If you’ve ever dreamed about quitting your unfulfilling job to travel the world—meet Deidre Mathis. “Quitting my job was the scariest moment of my life, but in hindsight it was the greatest decision I ever made,” says Mathis.
With over 24 countries stamped in her passport, 6 new destinations on her itinerary this year, and a tour planned to promote her book: Wanderlust, Travel Tips For The Young, Broke Professional, Black Enterprise caught up with Mathis to learn her secret sauce to saving money and the inspiration behind her travels.
Can you tell us how you became interested in world travel?
While I was a junior in college I traveled to the Dominican Republic. I literally got hooked on seeing the world. So I made it a point to utilize every opportunity I had to gain international exposure.
You took some time off from climbing the “corporate ladder of success”
to explore the world. What did you learn from your “gap year?”
I was forced to follow my dreams and chase my goals. Having that time away from the corporate ladder has gotten me to a happy place right now.
Traveling has helped me become more open minded. It has helped me grow into a better woman, and it has made me appreciate all of the things I have in my life (my education, health, and way of living, for example).
Sometimes we as Americans take things like running water and safety for granted, traveling as allowed me to see how other people live and makes me appreciate the blessings that I have.
How did you save money for travel?
I knew that I wanted to take time off when I finished my master’s degree, so for two years I saved money very aggressively and paid off as many monthly bills as possible. It was a great success and I was able to live off my savings for 1.5 years.
What inspired you to write Wanderlust: For The Young, Broke Professional?
People were genuinely interested in my life story. First as a minority woman who traveled, then as a solo traveler, and lastly as a budget traveler. I decided to write this book to share my story and hopefully motivate people to stop making excuses on why they couldn’t travel.
Why did you think it was necessary to publish a book for the “young professional?” I like to say my book is targeted towards those between ages 18-35, but the truth is it could inspire anyone of any age.
Can you share 3 traveling & budgeting tips from the book?
1. Stay loyal to one airline and use them for the majority of your traveling. Join their loyalty program and if the airline of your choice has a partnering credit/debit card, apply for the card as well.
2. Travel solo – It’s the easiest way to find out what you want and don’t want out of life. Try it at least once.
3. Save just $50 per paycheck (assuming you get paid bi-weekly) for 6 months – This gives you $600–which is definitely enough money for an international plane ticket.
Have you experienced racism abroad?
I have experienced racism in some countries. I’d rather not list them because in those same countries I had issues in; I have also had some of the most amazing life experiences. I have been stared at, pointed at, and babies have even ran and cried when they seen me. This used to really hurt my feelings but I realized that if I lived in a country where everyone looked like me and an “outsider” stepped in, I would probably be afraid too.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about traveling around the world?
Most people think you have to be rich or wealthy. There is a stereotype that you have to be a part of an elite group to see the world. There is also a misconception that African Americans only travel throughout the Caribbean and nowhere else- this is so not true and I am glad to see a new era of young minorities traveling all throughout the world.
What advice would you give a recent college graduate, who is still confused about his or her career path?
I get asked this question all the time and my answer is always: “What is the one very thing that if you had to wake up and do every day would make you happy?” I find that sometimes people are literally afraid to admit to themselves and others what their dreams are. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I have always loved traveling so for me, my goal is to run and own my very own hostel.
Watch the preview for “Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional and follow Deidre Mathis on Facebook below.