Influencers Hippie in Heels TEXT KATE GENEVIEVE IMAGES COURTESY OF RACHEL JONES "I think my biggest achievement is just following my heart." A cool breeze blows in after a long warm day at the beach; the moon is brilliant, giving luster to the glittering sea. Night evokes curiosity; adventures await – ah, paradise. When day dreaming isn’t enough to get you through the toils of daily life, making your dreams reality is a risky, but worthy, option. Sensational travel blogger, Rachel Jones, manifested her fantasy into reality, and now lives an inspired and charmed life that most can only imagine. Rachel grew up in a small town in Ohio and attended Ohio State University, graduating with honors in nursing. After eleven months of service in cardiac care in Charlotte, NC, she felt out of sync with her path. Something more magical was calling – a road less traveled. “I wanted to ride a camel and climb a mountain. It was as simple as that. I didn’t want to waste any time.” She took off for a three-month solo trip, and met the love of her life at a bar in southern India. Her enchanting journey began and soon, Goa, India became home. Shortly after, her travel blog, “Hippie in Heels,” was born, yielding opportunities to thrive and explore. The blog now ranks as the 28th top travel blog in the world, providing insight on more than thirty-five countries. Rachel has also produced a special Insider’s Guide to Goa, has written an e-book, and is currently a writer for Bravo TV. She lives a life of simplicity, yet exudes an exotic glamor, all while dropping how-to hints for anyone to follow. With one foot in the sand, and the other in platforms, Rachel Jones has taken off. How and why did you first get into blogging–what inspired you? I started blogging mainly because I had traveled so many areas in India alone, and friends of friends were getting in touch with questions. The basic answers were not online (or were very hard to find). I started writing those basic blog posts, like how to book a train in India as a foreigner. Things took off fast for me. I also needed a new job, and nursing wasn't an option in Goa. I was doing Thai massage then, and I started a candle company called ISLA, which I sold in markets. But the blog was something I started about four months after moving abroad. At that time, I didn't even know what travel blogging was. I thought I was just writing India travel tips on 42 a website−then things just took off, and I started learning SEO and all the rest from YouTube videos. It's been four years now since I started blogging, and things have changed so much. Now I see it as a professional job, which means investing into it, having a few people who work for me, and always looking for ways to grow as a brand. How did you come up with your blog name? “Hippie in Heels” was the invention of my friend, Alex. I made a Facebook message to my best friends and asked them what my name should be. I said I wanted it to show that my blog style can be a contradiction: girly-girl who gets dressed up to the nines and stays in a posh boutique hotel but also sometimes doesn’t brush her hair for a week and stays in a $5 hut on the beach. Alex said, “Hippie in Heels” and it just clicked! Greatest achievement outside of blogging? I write for Bravo TV’s travel section, which is my biggest freelance job, and I also wrote a book, “The Insider's Guide to Goa,” which is one-hundred and seventy pages long, and I think the most comprehensive guide to Goa there is. Outside of work, I think my biggest achievement is just following my heart. Going from nursing to making candles in my kitchen was a bit of a downgrade. I had to get past the idea of planning for the future and security of retirement funds and such, as I had to let all that−along with my car, health insurance, and most of my belongings−go. What do you love most about blogging? My blog allows me to travel all over the world – thirty-six countries so far, fifteen or more I've repeatedly visited. I'm writing this from London, where I've been maybe ten times over the past five years. I love getting to wander around the world and choose where I want to go next. Traveling on a whim and being free was always the goal. I also set my own hours and can work when I feel like it or have a beach day instead. It's nice not to have to go to work, but to work from home.