Deciding to visit another country doesn’t mean just hopping on the next available flight and hoping for the best. Depending on the country, there are often several requirements that need to be met and additional documentation for those hoping to stay and work for extended periods. That’s where Milwaukee-based International Travel Assistance (ITA)
The startup, which was recently named a grant winner through the FOR-M tech startup incubator,
will serve as a one-stop shop for both students and workers looking to travel aboard temporarily but still maintain their source of income.
founder of ITA, drew from her own experiences in traveling abroad as the inspiration for helping others looking to do the same.
Most recently, she spent two months in Martinique – a decision she likely would not have made if her employer did not agree to let her work remotely during her trip. Being able to continue working allowed Lyle to be worry-free in her travels. She still had a source of income to pay her bills back home, health insurance and a job to return to.
“I made friends. I danced. I ate a ton of good food. I experienced Carnival which makes Mardi Gras look like a birthday party. But I got my work done. I had income, health care and most desirably was speaking French well,” said Lyle. “Because of my previous rendezvous, I helped others in similar endeavors (travel abroad) through the years. But after Martinique, something else was born and I wanted to share this with everyone -- to help people get out of their own way.”
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Lyle studied abroad in France during both her undergraduate and graduate programs. At the end of her very first study abroad semester, she found herself flourishing within the country’s culture and decided to try to extend her stay over the summer. This dream was quickly dashed as she had difficulty finding a job in her desired field. When she studied abroad once more in Martinique during her graduate program, she found herself facing the same problem.
“A lot of the jobs they were offering at the time were things like teaching English or being a nanny,” said Lyle, whose background is engineering and IT. “I took another job (in the U.S.) but said I always wanted to do it again and go back.”
She believes the rise in popularity of remote work, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, affords more people the opportunity to travel abroad and maintain their career paths.
“Finances are the biggest deterrent in anything. What makes this (timing) special is the silver lining of remote work that exploded during the pandemic. If having an income was the biggest 'no' we told ourselves, everything else is small,” said Lyle.
This is where ITA can help. Lyle is compiling educational packets on countries that help travelers understand the visa process, cost of living, what applications they would need to fill out, how to make their application process go smoothly, how to find housing and more. All this information will be consolidated within ITA’s website, which users will be able to access for a membership fee.
ITA will also eventually help travelers with the logistics of leaving the country but still owning property stateside. Tasks like shoveling and collecting mail will be back of mind. Through a concierge service, Lyle will also personally work with clients to help them figure out where they want to go and complete their documentation.
Right now, Lyle has been piloting the process through several volunteers found via word of mouth and referrals. She’s hoping to launch her full website this May. The $10,000 grant she received after being named a FOR-M winner will be used to help her through that process, as well as branding and trademarking.
Lyle is also hoping that as she develops her website and client base, she’ll be able to cultivate a community of likeminded travelers who will be able to interact with each other if they happen to be in the same country.
“When I came back (from traveling abroad), I said other people should do that. I thought if I was telling myself no for all those years, other people were also. And we shouldn’t have to. We should be able to live as fully and boldly as we want to,” said Lyle.