My Origin Story: How Gabby Beckford Became a Full-Time Influencer & Digital Nomad

by Gabby Beckford
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My name is Gabby Beckford, and I'm a full-time digital storyteller, creative, and entrepreneur.

Wow. You don't know how long it's taken for me to be able to introduce myself this way!

Where it all began

My mother was a travel agent for 25 years, and my father was active duty military for 25 years, so our little family grew up no stranger to airports and new countries.

It was instilled in me that travel was a way to learn about each other, learn about the world around us, establish confidence, and learn about ourselves, too.

I was born in San Diego and moved around the U.S. until we spent three years in Okinawa, Japan for one of my dad's deployments.

There,  I was introduced to Japanese culture and an island lifestyle, which instilled in me even more at such a young age, that there were many ways of life in this world and none of them were better than the other.

We moved back to the states… to the very small, conservative town of Stafford Virginia. Click To Tweet

In Stafford, I struggled to reconcile the lifestyle of change and culture shock I become accustomed to, what's the new life of people who had never been beyond the state's borders.

Frankly, middle school and high school sucked.

And while other kids partied and got caught up in the local drama, I was uninterested. I was in IB and AP classes focusing on my grades and applying to scholarships.

I knew the more work I put in earlier on, the more it would pay off for me later in life. And I was so right.

Scholarship Highschool QOO

My senior year would be the most pivotal in my life. That's when I did two things:

  1. Applied to the $1000 scholarship that would change my life (which I talk about in my TEDx Talk on Delusional Confidence), and
  2. 2. took my first solo trip to Iceland! At just 17 years old, too.

Those two experiences set the foundation for my college career, where I would go on to win $70,000 more dollars in scholarships and funding and become an Opportunity Expert.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Dress in Dubai | Packs Light

$40,000 of that sum was specifically for Study Abroad scholarships, which allowed me to study and live in Dubai, UAE— one of the most expensive cities in the world— for an entire year, completely paid for.

My time in Dubai was another foundational moment for me, as I realized that I didn't want to continue pursuing a career in STEM that would make me work inside 4 walls for the rest of my life.

Around this time, in March 2017, my 3-year plan to become a full-time travel blogger went into effect. Click To Tweet

I came back to the U.S. in May of 2017 and graduated in December 2017 with a full-time job as a quality engineer in Baltimore, Maryland.

From 2018 to 2020, I commuted 2 to 4  hours every day from Northern Virginia to Baltimore. I voice-to-text blog posts on the drive up at 5 AM., and took meetings on the drive back home at 5PM.

I did my best to overlap my work education with my blogging goals, getting experience in international sales, project management, strategic planning, and marketing analytics.

I travel to San Diego, California, often for work and strategically used my PTO to travel to Tokyo, Japan, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Seoul, South Korea, while working full-time.

Finally, in February 2020, I quit my job to blog. I ended my lease, impact my things. I had one last domestic press trip before I had planned to move to Bali.

Cue… a global pandemic.

COVID-19 completely disrupted all of the plans I had for 2020: to move to Bali, to put my blog on the back burner and focus on experiences, to visit at least 10 new countries. Poof!

Instead, I spent the following months pitching, pivoting, and pouring more into my blog and business than I ever had before.

Come May, George Floyd's murder happens, and the Black Lives Matter movement unfolds.

I co-found the Black Travel Alliance within the following few days and commit to building a global organization that focuses on the representation of the Black travel experience.

I've done semi-regular vlogs of my monthly updates to track my progress, too:

I recently went on my first flight and international trip since the pandemic began to the beautiful country of Antigua and Barbuda.

In 2021 I traveled the world solo as a digital nomad, bringing my long-time dream to life! I visited new countries like Poland, Mexico, Cyprus, Jordan, and more.

For such an unpredictable year, I found that I've had more successes than failures.

I’ve had partnerships with the Virginia Tourism Commission, Reebok, Go Overseas, Lonely Planet, Delta Airlines, and was featured in national publications like the New York Times, National Geographic, and Good Morning America.  I've also officially surpassed my annual salary from my engineering role in just 8 months!

Of course, this can't cover the minutiae of my journey to travel blogging. All of the doubt, the guesswork, the failure, the thrill. But I hope this gives you a better idea of where I came from, how I got here, and where I plan to go.

Gabby Beckford

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1 comment

Lindsay December 12, 2021 - 2:04 PM

Curious on you you looked to for inspiration or even instruction on how to make this transition?


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