Girls Who Travel | Saya Hillman

Girls Who Travel Meet and Greet: Saya Hillman


Meet Saya Hillman

It’s time for a #MeetAndGreetMonday. Today we’re introducing you to Saya Hillman, member of the Girls Who Travel group, founder of Mac and Cheese Productions and all around badass.

What’s your dream? What does your end game look like?

I’m living my dream. But always have additions to the dream —

1) More work travel.

Bringing Mac & Cheese to other places — speaking engagements, workplace facilitation, personal growth events. Would love corporate sponsors to make this happen. A Life of Yes℠ Subaru tour?! Where Subaru provides a brand new Outback and finances M&C bringing Life of Yes℠ offerings to their existing community and to potential new community members.

Currently working on growing a travel branch to the M&C tree, geared towards folks who want to travel with other positive, open-minded people and have someone else do all the nitty gritty.

2) More mini-lives.

The idea of three months in Barcelona and two months on Caye Caulker and four months in New York is uber appealing. Upping my services that can be done anywhere (consulting, webinars, etc.). Not vacations but a continuance of my Chicago life. Just elsewhere.

3) Related, more passive income.

Through my Life of Yes℠ products (posters, notecards, How To Manuals, travel guides), licensing my offerings, M&C trained independent contractors, book sales*.

4) *Write and publish a book.

Working Titles:
• Bullied, Dumped, & Fired: I’m OK and You Will Be Too
• Where Do I Sit at Lunch?, Will I Be Picked Last?, Why Hasn’t He Called?, Do You Have a Plunger? and Other Heartbreaking Quandaries You Survive
• No One Told Me That to Remove Bangs, You Let Them Grow Out, You Don’t Cut Them Off: a memoir about surviving not knowing what everyone else knows
• The Poor-Rich, Fat-Skinny, Ugly-Pretty, White-Black, Quiet-Loud, Non Jew-Jew Who’s Just Like You

Working Synopsis:
A book about how a sad, silent abnormal girl grew up to be a blissful, vocal abnormal woman as Saya learned to embrace her literal and figurative stretch marks. Her everyday’ness, transparency, and shrugs at embarrassment make for a witty and inspiring reflection that’ll have you murmuring throughout, “Me too!” Even though you couldn’t be more different. Bonus: Saya weaves in business acumen gleaned from her years of accidental and successful entrepreneurism, which started when she heard the words, “I need you to pack your stuff and go.”

I struggle with accountability and discipline when it comes to my book so would love a book deal or some other type of financial scenario that’d keep me on track (a Writing Sabbatical where a rich benefactor sponsors me for three months to just write?! Three months in a Lake Como villa?!).


What is your travel style? How would you describe it?

Personally, I love to be Fake Oprah when traveling. Meaning I loooooove luxury. But I also can’t afford luxury. So travel hacking my way into swanky hotels, first class train, boat, plane transport, and other perks like complimentary food and drink, lounge access, and spa services is what warms my wee heart.

I just got back from 17 days in Italy. It should’ve cost $8500. We paid $4500.

For my hubs and I’s 40th birthdays we’re heading to Japan. We paid $500 total for first class, direct flight tickets that without travel hacking would’ve cost $42000. That’s not a typo. $42K. And I’m talks with a corporation about sponsoring other parts of the trip.

Best Friend and I are flip-flops and jeans folks who hate shopping, would rather wander neighborhoods than museums, think riding public transit is a fun adventure, and usually choose street-cart food over Michelin restaurants [as of Spring 2017, Best Friend is now vegan so we often explore cities through this lens]. We like 2pm naps, followed by an HGTV reno show. We travel light and haven’t checked bags in years. We love getting bumped (if there’s substantial credit/other perks involved). We try to travel as frugally as possible whenever possible and when we access airport lounges, upgrade to business class, or stay in high-end lodging, it’s usually due to travel hacking (points or the like). That said, I am willing to pay a bit more to stay in a safe, clean, “nice” place. We’re no longer into couchsurfing, hostels, or sharing an Airbnb with others. Best Friend would be perfectly happy staying at a not so nice place, I need a certain level of comfort.

Additionally, I’d describe my travel style much like my business style (which I talk about below). One of “You do you” ilk.

A friend commented on a post of mine once, “What are you doing on Facebook?!? Go enjoy your vacation!” And I see lots of similar type posts on other people’s vacation photos. It irked me on mine and they irk me on others.

If I want to scroll and post to Facebook as I lay by the pool in Tulum…
If I want to do work at a coffeeshop in Argentina…
If I want to watch HGTV in Omaha…
If I want to never leave the hotel in Miami…
If I want to bypass museums in Italy…

I can, I should, and I need not feel bad nor apologetic.

Who cares if in Italy, I don’t like espresso, thought a pizza was so-so, visited one museum, and ate McDonald’s?! It’s my vacation. While I think it sounds horrible, if you want to vacation by clubbing, rock climbing, and/or staring at statues, I could give a flying you know what and don’t think any less of you because you choose to vacation the way you want to vacation.

“Vacation” is different things to different people. To be able to give someone a proposal for workplace facilitation, fulfill an order for a Life of Yes℠ poster, empty my inbox, or answer a question from one of our campers while sitting on a beach or while back in the hotel after a day out sightseeing? I love that. Vacation for some means unplugging. Not doing any work. Personally, I like being plugged in. I like doing work. Not all the time. But in spurts, yes.

The travel that rocks? The travel that’s the best? The travel that’s Life of Yes℠? Is the travel that fits you.

What do you credit most to your success?

Living a Life of Yes℠.

Which means I live the life I want to lead and don’t worry about:
• What others think
• How others do things
• If I’m doing it “right”
• Fitting in
• Five, ten, thirty years from now
• “Success” as defined by others

You do you.

In an ideal world, and the world in which I exist, when I do I, it also benefits others, which creates the scenario I love most: win-win.

It helps to know yourself and know what you deem “success” to look like, that way you know what to strive for and if you’re headed in the right direction.

Success to me is:
• waking up via the sun not an alarm
• not having to put on pants most days
• Trader Joe’s and yoga at 10am on a Tuesday
• spontaneous travel for however long I want
• afternoon naps
• using my superpowers — things that come easily to me and that I enjoy — to help others
• being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it


Be sure to visit Saya’s website, Mac and Cheese Production and keep checking back here for more Meet and Greet posts, where you can get to know our inspiring Girls Who Travel members!

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