Gabby Beckford, is an engineer-turned-creator and founder of Packs Light, where she dedicates herself to travel, creativity, and education.

Meet Gabby Beckford, the visionary force behind Packs Light, a platform she started in 2018 and has since grown to hundreds of thousands of followers across her social channels and groups.

“I found my way into the travel industry organically,” Gabby recounts. A military brat with a mixed-Black and neurodivergent background, she discovered her love for travel at 17 during her first solo trip to Iceland. “I discovered my happy place: anywhere except my comfort zone,” she says. “And that the quickest way there was through travel!” 

This defining experience propelled her to start Packs Light. The blog is aimed at sharing her adventures and proving that, despite challenges, travel is within reach for everyone. She wants others to see that, despite any financial, logistical, or confidence barriers they may be facing, travel is possible for them, too.

Leaving her engineering job amidst the pandemic in 2020, Gabby now dedicates herself to full-time travel, creativity, and education.

Photo courtesy of Gabby Beckford

Gabby Beckford on Collaborating With Brands to Fund Travel

Gabby has been named a finalist for the 2024 Bessie Awards in the Collaboration of the Year category. The category which celebrates a successful collaboration by or between creators and brands to develop meaningful partnerships and accomplish shared goals.

In 2023, Gabby’s brand Packs Light partnered with Intrepid Travel to offer a travel grant under the name “Solo Not Solo”. The trip was designed to reframe people’s thinking about solo travel — especially women.

The Solo Not Solo Travel Grant is an opportunity for three women to travel with Gabby on a fully-funded Intrepid trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Together they’ll experience the famous Carnival. The winners were announced in early January; none of them know each other or have met Gabby in person, but they’ll all be traveling solo…together!

While this partnership and travel grant opportunity has passed, you won’t want to miss Gabby’s constant flow of Paid Travel Opportunities for future grants, remote work, and more.

How Gabby Beckford is Changing Lives Through Travel Grants

Gabby’s motivation revolves around the belief that the pursuit of happiness is a human right. Having found her happiness through travel, she seeks to connect with others who share the same passion. 

Using her influence, Gabby aims to introduce adventure and wonder into people’s lives, inspiring them to explore beyond their comfort zones.

The Packs Light Travel Grants stand out as Gabby’s proudest accomplishment. “I launched the first two travel grants — the Study Abroad Redo Grant and Solo Not Solo Grant — last year and was able to award $30,000+ worth of life-changing travel experiences to 6 recipients.” 

Gabby says that she has dreamed about doing this since she won her first scholarship, which led to her studying abroad in Dubai for a year and eventually quitting her job to travel. 

“These travel grants allow me to literally influence lives and take away huge barriers to travel for people (finances, logistics, confidence),” Gabby explains. “So that’s huge for me and my mission to get people to seek risk and seize the opportunity by seeing the world.”

“These travel grants allow me to literally influence lives and take away huge barriers to travel for people (finances, logistics, confidence), so that’s huge for me and my mission to get people to seek risk and seize the opportunity by seeing the world.”

Gabby Beckford

Breaking Down Barriers for Aspiring BIPOC Travelers

“One of the most important issues I see in the travel industry is one that I work to solve with Packs Light: high barriers of entry to travel, especially for aspiring BIPOC travelers,” Gabby tells us. “The way travel is framed to the large majority is that it’s an experience for only members of the (often white) upper class, when this couldn’t be further from the truth!” 

Gabby is certainly on a mission, and her travel grants and collaboration with Intrepid Travel are perfect examples of her work in this space.

“I 100% acknowledge that there are privileges that make access to travel easier for some than others,” she continues. “But if there’s a travel will, there’s a travel way — and there are plenty of options out there for all types of travelers.” 

She outlines her go-to tips for travel: “Low budget? Consider paid travel opportunities (PTO). No friends willing to book a trip? Go solo! Not confident in planning the logistics of a trip? Try a pre-planned trip with a group travel/tour company.”

Gabby is driven by her purpose: “We need more diverse representation, awareness of travel realities, and to reframe the way we talk about, market, and show travel to be more inclusive.”

She also talks about the influence the travel industry has on the world economy — and therefore politics and quality of life. 

“In the future,” she says, “I hope to see more creators harness their influence and storytelling power to help make the world a better place in terms of environmental impact, human rights, policy, and social impact. I have seen first-hand how travel can be so transformative. The future of travel I see is regenerative, inclusive, and (as always) full of much joy and responsibility.”

“In the future, I hope to see more creators harness their influence and storytelling power to help make the world a better place in terms of environmental impact, human rights, policy, and social impact. I have seen first-hand how travel can be so transformative. The future of travel I see is regenerative, inclusive, and (as always) full of much joy and responsibility.”

Gabby Beckford

Bessie Awards Nomination and Next Steps 

“It means everything to be nominated for a Bessie Award. I’m so honored!” Gabby exclaims. “The majority of my audience is solo female travelers — they’re my bread and butter. I really identify with the solo female travel community and all the work I do is for them, so it means a lot to have them consider me for these Bessie Awards.”

You can join us at the 2024 Bessie Awards in Utah to see who wins this and the many other awards for travel industry changemakers and leaders.

Looking ahead beyond the Bessies, Gabby envisions hosting a solo travel reality show where women embark on their first solo trips. She sees this as an opportunity to showcase their journey of self-discovery, independence, and authentic experiences. 

We know we would love to watch that reality unfold!

Beyond the TV show, Gabby aims to delve into travel-adjacent niches, develop her own travel product and haircare line, and build a SAAS business.

As with everything Gabby does, we know her ambition and dedication will continue to drive her toward these — and other — goals. 

We can’t wait to see what she does next!

Want more travel inspiration?

Check out 25 Kickass Women Crushing it in Travel Right Now and 39 Black Women Travel Creators to Follow for more travel inspo from women making a difference in the world.