'Be Your Sparkly Best' interview with Gaelle De Vriendt

Gaelle is a globe trotter and a wanderlust! Her love for travel, experiences and adventure has now made her an entrepreneur. Gaëlle is the founder of Girls on Travel, an upcoming digital travel business that facilitates group travel for solo girls of all ages. Destinations range from day trips, weekend trips to England and Europe, to longer trips to Asia or South America. Girls on Travel recently featured in Forbes magazine and was accepted in the Natwest Accelerator programme. Social Media - https://www.facebook.com/girlsontravel.co.uk/

Gaelle, lovely to have you with us! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What were your early influences?

Glad to be with you Hema ! I would describe myself as a Belgium born globe-trotter entrepreneur living in London, which also happens to be my favourite city in the world. Absolutely in love with this place. I basically travelled around quite a lot as I did my first years of education in Belgium, than changed to France, and finished in England. My parents loved travelling and I really got this eager to travel from them as we travelled everywhere from a young age.

I gather you travelled a lot as a child. What is your favourite holiday from your childhood? Why?

This is a really difficult one ! Each holiday was so different and interesting. But I would say it is a trip to Panama. The country is still not really touristic but was even less back then. We travelled for a week around the country and then a week on a boat, my first sailing experience with a couple and their adorable dog! This was incredible as we hopped from island to island to discover indigenous groups like the Kunas, sometimes living with a family of 6 on an island alone. This  was an absolute culture shock but I learnt so much about this culture.

Was there one defining moment when you decided you wanted to work in the travel industry? 

Absolutely! That day when another woman told me she wasn’t travelling because her friends were all busy and she wasn’t up for travelling alone. Hearing this made me want to scream as a travel passionate and that’s when I decided I could do something about it.

How did the idea for Girls on Travel come about?  Was it gestating for a while or did it all come together swiftly?

Well actually when I arrived in London I did not know many people. So I started to find Facebook groups and meetups and do activities with other women: brunch, museum, quiz, walks… The travel topic would regularly come back and that’s when I realized that travel agencies for women only trips in the UK were non-existent. So this is how Girls on Travel was born, so it was pretty swift indeed.

Tell us about the USP of your business? Is it true that having meaningful company makes the travel experience that much richer?

The USP is the social platform. Women can create a profile and get to know each other before going on the trip. That removes the pressure of not knowing who you will be travelling with and makes you more at ease before going on the trip. The company is all about connecting like-minded solo female travellers, and that makes your experience richer. Women going on a particular trip will have common grounds or passion and this is the whole point. The world can feel really lonely and creating new friendships is so important, that is what we are aiming for.

What would you suggest as the ideal Christmas getaway for a bootstrapped entrepreneur like me? Just kidding... I think the low cost, high value travel destination is attractive to everyone.

Well actually we are planning a trip to Thailand for the end of the year, what is more exotic than spending NYE in a warm and heavenly country?! Come join! But you are absolutely right, price is a key factor but what is most important is having a truly valuable trip, an experiential travelling where you will be able to see the well-known but also the off the beaten tracks locations and spend time with locals. We strongly believe that group travels should be done in a different way, with smaller groups and authentic places.

What does ‘Be your sparkly best’ mean to you?

I love that word! To me it means giving the best of myself, doing my best, striving and achieving, going further. Being an entrepreneur is a bumpy road, with highs and lows so always try to be open about your feelings. It is ok to feel whatever you are feeling at that moment. I strongly believe in Mindfulness and this has helped me a lot.

What kind of jewellery do you like? Do you have a personal favourite?

I do not wear much jewellery but therefore I also have a favourite one. It’s a diamond given by my aunt belonging to my great-grandmother that we turned into my wedding ring, a stunner!

Which Hep Audrey piece do you like the best?

I absolutely love the Corona large pear in rose quartz. I am all about pink lately, this piece is very elegant and discreet, but you also make a statement by wearing them.

If you were a gemstone, which one would you be? Why?

I think I would be a Quartz. When I was 10 years old a family member gave me a quartz and told me to hold it every time I felt down. And it was so incredible, I felt the energy coming through the stone and getting into my body, I was suddenly feeling a lot stronger and better. Gemstones can have actual healing properties and quartz is said to amplify energy, intention and support.

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