Most of us spend our lives longing to take the ultimate dream vacation to a resort in the Maldives before they are submerged under the sea for eternity, or visit the luxurious beaches in Tanzania before setting off for a brave climb in Mt. Kilimanjaro. Have you ever wondered what it would take for you to step out of your comfort zone and make the journey? Would it mean saving up enough “vacation time,” having enough money (that could mean 10k for some or 200k for others), or career security, or emotional and mental ease? For anyone who has wondered if their lives would ever amount to more than the corporate routine, Collette and Scott Stohler found out what it would take. This couple didn’t just find out what their lives would look like outside the 9-5 grind, but they have made a living out of traveling to exotic, luxurious destinations around the world, and have become famous influencers along the way.
Scott and Collette had some time in their busy traveling schedule to sit down with me and chat about what led them to a life of travel, social media, and what the future holds for this incredible couple. Hold onto your seats because this Spotlight is a wild ride!
ZJ: Collette and Scott, many people dream of traveling the world for their livelihood, but you actually do it. How long did you take to plan your full-time travels and what kind of efforts/ steps went into making this dream a reality?
C & S: Unfortunately there is not one simple answer to this! Our around the world trip originally started as a 6-month journey – an adult half-gap year, otherwise considered a sabbatical from corporate America. After 6-7 months of traveling, it was time to go back to corporate America. We had built a decent following, but we didn’t have an actual business plan. While we were in Bali trying to plan our next steps, we put our heads together, put together a business plan, and decided that we would never go back to corporate America. Roamaroo was our future.
ZJ: Was social media a big part of your travel from the beginning, or did that happen along the way? Please share!
C & S: When we first left for our around the world trip, it was purely for a life experience – not for work. We decided to start a blog and social media at that time to keep our family updated and kept an online journal of our experiences. As we shared our stories, our followers increased, and we had positive feedback like we had never imagined. Then we started thinking about our skill set and how we could leverage our skills on our travels. With a background in advertising and video, we thought that we could offer our skills in exchange for services with hotels. When we started working with hotels, that padded our around the world budget. When the 6-month trip came to an end, that’s when we put our heads together and decided to make this a business.
ZJ: Did you know what to expect traveling extensively – had you done anything like this before taking off six years ago, and what would you say has been the most challenging aspect of the travel itself?
C & S: We left corporate America 1.5 years ago, so we haven’t been doing this that long! We had both traveled extensively, taking our 2-week American vacation to places like Bali, South Africa, and The Galapagos Islands. We took the plunge into full-time travel after listening to a podcast by Rolf Potts and Tim Ferriss called “Vagabonding” (On Tim Ferriss’ ‘4-hour workweek’ podcast).
Travel is all about going with the flow. As a Type-A personality, that can always cause conflict. You can’t control if a flight is on time or if you’ll be able to communicate with someone in a language you don’t know. Travel forces you to go with the flow. It’s a bittersweet symphony that we play day after day.
C & S: Considering the number of countries we’ve visited, we’ve been very fortunate during our travels. However, there are two when we weren’t so lucky. The first was early on in our travels in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We grabbed a taxi from the taxi stand at the airport. Since we didn’t speak any Spanish and he didn’t speak any English, our conversation was very limited. We told the driver where we were going and showed him the address on our phone. We thought he understood where we were going. After about five minutes in the car, we asked what the price would be and he responded $80 USD. (it should have been $15-20). At this point, we get into an argument about the cost and where we were going. We think he was taking us to another city roughly 30 miles away. (hopefully lost in translation) Fortunately, he let us out of the cab at a gas station. Our thought was that we would just call another cab; however, we found out that cabs don’t come out to that area. At this point, it’s midnight; we don’t know where we are, no one in the gas station speaks English, so we think we may have to spend the night in the gas station. After about 30 mins trying to talk to the workers at the station, one hands us a phone. It was the worker’s sister who spoke English. She helped translate for us and organize a “cab” to pick us up. This “cab” was no cab but more likely a friend of a friend. In the end, we made it to our apartment at 2-3 am, exhausted but happy to be “home.”
The other unfortunate experience happened in Cambodia. We had arrived in Phnom Penh via boat. When we walked into the city, we pulled out our phones to see a map. Knowing that there may be thieves, we had moved to the side of the sidewalk away from the road. It turns out, this thief wasn’t afraid of driving on the sidewalk. He drove his moped up on the sidewalk, snatched Collette’s phone from her hands, and was gone immediately. We tried to hunt it down via Find my iPhone, but they disabled it quickly.
ZJ: Who would you say is your primary online audience, and why do you think they follow you (aside from obvious reasons)?
C & S: The majority of our audience is skewed female on the blog, but it’s a fairly even split across our social media. Roamaroo is a source of pleasure and inspiration for a few categories – travel, romance, and adventure. I think we skew female for the romance category, but the general travel and adventure even us out across our channels.
ZJ: Did you set out with a particular mission, and if so what was it, or what is it now?
C & S: When we first set out to travel, it was purely for adventure, exploration, romance, and self-discovery. We started creating content about the things we love most in life. We never really understood when people would say, “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” We thought that sounded like some pipe dream that people had. Our passion became our work, and we realized we had a couple missions:
- To Inspire others to follow their unique path, preferably around the world! Scott has a suit with the following quote stitched inside it. “Aspire to inspire before we expire.”
- To Educate others about the world – it’s so important to visit other countries, interact with other races and religions, and learn how other people live. Travel is truly an education in itself. We even joke that our trip around the world was our year spent “getting our masters in international relations.” In a time where so many people are fearful of the world based on the news, we feel it is our duty to educate the world about the reality of other countries. We’ve visited Belgium, Paris, Istanbul, and The Middle East and they’ve been some of the most welcoming, loving countries. We want to show the other side of these countries – the side that the news doesn’t show on TV.
ZJ: Many influencers we meet and work with are individuals, naturally. You work as a couple which is super rad and unique. How do you think this dynamic effects your mission and vision for Roamaroo? What about your power as influencers (representing brands)?
C & S: Since the day we met, we have served as an inspiration to one another. We have had so many ideas together, but it was Roamaroo that stuck. As a duo, we’re able to add more to our plates, divide and conquer. We’re always challenging each other and bringing out the best in one another. While we’re both creatives on our own, we’ve always been better together.
ZJ: Do you see yourselves as marketers?
C & S: We see ourselves first and foremost as storytellers, but we definitely understand that an underlying factor of our craft is marketing. If a hotel brand brings us to their new property, they bring us there to market their brand. The way that we bring publicity to that specific brand is by marketing it through our unique storytelling.
ZJ: Has there been a time when your work in social media positively impacted someone’s life? If so, please share the story!
C & S: Actually, yes! We’ve inspired a few friends, much to the dismay of their bosses, to quit their jobs to pursue their passion. While our personal story involves travel, it also inspires others to stay true to their unique gifts. We’ve been taught to go to college, start working, earn your 9-5 paycheck, and leave the good stuff for retirement. But what is the point of life if you’re not really living it and enjoying it day after day? That doesn’t mean you can lounge and relax and do nothing all day. That doesn’t sound fulfilling to us. What does sound fulfilling is the ability to write the script for your own life – to craft the best darn story for yourself that you ever could. We decided to work for our dreams instead of for someone else’s.
ZJ: Where is the all-time favorite place you have traveled, Collette? What about you, Scott?
Collette: My all-time favorite place I’ve traveled is South Africa. We went on a safari in the Sabi Sands area of Kruger National Park. Nothing can compare to the raw emotion and intense adventure of a safari.
Scott: Ditto Collette, as well as New Zealand and Iceland. In both countries, we rented a campervan to travel in. There’s nothing like having your morning coffee while overlooking a glacier lagoon or snowcapped mountains.
ZJ: Do you find that CrossFit shapes your travels, and if so, in what way?
C & S: CrossFit definitely shapes our travels both literally and figuratively. We have CrossFitted in over 20 countries around the world. When we arrive at a new destination, we try to drop into a CrossFit as soon as possible. We have found CrossFit to be an excellent way to meet locals, learn about secret hot spots, and stay in shape.
C & S: Thank you! We believe that our press can be attributed to a few factors. One, we’re a couple traveling the world together. That in itself is a unique story. Couple that with the fact that we’ve created a business out of our travels and I think that intrigues both men and women. Another factor is that we seem to get ourselves into unusual, adventurous, and always exciting situations. We’re not your average couple that sits on a beach (nothing wrong with that, just not our thing). When we’re traveling, you can usually find us bungee jumping off of the world’s highest cliff in New Zealand, scuba diving in the Great Blue Hole in Belize, or swimming in the Devil’s Pool in Zambia. We crave travel that gets our hearts pumping both adventure wise and romantically. Lastly, we hustle – hard. We are constantly pitching ourselves to outlets. As an influencer, some of your responsibilities include being an agent, publicist, and creative all at the same time.
ZJ: Which have been some of your favorite brand campaigns to work on and why?
C & S: A recent one that we loved working with was Date Box. This company sends you a date-in-a-box once a month. We loved the idea and thought it would be a great fit with our brand. We did a photoshoot for the product underneath the Manhattan Beach pier. We did the shoot while the tide was coming in and a few waves almost crashed into our scene only missing us by inches. Anything for a good shot, right?
ZJ: Where do you see the future of influencer marketing, and do you see yourselves a part of it?
C & S: With the analytic tools in social media, the power of influence is becoming more and more measurable. Brands no longer have to wonder where their money is going and they can have a tangible ROI. Instead of spending a million dollars on a commercial and even more money on ad spend, brands can now spend a fraction of that on an influencer campaign. The future of influencer marketing seems as though image advertising is marrying direct response. Brands earn the product awareness from ads on the platforms of influencers while also seeing an immediate response to their campaigns.
ZJ: Once a traveler, always a traveler – it’s impossible really for wanderlust to ever die. That said, though, do you ever see yourselves settling down somewhere, or slowing down in a place?
C & S: Funny you should ask that because we just recently “settled down” in Southern California. While we’ve traveled to nearly 70 countries, nothing compares to our home in California. Sometimes it takes traveling around the world to appreciate what you had right in your own backyard. That doesn’t mean we are stopping travel. We are still traveling 1-2 weeks per month, but now we live out of a home instead of just a suitcase.
ZJ: Any announcements we can share on your behalf?
We’ll be giving away a free trip to Jordan!! We’re working out the final details but should have the dates and rules for the giveaway very soon.