The 33-Year-Old Who Left A Six-Figure Job To Start A Travel Company

In 2017, Jessica Nabongo spent usually 21% of a year during home. Bouncing from places like Sri Lanka to a Maldives or from South Africa to Mozambique, she visited 53 countries, 38 of that were new to her. That’s over 189,000 miles on 131 flights.


A passenger during heart, Jessica Nabongo left a corporate universe to turn a digital nomad.

Looking into 2018, a American has no skeleton of negligence down her globetrotting. She’s has already visited 9 countries, including Botswana and Saint Kitts and Nevis, with skeleton to see many more.

Her report would tire a many adventuress person, though for Nabongo, an businessman with some critical wanderlust, it’s all partial of the digital wayfarer life that she’s been building given her early twenties.

Although her life infrequently looks like a vacation, it took a lot of time and bid for a solo womanlike traveler to set her life adult where she could build her business while exploring new countries like Colombia.

Living abroad for a initial time 

It all started when Nabongo was 23. She’d been operative as a curative deputy for Pfizer in Detroit, Michigan and satisfied she wanted some-more than a good residence and a imagination car. And so, she made a preference to leave her corporate pursuit and pierce to Japan to learn English.

The American had already been to 3 continents though had never explored alone before. But she didn’t let a miss of solo womanlike transport knowledge inhibit her.

“From a financial viewpoint we didn’t feel vulnerable,” says Nabongo, that she thinks helped make a preference easier. At a time, she had a low overhead  – around $180 in tyro loans a month. Although she had a debt on her riverfront condominium, she was means to lease it out so a skill paid for itself.

A impulse of ease for a digital wayfarer in Bali, Indonesia.

Having a financial and veteran reserve net

With around $10,000 saved in a bank, and her training salary, she knew she could financially pitch her adventure. And some-more importantly, Nabongo knew she could always find a pursuit again in corporate America, if that’s what she wanted.

And so Nabonogo packaged adult her life into a storage unit, shaved her conduct (she was endangered about not being means to find a salon that could character black hair) and had an epic goodbye weekend. She hasn’t looked behind given and now a shaven thatch are partial of Nabongo’s signature look.

“I set my life adult so that in a eventuality that we indispensable to go behind [to a US] and work for someone, we could,” says Nabongo. “I worked for dual years for a array one curative company.”

Initially attracted to Japan’s transport conform and culture, Nabongo  was also intrigued by a linguistic similarities between Japanese and Luganda, a denunciation of her family’s clan in Uganda, as they both use prolonged and brief compatible sounds. When she arrived, everybody was means to contend her surname properly. Nabongo says, “my whole life in propagandize in America I’ve never had anyone else pronounce my name perfectly.”

Living in a prefecture nearby Kyoto, she struggled a initial 3 months with a language. Although she used a Rosetta Stone to use a month before relocating to Japan, it was formidable picking adult a non-Latin formed language.

“When we go to western Europe, we can commend words,” points out Nabongo. “You can’t do that in Japan.”

Not one to be discouraged, Nabongo complicated a denunciation for dual hours a day, eventually flitting a simple turn inclination exam.

Landing in a Serengeti, Nabongo always looks put together even if it’s after a prolonged transport flight.

The attract of London

Falling in adore with expat life, Nabongo vowed to live abroad for during slightest 3 some-more years after her time in Japan. She finished adult vital outward of a United States for seven, bouncing from Asia to Europe and behind again.

A prominence for a millennial was vital in London while posterior her master’s grade during a London School of Economics. Nabongo fell in adore with a multicultural city, observant she would substantially be formed there, if it weren’t for a weather.

“You can transport down a transport in London and hear 15 opposite languages,” says Nabongo. Describing a city as “the gateway to a world” she says “you can get roughly anywhere on a approach flight.”

Crisscrossing a globe, Nabongo afterwards changed to Benin and Italy, alighting a full-time gig with a United Nations. Although she desired Rome, she never felt totally gentle in a city given of a injustice she encountered there, that she attributes in partial to a country’s miss of immigration.

Finding a pursuit abroad 

Speaking with a American, it competence sound easy to land general gigs for prestigious organizations. But as she points out, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be means to rebound from organizations like Pfizer to a United Nations. In further to carrying glorious grades, she says going to a rarely creditable connoisseur module like LSE opens a lot of doors and gives we an general pursuit card. Other programs a millennial recommends embody Sorbonne University, London Business School, Oxford University or a University of Cambridge.

Even on a beach Nabongo sports her signature splendid colors, a demeanour that she says helps build her code on Instagram.

Building a successful transport business

After blank too many birthdays and babies and weddings and funerals, Nabongo changed behind to a United States when she incited 30, alighting a pursuit as a consultant for USAID. But she still had a transport bug.

After assisting a high-profile crony classify his honeymoon, she came adult with a thought of Jet Black, a boutique transport group that encourages tourism to countries in Africa, Central and South America and a Caribbean. 

When Nabongo’s crony returned from his honeymoon, he pronounced it had been a best outing he’d ever been on. It was 2015 and she motionless to build her possess business, regulating her assets to imitation cards and create a website.

“My concentration is to make certain that people are unequivocally interacting with a locals,” says Nabongo. “In Cuba in particular, we have amazing guides and extraordinary vendors.”

Around 60 percent of a business is group trips, such as a new orderly getaway to Colombia or a future outing to Senegal. The rest is formulation private trips for clients, either it be a honeymoon or miracle birthday.

She says,“96% of my clients contend it is a best outing they’ve ever been on.” Describing her tours as a brew of of high-end restaurants and transport food, she says that “everybody wants to land during a oppulance hotel or Airbnb though they [also wish to] correlate with locals.”

“I’ve trafficked now to 108 territories and countries,” says Nabongo. “I consider given of that we have a rival advantage. Quite honestly many transport agents don’t travel. They only lay behind a computer.”

In a second year of business, the group now boasts over 100 clients. The business accounts for 85 percent of her income, that she supplements with UN consultancy contracts, sponsorships as an Instagram influencer and freelance transport essay gigs.

Managing a group that stretches from New York to Maryland to Capetown, South Africa, Nabongo says one of a many formidable aspects of entrepreneurship is putting together a good team. “I’ve cycled by lots of people in a past dual years,” pronounced Nabongo.

Battling jet lag

Regularly visiting far flung countries like Indonesia, Namibia or Qatar, Nabongo’s best tip for battling jet loiter is to adjust to her destination’s timezone while on a plane. She eschews sleeping pills, instead relying on Dream Water, a splash that is accessible during many American airports, that has a healthy nap assist melatonin in it.

Cuba is one of a millennial’s favorite countries to revisit and has turn a cornerstone of her boutique transport agency.

The black transport movement 

Pointing out that she was a digital wayfarer before a appearance of a black transport movement, Nabongo says that she is “just a traveler who happens to be black.”  She hopes that as a movement’s transformation grows, black influencers can have a “seat during a table.”

“Black people have a story of building their possess community. That’s what a black transport transformation is,” explains Nabongo. “Mainstream doesn’t acknowledge us, mainstream doesn’t support to us, so let’s build this ourselves.”

However, infrequently being a black solo womanlike traveler can be “emotionally exhausting,” says Nabongo. On a new moody by Amsterdam, she had a United States etiquette central ask for her permanent proprietor label after she had shown her passport. The central pronounced that they couldn’t tell it was Nabongo. While she was vital and operative in Benin with her Italian boyfriend, she pronounced many people only insincere that she was a prostitute.

As a high-profile entrepreneur, Nabongo tries not to let these frustrations get her down; she is operative towards a bigger goal, observant “I can use my voice to assistance others.”

It’s “hard as hell,” Nabongo says. But, she adds, “I have to do this. we have to pull by …I commend it is bigger than me. All of this romantic mishap that we humour is for a bigger cause.”

Shown here in India, partial of Nabongo’s signature look- and a pivotal to her success on Instagram – is splendid colors and a confidant lip.

Using Instagram to build a brand

In sequence to build a code on Instagram, try regulating crisp, transparent images with enchanting captions , says Nabongo. She also recommends to have a “thing.” For instance, she always dresses in splendid colors, has a splendid mouth and is a traveler.

Although Instagram is a good source of business for a millennial – she says that around 95 percent of her clients find her by a site – she says that people mostly act like they “own you.”  From requests to give personal tours of a city to people seeking her if she gets blood clots, there’s an invasiveness that comes with a amicable site.

One approach that she stays protected is by never similar to accommodate with someone in chairman unless they have a common personal connection.  

The work behind a full-time transport dream

But don’t be fooled into meditative Nabongo’s life is all a vacation.

“People wish to be a quote unquote digital nomad,” says Nabongo. “You put your laptop down on a beach and say, “hashtag, `today’s office’….that is not a reality. Traveling and operative is intensely difficult.”

Managing a business while on a highway is tricky, generally given she is not in a same timezone as her clients. She prioritizes waking adult early in sequence to stay-up-to-date with requests. Nabongo says, “I always tell people Instagram is a splinter of my life, about 20%.”

Sometimes it can be formidable to try a new end and working. Although she strives for balance, there are times where she feels guilty for not saying as most of a new nation as she would like. But a businessman wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is a second in a series on women subsequent in a transport industry, either it be as a solo womanlike traveler or owner of an journey startup. Know a lady who is murdering it in a universe of travel? Send an email to actalty during to commission them for subsequent month’s designation of #AdventureHackingWomen. 

Others in this array include:

The American Blogger Making Six-Figures While Traveling The World

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