How One Travel Experience Can Transform Your Entire Life: March Alumni Spotlight

Jennifer DeSimone
January 16, 2024

The great Nobel Peace (and literature) Prize nominee Martin Buber penned the above quote. It could not be truer for the following alum who experienced life-shifting transformations post travel with Under30Experiences.

Each of these alums have their own unique story, and each were transformed by their individual experiences in their own ways.

What connects them is the fact that while on these trips, they had no idea where their journey was about to lead them.

Maria Joyner

blog-How-One-Travel-Experience-Can-Transform-Your-Entire-Life-March-Alumni-Spotlight -maria-joyner.jpg
‍Holding a rare orchid bee during scientific expedition

Trips: Costa Rica Rainforest, Brazil, Columbia; Iceland, & the Inca Trail in September! 

Current location: Cuatro Esquinas de Pital, Costa Rica

Her story: "From the moment I stepped out of the U30X van in November 2014, I fell in love with Rancho Margot, a self-sustainable, chemical-free ranch located near the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Six months later, I returned to the ranch for a one-month volunteering gig but ended up staying 3 months…then going home, quitting a job that I loved, selling all my stuff, and moving to Costa Rica in January 2015. The past year I’ve learned how to live off of the land, raise chickens and rabbits, and farm without the use of chemicals. Now, I’m raising money to purchase land to begin a self-sufficient ranch and STEM education program."

Connect: @mariajoyner

Chelsea McCabe


Trips: Costa Rica Rainforest & Bali

Current location: Bantayan Island, Philippines

Her story: "I always wanted to travel but like so many people I was afraid and not sure where to start. I found U30X and it was a great way to get my feet wet while gaining a strong community to rely on. I met so many people who had traveled extensively and had seen the world in a real way. I was inspired and knew I could DO it myself. So, with a ton of guidance and advice from everyone I knew I left my life in Las Vegas and ventured onto a journey with no end! I'm 6 weeks into a SE Asia adventure and I'm not looking back."

Connect: @chelsearaye

Andy Ung


Trips: Starter Costa Rica

Current location: New York

His story: "I went on the Starter Costa Rica trip back in November 2014. The trip spark the curiosity of the world and passion to build inner strength I never knew I had. All it took was 3 simple words...Just do it!. Inspired by the passion heart of loved ones, I have been focused on traveling and photographing the world ever since I returned."

Connect: @andyung860

Lauren Cummings


Trips: Ireland, BelizeIceland & Yoga Costa Rica

Current location: Annapolis, Maryland

Her story: "The friendships I made on the first Under30experiences trip forced me to reevaluate my career paths, and the continue support from them and the other trips helped me decide to take the leap and quit my job. I had no direction at that time but knew it was the right choice. I then followed my passion in the food/health field and moved to Maryland for a fresh start now pursuing a more meaningful career with food advocacy in the school system. If it wasn't for the brave individuals I met that were pursuing their own goals and dreams I don't think I would of had the courage to do what I did."

Connect: @lolocakes

My hope is that within this series of alumni profiles, that you find the inspiration and community to courageously seek out your own transformations.


Are you an alum who is working on a new project, launching a business, or writing a blog? I'd love to connect! 

Join us in one of 20+ communities across the US and Canada at one of our upcoming events

Jennifer DeSimone
Currently based in Austin, Jennifer is the Chief of Community for U30X. She has a passion for creating connections, community, and opportunities for more empathy. In her spare time you can find her on her yoga mat, whipping up something yummy in the kitchen, or reading a good book.


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