Five years ago I was a lobbyist. I was happy. But it wasn’t my passion.
I wanted to be deliriously happy—to have that feeling as soon I open my eyes in the morning that it’s going to be another exciting day.
My decision to break into travel writing changed my life in so many ways – here are the top seven:
1. More travel. Prior to starting my career as a travel writer, I took the typical two weeks of vacation every year. That translated to around 4% of my time spent traveling. Now, I spend around 50% of my time traveling, and I can adjust my travel schedule to fit around my life.
2. More savings. Travel is expensive, especially internationally. But not anymore. As soon as I established my qualifications with a few bylines, I was able to begin snagging free press trips and assorted perks like meals, tours, passes to museums and festivals, etc. All it took was knowing how to approach editors and tourism boards.
3. Tapping into my creative side. I love being able to paint a picture of a destination or activity so tantalizing that the readers are chomping at the bit to go, see, eat, do. The earth is amazing with so many worthwhile locations to explore.
4. New friends from new places. The opportunity to travel free around the world has allowed me to meet a lot of new people, many of whom have turned into lifelong friends from places like Japan, Mexico, South Africa, England, and Croatia.
5. Celebrity! Everyone (including me) thinks I have the dream job! When I’m home, I’m at social gatherings several times a week, and I’m constantly being sought out. Both old friends and new acquaintances want to know where I’ve been and where I’m going next. I try to find out what their interests are, and then engage them in a conversation about that destination.
6. Trying new things. Food, historical sights, cultural events, tropical beaches. My niche is adventure, so the perks of travel writing have opened opportunities for experiences that I otherwise may not have been able to do, such as swim alongside 40-foot whale sharks in Mexico, skydive from 14,000 feet over Hawaii, or feel the rush riding in a dogsled in Oregon.
7. Quitting my job. It took a few years to set everything into motion, but as of January 1, I left my lobbying job in the back rooms of the legislature and I’m now a full-time travel writer. What a monumental shift in lifestyle! On a scale of 1 to 10, my happiness quotient is an 11. Life just couldn’t be any better.
Do I have any regrets? Well, just one…. I wish I had started sooner! If I had known how helpful the GEP programs would be, I’d have jumped in right away. The workshops and programs were virtually a springboard, catapulting me into my dream job.