September 29, 2011
As The Getaway Girl®, alumna Casey Wohl (Class of 1996) travels for a living and helps women plan trips together.
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s the motto that reinvigorated alumna Casey Wohl (Class of 1996) when she found herself suffering through a devastating divorce and job loss in 2007. With a handful of her closest friends by her side, Wohl began reinventing her life by combining her two passions: her girlfriends and her love of travel. Four years and two guide books later, the environmental studies major has successfully branded herself as The Getaway Girl®, a role that’s made her a travel correspondent for national television and magazines, as well as given her the opportunity to travel extensively around the world.
How did the idea for The Getaway Girl come about?
After a devastating divorce and getting fired from my job within a few months of each other, I was at a very low point in my life and extremely depressed. Fortunately, I have some amazing girlfriends who didn’t let me sit at home and cry. We started traveling (via Girlfriend Getaways), and I came back to life as we created new memories, had new adventures and felt completely rejuvenated. As we planned more of these trips, I would look for city-specific travel guides for women and could not find any online or in bookstores, so I decided to write one for Orlando. It was more of a bucket list idea (I had always wanted to write a book). I wrote the book, got another job and moved on with my life.
Two months later, Barnes & Noble called me. They said they loved the book, wanted to carry it and asked if I planned to write more. People in the book world said that doesn’t often happen and I should pursue this venture more seriously. So I did. Since then, I have been developing a business, which includes more than just books, based on travel and Girlfriend Getaways. In addition to the books, I’m also a travel correspondent for several TV and radio shows; have a strong online presence through my blog, website and social media; and have been featured on national television shows, in national magazines and get to travel to some of the most amazing places in the world (for free).
You’ve really become a media guru. Why do you think you’ve been so successful creating a following, not only of would-be travelers, but of media people?
A lot of travel correspondents focus on where to go, what to do, when to travel and how to get the best deal, but no one really talks about the “why” of travel. I always wanted to travel but never really took the plunge until I had to. Traveling with my girlfriends was a way for me to cope with my situation and depression, and I started to learn why everyone should travel.
Travel allows you to see the world, step out of your comfort zone and grow as a person. By meeting new people, learning about new cultures and religions, and experiencing new ways of life, I learned more about myself than I ever would have if I had I stayed at home. Plus, I encountered new adventures that built my confidence back up and empowered me. These are just a few examples of the “why” of travel. I lived it and learned from it, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I think people can really relate to that.
How has social media played a role in your success?
One of my trusted advisors and mentors told me early on to get involved with social media and I went (reluctantly). Now, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be credited with much of my success. We were also very creative in our social media marketing by doing fun events and promotions, such as the "12 Days 'til Christmas" Getaway Giveaway and the Sex and the City Movie Launch VIP Parties.
Never underestimate the power of social media no matter what business you are in. In fact, I am working on a very big television project right now that all came about because someone found me on social media sites.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Even though I had an idea and vision, I didn’t really know where to begin. I had no knowledge of the book/publishing industry, but my friends believed in me and gave me books so I could learn. I was like a sponge and tried to soak up as much as I could. One big hurdle was learning to “just jump.” I caught myself over-thinking many decisions when I just needed to let go and learn by trial and error. It was hard for me (and still is), but I now know this is the best way to learn. You are never an expert when you first start something new.
By Kristen Manieri
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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