Bloggers

Meet Jennifer Hart: The Life Journey Of A Writer with An Expat’s Eye for Travel Experiences

Jennifer is the writer behind Domestic Bliss Abroad and a subscriber on the Guidrr platform, sharing experiences in small-town Switzerland on the app – with more to come

 Jennifer Hart is a writer based in Morges, Switzerland who hosts self-guiding experiences for her blog Domestic Bliss Abroad on  Guidrr .

Jennifer Hart is a writer based in Morges, Switzerland who hosts self-guiding experiences for her blog Domestic Bliss Abroad on Guidrr.

This week, we welcome Jennifer Hart, a writer, mother and expat by life choice, to our creator community. Her first two experiences, set in Switzerland, draw from the latest home in her expat life journey. Jennifer first arrived in small-town Switzerland by way of a winding and beautiful set of career and family travel experiences that includes stints in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and France.

Born in Thunder Bay, Canada, in what she describes as a “middle of nowhere” town, to a half-Canadian, half-American father and a British-Maltese mother, Jennifer always knew that she needed something more. She shares the story of how she would be mesmerized by her mother’s stories of growing up listening to the Beatles in England, or stories from her grandmother’s “very Southern Belle/American Vogue” life moving between Paris, Barcelona and Milan. “I didn’t fit it in. The life I was living wasn’t the life I imagined for myself.”

For Jennifer, writing was always a haven during her school days. In fact, she won the Canadian youth writing prize two years in a row. “All along, writing kept me sane,” she shares. “I didn’t realize I would make a life out of it.”

For Jennifer, imagining the world was replaced by really experiencing it for the first time at age 19. She set off on a one-way ticket to a gap year in England. But this first travel experience didn’t quite work out the way she imagined. Like many young, aspiring travelers, she experienced the realities of being away and making life work. “I was too young and immature. I wasn’t ready.”

She returned to her small logging town, at a loss and trying to decide what to do next. Her interest in culinary experiences - “I’ve always been a foodie” - led her to chef school and apprenticeships in Toronto. From there, she decided to go a bit further, and spent time studying near Milwaukee, Wisconsin – (ironically the city where our Guidrr team first met Jennifer, at the Women in Travel Summit 2017).

 Jennifer’s  guide  re-creates icon Audrey Hepburn’s life in Morges, Switzerland

Jennifer’s guide re-creates icon Audrey Hepburn’s life in Morges, Switzerland

She was back in Canada completing her master’s degree, when she first connected with her now-husband (the couple have two children, and they live in Morges, Switzerland, the subject of one of Jennifer’s first Guidrr guides, recreating the steps of long time Morges resident Audrey Hepburn in a 24-hour local experience).

“He was a London boy living in Paris. How could I not fall for that?” she says, and the two decided to build a life together. They married in 2006, and together spent 10 years living and working in Paris and starting their own family, while Jennifer navigated a career helping others live holistically via nutrition.

Throughout her husband’s business travels and their life moves, she still kept turning to writing, and when the move to Switzerland happened, she decided to begin blogging for friends as a way to share the story of her life – with a blog titled “Domestic Bliss Abroad.” In the blog, her two kids and husband “Mr H” are featured in adventures that include the outdoors and skiing, along with Jennifer’s own musings on travels and experiences she’s had. The blog is a way for Jennifer to write publicly under her own brand, but all along she’s also been a ghost-writer for others, maintaining a strong connection to the writing world. One of the subjects she is most passionate about is the complicated life of being an expat. It’s the subject of a book to come, and she’s already been published as part of an anthology on the subject.

“As a writer I navigate between cultural norms and understand how to write for different audiences”

— Jennifer Writer and blogger at Domestic Bliss Abroad

“I think for me, says Jennifer, “it goes back to how I ended up here - every time I have moved, I’ve entered somewhere as one person and left as another. All of those people are inside me, all of the time. I can easily blend into a group of Americans. I can do that in England, France, Canada, and here. When I am around people, I’m the foreigner within. And, in fact, all of those versions of me, who live inside me, all of them are looking at my experiences at same time with a very different perspective.”

This has helped her professionally as much as it’s motivated her creatively. “As a writer I navigate between cultural norms and understand how to write for different audiences. What succeeds in Britain is very different, for example, with what succeeds in America. I understand that.” For her, the art of writing is both creativity, but also psychology and sociology. It’s about knowing what buttons to push to have some react to her content, absorb it, and truly enjoy it.

With her first two Guidrr mobile-first experiences, (the second is about how to spend 48 hours in Lausanne – the Olympic town), Jennifer launches her own dedicated mobile travel guidance channel on the app, with plans to share experiences that families like hers can enjoy inside Switzerland and around the world.

 In Jennifer’s 48 Hour  Lausanne guide , she shares her insider tips for visitors to enjoy.

In Jennifer’s 48 Hour Lausanne guide, she shares her insider tips for visitors to enjoy.

In the works are family trips to Malta (where her own maternal family is from) and the UK (where her husband’s family is still based).

 Jennifer Hart is an avid ski-er in additional to being a writer and blogger 

Jennifer Hart is an avid ski-er in additional to being a writer and blogger 

When talking about her personal brand, Jennifer gets reflective about what seventeen years on the road has taught her. “I’m a long-term traveler, and that’s what I understand and am known for in my community of writers, and friends.” Between writing for her own blog, ghost writing and sharing experiences on Guidrr, she’s also focused on her main project – to complete her own book about being an expat, a person who is fundamentally international.

We can’t wait to read it, Jennifer – and to see more of your experiences hit the app. Welcome to the Guidrr subscriber community!

Download Jennifer’s free, insider Lausanne and Morges Switzerland travels guides (note: links will open inside the app if you already have Guidrr’s iPhone app downloaded. Otherwise we’ll text you a link to follow to make the free download and open up directly to Jennifer’s beautiful step-by-step experiences in a mobile-first format. No more squinting to read a blog on a phone!).

View Jennifer’s guides on her own mobile Guidrr channel here (visible from an iPhone inside the Guidrr app)
Follow @DomesticBlissAbroad on Instagram here
View the Domestic Bliss Abroad blog here

 Want to host a channel for your travel guidance on our app? Learn about how Guidrr’s platform supports busy travel writers and bloggers and their tourism partners seeking a way to go mobile-first with their destination guidance

#WITS16 A Wrap! And It Was a Blast

Though we are a small team, we do travel far at Guidrr -- using the passion of our own creator community to grow our presence in the industry and introduce our monetization and engagement solution. We sent Guidrr Creator @aimeebentson - author of popular on-demand experiences on our app like her Fountainbleu experience, to rep Guidrr at the #WITS16 Summit by @She'sWanderful in Irvine, California. A single mom who loves to travel and owns a platform for women creatives, Avyn Apparel, Aimee went to #WITS16 to challenge women bloggers to create more solo travel experiences, so others could walk the world in their shoes. 

 @AimeeBentson and new friends at #WITS16 enjoying some photo booth fun! 

@AimeeBentson and new friends at #WITS16 enjoying some photo booth fun! 

While Aimee was at WITS, she shared her own personal Guidrr story with many of her fellow attendees, who shared her interest in monetizing their travel writing, and in creating more opportunities to combine their love of travel with work in the industry. Thanks to all the awesome women who shared their name with Aimee and our team to be contacted and welcomed into our creator community! You will be welcomed in this coming week. 

A special thanks to some of those we welcomed today - pictured below and also on our Instagram for @Guidrr. They include Susie, Vicki, April, Sheila Stone, Melissa. So many more will be welcomed shortly! Thanks also to @She'sWanderful for putting on a great event. Kudos to the whole team. Remember that blog we wrote about why we were going to WITS? We loved being a startup sponsor and we'll be back next year in Milwaukee, for sure! Aimee put it perfectly when she got back. Here's what she said: 

WITS was a unique and memorable experience, incredibly valuable for connecting with other women as passionate about travel as I am
— @AimeeBentson, Guidrr Creator

If you're a travel writer or blogger who wants to use our app as a channel to create mobile, self-guiding travel experiences for your follower audience, and receive sponsorship and/or sales for your original experiences, get started today or get in touch! We'd love to support you. 

We Are The... ? Getting to the Elevator Pitch

In the space of just a few months, our team announced we were joining a cool new on-demand accelerator to build an MVP for some sort of a travel guiding thing. (This is paraphrasing what people said back to us). To be honest, we had a pretty clear vision all along but decided to show and not tell what we meant. 

Now we're well on our way with a live platform, and a beautiful product off to the Appstore (as a leader at one local Dallas company we admire put it, beyond an MVP to a MLP - or a product you can really love.

So today, we're pleased to share a little more about who we think we are, in language that can simplify our big vision down to something easily understood by those who pitch and those who hear the pitch thing. 

We're the Etsy for Travel Influencers

Like Etsy, a company we greatly admire, we see the potential in peer-to-peer business, and in the growing world of influencers and micro-entrepreneurs.

We have built our product to treat each creator's knowledge as a valuable asset - not just a thing to give away. As our founder said the other day to a blogger she was having coffee with after our soft launch, it's time to stop with everything travel content being a freemium. Things beautifully crafted deserve to be both shared & valued - the funnel going deeper for those who have invested in giving others a peer to peer perspective into their world, like influencers, bloggers and instagrammers.

That's the philopshy behind our model of a offering a free app, so our creators can offer downloadable, self-priced guides to those who already admire and follow their unique perspective on the world. 

Like Etsy, we believe in giving back to our community. That's why the lion's share of the revenue for Guidrr guide sold returns to each creator. If you are a Guidrr creator, it's our goal to treat you as a real business person, no matter the size of your community. We look at your creation as a craft, and are honored to help you sell to the global marketplace. 

We're busy crafting our launch announcement and it will include ways we support and give back to the #NewTravel community, and it will reveal more about our Wanderslush Fund. 

Here's to #NewTravel and our big vision to be the little start up that could.

To our amazing global community of creators who have already joined us on this journey - YOU are why we exist. Thank you!

Thanks also to our awesome DFW startup advisory board and to our Co-Build tech team and those busy working on building our community one creator at a time. We're all in this together

If you like our vision, and have knowledge to craft & share inside our simple, intuitive private platform, and like the idea of becoming a global seller using Guidrr, do apply here

Graci, Florence Friends!

This was a September to remember, as we celebrated the story of Guidrr's journey to market with a soft launch last week with friends new and old in beautiful Florence, Italy. Why Florence you might ask? In one sense, this was symbolic. The business model was first discussed and validated with a local Florence influencer, and it seemed apt to return to the place the concept of Guidrr was fully born to celebrate it's go to market. But in another sense, Florence is a key city to illustrate the benefits of Guidrr both for influencers and travelers. A highly saturated tourism market, Florence has so much to offer the traveler willing to move off the beaten path. It's back streets, it's lesser-known monuments and its local foods, shops and vistas are true gifts for the curious traveler. What better place to soft launch than a city that invites 16 million tourists, most of whom never ever venture to the other side of the Arno, visit a true local artisan shop or ever speak with a bone fide local? We believe, and hope that together we can forge new pathways through a city that today shows most of its visitors just one mass travel story. As we joked with one local tour guide who shall remain un-named -- Florence is so very much more than checking the box at the Uffizi! 

With our vision of #newtravel, Guidrr is about the belief that we should not have to follow a prescribed path set by others who would have travel exactly as they do. That's called tourism. Instead, we're in the business of supporting those who are creating and growing peer-to-peer travel, where we can travel as if with the knowledge of a friend, even if we're traveling solo. 

Our soft launch event, organized for us by local blogger Nardia, of blog Lost in Florence, was an intimate, invite-only event gathered together creatives, artists, singers, business owners -- a beautiful mix of city influencers -- to introduce them for the first time to the Guidrr business model and vision.

We were pleased to share the evening with Creative People in Florence co-founders, who launched their new studio space on Via de Mezzo in the Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood that night and hosted our group. Thanks Sara and Anna for your hospitality and it was a pleasure to discover a new neighborhood, coffee spot and local market, in addition to your studio space. We can't wait to share a Guidrr guide to Sant'Ambrogio, and to welcome your own local guides to our mix. (To get them as they launch, sign up here). 

Graci Firenze. Here's to together building #NewTravel - where influencers like you can share with followers how to walk in your shoes, across the whole of your city -- and your world. Thank you for being a part of our story. 

 We soft launched Guidrr over operatives, at a newly opening studio space on Via de Mezzo, hosted by Lost in Florence's Nardia and Creative People in Florence cofounders Anna and Sara. 

We soft launched Guidrr over operatives, at a newly opening studio space on Via de Mezzo, hosted by Lost in Florence's Nardia and Creative People in Florence cofounders Anna and Sara. 

Oh What a Week It's Been!

When you are readying as a team to launch something new, and different, time isn't just spent on product features, it's also spent on conversations. 

We've had just such a week of conversations - both in person and online at our Instagram - and what a fun week it's been, with a huge jump in followers and conversations with the global community of #newtravel micro-entrepreneurs. 

We've talked with Airbnb hosts, interested in using Guidrr to promote their neighborhood and discovery of their properties. There are in places like Lyon and Seattle - showcasing how universal the needs of the #newtravel industry are. 

We've talked with travel authors, who were struggling to identify how to take their walking tour content to new millennial audiences and into the App Store world, and who are ready and waiting for Guidrr's app launch. In one author's words, "I have lots of content to create - I'm intrigued by how you solve my problems. And, I don't have or want to deal with tech - so I like that I don't need tech skills to make this happen for my publishing business."

More conversations occur every day with bloggers, and we welcomed many new applicants this week, from places as far-flung as Ireland, and Brazil, to name just two. Through reading about our story and through the voices of other bloggers who are talking about us, they reached out and shared kudos and excitement. Thank you! 

We had a long post from a writer and software engineer in Toronto. She said, "I would love to share how I experience Toronto and how there's more to the city than the CN Tower, Nathan Philips Center and the Zoo." She shared a series of ideas on our Instagram and intends to apply to create experiences. 

Probably the highlight of our week was this beautiful postcard from Firenze. Written by a content creator in that city, it shares the story of how Guidrr can help bloggers and instagrammers succeed and grow their business. Thanks Nardia and hope you are enjoying #Sicilying! 

Our team is off this weekend for a quick tour of Mexico City. Our process is to first see, smell, hear and feel the city. Only then do we try to serve its micro-entrepreneurs. So, we're off to eat some great local street food, and take it all in. Follow along on our Instagram account and Twitter @Guidrr. 

Here's to #NewTravel!

  Here's a snippet of a lovely conversation happening on Instagram about Guidrr. We love to see this happen! 

Here's a snippet of a lovely conversation happening on Instagram about Guidrr. We love to see this happen!