Around the World in 59 Days
In 2014, Coco Hunter (B.B.A. ’10) took off on a long European vacation and never looked back. Today, she’s a full-time world-traveler and blogger.
written by LaTina Emerson | photographs courtesy of Coco Hunter | published on March 7, 2017
A little more than three years ago, Coco Hunter (B.B.A. ’10) hopped on a plane and embarked on what was supposed to be a dream vacation in Europe. She turned that trip into a lifestyle.
Hunter has been to more than 30 countries and four continents, worked in Dubai at a French cosmetics company and lives in Switzerland. She doesn’t plan to stop traveling any time soon. In fact, she’s made world-traveling her job.
She runs a travel blog called “Coco Gone Global” and freelances for travel websites and apps writing hotel and restaurant reviews and more.
“I’m focusing a lot on getting brands on board, collaborating with them and forming partnerships,” Hunter said.
Sometimes she gets paid to travel and write, but in many instances the value of the trip or experience is her compensation. For instance, she raced a dune buggy through the deserts of Dubai in December in exchange for a blog post to promote the tour company’s services.
Hunter says she didn’t set out to travel the world indefinitely, but her sojourn started out with a little serendipity that’s kept her going.
Coco walks into a bar in Paris…
In 2014, Hunter was working for a marketing company in Atlanta and yearning for a break from the grind. The company was going through an acquisition and couldn’t offer her much vacation time. She didn’t want to put her travel dreams on hold, so she quit her job.
“They weren’t really expecting that,” Hunter said.
Initially, she planned to start her trip in London, but her standby flights didn’t work out, and she ended up going to Paris at the last minute. A few days later, she met some executives from a French cosmetics company in a Paris bar.
Hunter could converse with them — she took French at Georgia State — and she played up her marketing background. They offered her a job on the spot, but there was a catch: She would have to move to Dubai.
Hunter was on the first leg of her vacation, however, so she told them she would be in touch and set off on her whirlwind trip, traveling to 39 cities in 17 European countries by planes, trains, buses and public transportation in just 59 days.
Toward the end of the trip, she reached back out to the French company. Again, they offered her a job and asked how soon she could get to Dubai. They needed her to arrive in the next six days while someone was still around to train her.
But she’d been traveling and only had shorts and T-shirts with her, so she had to make a mad dash back to the United States to retrieve office attire, have a going away party with her family and friends and fly back overseas to start her new job in Dubai. She worked there for two years.
“It was a really good experience,” Hunter said. “I got a lot of new insights on living abroad, meeting friends, trying to navigate visas, apartment hunting, getting a bank account and doing my taxes.”
Her family has been supportive, even though her original two-month vacation has turned into a life overseas.
“My brother thinks that I’m a spy,” Hunter said. “He thinks I’m a secret agent. I’m originally from Oakland, Calif., and no black girl from Oakland just quits her job and travels the world. That wasn’t expected coming from where I grew up, but my family wants me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes along.”
Hunter has always wanted to travel, but she didn’t have the time or resources when she was at Georgia State, where she majored in marketing and managerial sciences. She loves traveling because “no day is the same.”
“When you’re traveling, you see different climates, terrains, languages, people and ways of living,” Hunter said. “The thing I love the most is that it’s never a dull moment. It’s always something different.”
So far, her favorite places to visit are the Philippines and Portugal because of the food and local people.
“They’re just so nice, so inviting,” Hunter said. “They just want to feed you. I traveled to both places by myself, and you don’t really feel alone when the local people look out for you and they don’t try to take advantage of you being a tourist.”
Visiting places like Dubai and the villages in Zanzibar have helped Hunter realize how much other cultures admire the United States.
“They think that’s their dream land and where they aspire to go,” Hunter said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard either taxi drivers or people in the service industries say, ‘Oh, what is America like? That’s my dream place to go.’ It’s kind of humbling because it’s something they’ve always aspired to since they were a kid, watching TV or YouTube.”
While living in Dubai, she met her boyfriend, who works in Switzerland. They had a long-distance relationship for months, and when she realized there was no upward mobility in her job in Dubai, she decided to find a new position elsewhere. There’s a lot of red tape when switching companies abroad, so her boyfriend invited her to spend the summer in Switzerland. She ended up loving it there and decided to stay.
At the end of March, Hunter will be partnering with Ford Motor Company on a road trip through Italy in a Ford Mustang. The excursion will be called “500 Miles with Ford.”
“I just approached Ford and said, ‘Hey, I live in Switzerland. I want to do a road trip with a girlfriend and write a blog post about it,’” Hunter said. “And they said, ‘Cool, we’ll give you a car for a week.’”
Ford benefits from the deal because the company gets exposure in places where many people don’t drive Ford vehicles, Hunter explained.
Hunter will make stops in Lugano, Switzerland and Lake Como, Milan, Verona and Venice in Italy before heading back home. She’s currently reaching out to hotel partners for sponsored accommodations.
“You’ve got to just build a trip,” Hunter said. “That’s what I’ve learned being a new blogger. You’re going to have to make your own way.”
Next, she hopes to land a sponsored trip to Uganda because she wants to go gorilla trekking, as well as planning to spend her 30th birthday in Morocco.
Hunter advises people who want travel internationally to assess the things they enjoy, find interesting and makes them feel comfortable and safe. Then, they should find places to match these qualities. For instance, Hunter loves adventure, so she seeks destinations that provide experiences, such as scuba diving, riding in a helicopter or ziplining through the jungle.
“Everyone’s travel story isn’t the same,” Hunter said. “You just have to be comfortable with yourself.”
While she loves the adventures of living abroad, Hunter does plan to return to the United States in the future and would like to start a foundation to help young minority girls get passports and take their first trips overseas.
“I think it’s really important that young girls don’t feel limited by their environment,” Hunter said. “Living in east Oakland, I grew up poor in the inner city, and it wasn’t a thing for someone to encourage you to go out of the country. You just don’t see that as much in minority families. I think it’s important to have those conversations as early as possible and to tell little girls what they can do, where they can go and what they can be.”
Hunter would like to encourage other Georgia State students and alumni traveling abroad to use the hashtag #PanthersGoneGlobal so they can build a community abroad.