Have you ever wished you were courageous enough to follow your dreams? Would you leave your steady 9-to-5 gig to travel around the world? When she was just 26, Alexandra Jimenez took a leap of faith most would be too terrified to take: she left a well-paid corporate job for a three-month getaway that turned into a full-time lifestyle.
Now after seven years of semi-constant traveling, Jimenez is 33 and the founder of a successful travel-resource site, Travel Fashion Girl.
Jimenez, who is of Salvadoran descent, started working young – at only 20 – while she was still in college at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in San Diego, California. She began working for MAGIC, the retail industry’s largest apparel conference, held in Las Vegas twice a year. She worked with the company for 6 years, and it became her entire identity.
But in 2008, after the economy crashed, Jimenez was faced with a choice: Stay in her current job in a diminished role or leave and hope that her next move would take her toward her dream job.
“I chose to leave,” Jimenez told Fox News Latino, “but first I decided I needed to take a three month hiatus and travel. The job had been all-encompassing, and I felt I needed a break. I headed for Europe. It was the scariest thing I’d done up to that point.”
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She embarked on the initial trip convinced that with her contacts and work history, she would have no trouble finding another job.
As the three months was winding down, Jimenez felt like she still hadn’t gotten out of her travels what she had been hoping to find. So she joined a group of Canadians who were touring India, and the course of her life was changed.
“I discovered that although we have so much in the U.S., we’re still not happy,” she said. “It was humbling. It made me question what I was doing with my life. Also, the women traveling with me were serious world travelers, but many had waited to travel until something virtually devastating had happened in their lives – divorce, death or health issues – before giving themselves permission to pick up and go. I was inspired to really travel. I mean really travel, and not wait but do it now.”
She added, “Everything made sense to me at that point.”
Jimenez said that as an only child, she was always very independent. She said that her mother would tell her, “You can’t just sit around waiting for things to happen to you, you have to make them happen for yourself.”
After India, Jimenez committed herself to a10-month around-the-world trip to see all the Wonders of the World – the only one she still hasn’t seen is the Great Wall of China.
“I decided to save that one for the end of my life. I don’t want the chapter to end too soon,” Jimenez said.
To support her travel, Jimenez picks up gigs along the way – mostly travel jobs for which she receives a per diem and builds up frequent flier points, like the time she spent as a West Coast promotional tour manager for Verizon Wireless.
Jimenez stops in Los Angeles every few months, to visit her family and friends, pay taxes and save up. “I’ve downsized my cell plan and I don’t have cable or rent to pay,” she told FNL.
She tends to travel modestly. Her 10-month trip around the world cost her $15,000, including airfare. She doesn’t frequent high-end hotels and makes a backpacker island in Fiji work just fine.
In 2012, Jimenez launched the Travel Fashion Girl site, a highly popular and financially successful travel-resource site geared to women, with fashion, travel and beauty tips – what to wear, how to pack and handy tips for saving money.
Jimenez’s next trips will take her underwater. An avid scuba diver, she plans to explore the world’s oceans.
She also said she’s planning on staying longer in places from now on. This eternal seeker is looking for a more restful experience and a solid community to share her wanderlust with.
“Life is about finding balance. My travel is as much about seeing places as it is about pushing myself to grow up and be a stronger woman,” Jimenez said. “Sometimes the biggest fear is about being alone: facing solitude and being fearless enough to give yourself a chance and pursue the what-if.”