Have you heard of Digital Nomad Programs? They’re membership based programs where participants travel the globe and work remotely for one year. My Wander Year is disrupting the space and inviting global black travelers to see some world…together for a 365 days. Below is our interview with their innovative founder, Libriya Jones. They’ve launched their initial cohort, so be sure to follow along on their blog
BTH: What is My Wander Year?
MWY: We are a community of 30+ people who will travel the world for a full year. Our group of Wanderists will live in a different country for three months at a time, just long enough to feel like home. We will learn new things, gather new experiences, and make lifelong connections. This is not a vacation, it’s a lifestyle.
BTH: Can you tell us a little bit about your story..and how you arrived at such an innovative idea?
MWY: I have wanted to live out of the country since I was 19 but didn’t quite know how it could happen. While I was in grad school working towards my MBA, I had a little girl. During my MBA program one of my finance professors hand picked me for an internship opportunity in China. I was disqualified because I had a child. In the middle of last year, I came across another opportunity to live abroad and travel with a group. I thought YES, this is it! I quickly realized, I also could not qualify for this program because I have a child. I truly believe my daughter is not a hinderance to my life, she is an enhancement. I thought “why should it be no for me just because I’m a mom” I decided to create the opportunity for myself and to extend it to other people who may have felt they couldn’t live their dreams of traveling the world for one reason or another.
BTH: A “Gap Year” is common in Europe, why do you think America hasn’t embraced the concept?
MWY: American culture lends itself to two barriers – the value we place on the byproducts of hard work and workplace fear.
Byproducts of hard work – we value nice cars, big houses, and sexy job titles…most people don’t come across these things by taking a month long holiday. These are typically earned by tipping work-life off balance towards “work” to the detriment of “life” We trade days of our lives and hours of time with our loved ones willingly and without thought for the things we think are important and it often isn’t until too late that we realize that they really weren’t important, what was important was the time with our loved ones and days spent doing what we love.
Workplace fear – we’ve come to believe that we have to be there to answer that email, hold that meeting, complete that report and if we don’t it either won’t get done, won’t get done right, or someone else will do it. American work culture has people truly believing that they cannot unplug for fear that they either will lose some competitive edge, a fire will erupt that they can’t extinguish, or they will return to a huge back-up of work rendering the peace gained from any vacation pointless. It’s an unfortunate phenomenon that I hope is changing.
BTH: How can readers join in and wander with you on my wander year? Is there a ‘traveler’ profile..i.e. People who this would be a good fit for?
MWY: We have completed our group of Wanderists for the inaugural cycle taking off on July 31st but if anyone is interested, they can sign up to be notified when we launch applications for cycle 2. This program is a great fit for anyone who has wanted to live in other countries but hasn’t quite figured out how to make it happen. It’s also great for people who never dreamed it was available to them, because the truth is, that it is absolutely available to them!
BTH: You’re hosting some really awesome ‘going away’ parties all across the world, New York, Prague, Chiang Mai, Cape Town, and Panama! Tell us more!
MWY: Yes! It’s a scientific fact that wanderers party harder than anyone! Well, it may not be a scientific fact, but it’s been my experience that people who travel frequently truly do enjoy the music, movement, and energy that comes along with a good party. To celebrate our time in each location, spend time with the friends we’ve made, and to toast a new adventure, we are hosting a Global Entry party in every city. Our first party was held in NYC on July 30th. Stay tuned on our next parties HERE
BTH: In closing, for our readers, do you travel hack? If so,…how do you do it and any advice?
MWY: My travel hacks are really that I don’t decide where I want to travel, I let the deals decide. My absolute favorite tool is Google Flights. It is so user friendly and allows you find travel deals and to see how long the deal lasts for and what dates are best for it. I actually did a tutorial on Google Hangouts.
Editor’s note: I heard about My Wander Year from event architect and entrepreneur extraordinaire Lauren Grant of The Grant Access. I was hooked and needed to know more. The Grant Access is partnering with MWY to expand their brand to include cultural experiences around the globe. It’s the perfect highlight of their ‘experience design’ expertise.” Be sure to check out their around the world parties!