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Freelance travel writer Theresa St. John started her travel writing career by writing local stories“Yesterday, you said tomorrow.” – Nike 

My mom had five rambunctious daughters. We were a handful, believe me. Her days were filled with taking care of us, the house, and our father.

She rarely complained about life though, or how her feet were firmly planted in the muck and mire of the 1950s and 1960s. It wasn’t until much later that I learned she’d dreamed of traveling with dad to faraway places. I had no idea that she’d longed to do something—anything—different in life. By then, of course, it was too late. Momma was dying.

Her yesterdays were gone and she had no more tomorrows.

My life, at the same time, was pretty hectic. Even though my two sons were grown and out on their own, I was still working 60 to 70 hours a week in retail. By the time I actually made it home and could collapse, I did. My quality of life was zip. Zilch. Zero. Truth be told, it had been like that for quite some time.

I was beyond exhausted! And it sure seemed a lot easier to make excuses to do nothing than it was to find time to do something.

Thoughts plagued me. My mom died young. What if the same fate awaited me? Not to be morbid, but I wanted to fit some living in before that happened.

I’d read about Great Escape’s Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop and Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop while digging my way out from under a nasty divorce. I needed to find a way to support myself. I attended both workshops in 2013. The moment I returned home, I hit the ground running.

Because I had little time and no money, it made perfect sense to start local. Focusing on nearby towns would mean minimal driving. I wouldn’t waste precious hours in the car. Staying local would also help me keep expenses down.

Besides that, I’d never realized there was so much to see and do in my hometown! I’d always pictured travel writing in exotic places. But, the truth is this: every place on earth is a destination for someone. Including Saratoga.

I got in touch with the Chamber of Commerce and a neighborhood blog, asking if I could write for them. Both answered with resounding “yes!” 

I looked into nearby attractions online and scoured local magazines at the library. Many places were desperate for publicity… and this travel writer was happy to oblige. 

Before I knew it, my excuses to put off my travel writing career dwindled down to nothing. Finally, I was excited about getting up in the morning. I wasn’t a full-time travel writer yet, but I sure had the bug. Bad. 

Starting local got my feet wet. 

It let me land some bylines and allowed me to experience some pretty cool things on someone else’s dime. Besides that, writing local fit into the nooks and crannies of any free time I had.

I was amazed when the first check came in the mail with my name on it! I laughed when the second, third, and fourth arrived. I was thrilled to watch my bank account begin to grow. 

Soon, I was purposely creating more time for travel writing; an hour here, a half-hour there. Whenever possible, I walked away from unimportant things that weighed me down. Doing this helped add more life into every day.

Suddenly, it didn’t feel like I was just existing anymore. And, I wasn’t waiting for retirement in order to become a travel writer. I had morphed into one somewhere along the way.

Start wherever you are. Just take that first bold step. You won’t regret it.

I travel so many places today. Some are local, while others are a half-world away. My full-time, rat-race job is a year or so behind me. I look ahead and feel good. It’s easy to picture my mom’s warm smile. She’s happy I’m doing what she didn’t—I just know it.

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