FREEDOMPRENEUR: Jacob of IntroverTravels

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Truth be told, I tend to flip back and forth between the two.  I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing but being in between keeps life rather complex and interesting to say the least.  I ask you this question because for our feature on Freedompreneurs, I am ecstatic to introduce the person behind IntroverTravels.

As you may or may not know, in the world of entrepreneurship, there’s the inevitable truth that entrepreneurs must faced:

Define your niche.  

Jacob, the founder of IntroverTravels, exemplies exactly that notion.  The thing is it’s not just about creating anything unique because you must also consider the level of marketability of your idea.   So, one must think thoughtfully before deciding on a niche.  For Jacob, his company is focused on marketing tours and travels to introverts.  That’s as unique as you’ll ever get.  When I heard about his idea, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.

At Zion’s Observation Point.

Brown Gal Trekker Meets Jacob

I met Jacob via his travel group page on Facebook.  Meeting Jacob was one of the amazing moments I’ve had thus far since I launched Brown Gal Trekker.  For one, Jacob’s  travel company resembles my own social enterprise, Peak Explorations in a lot of ways.  Although we have differences in terms of our target audience and the manner of traveling we do, I feel the differences are easily overshadowed by the significant amount of similarities we have in terms of our end goals and purpose for our respective enterprises.  Needless to say, meeting Jacob is almost akin to holding up a mirror and seeing myself in him.  In that, I find comfort, inspiration and reassurance that my version of living life, though unconventional, is rightfully the path I should be taking.  After all, there’s Jacob who’s doing the same thing!

Once, I had the lovely opportunity to speak with Jacob and talk about our respective projects and travel blogging.  It was insightful to chat with him as he’s super knowledgeable about the marketing side of the travel business.   Jacob didn’t hesitate to share his ideas and provide sound advise from someone like me who’s a novice in the arena.  From that conversation, I gathered that Jacob is by nature a kind person who is more than willing to help others.  It appeared evident to me that he finds value in being of service to others, be it his clients or fellow entrepreneurs in the travel business world.  Being a newbie at this, I was extremely pleased to learn that there are people like Jacob in this business who welcome the idea of collaboration and supporting one another.  In exchange for receiving advise from him, I was flattered that Jacob sough my insight on blogging.  I hope I equally paid him back with some useful ideas.  If not, then perhaps one day I can contribute to his website as a guest writer which I’m sure will happen at some point in time.  Soon after that conversation, the idea of Freedompreneurs series came up and Jacob quickly came to mind as a prime candidate for this series.  I’m very delighted to share with you Jacob’s journey thus far with his enterprise, IntroverTravels.

JACOB MAREK of  IntroverTravels

At Badlands.

Jacob Marek grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Later on, he spent‭ ‬10‭ ‬years in Minneapolis,‭ ‬Minnesota and‭ ‬5‭ ‬years in Miami,‭ ‬Forida.‭  ‬Nowadays,‭ he spends much of the year traveling and living abroad as he gains on-the-ground experience in various destinations for his business which he’ll talk to us in detail about below.  Jacob deems himself as #Entreprenomad!  That’s close enough and a good reason for me to feature him on this series.

As a true nomad, Jacob is currently preparing to spend 3 months in Cuenca,‭ ‬Ecuador and another month in Cusco,‭ ‬Peru‭!  I can only imagine how busy his life is since in addition to traveling, he is building his travel business,‭ ‬IntroverTravels,‭ ‬and his travel marketing agency,‭ ‬45‭ ‬Degrees Marketing.

Running your own travel business requires so much dedication and so I’m excited for him to share with us his experience thus far. Here’s Jacob’s take on how it’s been like for him as an entrepreneur in pursuit of freedom via a nomadic lifestyle.

You recently launched your own travel company.‭ ‬Tell us about it.

I launched IntroverTravels this past summer‭ (‬2016‭).   ‬I design‭ ‬life-changing,‭ ‬nature-inspired travel experiences for introverts‭!‬ With an emphasis on great travel photography,‭ ‬we also have a professional photographer on the sidelines of our group trips,‭ ‬taking photos of and for our guests.

What inspired you to start your company‭?‬

I was inspired to launch IntroverTravels because,‭ ‬as an avid traveler myself,‭ ‬most travel experiences were designed implicitly for extroverts.‭ ‬I wasn‭’‬t comfortable with the way group trips were organized,‭ ‬nor the rushed-pace of most travel experiences.

What are your goals for your company‭?‬

My goals for IntroverTravels,‭ ‬ultimately,‭ ‬are to help introverts re-think the small-group travel experience.‭ ‬But I‭’‬m also passionate about creating custom travel experiences for individuals‭ ‬– whether it‭’‬s singles,‭ ‬couples,‭ ‬families,‭ ‬or groups of friends.

Your company provides travels to the outdoors as well.‭ ‬Can you describe the kind of outdoor related trips that your company offers‭?‬

Sure‭! ‬All of our trips are inspired by nature‭; ‬personally,‭ ‬my favorite style of travel is the African safari‭! ‬But I‭’‬m also extremely excited to help plan trekking experiences in places like Patagonia or New Zealand,‭ ‬exploring Easter Island by bicycle,‭ ‬witnessing the aurorae in Iceland,‭ ‬or wildlife viewing in the Galapagos‭ ‬– just to name a few‭!

At Easter Island.
Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island.

What makes your company unique‭?‬

IntroverTravels is unique in that we are the first company to make ones personality type the focus in the trip.‭ ‬My style of travel is unique because I prefer to plan using a‭ ‬2:1‭ ‬ratio of relaxation and mind-blowing experience‭!‬ I also love beautiful travel photography‭ ‬– and I know many others want to have some incredible photos,‭ ‬too‭ ‬– so I include a professional photographer in all of our group trips,‭ ‬taking candid photos of our guests and stunning nature portraits.

I love the idea of having a professional photographer to take shots of places I trek or visit.  After all, the next best thing is having photographs after experiencing the place first hand.  I proceeded to ask him further about this “niche” that he has chosen and how it came about.   ‬

‬The idea actually came to me while I was on a solo hiking trip in Capitol Reef‭ ‬National Park in Southern Utah.‭ ‬I was trying to think of why this particular trip seemed so life-changing,‭ ‬and I realized that it was the combination of raw nature,‭ ‬expansive space,‭ ‬solitude,‭ ‬and moving at a comfortable pace with enough vigorous hiking and relaxing appreciation of solitude.‭ ‬So the idea was born to incorporate those elements into the trips that I plan.

As you can see, Jacob shares the same passion in terms of his love for nature and hiking.  He’s confessed to being a hiker as well.

Are you a hiker yourself‭?‬

Yes‭! ‬I love to go on moderate to moderately-difficult day hikes.

What is your most memorable hiking experience to date‭?

Aside from the trip mentioned above to Capitol Reef,‭ ‬my most memorable hiking experience was in Grand Teton National Park.‭ ‬Hiking is one of my favorite activities to do with my brother,‭ ‬who is an even bigger nature nerd than me‭! ‬We decided to hike up to‭ ‬10,000‭ ‬feet on the Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail.‭ ‬When we reached the top,‭ ‬we were just a few hundred yards from a glacier‭ (‬in late-Summer‭) ‬and got that vertigo-induced rush of adrenaline.‭ ‬When we came across a quail,‭ ‬sitting silently in a bush,‭ ‬we stopped for a few minutes‭ ‬– in absolute silence‭ ‬– appreciating the cold,‭ ‬crisp air and the sound of nothing but wind blowing between the granite peaks.‭ ‬Transcendent‭!

What do you like the most about hiking‭?‬

My favorite part of hiking is the feeling of‭ ‬connection to nature.‭ ‬I enjoy taking the time to actually experience nature‭ ‬– whether it‭’‬s smelling the juniper or listening to a chorus of birds or dipping my feet in a cold mountain creek.‭ ‬As Oscar Wilde once wrote,‭ “‬It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much,‭ ‬and live with her too little.‭”

So, I was curious to ask Jacob one thing – whether he enjoys hiking solo or with others more.  After all, as an introvert, the idea of a group outing can be tricky.   Here’s his response:

It depends‭; ‬I would say,‭ ‬counterintuitively as an introvert,‭ ‬that I enjoy hiking with others more.‭ ‬First,‭ ‬it‭’‬s a safety issue‭ ‬– I prefer to have‭ ‬someone with me should something go wrong.‭ ‬But I also enjoy experiencing a life-changing hike with someone else who can comprehend the enormity of what we just hiked.‭ ‬That said,‭ ‬I do enjoy a solo hike very much as a way to escape the normal busy-ness of the Real World and clear my mind for deeper thinking.

What are some lessons you‭’‬ve learned from hiking‭?‬

I‭’‬ve learned that I‭’‬m good at decision-making and that when you remove the stimuli of our daily lives in the city‭ ‬– and get in the middle of nowhere‭ ‬– your brain can have the space to think of your life,‭ ‬and where you fit in,‭ ‬in a very meaningful way.

At Great Smoky Mountains.

What advise would you give to those new to hiking‭?‬

I would encourage people to do their research before hiking‭; ‬always have a plan of where you‭’‬ll be hiking,‭ ‬bring along the right supplies‭ (‬shoes,‭ ‬bear spray,‭ ‬rain gear,‭ ‬etc.‭) ‬and to always bring more water than you think you‭’‬ll need‭!

Jacob shares with us some of his favorite hiking photos.

Zion Observation Point

Devil’s Tower Prayer Bundle

Machu Picchu via Inca Trail

What treks/trips do you have on your bucket list‭?‬

I have so many hikes on my to-do list‭! ‬Near the top,‭ ‬I would list Glacier National Park,‭ ‬New Zealand,‭ ‬and several different areas in Patagonia.

What would you say are some of the challenges that arise as an introvert when you‭’‬re traveling or trekking?

The biggest problem I come across as an introvert hiker is the issue of crowds.‭ ‬Especially at the most popular national parks,‭ ‬some trails can be incredibly crowded.‭ ‬To avoid this,‭ ‬I try to travel during the shoulder season‭ (‬I typically avoid the low season if the weather is particularly inclement‭) ‬as well as hike more difficult trails.‭ ‬Typically,‭ ‬the higher the difficulty,‭ ‬the fewer people attempt the trail.

In that respect, I wouldn’t advise Jacob to hit the trails in China’s  National Parks. Personally, when I ventured there solo I was quite overwhelmed by the massive size of the crowds.  I think that’s when I realized how introverted I can be.  

At Yellowstone’s Artist Point.

On that note, I moved on to ask Jacob about his pursuit towards this dream of living a nomadic life.  You obviously veered away from the regular‭ ‬9‭ ‬to‭ ‬5‭ ‬job.‭ ‬Can you describe the process that led you to have the lifestyle you now have‭?

I‭’‬ve always had the motivation to have my own business‭ ‬and escape Corporate America.‭ ‬After a few years in financial marketing,‭ ‬and several years in travel and tourism marketing before that,‭ ‬I knew that I needed to open my own business.‭ ‬In order to live more affordably and build my business,‭ ‬I left Miami in order to travel throughout the year building my business.‭ ‬Traveling abroad works so well because it is more affordable than living in an expensive city like Miami and it allows me to gain on-the-ground experience in destinations to better sell them to‭ ‬my clients‭!‬

I have heard plenty from travelers about Jacob’s notion on living cheaply abroad.  There’s certainly truth to that.  If research is done properly, one can execute such a cheaper kind of lifestyle successfully, which leads me to ask Jacob as to his definition of “freedom.”

For me,‭ ‬freedom is the ability to make the choices that make me the happiest and that help me achieve my own goals.‭ ‬I love that technology now allows so many of us to build our businesses and pursue our passions online and earn a living from anywhere in the world‭ (‬with wifi‭!)‬.

At Zion National Park.

‬How do you see yourself accomplishing your own definition of freedom as you noted above‭?‬

I see myself building IntroverTravels,‭ ‬at least for the first few years,‭ ‬while on the road traveling to various destinations.‭

What advise would you give to someone who is thinking about leaving their‭ ‬9‭ ‬to‭ ‬5‭ ‬job to pursue their passion‭?‬

I would say to build up a nest egg and have realistic expectations‭; ‬most businesses take at least a few years to get off the ground to a point of self-sustaining profitability,‭ ‬so be sure to plan for your cash flow.‭ ‬But once you‭’‬ve done that‭ ‬– just do it‭!‬ As they say,‭ “‬If you take the leap,‭ ‬you‭’‬ll learn to fly.‭”‬

As an end note, I asked Jacob to name 3‭ ‬things that are the most important in terms of pursuing one’s dreams.‭

‬For me,‭ ‬the most important things are courage,‭ ‬passion,‭ ‬and persistence.

I hope Jacob’s insights have helped you get a better sense of how an alternate world in which one chooses to live an unconventional life looks like.  We all have various ways of defining freedom in our lives.  There’s no one right way to define and live it.  For Jacob, it’s rather clear which way he needs to go by following that deepest desire of his to live a life on the road while sharing the same passion with others through his company.  I admire his audacity to take that leap as I know for a fact it is one of the most intimidating steps one can ever take in life.  After all, jumping into the abyss of a world full of uncertainties and unknowns to leave a life that’s so familiar and stable is almost a deliberate way of challenging ourselves to embrace the authentic version of who we are.  It’s not a small feat. No, not at all.

To follow Jacob’s travels and know more about his current and future projects, see IntroverTravels .  You can also follow him via Instagram, Facebook page and Facebook group page.

If you wish to be featured or know of someone who should be, let Brown Gal know & email her at bgtrekker@peakexplorations.com

If you enjoyed this post, then read more about the Inca Trail and Easter Island.

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Brown Gal Trekker is a nomad at heart who survives the mountains to inspire others to trek them.