The scent of tropical rain surrounds me as I watch the sky come alive in shades of pink and blue. Palm trees sway in a light breeze that tickles my toes, and the birds sing a morning song that fills me with a peaceful joy.
On a recent trip to Hawaii, I couldn’t help but revel in my good fortune. I’m a travel writer, and as one, I will never miss out on another vacation. Instead, my mornings are spent saving seats by the pool and taking advantage of my tranquil surroundings to inspire both personal and professional projects.
My journey to travel writing was a combination of kismet and courage, but it’s been nothing short of an adventure. In the past year, I’ve experienced more freedom than I could dream of, a variety of “freebies,” and a change in perspective that’s changed my life.
Free at Last
Freedom. It’s a founding principle of the American Dream, yet I can count on one hand how many Americans I know who experience true freedom. It’s a word with many definitions, but to me freedom is the full and complete ownership of my days. It’s to be obligated only to myself. And that’s exactly what writing has given me.
It’s my favorite part of the job. The freedom to make my own schedule, to say yes to every trip, and to have time for everyone and everything that’s important to me. While the road has had its twists and turns—I’ve suffered many missteps navigating a new field—each day reminds me what true freedom is. And it’s something I’ll never give up again.
The first “freebie” I received, a complimentary pass to a local town’s Wine and Gallery Trail, was just a month into my travel writing journey. It came with access to vintage wines from 10 tasting rooms and exhibits at more than five galleries. I gained a new appreciation for a hometown that I had long taken for granted.
A delicious welcome gift.
Over the past nine months, I’ve also had the opportunity to enjoy free meals, complimentary souvenirs, and media rates at hotels with robust welcome baskets and behind-the-scenes tours. Each not only reminded me how grateful I am to reap such rewards but filled me with a deeper understanding and a sense of responsibility to the stories I tell.
A New Perspective
Have you ever learned a new fact or tasted something so good you couldn’t wait to tell a friend about? That’s what it’s like being a travel writer, every day. Something that captures your attention can send you down the path to becoming an expert, an expert that can’t wait to share all they know with anyone who will listen.
Writing changes everything about how we experience our hometowns, our favorite places, the people we meet along the way, and how we want to make our mark on the world. I launched into travel writing to get paid to do what I love, snag a few freebies along the way, and see as much of the world as possible, but it’s become so much bigger than that.
The way I see the world and my part in it has changed. I don’t just want to share just a few of my favorite things with readers anymore. I want to help people connect meaningfully with each other all around the world. And with the right words, I know I can.
Addicted to My Life
When I started on my travel writing journey, I was determined to be practical about it. I’d give myself one year to see if I could make a living. If not, I’d put my big girl pants on and go back to a traditional nine-to-five job. So, how am I doing nine months after attending GEP’s Break into Travel Writing Online Masterclass in 2020?
In all honesty, I’m making less money than in my previous digital marketing career—but I’m also far happier. The writer’s lifestyle is a beautiful medley of freedom and creativity. I won’t become a millionaire overnight, but my life is fuller than it has been in decades. And I’m rich in ways far more important.