Charting New Paths: Danielle Desir Corbett’s Journey from Debt-Free Globetrotter to Podcasting Powerhouse

Meet Danielle Desir Corbett, a rather incredible podcaster, financial strategist, and passionate traveler.

We had the chance to speak with Danielle and talk about her career in detail, covering her impressive journey from conquering personal debts and navigating global travels to empowering others through her podcasts, The Thought Card and Road Trip Ready, which was just started this year!

Danielle launched The Thought Card Podcast in 2018, quickly earning accolades for her unique blend of travel savvy and financial advice. Nomadic Matt recognized the podcast, and it won the 2022 Creator Economy Awards.

Beyond the podcast, Danielle has made some remarkable personal accomplishments, such as paying off $63,000 in student loans in four years and venturing across 27 countries, all while establishing herself as a homeowner by the age of 27. Her life’s philosophy that financial obligations shouldn’t hold one back from one’s dreams has fueled her content, making her a significant voice in the realms of budget travel and finance management.

In addition to hosting multiple podcasts, Danielle is a Podcast Marketing Coach who helps her clients build authority in their niche and grow their downloads by 5x using long-term podcast marketing strategies like SEO (search engine optimization) and PSO (podcast search optimization). She also helps podcasters prep for monetization, specifically securing their first four-figure podcast sponsorship. 

With a knack for storytelling and a pulse on her audience, Danielle has successfully partnered with various tourism boards, attractions, and prominent financial institutions, crafting engaging podcast campaigns that resonate with thousands of listeners worldwide. When she isn’t jet-setting, she’s sharing her insider knowledge with her 1:1 coaching clients. 

Danielle believes podcasters with audiences of less than 200,000 downloads can make great money doing what they love, and posting three times a day on social media is unnecessary to grow your podcast.

And… if that wasn’t enough. Lastly, a trusted resource for over 6,000 creatives, Danielle curates grants and other funding for U.S. creators, founders, and entrepreneurs in her monthly newsletter, Grants For Creators, which goes out to over 6,000 creatives!

Check out our interview with Danielle below.

Danielle Desir Corbett
Danielle Desir Corbett

What inspired you to focus on budget travel and specifically to empower BIPOC travelers through your platform, The Thought Card?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Early on, I realized you need money to travel, and this was the case when I couldn’t afford to study abroad in college. While I wanted to spend a semester in Paris, during The Great Recession, my mom was losing our home, the home she worked so hard to obtain as a single mother. 

Although I decided against studying abroad, I refused to let go of my dream. I knew that I could make it a reality with determination and a clear plan. I promised myself that I would visit Paris one day, free from the burden of financial worry. And I kept that promise. 

In 2014, I booked my first trip to Paris, proving that I could overcome any obstacle that stood in my way.

Last year, I experienced a moment of pure joy and fulfillment when I took my mom and son on a week-long Paris vacation. Seeing their smiles and amazement as we explored the city, I knew we had come a long way from where we started.

When I launched my travel and personal finance blog, The Thought Card, in 2105, I figured I couldn’t be the only person trying to manage their finances – balancing student loans, wanting to purchase a home, and travel. 

The mission of ‘The Thought Card’ is to empower individuals, especially those from marginalized communities, to achieve their travel and financial goals through practical tips and personal stories. 

Can you share some early challenges you faced in addressing diversity and inclusion in the travel industry?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Early in my career as a travel creator, I was overlooked and often passed up for opportunities because I did not fit the target demographic. My experiences and perspectives were often undervalued or dismissed, making it harder for me to break into the industry.

I saw a significant shift around 2019 when studies stated that Black U.S. leisure travelers were going on vacation. This was a turning point, as it challenged the stereotype that Black people don’t travel for leisure and highlighted the growing diversity in the travel industry. It was a moment of empowerment for me and many others in the BIPOC travel community.

That year, Black travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel, 13.1% of the U.S. leisure travel market. The travel industry could no longer overlook our buying power. 

How has your approach to budget travel evolved since you first started?

Danielle Desir Corbett: I started traveling after graduate school while making little money and drowning in student loan debt. At the time, budget travel was all I could afford. I stayed at hostels, used public transportation instead of taxis, made my own meals instead of eating out, and sought out free things to do. 

Today, with more disposable income, a bigger travel budget, and a lot more experience under my belt, I’m a mid-range affordable luxury traveler. 

While I enjoy some finer things when I travel, I understand that spending more in one area of my travel budget means spending less in other areas. 

While I have a bigger travel budget today, I still have a finite amount of money earmarked for travel. I allocate most of my travel budget to high-priority items and experiences and aim to spend minimally or ditch the rest. I am okay with flying economy if that means dining at the best restaurants in town or staying in a top-tier hotel room with a view.

What key techniques or strategies have you found effective in helping individuals build their travel savings?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Treating travel like a regular recurring monthly bill is the key to making it a financial priority. Set money aside monthly for travel, similar to your mortgage or gym membership. The only difference is that instead of paying someone else, you’re investing in yourself. 

Next, separate and automate. Create a travel fund, a separate savings account dedicated to your travel goals. Set up direct deposit automation from your employer so a portion of your paycheck goes directly to your travel fund every pay period. This way, you’re always actively saving for travel even if you don’t have an upcoming vacation planned. 

From your experience, what common misconceptions do people have about budgeting for travel?

Danielle Desir Corbett: People often think budgeting and saving for travel has to be a challenging, drawn-out process. The reality is that budgeting for travel can be effortless if you start by saving what you can afford to miss, even if very little. 

For some, budgeting may feel restrictive, but reframe your mindset around that thought. Think about all that budgeting can comfortably afford you to do like plan dream vacations to the locales of your choice. 

Danielle Desir Corbett
Danielle Desir Corbett

How do you tailor travel budgets to fit different travel goals and financial situations?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Defining your travel style will help you identify the most valuable aspects of travel and optimize your spending to achieve your desired travel goals. Your travel style reflects your interests and values and dictates what you do on vacation and spend money on. 

For example, if you’re a foodie, you might allocate more of your budget to dining experiences. You might prioritize activities and guided tours if you’re an adventure or culture seeker. 

Every traveler has a unique way of traveling that reflects their interests and values. Tailor your travel budget to align closely with your travel goals and preferences. Allocate more of your budget to those priority areas and look for ways to save on less important expenses.

What advice would you give someone who feels their financial obligations are a barrier to exploring the world?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Society often makes us feel like we have to be all in: all in on paying off our debt or traveling, for example. However, I’ve always focused on the “and” instead of “or.” 

I believe it’s possible to work on multiple goals simultaneously and that our financial responsibilities don’t have to be a barrier to exploring the world.

I travel often, and I’m a homeowner. I travel and save for retirement. 

You can work on multiple goals simultaneously. Don’t let others dictate what’s possible for you. 

In your opinion, what is the most significant barrier BIPOC travelers face today, and how can it be overcome?

Danielle Desir Corbett: While the travel industry has progressed over the last ten years, many destinations and attractions still need to include more People of Color in their marketing and promotional materials. This lack of representation can make BIPOC travelers feel unwelcome or unsafe. To overcome this, it’s important for the travel industry to genuinely prioritize diversity and inclusion in its marketing strategies and for travelers to support inclusive and welcoming businesses.

Looking at the current travel industry, what changes or innovations are you most excited about?

Danielle Desir Corbett: I’m excited about all the emerging travel trends. At the beginning of every year, I review reports about what travelers prioritize for the upcoming year. They are fun to read, and I also learn about new experiences I may want to try or topics I would like to cover on my website and podcast. In 2024, sleepcations, luxe-for-less, and using AI for trip planning are on the rise.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to aspiring travelers who look up to you for guidance and inspiration?

Danielle Desir Corbett: You don’t need to have everything figured out to get started. Start small and build on your momentum. One day, you’ll see how far you’ve progressed. 

Danielle Desir Corbett
Danielle Desir Corbett

What is your favorite trip you’ve ever taken and why?

Danielle Desir Corbett: A few years ago, I had the chance to visit China with my then-boyfriend and now husband. Having never visited Asia before, we felt worlds away as we explored several different Chinese cities on a 10-day cross-country trip, including Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

We walked on the historic Great Wall of China, cruised on the Huangpu River in Shanghai, visited a tea village, and rode the fastest train in the world. If you have the opportunity to travel to China, you are in for an adventure of a lifetime.

Lastly, is there a specific mantra, quote, or affirmation that you hold close to your heart?

Danielle Desir Corbett: Growing up, my mom taught me to be my own advocate. “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” she said. I learned to speak up for what I wanted because if I didn’t ask, the answer was always “No.”

Published in Featured Articles, Featured Women
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Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site