“When women travel alone, they find strength and courage in themselves that they’ve never had before.” - Tess Millhollon
In this episode, Christine shares the possibilities of redefining solo travel with Tess Millhollon, Founder and CEO of Her House and author of Sherbet Skies: A Woman’s Solo Journey to Find Adventure, Fun, and God.
Tess explains that her time solo traveling was the most confidence-building, healing time in her life, and no job experience compared to the transformation she experienced while traveling.
Her House is an app that makes it easy for solo women travelers to connect with background-checked hosts, so they have safe places to stay and save money while they travel. Tess believes solo women travelers need a way to easily connect with local women so they can find safe accommodation, support, and friendship while traveling alone.
Christine and Tess discuss:
Join Christine now for this soulful conversation with Tess Millhollon.
LOVE these soulful conversations? We rely on listener support to produce our podcast! Make a difference by making a donation on PayPal.
Are you a Soul of Travel subscriber? Click here to subscribe to Apple Podcasts, so you don’t miss the latest episodes!
Listener reviews help expand our reach and help us rise up the ranks! Rate and review your favorite episodes on Apple Podcasts or your preferred podcast app.
To learn more about Her House, visit the website at https://www.herhouse.co/.
Join the Her House Facebook Group for solo women travelers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/herhouseapp
Looking for ways to be a part of the community? Learn more here!
Support the show
Christine: Welcome to Soul of Travel podcast. Today I'm really excited to be bringing Tess Millhollon to the show. We have had so many great conversations offline, so I'm so excited to bring this online. Tess is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of Her House and is helping solo women travel safely. And she's also the author of Sherbet Skies, which is her travel memoir. And we'll definitely be sharing more about that in our conversation. And I just got the exciting news that her work is also been recently celebrated on Good Morning America. So I hope we can just take a little moment of celebration for that. So welcome to the podcast, Tess.
Tess: Hi Christine. Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.
Christine: Thank you. To begin the conversation, I'd love to just give you the opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit more about who you are in the space of travel. I know that's kind of just one of the facets of things that you're doing, but what that looks like right now and then we'll dive into more of your journey.
Tess: Yeah, definitely. So, yes, I'm Tess and I am an author and founder of Her House. Her House is an app that makes it easy for solo women travelers to connect with background checked hosts so they have safe places to stay and they saved money while they travel. After I solo backpack through Australia in 2017, it became clear to me that solo women travelers need a way to easily connect with local women so that they can find safe accommodation, support and friendship while they're traveling alone.
Christine: Yeah, I can't wait to hear and share so much more about that. But what I would love to start with is, kind of getting a better understanding of how that evolved. I know that you really loved travel, which led you to your own solo travel experience and then eventually became the inspiration for your book that you wrote. So I would love for if you could just share a little bit about how travel became a part of your life and then what was the catalyst for that solo travel journey. And from there, if you want to just share a little bit about that journey, that would be great.
Tess: Yeah, totally. So I actually did not grow up traveling. My parents are not big travelers. I actually grew up rodeoing. I actually grew up with livestock and horses up in Colorado and I rodeoed all through all growing up and all through college. But then I started to want to travel when I was starting to get out of college. I actually had took a trip with one of my best friends in college. We traveled up the west coast of California up Highway One. And that's when it like really hit me — the freedom and being able to travel like that was such a liberating experience for me. We were on the road for like a couple of weeks and Jessie, my roommate in college, was one of my best friends and, we're like, let's backpack through Europe. And we're like, oh, well, that seems pretty scary, you know, cuz we're both like ranch kids, and we grew up with like horses…well let's just take a road trip first.
Tess: And so that road trip with her and another girlfriend of mine really sparked my love for travel. And then, after I got out of college, I was really lost. I was in a big transition season — and we'll talk more about transition seasons of life. I really didn't know what I was gonna do with my life after college. And so, there’s this thing called a working holiday. So I got a working holiday visa went to Australia, and I was planning on being there for a year — so we'll get more into that. And so that's where it all kind of started.
Christine: Thank you for sharing that. I didn't know your background about growing up, as a being in rodeo and a rancher. I grew up in Montana and my grandparents were cattle ranchers. So I have some very similar experiences to draw from. It's also really funny because people will ask me, where did somebody of your adventurous spirit come from? And I'm like, oh, I have no idea. And then I'll like mention a story about, you know, riding horses to do this and branding cattle and doing all these things and they're like, oh, okay, it makes sense. Like that just was your normal life, but that's not everyone's normal life. And so that gives you some ability to be comfortable in a way in certain situations that maybe other people like they just haven't had that experience to pull from.
Christine: But because it's such an innate part of who we are, we don't think about it as being like a special skillset. I also love that you mentioned wanting to jump off and go backpacking in Europe, but realize that was just like one step beyond where your comfort zone was at that moment. And so you did a road trip instead. And so I think that's one really important thing to talk about when we talk about solo travel, especially for women, is knowing where your edge of comfort is and being okay with pushing it, but realizing that we can start small first and we don't have to just go with like six weeks backpacking in Europe by yourself <laugh>.
Tess: Yeah, that's what I tell a lot of women. A lot of women are really, really scared to solo travel and they're really inspired by it, but they don't want to jump into the deep end like we did — I went to the other side of the world by myself with a backpack. You know, just go somewhere for a weekend by yourself. Even just drive to a new city that you've never been to by yourself. And that's a great way to like start dipping your toe into solo traveling experience. And then you'll slowly work up the courage to do a big trip by yourself overseas.
Christine: Yeah. I had talked with another guest about this too, like kind of building the solo travel muscle and finding, what are the solo travel training wheels? So like you said, just going to a nearby city and even for some people that might look like going to dinner by yourself first, spending a weekend in a hotel, even in your neighborhood. I think one of the biggest discomforts we feel is how to be alone with ourselves, because we're so wrapped up in distractions that one of the first most uncomfortable things is how to just be with yourself <laugh>.
Tess: Yeah, a hundred percent. While I was overseas I still had trouble going to a movie by myself. I was so uncomfortable going to a movie <laugh>, you know, by myself in another country. But I really wanted to see a movie that was out. So you just work up the courage and you do it and the more you do it, building up that solo travel muscle, the more confident you become in yourself, the more courageous you become and it really gives you a sense of freedom because you don't need <laugh>, you don't need other people to be okay that you're okay by yourself and you're gonna be fine.
Christine: I think that is really wherein lies also the power of solo travel is because you start to have this different interaction with yourself and you start to build this confidence and strengthen your relationship with yourself, which I think is really also important. I know that's gonna kind of come up as we talk more about your journey, but for our listeners, just to be thinking about what that would mean for them if they haven't had one of these experiences already. Maybe they think it's this jump overseas that they're afraid of, but to really question where is that resistance coming from if you haven't traveled by yourself? Because I have found from a lot of people it really is just that idea of how to be by ourselves, not even just being alone somewhere else. But to get a little more understanding, can you share a little bit about your trip to Australia and how that happened and then what you started to learn along the way?
Tess: Yeah, so I got a working holiday visa in 2017. So I left January of 2017 and I solo packed through the country and I ended up living in the Gold Coast for a while. I love the Gold Coast. I, to this day, would still love to like buy purchase property in the Gold Coast because I love it so much up there. I was working as a bartender and I got a flat, like I made an actual life for myself in Australia, which was a really cool experience. But then I found myself feeling really bored because I've bartended a lot in the past and I was like, oh, I came all the way to the other side of the world just to do the exact same thing that I was doing in Texas, you know, this is silly.
Tess: So what I ended up doing is I ended up yacht hopping up the coast of Australia. So I lived on personal sailing yachts. They're not like mega huge fancy yachts, they're just like little sailing yachts. And we sailed from the Gold Coast up to the whit Sunday islands. I would stay on one yacht for like one to two weeks and then I would hop onto a different yacht. I called it like extreme hitchhiking. It was like a really <laugh> it was a really crazy experience and yeah, that's why I wrote a whole book about it. That's what my solo travel memoir Sherbet Skies is about. About my time at sailing up the coast of Australia.
Christine: How does someone go about yacht hopping? As you mentioned it, what did that look like for you to be able to move from one person's boat to another? How did you navigate or arrange for that to happen?
Tess: It's so crazy, Christine. The first yacht that I got on, how I got on this boat, I was at a hostel in Southport, which is like the northern end of the Gold Coast area. It's up in the area where there’s ports and there's lots of boats and stuff. And in that hostel there was a job board like in a lot of hostels and it said yacht crew needed, no experience necessary. So that was probably a few months prior, so I just took the number and I just kinda forgot about it. Ended up getting a job in the Gold Coast, ended up getting my flat and I got super bored and then I was like, I wonder if I still have that number. And I did. I I had saved it, I had a folder that I carried with me all the time and I had that number saved.
Tess: And so I called him and he is like, I'm gonna go sail up the coast — because they need to move their boats from the Gold Coast up to the Whitsunday Islands as it’s their cyclone season, so they need to move their boats to certain areas around Australia to keep them safe. So they're like, we need to move the boats up to the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach for the winter, so this was around May that we were leaving for for the trip, and he invited me out to his yacht several times for some sailing lessons because I literally have — you know, I grew up on the back of a horse like you did — I don't have any sailing experience. I saw the ocean for the first time when I was 23.
Tess: Like I don't have any experience on boats at all. So, his name, his name was Ian, uh, I have a different name for him in the book, but yeah, Ian showed me how to tack to jive to, you know, unfurl the sales, you know, they have all these different sailing terms right. You know, so, it was was a really cool experience. I sailed with him and then another, Australian woman on his yacht for about two weeks up to uh, kind of like a midway point Malu, no, I can't remember what the thing was. You'll have to read Sherretts guys where I got off of his boat because he was like cra he was kind of crazy. Yeah, I didn't realize it at the time. He was like kind of crazy and he didn't know what he was doing. he was, it was kind of like an unsafe situation for me sailing with him because he didn't have sailing experience either.
Tess: So I ended up, as you're sailing along you get to know other yachties so we all kind of like anchor at at the same anchorage areas and then you get to know other sailing families and other people. So when I needed to get off of his yacht, I ended up getting on another yacht with a guy and uh, ended up sailing with him for a couple weeks and uh, yeah. And then I got on a different yacht <laugh>. So it was just crazy like you just get to know all of these people and they're really, really wonderful cool people that you meet while you're out there.
Christine: Yeah, I love hearing people's travel adventures because I mean it's just, it's crazy to hear the things that happen and the stories and the opportunities and, and that is also part of the magic. Like if you are planning to travel and take a trip, that's one type of experience, but when you just are open to solo travel when you have no in date or even if you're in date is far into the future and you don't have a lot of plans like these crazy things that present themselves that you find yourself doing that, you know, you look back later and probably much like this first yachting experience, they're like, well that maybe wasn't the best choice I've made in my life, but it led to all these other opportunities and you learn so much and you start growing. And I think like that is some of the real fun of travel and having these experiences is just seeing like what on earth is going to come your way and then like what you're gonna dive into next <laugh>.
Tess: It is true, just staying open and staying available for new adventures, I think is the magic inside of, there's so much magic inside of solo travel. but just staying open to new adventures and you know, I remember when I was presented with the opportunity to go sail up up the east coast of Australia and I was like, you know, there are some Australians who have dreamed about doing this forever and they don't even get the opportunity. So it's like, if you have the opportunity, just take it because if you don't take it then you're, you could regret it for the rest of your life, you know, just gotta go for it.
Christine: Yeah, I agree. well there was one thing that you mentioned in there, when you realized that your safety was a concern, and this is something I've talked a lot about with other women as well, is understanding the difference between discomfort and safety and, and you know, and fear like when you actually are not just pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone for growth, but when you actually realize that you might not be safe. I think that is a situation that women do confront when they're traveling. And so I would guess that that awareness is a part of what led you to creating Her House. But I would like to to hear from you kind of where did that idea come from and why was it so important for you to develop this platform for for solo travel solo
Tess: Travelers? Yeah. Well I guess it's just something that I really wish I would've had while I was solo traveling. and because I know the first couple of people who I stayed with in Australia, they were hosts. You know, I didn't go to Australia and stay in a hotel or a hostel. I made a connection, I had like one or two connections in Australia and one was outside of Melbourne and I was just like, Hey Sally, I'm looking at moving to Australia for a year. could I like stay with you for like, could I meet with you and stay with you for like a few days or a week or so? And she's like, oh yeah, you know, and she then, you know, it was really, really comforting for me as a first time, solo, solo trial. It really was my first time solo traveling, especially overseas, to have a friend, to have a local friend in the area who could pick me up from the airport and who could host me.
Tess: and she ended up hosting me for like a couple of weeks. It was kind of extensive. I don't expect my host to host people for weeks on end, but some of them do. Some of them host them for like a month or so. but it just gave me so much comfort, you know, to have a friend in the area. And so, and for me, finding hosts is like an easy experience. I'm really outgoing and I'm really, friendly, you know, and so it's like easy for me to find friends, and find hosts. And then when I was, what really hit me and what really started to give me the idea that, Her House needs to, needs to be created was I was given accommodation by strangers. Like, I was traveling from Melbourne to Sydney and I struck up a conversation with a woman who was behind me and I'm obviously a backpacker, like I have a backpack and I'm American.
Tess: And she was like, she chased me down in the airport, she's, and she said, you know, you remind me of my sister who, who backpack through Europe and she was always so nervous about where she was gonna stay. And so she's like, this is my way of paying it forward. Like, you remind me of her. So she's like, if you're in Queensland and you need help and you need a place to stay, just email me and I'm sure my parents would love to host you. And so like when she said that to me, I was like, oh my gosh, like that is amazing that someone like a stranger would be kind and open up their home to me and wanna take care of of me. Like this is incredible. And so that's what happened. You know, I was in uh, Queensland, I was in the Gold Coast, I didn't really know what I was gonna do, so I ended up reaching out to her and she connected me with her folks and they lived down in Tweed's head in the, yeah, in the Gold Coast area, cooling gata area.
Tess: And uh, yeah, they hosted me for like a week and they're, they were just the most kind beautiful people and I just loved staying with them. And I was like, man, you know, when I got back to the states and I told people what I did, you know, I had these incredible experience with hosts. I, you know, had uh, really authentic local experiences, things that you would not experience if you stayed in a hotel ever, right? I got to experience their home-cooked meals and where they like to go to go to the beach, you know, their favorite things. And I was like, man, wouldn't it be cool if there was like an app where you could go onto the app and type in where you're gonna go and find available hosts in the area who are background checked who would like to host you? And I was like, man, that would be so cool. Like I really wish I would've had that. And so that's what I ended up creating <laugh>.
Christine: Yeah, that's so amazing. And for that woman to have approached you, I can't even imagine having an experience like that. But it is also something again where the magic of travel lies. When you are traveling and someone connects with you like that and you get to see that welcome invitation from someone in a community, it really makes you appreciate like the interconnectedness of all of us and it really allows you to, like you said, have this really deep immersive connection to a place. Because if you are in a hotel or even an Airbnb or a guest house, you're gonna kind of recreate your existence in that space. So you're not going to learn about, you know, like you said, local foods or where to shop or you're not gonna see these beaches that are secrets to locals or just all of these inside tips that we all have in the places we live that takes a long time to get to learn about.
Christine: when I've had those experiences where I connect with someone and they offer to share a real piece of their lives with me like that, it is incredibly powerful. And you know, that's what I've tried to do with some of my group travel experiences is like be able to bring that magic to them as they're traveling. And so I think this is such a, a great way for travelers to be by themselves and like learn to rely upon themselves. But like you said, being traveling that way doesn't mean you have to be alone. And I think there's a big disconnect in the mind of maybe what it means to be a solo traveler and how you're supposed to move around the world. And I think one of the things we don't talk about is how much we rely upon others in the places where we are.
Christine: We aren't not just like being by ourselves everywhere we go. You really quickly find like pods that you travel with and like when I was backpacking in Thailand, you just like, you would have this morphing pod of people, the people like that are in this space that are all maybe going to this space. And then you get there and people set off another direction and someone else joins your pod and then you move to another place. And so you are by yourself but you're never alone. And I think that's just such an amazing thing to experience and it's hard to explain until you're like in that flow of of travel.
Tess: Mm. Yeah, I definitely experienced that too when I stayed in hostels. and you know, the solo traveling community, backpacking community is really, really welcoming and super nice. They're really great people and they're all wanting adventure. Like we're all wanting adventure. And so that, that is cool. I have experienced that as well. So I think that, you know, you have the hostile experience where you can find other travelers who are on that adventure or you can find locals, like you can find locals with Her House. And one of the cool things that I've experienced also with Her House is not only can you connect with that host in that local in the area, but usually they will also connect you with their friends. Like I went to, Florida earlier this year to stay with our Her House host and she connected me with all of her friends and we went out, you know, to have a drink and I was over there, I was there during Mother's day and uh, we had like a barbecue, you know, and it was like so cool to be included in her community.
Tess: So it's not only like you're not alone, like you travel by yourself. Yes you're traveling by yourself, but you're not alone all the time. Which is another cool thing about Her House that I love.
Christine: Yeah. well I think, uh, another thing that was really interesting that we had talked about before is when another kind of, I guess misconception about solo travel is that solo travelers are in their twenties, they're maybe in a gap year, they’re young adventurers that don't have any other commitments. And I think what you and I have both experienced is that is really not a true myth or you know, perception of solo travel that you have really found yourself attracting women in their fifties and sixties into your community. And you had mentioned before, seasons of transition, which is something that I have also really seen, I've seen this in conversations with other women in the tourism industry, is that women experiencing these transitions are really seeking community and they're also looking for growth and connection and like a renewed sense of self and this like points them right into this space of mindful travel, solo travel, adventure travel. But I would really love to hear from you what that community has looked like and what you've learned about that so far.
Tess: Yeah, it's been really cool because I originally designed Her House for women in their twenties, right? For the women like me, I was my first person who feel like I would use the app, you know, so I designed it for the new college grads, the women who are early on, maybe haven't even started their career yet. And that totally is a segment of the users inside of Her House is a lot of young like ladies in their twenties. But what I quickly started to see is that an even bigger segment of the women who use Her House are yes, in their fifties and sixties, maybe even into their seventies because what I've found is that solo travel attracts women who are in seasons of transition. Like just what you said. I am attracting a lot of widows, women who are empty nesters, women who are divorced, women who have gone through a loss, you know, of any kind, who are retired and you know, they're in a new season of their life and they're wanting to travel, but maybe they don't have anybody to go with them so they go alone.
Tess: And a lot of, you know, a lot of them will book trips and stuff and that's super cool, but a lot of 'em, you know, some of them aren't keen for that. You know, I would not book trips, that's not really my vibe. So, I would rather connect directly with a local and stay directly with the local. So that's where Her House comes in, is to support these women who are going through seasons of transition. I know from personal experience how healing solo travel can be because I was really just like out there on my own. I didn't have anybody to depend on. So it was just me and like God and then she's, I just pray all the time, you know, cuz that's all I had while I was by myself all the time. And it was a really, really wonderful, amazing experience.
Christine: Yeah, I think that that's another thing that's really beautiful to witness, like you said, is that spiritual connection and how healing and nourishing it can be. And I can only imagine too, especially if you are not on a group tour and you are being hosted by another woman, like you're immediately invited into that space of connection, which is what you really were looking for in the first place, I think when you set out on these experiences. So I think that really quickly you're going to see the impact of that and the power of that versus having to maybe spend some time alone until you find that connection. Like you just get to walk right into that space. I would love to hear from you, and I'm happy to share as well, but what does that journey really look like and feel like? Why do you think it is so powerful? What are women finding when they're traveling in themselves and in community as they travel?
Tess: That's a great question, <laugh>. So I think that when women travel alone, like what we've done, they find strength and courage in themselves that they've never had before. I think that my time solo traveling was probably the most confidence building, healing time in my life. And I think that it's more valuable than any other time. I've had corporate careers as well, like I've worked in corporate and it's like nothing inside of like a regular job could ever compare to how I grew while I solo traveled. So I know that it's a really, really great experience and so I, that's why I wanna make it more available for women because what I've found is when I started talking to a lot of these women who want to solo travel, they're just so scared, they're so scared and of their safety and they don't know how to do it.
Tess: And so that's why I wanted to make it more accessible to them by having a friend. Because I just like what you said, you know, being able to walk right into connection is incredible, you know, and you get to have the connection even before you get there because you can connect with them directly on the app. I recommend video chatting, talking on the phone with your host before you get there, so you already have a friend, you already have a connection like in the country that's gonna, you know, be a friend and take care of you while you're with her.
Christine: Yeah. I think the other thing that is a common thread for us, and I really felt that as you were speaking, is that we have had such powerful experiences and while we have created businesses because of that thing that we felt we created the business, not necessarily because we wanted the business, but we wanted this experience for other people. Like I know every time I'll have this moment when I'm traveling or if I'm scouting a trip and I'm by myself in that moment, but what I immediately imagine is like the women standing next to me having that experience and I'm like, oh my gosh, I cannot wait for them to feel this and to experience this and know this about themselves. Like that's what I want. And I feel like that is so much what you are offering with Her House as well. It's this way for you to give other people the experience that you also had.
Tess: Mm, yeah. And I think that when you're in those places, it's like these memories that you'll have and you'll call upon for the rest of your lives. Like I'm sure those moments like you can recall and you can talk about them and you can be like, oh, this moment while I was on my own, it changed me, it like changed me forever. And, and yeah, like, just like what you said, I wanna help give more women those types of experiences, these life changing experiences. And I know it sounds, sometimes it sounds so corny like this is so life change, but it really is, it's such a life changing experience.
Christine: Yeah, yeah, I know. It definitely, it does sound cheesy and there's so many people I've talked to and they're like, I just know travel literally will like bring about peace and change the whole world and it sounds, you know, completely bonkers. And yet I also feel that it's completely true that when you start to understand yourself in this way and understanding the world as you engage with it, so many of those things you believed to be true fall away about yourself and about others. And it, it's just, it's so beautiful. So I hope you know that people listening maybe if they haven't traveled because of those hesitations are gonna be really excited to be able to know that they can have a friend waiting for them somewhere and they can just be brave and take that action. The other thing I really love about the app, and this was something you shared with me is not even about the travelers, but what you've also found is this space for the hosts and how important it is for them. So I'd love for you to share a little bit about that part of the experience as well.
Tess: Yeah, it's been really cool to see the hosts starting to open up their lives and their homes to these women because, they have really great experiences too, like really cool memorable experiences. Like when I was in Florida earlier this year, I took my host Jodi since I saved so much money on accommodation by staying with her I was able to take her out for a dolphin kayaking tour. And you know, because when you're new in the area and you're only there for a few days or a week or so, you wanna experience as much as you can. You know, you do the tours, you go to all the places and a lot of times locals don't do that. The locals don't go do all that fun stuff in the area. So, Jodi was like, man, I've never done this, this is so great. You know, so hosting also is really fun because it gets you out into your own backyard and gets you out creating really memorable experiences with, with your guest and then it can actually be a really fulfilling and fun experience for hosts as well.
Christine: Yeah, I I think when you were talking about that I was like man, that would be so fun. I kind of can't wait till I have the space to be able to do that because it would be just such a cool experience to be able to be meeting people coming, share your city with them but also see it through their own eyes. And I think that's really valuable as well. One of the first trips I ever had to lead, I was working for a company that did these really cool adventure experiences all around the world and they were like, okay, you know, you finally get to lead a trip, you get to co guide this journey. And they're like, it's in Montana. I was like, are you kidding? This is not even fair <laugh>. I'm like, this is, that's where I grew up. Like I don't wanna go lead a trip in Montana.
Christine: And then, you know, what happened was I really got to see Montana through someone else's eyes and they were talking about what it was like to land at the airport and they're like, we flew over cattle and then we landed and where are we? There's no people and people that have come from like big cities on the east coast or in Japan or you know, all around the world, they hadn't seen this type of experience. And then I got to witness Glacier with them, which is a place I had lived and worked and Yellowstone with them, which is also a place I had lived in work. So for me they had just this context of like, you know, beautiful but getting to work on time wondering where my friends are and I didn't really see the, like, the magic of it. And for me that really became probably one of the inspirations for wanting to become a traveler is because I realized I wasn't paying attention.
Christine: And when I got to see them like be beyond belief that they were experiencing something that I had seen every day growing up. I, it just was so eye-opening to realize that we're missing things because we're caught up in our lives. And so I think it's so great to, to be able to like encourage hosts to do this because we, we do spend so much time like face down doing the things in monotony. Even if you live in a beautiful place, you might not be doing it. Uh, travel writers that are my friends come to Denver write a story and I'm like, oh I've never heard of that thing. I've never been to that restaurant. I'm like, this is crazy. How do we forget to travel where we are? So I think that's such a cool experience as well.
Tess: Super cool experience. Yeah, I've seen some of my hosts, you know, take short road trips with their guests and do some hiking excursions with their guests and you know, go on these cool adventures that they wouldn't do like just on a normal basis. So yeah, hosting is really fun cuz it gets you out into your own backyard and having more memorable experiences and you get to make friends from all over the world.
Christine: Yeah, yeah. And I, it's, it's just also for me, what I get so excited when I hear about, you know, you talking about this is that it's, it's really going beyond a place to stay. It's going beyond just, you know, even a safe place to stay. It really is creating community and I just think that is so important for people especially right now is to be able to find that space to interact. I feel, I mean I've shared this with you before, but I'm just such a super fan of Her House and I can't wait to see other people hearing about it. I'm hoping my soul of travel listeners are gonna be so excited to kind of like dive in and see how this app might work for them and their travel experiences because I think that community aspect is so special.
Tess: Thank you so much. Yeah, I think, well really my mission, my mission inside of Her House is to help women grow and heal and grow and heal through travel and connection. Because although, you know, traveling is traveling is great, you know, traveling is incredible, but my real heart is for the, my women is for these users. And every day I go to bed and I wake up asking God, what do my users need? What do they need from me? What do they need from Her House? And it's really the community, the community is really the power inside of Her House cuz it's, it's me like, I'm like this one little person who <laugh> like is like trying to do this big thing, but it like the power comes in the community because now, at the time of this recording we have users in over 60 countries and you know, it's growing every single day. And so having the community, all over the world and that's my vision. My vision is for there to be available hosts and Her House users in every city all over the world so that wherever you go, you're always gonna be able to find a safe place to stay and a girlfriend to connect with. Like a safe girlfriend that's gonna be kind and show you around and have a really great experience.
Christine: Yeah, thank you. Well speaking kind of I guess of being champions and showing up for people, we're both solopreneurs, we're both like, you know, just at our desks, like you said, every day doing this thing for these people out there in the world that we are not necessarily connecting one-on-one with, but we both really deeply believe in. I don't remember how we connected the, like, some algorithm threw us in front of each other and I'm so grateful for that. But I think one thing that's really important to talk about as, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs is what it's like to show up for others and what it's like to keep going because we don't really know who we're inspiring and we don't know, you know, when we're gonna be that force for good and for inspiration for somebody else. But I would love to hear, what has that experience been like for you as you have started to grow Her House? Obviously you were just on Good Morning America, so you're getting a little more visibility. What has that exchange been like for you?
Tess: Yeah, well I first started everything just with a Facebook group, you know, just started a Facebook group and just started like casting that vision of Her House. Like, this is what I want, this is my vision for Her House and what I want this to be. And quickly I started attracting women who got it. Like, I get this, I understand what you're doing. and it's valuable because I think so much like you were saying, you know, I'm a solopreneur, you're a solopreneur. Like we're doing this on our own. I don't have a team at this time of this recording. So, I am doing it all on my own. And so, you know, slowly people started to show up and really just support me, people like you and other women in the community and just be like, I really believe in this and I believe in what you're doing.
Tess: And I think finding those people, especially early on is really was like water for my soul, especially when it was not making any money and I was like doing it all by myself, <laugh>. So, yeah, just showing up for others I think is really, really, really helpful. And to know, like if you are an entrepreneur, if you have an entrepreneur at heart and you have this drive to make something for the world, just keep going, keep making it and your champions will appear like, and even to this day, new people get on the app and they're like, I'm so pumped about this, this is amazing. I can't believe like this has never been created. Like, I'm so glad you're doing this. And then they tell all of their friends like they are my champions of of Her House and what helped keep me going when it feels like it's not working or it feels really hard or it feels monotonous.
Tess: Like I just remember those women who really believe in it and believe in me. And that's why I tell my other tech entrepreneur friends, you know, they might not be in the travel space, but I'm just like, it's the hardest part is in the beginning, right? The hardest part is the beginning where you don't have any proof, like you, everything's really, really new, but what you gotta do is just keep casting that vision and keep telling people about it. Like don't be scared to tell people about it. Like you have to be visible <laugh>. And that's like the scary part of it, you know, me being on Good Morning America was so terrifying, to be so visible, but it's like if people don't know, if you don't show up and tell people, people about it, the world is gonna miss out. The world's gonna miss out on what you have to offer. So just keep showing up, keep casting the vision and people will show up and appear who support you and who love what you're doing.
Christine: Yeah. And when you say that, I just think, I go back to that same like, this is a spot in Peru where I had this moment where I just wanted these women standing by me and it's like, you almost just see them disappear if you don't keep going because I'm like, if I don't push through, they don't get to do this with me. And it's so important that it happens for me, for them. And it is, it can be very hard, but I think if you're so connected to that thing that you're trying to create, it helps to push it through. But I think think another thing that has been really helpful to me, is when people see something like on Instagram or Facebook and they just send you a DM and they're like, you know what you're doing, it really gets me excited or I think that's such a great idea, or I see what you're doing, keep doing it.
Christine: Just any of those little messages I think go such a long way when you are having those struggles. And the other thing that is kind of in the same vein is out on social media, we're putting out this image of this brand that we're hoping to create, and we don't know where someone is actually at in their entrepreneurial journey based on what they're showing us on social media. And so you might think, oh, they don't need me to give them a nod of support because look how great their brand looks like clearly they've got it together, they're successful, they are probably not having any issues like I am. They don't need my like, you know, just anonymous or, you know, support of someone they don't know. And I would really just encourage people to not buy into that because we don't know where someone is at on their journey.
Christine: And I think even if you are super successful, it feels so good to be seen and to know that the work you're doing is resonating with others. And so for people listening, I just would really encourage you if you have a brand you love or an entrepreneur or a, you know, a someone in that space, just like tell them that you appreciate what they're doing. And I don't know for you, what, what does that feel like if you receive that kind of feedback? I mean, for me it's, it will keep me going for days, <laugh> for weeks.
Tess: Yeah. Like I said, it's like water for my soul to get those types of messages. I literally screenshot them and save them in my phone because on the days when it's really hard and the tech like I can't figure something out and it's like really hard and it's like, no, this is really life changing for people, and other people believe in this with me and the world's gonna miss out if you don't keep going, you know? So yeah, if you do have an encouraging word for an entrepreneur or if you have an author that, that you love their work and that's really inspired you or changed your life in some way, like tell them, you know, who knows it if they're really big, you know, who knows if they'll get it, but it's like you're still putting out that energy towards them and even, even that's really, really helpful. I mean, the entrepreneur journey is so terrifying, <laugh>, like, it's like scary at all points. Like it's scary when you very first start and then it's scary when you launch and it's scary when you scale and it's scary when you get seen. So it's like the fear never goes away. So if you have someone that that you really love their work and you're inspired by them, just tell 'em because it really is helpful. It's definitely helpful for me.
Christine: Yeah, and I just was thinking as you were talking about that how well, like solo travel actually probably prepares you for an entrepreneurial journey because you are really learning to, to be by yourself, support yourself, like give yourself encouragement, not let yourself, you know, chicken out of something. So maybe that's why there's so many <laugh> entrepreneurs who are also travelers, because they have maybe there's some DNA that lies beneath both of those places.
Tess: I could totally see that <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah, I could totally see that happening and, and I definitely think that my solo travel experience did help prepare me for a lot of the things that I'm going through now. So yeah, I definitely resonate with that.
Christine: Well, I think before we wrap up our conversation, are there any other things that you would like to share about, about why you want people to get out there and travel and also, after that how they can find Her House and be able to travel within this community?
Tess: Yeah, definitely. Well, I will say that solo traveling in a solo traveling season is just like that. It's sometimes it's just a season in your life. It might not be something that you do all the time. You know, like Christine and I have made careers out of, you know, this type of traveling experience, but solo traveling might not be for you at all times. So if you're at a season in your life where you're getting outta college or maybe you had a loss in your family, maybe you have been diagnosed with something terminal and you're needing space and you're needing some time, go solo travel, it's your time and you're ready for the next step. Like you can, you have total permission to do that and you can absolutely solo travel. If you're terrified to do it, I totally get it. Christine gets it, you know, we've all been there, it's so scary.
Tess: Even for the most seasoned solo traveler, it's always a scary experience. So to just take that step and don't allow opportunities pass you by, if you have a season in your life or you're needing this, just go do it. Even if it's something domestic. But definitely go do it if your heart really needs it. And, yeah, and you can find Her House. Her House is available for free download in the Google and Apple App stores. You can learn more about Her House on my website at herhouse.co and read all about it. You can learn about me. I have a whole blog page about hosts so you can meet some of the hosts in the community as well. So it's really fun and I just encourage you to join Her House and be a part of our community because we're a really wonderful, loving group of women who wanna support and love each other. So it's really cool.
Christine: Yeah. Thank you. I feel that from you and I can only imagine that that is the people who are attracted to this space. So yeah, I really, I hope that this is resonating with a lot of people. It's clearly like resonating with me. I feel like so many emotions are coming up every time you're speaking because it really is like you said, it's so much more than travel. It's just there's so many things that happen when we get out there and when we, especially if you are in these periods of transition in your life, you, it just almost amplifies what you're gonna feel and what you're gonna experience and, and what you're gonna find within yourself. And, like going back to that point of I just really want this for people and like you said, I can't encourage them enough to just trust in themselves and trust in the process and just go for it and give themselves that gift and the permission to have that experience.
Tess: Yeah. Well I think that when you go out on your own like that, you give yourself space to hear. And I don't know how spiritual you are. I'm a deeply spiritual person. So, it allowed me to hear from God in a completely new way that I've never experienced before, and get away from all of the mundane of life and career and, and you get to be in this place with God that you've never been in before. And I think that's why I'm so passionate about it is because God really moved me and showed me new things while I was abroad. And so I wanna help other women have those really cool experiences, really deep spiritual experiences while they travel.
Christine: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I feel like that's something, as I've gotten older, I'm really drawn to connecting with the spirituality and every destination and, and whatever that looks like in that place, I feel like that's the sacred energy of a destination. And when you move through it with intention, what you do receive in your mind. Like we literally as human beings can't even really comprehend sometimes what we're experiencing and the magic and the beauty of it. And I think that again, that is something that when you're in those periods of transition, because you need it so much, it is given to you. And so I really hope that people will find their way to that, whatever that looks like. And I know that we're both here, uh, to offer like support and guidance and hope, like, you know, we've both said multiple times, we just want people to have this experience.
Christine: So if you're listening and you are like, yes, this is what I've been looking for, I had no idea, just reach out. I know either one of us would be happy to talk to you about what might be out there for you. Before we end this call, I have just a few rapid fire questions for us to get to know Tess as a traveler a little bit more. And then yeah, I just, I can't wait to hear, from future Her House travelers. So if you're listening and you find it, please make, make sure you leave a comment in her app, my podcast. I can't wait to just see the ripple effect of this conversation. Okay, first question is, what are you reading right now?
Tess: I'm actually reading Grant Cardone’s Be Obsessed or Be Average <laugh> <laugh>. He's a little, he's super masculine, so it is been kind of like hard for me to do that, but I do kind of feel obsessed with Her House sometimes <laugh>, and so I'm like, okay, it's okay that I'm obsessed with this. So yeah, that's what I'm reading right now on the entrepreneur side.
Christine: I think you should be obsessed like it's coming from your soul. So like be obsessed. Yeah, I think that's the what makes it work.
Tess: <laugh>. Yeah.
Christine: What is always in your suitcase when you travel?
Tess: What’s always in my suitcase is a, I have, I carry house shoes with me <laugh> house shoes and I put like fluffy socks inside of them. So I always have this like warm, warm stuff for my feet, <laugh> while I travel.
Christine: I love that. I can't tell you how many times when I've gotten somewhere and you're like, oh, you know what would've been the most perfect thing is slippers or for my feet to be cozy or protected from a surface <laugh> of where I'm traveling.
Tess: Yeah. It's like a comfort thing for sure. Yeah.
Christine: Yeah. So to Sojourn is to travel somewhere as if you live there. Uh, where is a place that you long to Sojourn to?
Tess: I'd love to go to Japan and live there, like a local for a little bit. I actually have a cousin there that I'd love to travel and see and a couple of Her House hosts are starting to pop up in Japan, so I'd love to see, cuz it's so different. It's not even like Europe or something. Sometimes I feel like Europe and even Australia is like so Americanized <laugh>, so I'd love to go somewhere com like completely different like Asia, yeah. Mm-hmm.
Christine: What do you eat that immediately connects you to a place that you've been?
Tess: What do I eat? Let me think. <laugh>, this is a good question. Immediately I think of Twinings Tea. When I drink tea, whenever I travel I always, I actually have tea bags, with me when I travel as well cuz it's an easy way to find comfort while you're traveling all you need is some hot water. And I remember, I had a good friend, an Irish friend, while I was still traveling. He ended up staying with me, while I was living in the Gold Coast and he said Twinings is for commoners <laugh>. So yeah, whenever I drink Twinings, I think of my time in Australia.
Christine: Yeah, there's so many when you travel, like how you take your coffee or your tea and you know, what is the local experience. It's so interesting in how you're like, you can be doing it so wrong <laugh> somewhere else or, uh, how controversial like a certain brand is. It's very kind of interesting. If you have had that experience, you'll probably relate to it. Yeah. Who was a person that inspired or encouraged you to set out and explore the world?
Tess: So when, before I went to Australia, I was actually part of a network marketing company at the time. I always had kind of like entrepreneurial heart and network marketing kind of like got me into that vibe, you know, when I was in college. And so when I had graduated from college, I didn't know what I was doing. And then the network marketing company was opening up in Australia. And so my upline, this woman named Hillary was like, why don't you go to Australia? And I was like, what? Like I could do that, I could go to Australia. And I was like, and I had actually sold my horse, my truck, my trailer at the time. I, you know, I was like, I had sold everything. I was like, oh, I actually could do that. And, you know, cuz no one I ha I had ever known had done what I was about to do. Like, I had never known anybody who had traveled extensively and internationally like that. So even her just implanting like, oh yeah, you could do that. Like, that's possible for you. I was like, oh, you know, so that, that was a cool experience. That's when it all kind of like opened up to me. The whole concept opened up to me after she said that.
Christine: That really goes back to that point where you, you just never know the ripple that you're creating. Like, you, you, you can just show the smallest bit of support or encouragement and you don't know what you're opening up for someone. So I, I love that. Like, all of this is an example of that kind of sentiment.
Tess: <laugh>. Totally. A hundred percent. And look what it's done now. Like we're, look where we're at. <laugh>.
Christine: Yeah. Um, if you could take an adventure with one person, fictional or real alive or past, who would it be?
Tess: I've been dreaming of Greece for a long time, so I've been really wanting to take my husband to Greece and to Santorini and Greece and Italy and stuff like that around there. I've been wanting to do that for years now. And it's been in my vision, it's been in my mind, but it would be more like kind of luxurious. Not quite so, it would still be an adventure, but that's something that I've been wanting to do for a long time.
Christine: Yeah. Uh, and the last one, Soul of Travel is a space for celebrating innovative women in the travel industry. I'd love to give you the opportunity to acknowledge someone who you admire and recognize them in this space. If there's someone you'd like to shout out.
Tess: Yeah. Well probably Haley, the creator of Girls Love Travel. I think that she's also kind of an icon for a lot of women travelers and what she's built has been pretty incredible. You know, her Facebook group has like, I think like 1.6 million women in it. So her having that community was inspiring to me. Like, it's not just like me and a couple other chicks who like to do this. Like it's actually a huge amount of women who love to do this. And it showed me that there's a lot of women who love to travel and who love to solo travel as well. So, shout out to Hailey for Girls Up Travel. You're doing great stuff in the world and, uh, you're like soul sister for all of us.
Christine: Yeah. Thank you for shouting her out. Actually. Hopefully she will be on the podcast soon. She's hard to track down cuz she never stops traveling.
Tess: Yes, she travels a lot. <laugh>. Yeah.
Christine: Yeah. Well thank you so much for this conversation. It was so fun. I know that it is going to speak to so many listeners and I just look forward to, like I said, just seeing the ripple of what Her House is creating in the world and the community that is offering and can't wait to like, have a conversation a year or two and see what and where we are at that time.
Tess: <laugh>. Amazing. Well, thank you so much for having me on. It's been so much fun.
Christine: Thank you.