Arielle Bowers: Travel Show Creator, Backpacking Aficionado

How many of us have said, "I just want to quit my job and travel the world! I'll do yoga in India, talk to healers in Africa and learn about the world through the eyes of a rainforest guide in Brazil!" Once we start daydreaming about the infinite possibilities, it starts to become something feasible in a "maybe in five years if I can save up the money . . ." kind of way.

Well, Arielle and five of her closest friends didn't feel like waiting. Instead, this group of six millennials opted to live out their wanderlust dreams by quitting their day jobs, scrounging up some cash and heading down under to Australia. And then they made a plan to help fellow millennials learn about and explore the world for themselves.

Armed with only a DSLR camera and an iPhone—and relying on social media to find their destinations—the friends filmed the pilot episode of their reality TV show, Chasing the World. The goal is a show that lets the millennial generation in on the secrets of cheap travel—and glean some mega-insight into people all over the globe.

We wanted to know more about the project, so we connected with Arielle the same way that she's connecting with other travelers around the world, through social media, and asked her a slew of questions about the show and what has informed her own personal world chasing.

What came first, wanting to film this show or the decision to chase the world?

Before I went into production, I wanted to be a TV reporter. I was focusing on news then switched to sports and then I went to Argentina to study abroad. I learned about actual backpacking when I was there and felt amost bitten by it. I thought it would be cool to incorporate TV into my passion. I think Americans, mostly the millennial generation, need to know that you can travel and you don’t need to be rich.

Was is the model for the show?

The trip is planned, but it’s not completely planned—we need other travelers to tell us where we should to go. Our world is based around social media now. A lot of people see social media as a fan base, we don’t want a fan base, we want a community.

Do you have a camera crew following you on these adventures?

No, Daniel was filming with just a DSLR camera and the other crew used iPhones. When we had a moment that we really wanted to share, we took turns using the iPhone.

The website and the trailer are pretty polished, are your traveling adventures finished for the pilot of the show?

We have a 22-minute pilot that’s polished and ready to go. At the moment we’re only using it to send to like-minded production companies. The pilot is a tool to show what we can do.

We’re determined to do the show. We made the pilot with no money, one camera and an iPhone. If we can get some backing and go on a more extended journey, the series will be more of an eye-opening experience.

Each episode will have three parts to it, “The Journey, The Adventure, The Soul.” How did you choose these three parts? Do you think it will be difficult to fit that into a 30-minute time slot, which includes commercials?

We had days of footage when we went to Indonesia and there was a lot that I wanted to put in. Once you’ve done production you realize it’s amazing what you can fit into 22 minutes. It’s really beautiful.

The reason we did the three parts is that it wouldn’t be right if we were just at the next location. Like, “how did we get there?” It wouldn’t be a real travel show if we didn’t add the travel part. And we want it to be for millennials because if there’s a $5 way or a $200 way, you’re going to take the $5 way.

Chasing the World says it’s based on “6 friends” but the Chasing the World TV website calls you guys “characters”—which one is more accurate? How did you meet everyone?

It says “characters” on the TV website because it’s a pitch package.

We all went to film and TV school together in Orange County, California, except Katy, she has been Danny’s best friend forever. Champion moved to Australia first and then Danny and I decided to move to Australia, too. When our friends were having trouble finding jobs in the US, we encouraged them to move out.

I’m sure that you have a lot of stories and amazing memories from your adventuring and filming, but are there any particular moments that really stood out to you?

We did a full day of jungle trekking in Sumatra. I had a blast but at the same time it really pushed some other people. Because of that, I was in the front with our guide Obiwan the whole time. We had hours of footage, just Obiwan and me—we had a heart to heart. When we got to the campsite, he really opened up to me about his family and his love for his town. He told me about his mom and his sister being ripped from his hands during a flood. Man, did it put the world in perspective for me.

And then, sadly, something we didn't catch on camera was Kelsey's incredible experience on the trek. She was having a really tough time hiking; she hadn't worn the right shoes and was slipping everywhere. Obiwan literally gave her his shoes and was walking barefoot in the jungle. Kelsey was in the very back and we had stopped and waited for everyone to catch up. Suddenly she ran up to me and said “an orangutan grabbed my hand! I was holding hands with an orangutan and its baby and now it's chasing the other guides!” I thought she was hallucinating but it was real. She had a moment with this dangerous orangutan. I’m bummed that’s not on camera.

You’re from the US. Do you think you’ll be staying in Australia indefinitely?

I'm originally from Texas but my mom fell for a surfer guy when I was 12 years-old and we’ve been in California ever since. One day I was between working on award shows and Danny and I just up and decided to move to Australia. It was supposed to be a temporary way to work and see the world.

I read that you used to work on the Emmy Awards. Why make the change to produce this show? What does it feel like to leave that world behind?

I felt so lucky that I got a job in production straightaway, it was just amazing. And then I moved up to coordinator quickly and suddenly my life was filled with these crazy big productions. I have some incredible stories—Kesha falling down and trying to get her back to her seat in time for her award and Lady Gaga in her meat dress. I hit this moment when I realized that I would have this career—and I was scared shitless.

I actually got a lot of crap for moving to Australia. It was really hard to explain to people, especially in America. I wanted to do more than awards shows and I've always wanted to be my own boss. I moved here to open up my world. I did some random-ass jobs when I moved here and my mom was so mad at me but I don’t think any of this would have happened if I hadn’t done it. I just wanted to follow my dreams.

Can you explain how you did it?

I was working on the People’s Choice Awards at the time and I told them that it was going to be my last awards show for at least a year. I had a nice apartment and a car, I sold all my furniture and my car and I came up with about $5000. I had to buy the ticket and the visa. It wasn’t much, that’s why I didn’t mind working the odd jobs, I just hoped that I succeeded. In America, people would look down on me for doing these jobs, they would look down on me for not working in my degree. Here there’s no shame in doing something to save so that you can do something beautiful.

Do you ever worry about the perception of white privilege?

Actually yes, in the sense that we put the trailer out on Reddit and when people see there were comments like, “Oh, rich American kids using their parents’ money to make a travel show.” We try to reply to each person, “no, none of us got money from our parents, we raised all the money ourselves.”

The communities we're traveling to are showing us a beautiful experience and if we can help out in any sort of way, we will. That’s the traveler mentality: If these people are going to show us their country, we’re going to help out, why not?

I read that you have spent a lot of life in and out of the hospital and it gave you the drive to do this project. Could you talk about that a little bit?

I was back and forth about making my health issues public and I decided that it was important.

I was having horrible acid reflux disease flare-ups all throughout school (which ruined my love for Taco Bell) and I had cancerous cells in my esophagus. All the acid from my stomach was going up and down my esophagus so they tried a new surgery but I have gastroparesis and I don’t really take in nutrients the same way as everyone else. So the nutrients actually burnt a hole in my vagus nerve; my brain thought I was dying and would shut down different body functions. No one could really figure out what was wrong and they told me I didn’t have a lot of time. Finally, the Mayo Clinic took a liking in my case because it was so weird and I went there full time and they found out about my vagus nerve. I was still having attacks up until this year.

Can you sum up what it is about travel that really turns your gears?

There’s nothing like a good travel adventure. It's just that sense of you really having to step outside of yourself. You’re really freaking vulnerable and you really have to rely on the love and community of people around you and your fellow travelers—and you have to get up close with yourself too.

You can follow along with Arielle's adventures on Twitter @ChasingWorldTV.

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