with loved ones, being immersed in a new culture, or simply having free time.
Putting the two together perfectly describes the clients I work for and the type of trips I plan.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a morning person and feel my most productive early on in the day. I’m typically waking up in somewhere new- mostly a hotel I’m reviewing or if I’m lucky- at some yoga retreat in Sri Lanka or something. I’m usually on a different time zone than my clients so my inbox is pretty full in the mornings- you’ll find near the continental breakfast either busting out e-mails, calling vendors and suppliers and forever changing, booking and revising itineraries.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve always said I’m a “big idea” kind of person. I have a flow of them constantly muling over in my brain but I find it hard to bring them to life at times since I get so caught up in the idea. Usually when I’m going through the phase of excitement and coming up with ideas, I take out my notebook and write them down. Just to get them out of my head and onto paper. Yes… I still believe in writing in an actual notebook.
I give myself a few hours to calm down from the excitement of an idea and usually call a colleague or my brother who are all great at helping me hash out details and next step protocols.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The wellness-minded traveler! Yoga retreats, wellness retreats, Ayurvedic medicines, volunteer travel, green travel etc. etc. These new alternative ways that people are traveling excite me. It shows that we have a truly committed and positive generation who are eager to see the world in ways that are good for us and good for the earth.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
If I’m unhappy with something- be it a product, service, my life, a habit of mine- I’ll change it. I’m really good at spotting something that is no longer serving me or my business and will make a decision to change it or try something else to make it better.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Reeeelax into uncertainty. Give into it. Surrender to it. Your entire life and career will revolve around it so better get use to it now. Letting go of what you cannot change gives you the greatest freedom. I still have to give that advise to myself everyday. Even just now as I wrote that.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I wouldn’t say almost nobody agrees with me, but I use to encounter many people who didn’t agree (understand) with my desire for something besides the 9-5 rat race grind. I believe in working hard of course, but I also believe in enjoying life. As cheesy as it sounds…we only have one–why would I want it spent all day inside having my soul crushed?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Have a side hustle! My favorite author Elizabeth Gilbert said once in a podcast about how she use to encourage her clients to NOT quit their day job to pursue their passion. Why? She found that creative people focus solely on their passion/mission, only to starve for a couple of years and then give up and grow resentful towards it. She said that they might not have been so quick to give up their dreams if they’d had financial plans to support their evolution as artists. Thus, Elizabeth talked about how she was a nanny, server, freelance content writer etc. etc. while writing her book; showing us how her side-hustle, which was mostly a means to stability, also simultaneously fed her pursuit to her dreams.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
If you offer a service, start by having people try it out for free. There’s not financial loss in it for you, maybe just some of your time. People use to ask me about my travels and advise on places all the time. Once I decided to start The Luxury Travelist, I picked a few people that I knew that traveled often and asked them if I could do their next trip, on me. In return, I asked if they’d give me feedback, suggestions and (if) they liked me, to refer clients.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Booking travel on my own card and not invoicing with specific rules and deadlines. Everyone has always paid our company their invoice, but there definitely have been times where I’ve been out 15K waiting on an overdue invoice. Not fun to see that in our bank account statement 🙂
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Everyone wants to know what the best thing to do is in (said) city/town. That’s why there are a plethora of “Top 5 Things to do in ____” articles everywhere. And the fact that I believe traveling will never go out of style– I’d say some sort of easy app that allows travelers to answer a few questions and for the app to give them 3-4 things they should do in that specific town/city. But I have a feeling somebody has already developed that?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My $100 dollar one-way ticket to Nicaragua in 2014. It was Spirit Airlines and it was a 27 hour flight. But it changed my life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
HARO- Help a Reporter Out. I also freelance write and this service sends over daily inquiries from journalists around the world looking for topics, suggestions and services from other journalists. It’s a great way to be apart of the community but also read about trending topics in travel before they come out.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Alchemist”. I read it every year and recommend it to anyone and everyone. It’s a short, simple story on how important it is to follow our own life’s path–and the beautiful things that happen when we do.
What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing changes if nothing changes“.
If something isn’t working in your life- professionally, personally, romantically, change it.
- Reach out, learn to be vulnerable and ask people for help. Let go of all ego and pride and ask someone you admire professionally to take them out for coffee and pick their brain. People love to talk about themselves 😉
- Always be on top of it. Watch the trends, learn what is going on in the world. Ask questions, be curious.
- With that….never stop asking questions.
- Listen more, talk less. You’ll learn a lot if you do and knowledge is power.
- Help people out, even if it does “nothing” for you. This will come back around. People will always remember what you did for them.
- Always, always be kind.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.