Nicolette has chosen a way of life where the entrepreneur and the traveler can co-exist. Hear how she transitioned to an expat and built a great online platform for travelers to meet online, become friends offline and go on adventures together.
How has your journey as a traveler been so far?
I started traveling as a baby. Born and raised in The Netherlands in a multilingual household, my parents introduced me to travel from a young age. My mom is Polish and my dad is Dutch, and I spent my childhood life spending much time in both countries. We traveled extensively throughout Europe before moving to the U.S. I'm grateful that my parents instilled that sense of curiosity and wanderlust so early on!
Skydiving on Long Island, NY. PC- Nicolette
Which country did you choose to live in as an expat and why?
I've been living as an expat in the US for nearly 19 years now. We landed here with my family for my dad's work, and were only supposed to stay for a few years. I have lived in different states and cities including New Jersey and Boston, and now call New York home.
Do you travel solo? Was the motivation behind launching the #CultureTrav chat to create a sense of belonging in the travel community?
I travel solo, with family, with friends, or with my partner. I like to mix it up and have various travel experiences! The #CultureTravchat was founded as a way to connect travelers to each other in conversations about culture and travel. I wanted to dive deeper into topics of cultural immersion, and learn from travelers as to how they explore local culture. The community consists of an incredibly welcoming group of travelers from all over the world. People genuinely connect, meet each other offline, and share their travel recommendations.
The journey, as you have mentioned, has been full of ups and downs. What were some of the challenges you faced initially?
Life is full of ups and downs. What motivates me is constant support from loved ones, and the connections I've made with complete strangers who are passionate about what they do, and about travel. Initially, as an expat, you are trying to create a sense of belonging and adapting to new places, while also dealing with homesickness. Expat life isn't always easy–it can sometimes feel like you've missed out on important milestones, or family time when you're abroad. Yet, at the same time, being an expat has afforded me with lots of incredible opportunities, new friends, and experiences I wouldn't trade for the world.
The #CultureTravchat community in Manhattan, NY.
Would you call yourself an influencer?
I'm not a big fan of the word "influencer," as I think it's loaded with expectations, and often too casually floated around. I like to think of myself more so as a connector. I thrive off of connecting people, both online and offline. True influence, to me, is providing immense value for people, having meaningful interactions, helping people, and giving others a platform to connect.
You said that it’s been incredible to watch travelers connect online, become friends, and meet offline. Have you also paired up as travel companions?
Meeting with travel friends in Brooklyn, NY.
One of my favorite ways to connect travelers is through offline meetups. I've hosted a few meetups in New York, including with people I met online in the traveler community first! I'd love to meet more #CultureTrav community members, and even travel with them!
Your goal behind creating this community was to inspire. At a given point in your journey as a traveler, did you feel like you could use some inspiration to go on?
I find inspiration in members of my #CultureTrav community, and in the travel stories I hear from fellow travelers. What I read, or hear, from travelers inspires me to consider destinations, and increases my curiosity about how we all explore different places. The beauty of travel is that while we go to similar destinations, our experiences are unique to us as individuals. I love to hear about what "sticks" with people–is it art? food? history? connecting with locals?
What were some of the places you were inspired to see during a travel chat session? Did you end up traveling to these destinations?
On a road trip to Ireland.
I'm continuously inspired to visit places based on the travel chats! Sometimes, destinations become even more "top of mind" after I see photos or hear stories! Honestly, it's tough to narrow it down to a few destinations, though South Africa and Japan are where I'd love to go next.
You created a community of travelers who love discovering the local culture. One appealing aspect of the local culture of the place you are currently residing in?
New York is incredibly diverse, and things are constantly evolving. You can enjoy worldwide cuisines, you meet people from all walks of life, you can admire local and international art, and it's a very vibrant city to live in. It's a truly international city, and what's most appealing to me is meeting people from all over the world here!
How have you had to make any changes to your traveling lifestyle after you started an online business?
Nowadays, many companies have embraced work-from-home or remote lifestyles. Being able to work remotely has made a big difference! It makes it easier to travel when you can work from anywhere–as long as you have an Internet connection, and continue to do good work while on the road. It's about having a good work/life balance, so that you can explore a destination while still getting work done.