I am in the process of trying to jump-start a sort of career for myself. I am a self-admitted late bloomer when it comes to traveling, but the prospect of writing and traveling is so appealing, that I am trying my hardest to carve something out of what was previously “nothing.”
I never daydreamed about being a travel writer, especially as a little kid. I never really hoped for a career as a child, for a line of work in which I’d find fulfillment in adulthood. My brain didn’t think like that. Like most children, it thought about after school and weekends. Where my parents would be taking us next. What our next family vacation might be. If we would have time to squeeze a quick fishing-and-picnic-by-the lake hangout in the woods near our home after we all got home from school. I wasn’t worried about making money. I hadn’t foreseen the sometimes grim realities of maturity. I hadn’t considered, while I was lacing up my ice-skates on to glide across the frozen creek near my house growing up, that I may have one day been sitting behind a desk, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong in life that I was working a boring job for a “living.” I guess the only thing that really stood out to me as a young person, old enough to be cognizant that work IS, indeed, part of life, is that what’s even more a part of life is living. I knew that I wanted to earn a living, not earn an earning.
I also knew, from a young age, that I loved to vacation. I loved to see new places. We were fortunate enough to be able to take some great family vacations while I was growing up. We had been to California, Florida, Colorado, Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, The Bahamas,and so many other cool places before I was age 16. I was always excited at the prospect of picking up and being dropped off in a different place, completely devoid of my knowledge, figuring it out, and having fun.
I also have always loved writing. I have kept journals my whole life. I fill about 1 per year. Sadly, I don’t still have all of them from my youth, but I started to keep them starting at age 19. I believe I now have 5, and my sixth is nearly full. This doesn’t count the amount of online journals I’ve kept, this being close to the 7th or 8th. I studied writing in college. I freelance write to help pay extra bills. I’ve been published in two major publications. But there’s still something more I want.
I want to be able to see some parts of the world, write and have it published. It’s not greed or jealousy or lust. It’s just a goal. It’s a goal that’s been in motion essentially my whole life. When I piece together my past and learn that I never envisioned the career of “travel writer” for myself, I do see the connection to why travel writing holds such an attractive quality. Rather than becoming rich monetarily (although you could make a handsome living), what’s more is that your life is enriched with experience. Perhaps one of the most rewarding trade-offs you get is seeing new places and doing new things as your job.
I moved to Philadelphia last fall and after a few months of gaining my bearings, my mind opened to the possibility of getting started on a career I’d actually enjoy. I have time and again refused the notion that success means working at an office for a salary. I can’t and won’t accept that. I’m too fascinated by everything around me. I am not, however, fascinated by printers, monitors, conference rooms and elevators (unless any of these things in any way are in a really cool place). I reject “normalcy” and I’m proud of that. Although not everything’s perfect.
While my first travel writing piece was published in May in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which I consider a major milestone, by the way, it’s certainly not the end of the line. I struggle with why I can’t be one of those people that gets up, backpacks through life, and funds her travels on freelance. Maybe I can get to that point, but I have a long way to go. I struggle with the fact that I’ve only been out of the country twice, and those were mini excursions to very close, popular areas.
Up until a few months ago, the idea of a passport had never even crossed my mind. A trip to Costa Rica early next year? Who would have thunk it? Hosting international travelers through my home to stay on my couch so that hopefully when I have enough money to travel abroad people might do the same? Preposterous. Writing for my community newspaper to save up for travel writing classes (that most importantly means signing up to an open network of opportunities) would have seemed all too much just six months ago.
I guess the point of this post is, to reaffirm, if only in my mind alone, that I am going to do it. I am determined to finish the travel writing courses, make connections and try to self-promote my stuff as much as possible. My goal is to at least get one sponsored press trip. And my goals after that are too lofty to mention, but once I achieve that milestone, I will work on attaining them.