In October 2013, Julie Kern, GWSB BBA ’10, left for a two-month trip to Thailand. She returned home almost eight months later.
“I had always wanted to travel and just go on a huge adventure,” the former marketing major says. “I know, it sounds crazy, but I’m so happy I did.”
Influenced by her travel experience, Julie, along with hometown friend Jessica Vitorelo, created Wanderlove—an online travel magazine that provides tips, guidance, and inspiration to aspiring travelers. Launched a little over a year ago, the publication now boasts five staff writers, dozens of travel guides and reviews, and a wealth of information on navigating everywhere from Italy to Cambodia.
Julie, who in addition to being a founder of Wanderlove is also its edtor, says she first thought about taking a trip while living on the East Coast.
“After graduation, I moved to Manhattan for a career in advertising. But after three years of city life, I knew I needed to change things up,” Julie recalls. She quit her job and bought a flight to Asia.
“I remember packing and thinking, there’s no better time to do this,” she says.
As her scheduled trip was coming to a close, Julie knew there was so much more to explore and made another gutsy decision.
“The day my flight was scheduled to depart for the U.S., I realized I had no intention to get on it,” she recalls. “I pretty much decided to stay and travel more until I ran out of money.”
Julie started her journey in Nepal, where she hiked to the Mount Everest base camp. She then followed a loop throughout Southeast Asia, including India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. Two months into her travels, Julie was joined by Jessica, and the two traveled together before eventually heading home to their native northern California.
“When we got home, Jessica and I kept getting messages from people we hadn’t talked to in years: former classmates, friends of friends. They all wanted to know more about our trip, how we paid for it, get some advice, and learn the best way to travel themselves,” Julie explains. “Before long, we both realized we had so much information, and we should do something with it. So, we created Wanderlove.”
Julie says what makes Wanderlove unique is its voice, which she describes as a “tell-it-like-it-is” style that appeals to a younger, backpacking crowd.
“The travel industry is pretty saturated, everyone wants to travel and tell their story. What’s different about our magazine is that it’s told through the voice of multiple people,” she says. “Sometimes travel can be difficult and expensive, and not always attainable, so we write honestly and openly to make travel feel accessible to everyone.”
Julie’s travel bug dates back to her time at GW, when she had her first opportunity to travel. She spent a semester of her junior year in Italy, studying at The American University of Rome.
“My time in Rome was a huge inspiration for me,” she says. “It definitely triggered the whole wanting to go abroad thing.”
While in D.C., Julie spent her undergraduate years involved with Pi Beta Phi sorority, the GW Club
Lacrosse team, and the Capitol Advertising Club (CAC).
“CAC had a huge impact on me,” she says, “as well as my marketing focus in the business school. Those skills are definitely helping me with Wanderlove right now.”
Since their first trek together, Julie and Jessica have visited Indonesia, Italy, Belize, and Hong Kong. Over the next few months, they will be travelling back to Thailand, heading out on a whitewater rafting trip in California, and are currently organizing a September trip to Costa Rica. Julie says she plans to conquer Central and South America next.
One of the expert traveler’s favorite memories, though, happened not too far from campus.
“My #OnlyAtGW moment has got to be the morning of graduation, sitting on the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial with my best friends,” Julie says. “I remember thinking how unreal it was that we spent the past four years living next to the National Mall.”
And her number one advice for any eager traveler?
“Keep an open mind! You can plan and plan every last detail, but things will go wrong. Your flight will get delayed, your bus will break down. But part of traveling is learning to improvise, and getting the most out of every experience.”
Follow Julie’s travels and pick up some of her tips for your next adventure at Wanderlove.