There are two things that Raya Encheva, the travel and lifestyle vlogger behind the popular Instagram account @RayaWasHere, wants you to know. The first is that no, she’s not rich, and no, her parents don’t pay for her travels. The second thing you should know is that traveling the world is way more accessible than you think.
If anyone would know, it's her. In 2016, Encheva visited 20 countries and six continents, and thus far in 2017 has spent time in Slovenia, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Dubai, the Dominican Republic, and various locations throughout the U.S. She’s even working on a content series highlighting affordable travel options to help others visit their bucket list destinations.
In addition to being passionate about making travel more accessible, Encheva is dedicated to keeping wellness and self-care at the forefront of her mind, no matter where she is. And in today’s busy world, we could all learn a thing or two about balancing wellness with a jetsetting lifestyle.
To help everyone embody Encheva's commitment to wanderlust and wellness, we partnered with Starbucks, debuting their new Teavana® Shaken Iced Tea Infusions — the drink of choice for the lifestyle guru when she needs to recharge before her next adventure. Below, we talked to Encheva while she had a rare free moment in Los Angeles, where she shared details on how she stays balanced, gets inspired, and why she believes traveling is important for everyone.
How She Got Started
Encheva has been traveling her whole life — she was born in Bulgaria and moved nearly 17 or 18 times growing up. So a nomadic lifestyle just seems natural to her.
"I grew up with a fascination of meeting new people, and finding new ways that people do things," she explained. "Then in college, I took classes in social and cultural studies. I always wanted a job that allowed me to travel."
When she discovered YouTube in college, she found it to be mostly populated with beauty and fashion tutorials. But she liked the idea of using the video streaming service as a way to give advice to others, and learn about new experiences. After meeting her boyfriend, who showed her the different ways individuals were sharing travel content online, she decided to try filming her own videos featuring travel advice and must-visit destinations. That was in December of 2014. Today, Encheva shares her travels with hundreds of thousands of people every day.
On Balancing Work And Play
As a travel and lifestyle content creator with a huge audience (she has 140k followers on Instagram and nearly 150k subscribers on YouTube), Encheva’s mission is to share her journey of self-discovery, and encourage others to explore and discover themselves through travel, too.
Yet her fully nomadic lifestyle requires a lot of work and constant social media updates, which can get overwhelming. To stay balanced (and away from the computer screen!), Encheva incorporates physical activities that immerse her into the environment she’s in. Whether that’s hiking through Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, swimming in the Dominican Republic, taking a local fitness class, or skateboarding down the Santa Monica Pier, staying active is also a great way to see more of the city or location she’s visiting.
Behind Her Wanderlust Inspiration
With so many places in the world, it can be nearly impossible to decide where to go next. Encheva’s job brings her to certain destinations, but once she’s there, it’s up to her to decide where to go. To uncover gems in every locale, Encheva uses Instagram's tagged location feature to see where other people are doing and seeing in the area.
“Googling the top things to do in any city usually just results in a search return of boring tours,” Encheva explains. “Instagram’s location tag feature is the best way to find cool spots to visit and feel-good activities to try.”
On Why Travel Is So Important
“Traveling helps people get out of their bubble, and their comfort zones,” she says. “It helps us learn that the way we do things isn’t necessarily the only or right way to do things. It educates us about the world and other people.”
Of course, it’s always nice to have comforts from home to look forward to, too.
“There are Starbucks everywhere in the world, and it’s really comforting for me to be able to go into a Starbucks, no matter where I am,” she says.
This post is sponsored by Starbucks. Celebrate your summer with three new bold flavors of Teavana® Shaken Iced Tea Infusions — Iced Pineapple Black Tea, Iced Strawberry Green Tea, and Iced Peach Citrus White Tea — now available at participating Starbucks® Stores. These refreshing, hand shaken teas with fruit and botanical blends are free of artificial flavors or sweeteners, making them the perfect feel-good staple for your summer.
Learn more about what good feels like in the video below.
Photos: Douglas Sonders/ 8112 Studios; Art Direction: Amanda Depresz; Hair: Amy Gimble; Makeup: Elsie Simone.