Brittany Sawyer of Travel by Brit: The Future of Travel in The Post Covid World

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Before planning a vacation, I think it’s important to understand what type of connection you value and the activities and environments that are most life-giving. Do you feel most refreshed while you’re in nature? Plan a hiking trip. Do you feel alive when exploring a new culture? Visit a new country you’ve always wanted to explore. Do you love making memories with family and friends? If so, prioritize experiences you all will talk about for years to come.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brittany Sawyer.

Brittany Sawyer is a freelance copywriter and travel blogger from Phoenix, Arizona. She is the founder of Travel by Brit, a travel company created to help ordinary women dream, plan, and do extraordinary travel experiences. Brittany inspires her readers to make the most of their budget by using her informative itineraries to see as much of the United States (and countries abroad!) as possible while making lifelong memories with the people they love most.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a young age, I always knew I would be a writer (to some capacity, at least). As a teenager, I spent lots of time writing novels, journaling, blogging, and even songwriting (thank you, Taylor Swift).

As college approached, I knew I wanted to pursue writing, but I also wanted to choose a career with a more “straightforward” path, so I studied Marketing and Professional Writing. Thanks to a connection from a friend, I started freelance copywriting for a marketing agency shortly after graduating and fell in love with copywriting as a career path. I have been copywriting and content writing for marketing agencies, corporations, and small businesses since!

However, my travel blogging career started later at probably the most ironic time in modern history — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, I found myself with tons of free time on my hands, and after returning from a fantastic three-week honeymoon in Europe just months earlier, I thought — why not share about it online?

Many friends, coworkers, and family members were asking my husband and me how we planned, budgeted for, and executed our honeymoon. I quickly realized how “out of reach” travel felt to many younger people. I created Travel by Brit to help ordinary women (just like me!) plan, execute, and enjoy the freedom of travel.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

This may sound cliché, but the most interesting stories from my career as a travel blogger have come from my travel experiences. I’ve had the chance to travel to many incredible places at a young age, and I’m grateful my blog and career have given me those opportunities.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh boy, how to choose! In high school, I ran a “bookstagram” account on Instagram that was (surprisingly) very popular. Mostly, I would read trending books, review them honestly, and take curated photos of my bookshelf to post on Instagram.

Once I had gained a following on Instagram, I thought it would be a great idea to start a blog — but I had no idea what I was doing. My technical knowledge was virtually nonexistent, I didn’t have a clue about search engine optimization, and I had no promotion strategy. I think the only person who read my blog was my sister!

When I jumped back into the blogging world as an adult, I knew I would need a strategy before building Travel by Brit. This time, I invested in professional website development and understood how to grow my blog from my experience as a copywriter and content writer. Though I continue to learn along the way, I’m grateful my previous “failed” attempts at blogging when I was young led me to a successful blog today.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Travel blogging and having the ability to work “on the road” seems like a glamorous, fun, and “easy” career. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tons of fun, but it’s also hard work! Many people don’t see the hours spent editing photos, researching keywords, pitching companies, writing content, promoting blogs, obtaining backlinks, engaging on social media — and the list continues. More importantly, many travel bloggers do all these tasks independently or with a small team. It can be exhausting.

My advice to avoid “burnout” as a travel blogger is to focus on high-value tasks — but these tasks can look different for each person. For example, since advertising revenue and affiliate income are my most lucrative income streams, I spend more time writing, editing, and promoting new blog posts than any other task. However, bloggers with many followers on social media may benefit from maintaining an engaged following for brand partnerships. It all depends on your goals and priorities.

There is nothing that burns me out more quickly than social media. Since recognizing this, I’ve tried to create a business model that relies less on social media and thrives on the tasks I love, like writing, editing, and research. I encourage all travel bloggers experiencing burnout to perform the same analysis and eliminate draining tasks that aren’t producing significant results.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have so many incredible people in my life who have helped get me to where I am today. Truly, the list is endless. However, my blog literally wouldn’t exist today without the help of my amazing husband, Michael.

In addition to being super supportive of my nonconventional career path, Michael is the one who built my website from scratch. He is a website designer and marketing and technology manager, so he knew how to set up my website the “right” way. He also spends countless weekends helping me improve my website, systems, and technology — after doing the same thing all week for work. I’m so grateful for him and all his “behind the scenes” work to bring my creative ideas to life and help my blog succeed.

Michael also pushes me to take risks, which is great because I’m a risk-averse person. I’m grateful for his support — both the practical and emotional kind. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him!

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

As I mentioned earlier, I was inspired to start Travel by Brit after returning from a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon to London, Paris, Rome, and Cinque Terre. My now-husband (then fiancé) and I planned the logistics of the entire trip ourselves, and we budgeted for the experiences that were most important to us.

Honestly, I never even considered hiring a travel agent to book our trip. Even though it was my first time leaving the country, the thought never crossed my mind.

When we returned home, my husband and I received tons of comments about our trip like, “you guys are so adventurous, I wish we could do that,” or “I can’t believe you planned that whole trip yourselves,” or “I would have been so stressed out planning an international honeymoon and wedding at the same time.” It got me thinking — maybe something that comes naturally to me, like travel planning and budgeting, is something other people dread.

Everyone wants to have fun when they go on vacation, but part of the fun for me is creating a plan. Since 90% of people don’t share this passion, the innovation I bring to the travel industry is straightforward, helpful, and honest travel guides. While traveling, I complete the research (and sometimes make some mistakes along the way), then create resources that eliminate the stressful planning process for my readers (and make sure they don’t make the same mistakes!).

My goal is for people to read my travel guides before or during their vacation, make reservations or plans to enjoy the activities listed on my guides, and then have a stress-free vacation (filled with tons of memorable activities) with their friends or family.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

I think two of the most significant barriers between people and traveling is the thought that travel is too complicated or too expensive. While these are both valid points, I firmly believe that traveling does not have to be complex or costly.

I created Travel by Brit to make travel planning less complicated and more accessible for women. Whether you’re planning a trip to Sedona, Boston, Savannah, Oahu, or San Diego, I hope you can use the resources on my website as a “one-stop-shop” for restaurants, hotels, experiences, and activities to keep you busy during your vacation.

However, I also understand there’s another camp of women who want to travel and even love the planning process, but finances are a barrier. I think there’s a false conception that travel exists in two categories — budget travel and luxury travel — when most people fall somewhere between. Travel by Brit caters to the “in-between,” so if you don’t want to settle on staying in a hostel but also don’t want to blow thousands on a boujee hotel, you’ll probably feel right at home!

My website shares tips to make traveling more affordable, like creating a separate savings account for travel, utilizing credit cards (responsibly, of course) to travel with points, traveling in the off-season to save on airfare and hotels, and spending less on “stuff” to spend more expendable income on experiences.

Travel by Brit also offers several resources, like the Travel Budget Planner, to help you stay within your budget for a specific vacation. This budgeting tool allows you to list the cost of flights, accommodations, food, activities, and transportation for your trip. It automatically calculates the total, so you can ensure your trip is within your budget before purchasing anything.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Did you know that nearly 75% of Americans have gone into debt to take a vacation, and over 50% of millennials have gone into debt for summer travel? Studies also show that most millennials will go into travel-related debt because they are “afraid to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Going into debt to take a vacation or not traveling to avoid debt are two popularized extremes. However, I firmly believe it’s possible to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences without taking on any debt. I think the popular saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies to traveling. If you don’t budget or save for your trips ahead of time, you’ll likely rack up credit card debt on vacation. If you don’t know what to do ahead of time, you may miss some of the top experiences at your destination.

My travel guides and budgeting tools disrupt the status quo by helping women create a plan, budget, and itinerary to make their travel dreams a reality.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Research indicates a “travel boom” in 2022. For many travelers, this will be their first time going anywhere since 2020, so they’ve been saving up for a few years and are ready to “splurge” on a fun vacation to make up for the lost time.

Even though things are going “back to normal,” there are many ways the pandemic changed the travel industry forever — and for the better. Travelers will be seeking out these popular trends in the travel industry in the coming years:

  1. People will continue to embark on road trips to avoid flight delays.

Road trips became a popular way to travel safely during the pandemic, especially to national parks and outdoor destinations. In fact, the pandemic inspired 44% of American drivers to take more road trips than they had prior to 2020.

I think road trips are a popular trend here to stay. Many airlines have suffered from severe flight delays and cancellations, so, when possible, travelers will choose to drive to their destinations rather than fly to have more control over their vacation experience.

2. Travelers will continue to prioritize and pay more for options that offer flexible cancellation policies.

Even though restrictions have eased, we saw how quickly the travel industry (and the world!) could shut down during the pandemic. Travelers will continue to gravitate toward companies that offer flexible (and free!) cancellation policies.

Travelers will also be more likely to purchase travel insurance for expensive trips, like international excursions, cruises, and theme park vacations.

3. People with remote jobs will continue to take advantage of the flexibility to go on “working vacations.”

One of the best things that came out of the pandemic (in my opinion) is the concept of remote jobs. Many people are realizing they don’t have to work from home — they can work from the beach, mountains, or even from a foreign country!

“Workcations” (travel with a blend of work and play) and slow travel will be a travel trend that continues in the coming years. This concept may even grow in popularity as more and more people leave their desk jobs to pursue remote opportunities, freelance work, and location independence.

4. Travelers will prioritize sustainable travel experiences and support local businesses rather than large corporations during their vacations.

I loved watching communities rally behind local businesses to support them during the pandemic, and I think that mentality has spilled over into the travel industry too.

Many travelers will continue to stay at smaller hotels, eat at family-owned restaurants, shop at local stores, and support local economies when they go on vacation rather than staying at corporate hotels or eating at chain restaurants.

5. Travelers will perform more research before traveling than they did before the pandemic.

With pandemic-related travel restrictions changing daily, travelers will spend much more time researching the regulations for their destination before their trip and will be looking for clear and concise information.

Companies in the travel and hospitality industries will benefit from keeping their website, social media, and other communication channels up to date with the latest information about their destination.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

There are so many incredible destinations and travel styles, so that’s a tough question to answer! However, my ideal vacation is probably difficult to consider a “vacation” because it usually involves walking 20,000+ steps per day.

I love the thrill of exploring new cities — especially cities filled with rich history. I love visiting museums, touring old homes, and visiting historic sites and neighborhoods during my travels, especially if they pertain to U.S. or war history. I’m also a foodie, so I love trying local and regional dishes and supporting local restaurants. Relaxing at beautiful wineries, cool breweries, and local coffee shops is the perfect way to spend the afternoon after a busy morning of exploring. I also love theme parks, and you can find me at Disneyland once, twice, and sometimes, even three times per year.

However, if you wanted to invite me on a tropical vacation to spend the days tanning, snorkeling, and drinking cocktails on the beach, I wouldn’t say no!

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

You can see from the answer above that my travel style is very “go-go-go.” In fact, my husband jokes when we go to Disneyland together, it’s “not about fun — it’s about efficiency!” (In my opinion, being efficient makes it more fun, but that’s beside the point). However, while connecting and wellness for some people may look like slowing down and immersing themselves in nature, sharing new experiences with my friends and family makes me feel alive.

People experience connection in different ways, including nature, culture, travel companions, and new friends. What one person finds relaxing may be totally boring to another, and what someone finds refreshing may be stressful to someone else.

Before planning a vacation, I think it’s important to understand what type of connection you value and the activities and environments that are most life-giving. Do you feel most refreshed while you’re in nature? Plan a hiking trip. Do you feel alive when exploring a new culture? Visit a new country you’ve always wanted to explore. Do you love making memories with family and friends? If so, prioritize experiences you all will talk about for years to come.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

As I mentioned in the last question, my favorite parts of traveling are connecting with family and friends and making “once-in-a-lifetime” memories while exploring new places and trying new things.

Nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me Travel by Brit helped them enjoy an incredible vacation with their spouse, kids, parents, siblings, or friends. When I reflect on my life, many of my “highlight” memories are vacations I’ve enjoyed with the people I love most. I consider it an honor to help women make lifelong memories with the most important people in their lives, even if it’s in a small way, like a blog post.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d love to start a movement that challenges people to focus on enriching travel experiences — not just vacations. You may ask yourself, aren’t those two things the same? Personally, I think they’re significantly different.

Many Americans think of “travel” as a yearly occurrence when they escape the office to relax on the beach. Don’t get me wrong. I love relaxing on the beach. However, that type of trip isn’t what I consider traveling — it’s called a vacation.

Vacations are an excellent opportunity to rest, recharge, and escape — and they’re needed, especially in a fast-paced, busy culture. However, traveling is different than a vacation, and I’d venture to say many people have never taken the time to travel. Traveling allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and history of a new destination. It gives you the chance to learn new things and challenges you to think in new ways. It provides insight into the past and challenges you to think about the future. I’ve learned more history from traveling than I’ve ever learned in a classroom — and that’s coming from someone who was an A+ student and had fabulous history teachers.

Traveling turns knowledge into lifelong memories, and when you allow it to, I believe it can help you grow in wisdom, perspective, empathy, compassion, and freedom. Not to mention, it enables you to create shared experiences with the people you love most.

I truly believe travel can be a life-changing experience, which is why my mission at Travel by Brit is to help women create a plan, budget, and itinerary to make their travel dreams a reality. I’d love to help people realize that travel isn’t “selfish,” but it’s truly an enriching experience that makes you a better person!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thanks for asking! They can find me on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram. They can also download the reusable Travel Budget Template I mentioned earlier in the interview for $7 at travelbybrit.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you so much for having me! I appreciate the opportunity.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor