Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tausha Cowan (CAS ’07) on her Travel Blog The Globe Getter and How to Balance Seeing the World with a Full-Time Job

Tausha Cowan in front of El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Mexico
Tausha in front of El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Mexico
We caught up with blogger and travel expert Tausha Cowan (CAS ’07) to find out her tips for planning vacations, booking summer travel, and balancing globetrotting adventures with a full-time job. She works in the Travel & Lifestyle Services department at American Express and has visited more than two dozen countries since she graduated from NYU.
What did you study at NYU?

I majored in Journalism and had minors in French and Africana Studies. I particularly enjoyed my Journalism classes because of my natural curiosity; it’s my inclination to ask questions. I also participated in the CAS Presidential Scholars program, which was a great experience. When I found out about the program, during a prospective student campus visit, I knew that NYU was where I wanted to go.

Some of my fondest memories of NYU are from the CAS Presidential Scholars trips and my study abroad experiences. I traveled to Florence my freshman year and to Prague my sophomore year. I also studied abroad in Paris for a summer and spent a semester in Ghana. I think very highly of the Scholars program, and I am still friends with several of my former classmates. I was also very involved in extracurriculars at NYU, especially the Academic Achievement Program (AAP). 
Tausha Cowan: her story continues

Can you tell us about your position at American Express?

I work in the Travel & Lifestyle Services department in the Consumer Services division. We focus primarily on our Centurion and Platinum card members. Our department has more than 4,000 travel consultants in 22 markets around the world who book flights, hotels, tours and cruises, and arrange restaurant reservations and concert tickets - essentially any travel and/or lifestyle needs our Centurion and Platinum card members may have.

As Senior Manager of Global Communications in Travel & Lifestyle Services, I focus on internal communications, mainly to our travel consultants - covering everything from card member benefits and program updates, to process changes, to new product launches. I also provide executive communications support for the department's leadership team, including the Executive Vice President and General Manager of American Express Travel.

Prior to joining American Express, I started my career at NBCUniversal shortly after graduating from NYU. I learned a lot while there but I also had relatively limited vacation time. So, while pursuing my master’s degree from the London School of Economics, I traveled extensively and visited more than ten countries throughout my studies, which cemented my love of travel. Following graduate school, I worked in communications for Columbia Business School, acting as a liaison for students, faculty and staff.

Tausha Cowan in front of the Tower Bridge in London
The view from Tower Bridge in London

What inspired you to create your travel blog The Globe Getter?

This is technically my third blog. I started my first blog when I was an NYU student studying in Ghana, as a way to stay in touch with family and friends during my semester abroad. That was my first experience writing about travel. Then, a year after I graduated, I started a food blog. I was interested in trying out new recipes and writing reviews of restaurants I visited during my trips. I wrote the food blog for two years before I retired it.

In 2014, I wanted to start a new blog and I had been traveling quite a lot, so it felt like a natural fit to do something related to travel. At the same time, I kept seeing articles about people who quit their jobs to travel the world. While that is a great opportunity for some, it is not realistic for most people. I believe that you don’t have to quit your job to see the world. You can work full-time and still travel. So, I launched The Globe Getter in the beginning of 2015 to show ways to do this.

How has the blog grown since it launched?

Soon after I launched The Globe Getter, I began regularly contributing to Yahoo Travel, which gave the blog exposure. I was fortunate to be part of a program at Yahoo Travel that brought together several bloggers and influencers who contributed content for the main Yahoo homepage as well as Yahoo's travel site. I have had some great opportunities to share content on other websites, including BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Travel Noire.

Tausha Cowan on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in Sydney, Australia
On the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk in Sydney, Australia

How do you balance work and travel?

For me, it's helped to be able to work remotely occasionally and combine work with leisure. For example, I did not have many vacation days last year since I had recently joined American Express, and yet I was still able to travel to Europe a few times, Chicago, Charleston, Jamaica and other places. This was made possible by working part of the time, even while traveling.

I know it is not something that everyone can do in their jobs, but if you are in a position where you can work remotely, it can really help in planning travel. Even something as simple as planning a three day weekend somewhere - if you fly to your destination on Thursday night, then work remotely on Friday, you will be ready to start your vacation at the end of the business day on Friday. Also, tacking on vacation days to holidays and weekends helps to create more travel opportunities.

I am also very committed to finding great travel deals, as they make traveling more accessible and affordable. There are a number of websites I follow daily, including The Flight Deal, Secret Flying and The Points Guy.

In terms of balancing work and my blog, I write wherever I can, often on my phone while commuting to work. I think of my blog as a second job and generate at least one new post a week. I also share new content regularly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and I frequently attend travel industry events to stay updated.

What is your travel philosophy?

My philosophy is inspired by a quote by Stephanie March (entrepreneur and actress) - “If you are a curious person, the world is always unfolding.” I think that everyone can interpret this in their own way, but for me, it summarizes my perspective on life and travel. There is so much of the world to see, whether that is locally or globally. It is a mindset of finding the beauty in things and being curious about the world and how people in different cultures and locations live. You can meet people who live on the other side of the world and marvel at the differences in your experiences, as well as the similarities. 

What are some of your favorite destinations?

South Africa is one of my favorite countries to visit. When I visited in 2014, I went on a safari, visited the Blyde River Canyon (which is the third largest canyon in the world), and spent some time in Johannesburg and Cape Town. I am drawn to different places for different reasons. I also love cities, especially London where I got to live for a year, as well as Hong Kong, Paris and Montreal.

Tausha Cowan at the southwestern point of South Africa
Hanging out at the most southwestern point of the African continent in South Africa
Are there any places that are still on your list?

I am going to Japan this year, which has been at the top of my list. I have also never been to South America, although I am hoping to visit the Patagonia region of Chile later this year or next. And I would love to visit more U.S. national parks - particularly Zion National Park in Utah.

What are your favorite books to travel with?

I don't necessarily differentiate between books I read while at home versus when traveling. In general, Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are two of my favorites. I also enjoy reading travel magazines for some travel inspiration, like Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Afar Magazine.

Any tips for planning summer travel?

Summer travel can be challenging because the prices are often higher than during the rest of the year, although this year summer airfare has been the lowest I've seen in a very long time. I recommend looking at dates in May or at the end of summer. September is, in my opinion, the best time to travel. The weather is optimal in many parts of the world, and there are many more deals available. If the only dates you can travel are in the middle of summer, it helps to be flexible about what day of the week you fly, not just on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I am also a big proponent of early planning in order to keep costs low.

To get more travel tips, visit The Globe Getter - www.theglobegetter.com - and follow Tausha on Twitter and Instagram - @theglobegetter.

Tausha Cowan in Old Havana, Cuba
Wandering around the colorful neighborhood of Old Havana in Cuba

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