Monday, July 21, 2008

Globe-Hopping in Style With Andrea Adams and Teri Johnson of Travelista


The road less traveled: Andrea Adams, left and Teri Johnson, right make their living racking up frequent flier miles.

How fabulous would it be to travel the world partying on yachts and soaking up diverse cultures all while bonding with one of your longtime friends? I’m talking running with the bulls in Spain one month then island hopping in Greece the next. Oh and I forgot to mention you get paid for it. Sound far-fetched? Think again. Andrea Adams and Teri Johnson of Travelista do just that. Since 2005, these Florida A&M University MBA grads have been gallivanting across the globe taping footage in various countries for their website and other digital and film platforms.

Now based in NYC, the dynamic duo were actually in between jaunts when I interviewed them. They had just returned from Morocco, were preparing to go to Turkey and made a pit stop in Atlanta in between. I have conducted my fair share of interviews over the past decade but I must confess that the Travelista gals were a certified treat! They are women of color who are truly living their lives like they’re golden by following their passions and making (unconventional) careers out of them. By the way, collectively Andrea and Teri speak 5 languages and have traveled to over 50 countries. (They have also both lived in Europe for several years.) How stylish is that? Continue reading to find out the inside scoop on getting upgraded to first-class, why the best sunblock for brown folks is probably not even sold in the U.S. and how to really save money on your next vacay.

How did Travelista begin?
Andrea: We met while studying at FAMU and first traveled together on Spring Break. I think we went to Puerto Rico. Every year our trips got better and better and our last year we went to Paris or Italy. After we graduated we continued to travel together. Before one of our excursions to Italy, we decided to record some of our trip. When we returned we showed the video to a couple of our friends who happen to be producers and it took off from there.

What is an average day like for you guys?
Teri: That is kind of a difficult question because everyday is so different. There are some days when we’re actually traveling, in the field meeting people. We spend a lot of time in pre-production so there is research, talking to the tourism boards of different countries, talking to our colleagues in various cities about the latest in nightlife and the hottest new spots so that once we arrive in a place we are pretty much ready to go.

Everyone is strapped for cash these days and the new surcharges implemented for checked luggage only magnifies matters. What are your die-hard packing rules?
Andrea:I’m notorious for only packing one bag, even for international flights. I can get multiple wears and uses out of very small but chic things. I always pack a swimsuit, a pair of white jeans, a cashmere scarf (you don’t want to use an airplane blanket), a short dress, a long dress, a blazer - it will look cute with your white jeans and your long dress and a pair of aviator sunglasses.
Teri: Also, it is important to not only pack a swimsuit but to have it in your handbag so that if your luggage arrives to your destination after you, you can still get some beach and/or pool time in.

Do you have any tips on saving money on airline flights or travel in general?
Teri: The biggest thing that we do is to rack up airline miles any way that we can. A lot of these airlines have partners so we know that Air France is partners with Continental or Delta. Now we have miles on every major airline. Not only is this good for free trips but it can also bump us up to first-class.
Andrea: Also certain credit cards offer incentives for flying with certain carriers. In addition we usually stay at private residences so not only is the trip more cost efficient but we get a more authentic experience in the city than we probably would staying in a hotel.

What shouldn’t we be packing in 2008?
Andrea: One thing I think people should have is a universal charger. That way you can charge your iPod, your BlackBerry, your laptop and your digital camera with one device.
Teri: We are big on packing our must-have beauty items but it is fun to shop in other countries and try local products. In Brazil I found the best sunblock specifically designed for people of color ironically from Johnson & Johnson called Sundown Illumine Pos-Sol.

Now what are your must-have travel accessories?
Andrea: The universal charger that I mentioned earlier, ballet flats - they are comfortable and stylish, the Flip video camera - it is inexpensive and an easy way to share videos with loved ones back home and a comprehensive travel guide that will teach you how to ask "Where is the bathroom?" in the city's native tongue.
Teri: An iPod, my favorite Chanel perfume - I stock up on samples at the cosmetics counter so that I store them in my carry-on bag and my Aveeno moisturizer with SPF 30. A compact hand sanitizer and facial mist are also a must.

What is the one place you haven’t been that you’re dying to visit?
Andrea: I haven’t been to Asia. I’m specifically interested in Tokyo and Vietnam. I’m really into massages and I’ve heard that the beauty treatments are amazing and inexpensive in Vietnam. And Tokyo is reportedly modern and cosmopolitan and I’m interested in their art scene.
Teri: I’ve always been fascinated with Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. I’m really into anthropology and the indigenous cultures in these countries.

Wanna know what exotic locale jet-setters Andrea and Teri are off to next? Read their blog here.

11 comments:

Cynthia said...

Wow...happy for them...but so envious! Great interview. I'm always talking about how I want to travel abroad without taking any steps toward it, but this is motivating. Time to get myself together and do it!

Barney said...

B, I'm glad you hipped me to this post Great tips and interesting insight on traveling and packing. Women are notorious for overpacking...I should know, my lady does it ALL THE TIME :-)

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