For my first ever podcast, I had Shane Hetherington – a local chef, photographer, and cookbook author on to discuss work, life, and more!
New Video is Live on YouTube!
Even after winning a dream job travel experience for 6-months, I still think a career as a travel blogger/influencer is a long shot. My mind has a fun way of killing my dreams because they’re “not practical” (Paul’s Mind, 2019). Since I’ve been thinking about settling for something a little more mundane than travel blogging/Photography recently, I wanted to write this blog post to both inspire you all to chase your dreams, and remind me why I’m trying to do the same.
When I used to bartend at my sister’s pub, there was a musician who performed classic rock hits every Thursday night. He had a dedicated fan base of older couples mostly, and the pub had (and still has) him on retainer. I learned that between the pub and his other 4-5 gigs a week, he made his living. Learning this made me really reconsider what it means to be successful. Here is a guy doing exactly what he loves to do, getting appreciated by friends/fans, and making enough to live well doing so.
I think a lot of us have this false ‘all or nothing’ idea that stunts our progress towards success. Either your a famous musician like T Swift/Justin Bieber or you fail. With Travel Blogging/Photography I also am often tempted to see it as an all or nothing situation. I need 100k+ followers or I can’t do this. There are so many amazing travel bloggers/photographers out there – I can’t create better content than them. However, the reality is, it doesn’t have to be like this. There’s a happy medium and further, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – if you keep doing what makes you happy, you will find a way to make it work.
So this is just a little reminder that life is short, so we should all be following our dreams. You don’t have to be the best in the world at what you love, you just have to do it.
We all say we want to be happy, yet we make choices daily that prevent our happiness. We say that happiness is our goal above all else, yet chose money over it time and time again. Why do we sabotage our own happiness like this? Do we not actually want to be happy?
Of course we actually want to be happy– it’s just easy to get lost along the way. There are lots of distractions to confuse us, and there are actually different types of happiness to consider.
First, there is real happiness. A hug from your grandma, a deep life-changing chat with a friend, true love. That’s, of course, the one we’re going for. Second, however, is fleeting happiness. This happiness is the type that comes from an Instagram like, comments on your Facebook post, your favorite Netflix show. While these things can definitely boost your mood and make you feel happy temporarily, I’d argue that this isn’t the kind of happiness worth pursuing. Yet, ironically, this is the type of happiness we most often turn to (because it’s easier and more readily available).
I recently traveled to Hawaii and had the chance (aka was forced due to lack of coverage) to not use my phone for more than 24 hours. In the moment, I was so annoyed not to have access to my phone, but as we descended into the canyon to camp for two nights, I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders (not literally– literally, there was a 70-pound pack on my shoulders. It was incredibly heavy). I had no idea the mental stress my phone was having on me. Through this experience, I was able to see clearly enough to define three factors I think are crucial to real happiness.
1) Being in the moment
When was the last time you didn’t check your phone for a whole day? How about for even just an hour? If you’re like me, it doesn’t happen very often. We are too caught up in our phone world to be active in our real world. There is such thing as balance. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but we need to spend as much time off of our phones as much as we spend on them – if not more.
2) Connecting with people
It’s more than just impolite to be on your phone constantly when around others – it’s what’s making us unhappy. By using our phones when around our friends, family, colleagues, etc. it’s showing them we care more about others than we care about them. It’s also denying us the real happiness that can come from genuine connection with people. It’s not quantifiable like likes and comments, but it’s way more important.
3) Appreciating what you have
Running, drinkable water and a warm bed to climb into at the end of the day don’t seem like luxuries, but they are. When we get too comfortable in our daily routines, we forget how nice is is even to have the basics. Instead, we start looking for things to complain about. Try thinking of five things you appreciate as you brush your teeth each morning. You’ll be amazed what a difference this mental trick will make in your mood.
There is no way to be happy all the time, but I’ve found that these three elements make is much easier to be happy more often. I hope you all will try to move more toward real happiness too, and let me know how it goes!
Early this year, I remember feeling strongly that 2018 would be my year – I even dubbed it “The Year of Paul” in my mind (and probably out loud a few times to my friends, too). Looking back, I couldn’t have imagined almost anything that would end up happening this year.
I moved from Connecticut to DC, and Maine to New Hampshire. I traveled to Mexico, England, and Wales, plus road tripped across the country and back… all before even having found out about the White Claw Best Life Contest that I would end up winning.
Then, after the news about winning, traveling all over the US from Maine to Florida, Washington to California, and everywhere in between. I visited over 29 states, met tons of amazing people, and figured out a lot about me. I flew a plane, hiked to incredible mountain vistas, and soaked up the sun on both coasts. Plus, I got to go back to the UK and visit London, Paris, and Scotland during this time – some of my favorite places in the world!
However, while many of the experiences I’ve had have been incredible, It hasn’t been a perfect year. With all this time to think, I’ve worried a lot about the future, felt alone at times, and have also felt as though I’m missing out on community– that sense of belonging you get when you are rooted in a place. That said, looking back, I am so thankful for this year. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity and still can’t believe this really happened.
I hope you all had a year you’re thankful for and here’s to an even better one in 2019!
Happy New Year!
In March of 2018, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an article about this ‘Travel Dream Job’ contest that a large company was running. Intrigued, I clicked on the article and found that it was super easy to enter – just 250 words about how I live my “Best Life”, a photo of me, and a link to my Instagram feed. I clicked submit and didn’t think about it again…
Until June, when I received an email from the company while I was on a family vacation at the beach. The email explained that I had been chosen as one of the top five finalists for the contest. At first, I didn’t remember entering, but it slowly came back to me. I shared the news and read more deeply into the details of the contest, which made me started getting really excited. “Could this really happen?”, “this would honestly be life-changing ” I thought to myself.
Next step was a Skype interview, which was scheduled for the following week. I was on the call with a few marketing people and then some reps from the company itself and I basically reiterated what I had said in those 250 words. The gist of it was that a lot of my friends went the 9-5 route straight out of college. However, that wasn’t for me. I always wanted to live on my own terms, and I think it’s crazy we work the majority of our lives – that should be reversed. I love traveling because meeting new people, exploring new places, and experiencing different cultures is what makes me feel alive.
After the interview, I eagerly awaited hearing back. However, I was trying to prepare myself for not winning because I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then get a major let down. However, I awoke one of the following mornings to check my email and saw “Congratulations” as the subject line of an email from the company.
I couldn’t believe it. I remember staring at myself in the mirror and thinking, “is this really happening?” It seemed way to good to be true. This company was going to give me a ton of money to travel, pursue my passions, and live my best life – surely this couldn’t be real. Yet it was real, and now I had the fun of sharing the news with my friends and family.
Fast forward to 5 months later and we’re here. It’s December 2018 and I have until Feb. 1st to finish up my experience with this dream job. I’ve travelled all over the US, seen incredible places, met so many great people, and honestly been living my best life to the fullest.
So I wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way, because a lot of people have asked me how I managed to fall into this role, and how they can pursue similar work. Here are a few things that I believe led to me winning this contest:
It involves a lot of luck. It’s a contest so luck was a big factor. I was lucky to come across the article, I was lucky to have a good interview, etc. However, as my favorite philosopher, Seneca wrote, “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity"
Prioritizing Travel. Having a 9-5 and one week vacation doesn’t leave you much time for travel. For me, travel is one of the most important things, so I’ve made active choices along my life path to prioritize it. Sure, sometimes it means having less money for nice things, or having to work at a job I don’t love, but if it means I can have the freedom to travel, I’m in. If you prioritize what you want, your life will have more of it. Pretty simple actually.
Working on My Craft. “Whatever you do, do it good.” That’s a line from one of my favorite songs, Express Yourself by Labrinth. For me, Photography is my craft and by taking time to watch videos, educate myself, and learn all the intricacies of the craft, I’m working towards being better every day. Whatever your craft is, you can use it to make the life you want, you just have to be creative with it.
Had I not traveled as much before this Dream Job contest, my Instagram feed wouldn’t have been as travel based (which they liked to see), and my photography wouldn’t have been of as good quality because I wouldn’t have been working on it actively. I’ve found that if you prioritize the life you want, things will start to fall into place. Life’s too short to not pursue your dreams, so work on your craft, prioritize what you want, and live your dream life. (contest winner or not!)
Ever since seeing the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris (2011), I have romanticized the idea of strolling the streets of Paris at night. I imagined walking the cobblestone paths beside the Seine, soft accordion music echoing down the river past the Tour Eiffel, Louvre, and the Notre-Dame and up into the Parisian night.
Last week, I was lucky enough to finally experience Paris as I’d been hoping to – and it was honestly just as I’d imagined it would be. I only had one night in the city, but I made the most of the time that I had there and spent hardly any time in the hotel. Here is how I experienced Paris in 24 hours.
I arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport at 9am with my friend Charlotte from Versailles (pro travel tip: make friends with someone who is from the country you’re visiting if possible), and hopped on a train to the ‘St. Michel Notre Dame’ stop, which was nearest to my hotel. I stayed at Hotel La Lanterne – great location, comfortable rooms, a Turkish Bath, and friendly staff (they were very forgiving of my terrible French…). After checking in, we got right to exploring on foot.
First stop, Croque-Madames at Le Depart (a famous French eatery). What’s more French than a meal involving both la fromage (cheese) and le pain (bread). It was delicious and sitting out on the street gave me a chance to take in the feel of the city. People bustled by on their way to work. The French language was music to my ears (mostly because I really can’t understand it and thus, it sounded like music rather than language). Mopeds, cars, and bikes flew by at incredible speeds while we sipped on our coffee and savored the rich, yolk-soaked, cheese-layered bread.
Next, it was time to see the sights. We started on foot and strolled through colorful street markets, little alleys lined with shops, and westward down the Seine past the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Tuileries Garden. If you follow the river this way, you will see most of the central attractions of Paris in one fell swoop. The Louvre, and adjacent Tuileries Gardens, were absolutely beautiful. The vibrant yellow and orange autumn leaves outlined the perfectly manicured lawns, as the pigeons pecked for seed around quaint fountains throughout the vast park. A vibrant, old fashioned carousel sat behind a grove of rectangularly shaped hedges. Couples strolled the orderly gravel paths, which defined the space.
Note: The wait for actually going into the Louvre is always quite long, so be prepared for that. I find that, when I visit a place for a short stay, I prefer walking the city more than spending lots of time focusing on any single place. However, next time I’m in Paris I plan to spend many a day within the walls of the countless museums there – they house some of the most incredible and influential pieces of art on earth.
From the Tuileries Garden, we continued westward down the banks of the Seine. We passed Pont Alexandre III – a beautiful, historic bridge boasting incredible sculptures atop two grand pillars at each end, as well as many other bridges and museums. Taking a slight detour, we ventured up to The Arc de Triomphe, which is an incredible architectural feat. More incredible though, was the speed at which traffic sped around the monument. Hundreds of cars circled around this rotary while we were there, and I could not believe how disorganized yet effective the movement was. We then walked back down towards the river and on, to the iconic Parisian landmark – La Tour Eiffel.
As expected, the Eiffel Tower was teeming with tourists, yet was still a beautiful sight to see. The weather was perfect (I was wearing just a light shirt and jeans), and the smell of crepes and coffee filled the air. We enjoyed the views for a few minutes before heading to Café Kléber – a famous French cafe just steps from the Tower. The Nutella and banana crepes were delicious and I tried mulled wine served hot, since the afternoon was cooling down as the sun began to set.
It was about five o’clock, and it had been a long day so I said goodbye to my friend Charlotte who had to get back to Versailles, and I walked back to the hotel for a quick nap. After catching some zzz’s, I felt refreshed and ready to see Paris in a different light – at night.
That night, I traversed over ten miles on foot – meandering down any back alley that caught my eye. I tried to retrace the night walk of Owen Wilson’s character in Midnight in Paris, but was unable to find the steps from which he initially got picked up and (spoiler alert) transported back in time. Slightly disappointed, I continued on and my disappointment was quickly overcome by the charm of Parisian streets, people, sights, and sounds. A man played L.O.V.E. on his saxophone in a small square surrounded by little restaurants and cafes. A group of old men laughed beside a street cart. Seemingly hundreds of couples smiled at each other across dinner plates and wine glasses. It was truly a perfect night in Paris. I felt as though I were drunk, smiling at people who passed me by, and floating through the streets. But I was just happy – happy and soaking in the experience that I had been missing.
I eventually found my way back to my hotel around midnight and immediately passed out in the comfortable king sized bed. In the morning, I awoke to a dim, white light emanating from behind the closed blinds. It was a grey morning with light rain – the perfect second half to my Parisian experience. (In the film, Owen Wilson’s character believes Paris to be best when it rains.) For the remainder of the day, I sipped a cappuccino in a cafe, strolled some more street markets, and then had one full French meal before my flight – Ratatouilles, mushroom and asparagus risotto, and a glass of French wine.
It was the perfect end to the perfect 24 hours in Paris.
It’s the first real snow of the season here in Stowe, and as the snow drifts down, smoke from each of the many chimneys disappears into the linen-white sky. I decided to venture up here for a weekend of relaxation, because I’ve been quite stressed lately. It wouldn’t seem like I should be stressed, given my work situation, but i’ve just been worrying over what comes next for me after this amazing opportunity has passed.
Anyway, I arrived yesterday to the woodsy yet grand Stowe Mountain Lodge. Birch branches accent the warm rich wood columns that tower over the spacious lobby, leather couches and matching high backed chairs define little spaces around the large fireplace that completes the classic mountain lodge feel. Last night was a relaxed evening of dinner at the lodge restaurant and a movie in my room. Today, however, has been full of luxury. I woke up at 9am to walk over to the spa and enjoy an hour long deep tissue massage. Afterwords, I strode across the little village street for a coffee and some breakfast. The snow began shortly after that and, once I’d visited the performing arts center to pick up a ticket for tonight’s concert, I went for a snowy soak in the outdoor hot tub. Now I am in the lobby on one of those comfortable leather couches, watching the snow fall outside the massive glass windows that look out on the village and rest of the resort.
Needless to say, this weekend has already served its purpose, but I look forward to having a nice evening of good food, drink, and classical music. Then, in the morning I’ll head to Burlington to see some friends before heading back home.
Since I’ve been focused on relaxation and not my phone this weekend, I’ve had a lot of time to think about things that are stressing me out. One big realization I’ve had is that I often want to run away from things that are hard. I think this is because I don’t like feeling like i’m not good at something. However, this response is really detrimental to my overall growth since I’m obviously not good at everything I try. Thus, I’m going to actively work on that going forward. It’s important to remember that we aren’t just who we are today and that’s it. We can learn, change, and grow into better people – and I’m trying to.
Unlike the generations before us, I believe that Millennials will come to be known as the choice generation – a time defined by the proliferation of choice. From a young age, we’ve had to make choices that have incrementally increased in importance each passing year. First, “which cereal you want?”, from the dozens on the grocery store shelf. Next, “which college do you want to go to?” Finally, “should I get married, have kids…to who, when?” At first, I was carefree about my choices. But at some point in college I looked back and thought, “what if I had gone to a different school?” (Quick related story: one time I mentioned thinking about having gone to a different school to a friend and they said sadly, “but then you wouldn’t know me” to which I responded, “Yeah…but I wouldn’t know that I didn’t know you…” They were offended).
The problem I have with choices these days is that same dilemma I had from wondering about what different colleges would have been like – I’m afraid I have missed out, am missing out, or will miss out, on a better experience. This feeling has plagued me since I began considering it back then, and now it manifests itself in choices about where I live, what I do, and who I spend time with.
As we grow up, more choices get placed on us because we can do whatever we want. This is exciting but also terrifying (when looked at through the lens of missing out on something better). Since graduating college, I’ve been responding to these concerns by trickily avoiding them. I’ve done this by moving about every three months. I try something for that long and then start feeling antsy about missing out on other experiences. The problem with this “solution” is that I miss out on meaningful experiences and connections. I don’t dive into my surroundings because I don’t want to get too rooted in one place– in case I want to leave for something better. I’ve time and time again learned that this isn’t a good way to live. Yet I was still doing it.
However, recently I had a realization – a breakthrough moment of sorts. I was listening to a TED radio hour episode on choice when something finally clicked. It’s funny because I’d heard this episode before but listening this time, I had a new perspective. The woman giving the talk explained how we can’t know the alternative options. I can’t know the different college experiences I might have had, and then choose one . I can’t know what I would be like to live in California vs. New Hampshire because I can’t do both at once. Given that we can’t know to compare, then we need to just choose and commit. Otherwise, we will just live in this limbo ( that I’ve been living in).
This opened me up to the idea of deciding to make some decisions. I’ve decided to stay where I’m currently living, root into the community here, and work on me. I confidently believe that this will be the best path for me because I know the alternative doesn’t work.
It goes back to the famous words of Robert Frost,
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
If you read this poem closely, it actually says the opposite of what the out-of-context famous line is usually used to mean. Robert Frost got it. It doesn’t matter which road you choose. Just choose one. It will define you life but you can choose it – and in fact, you must.
I recently received an email from someone who has been following me on Instagram for a while now, and had some great questions he wanted to run by me. He asked about a lot of the things people in their twenties– and especially in this generation– think about. I wanted to share the back and forth because I’ve dealt with a lot of the ideas he’s wresting with, and hope that my experiences can help others deal with these big questions.
It’s easy for older generations to look at us Milennials and say, “they have it so easy” or “back in my day I had to…”, but the truth is, everything is relative. Just because we are lucky to live more comfortable lives on the surface these days, that doesn’t mean we don’t have problems, struggles, and legitimate challenges to overcome. In a world where we have more work, love, & life opportunities than ever, choosing becomes one of those key struggles.
I have been following you on Instagram for awhile and am so inspired by your photography and by the life that you’re living.
I’m currently in this really incredible place in my life where I have no idea what’s next. I recently graduated from college and was supposed to move to Africa with The Peace Corps, however, I changed my mind last minute. I knew that I wasn’t ready to make that commitment, so instead, I’m staying in Charleston, South Carolina for a bit longer. I am taking this time to reach out to what motivates me, and soak in what Inspires me. So far, that has included: art, poetry, music, writing, and creators.
You posted a quote a few days ago by Randy Komisar, “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all -- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” This quote has inspired me a lot and it made me want to reach out.
I am so concerned with not choosing the right career path and I fear that I have put so much work into my degree (Psychology), when I really have no desire to work in that field. I want to create, while also having the opportunity to see things that pull me to say things that make a difference. Where does this balance come from?
I’m not sure if reaching out to other humans like this is protocol, however, If I want to be committed to this period of my life, I have to really commit. You seem like someone living the seemingly ‘dream life’ from my eyes and I would love some wisdom, my friend.
Thanks so much!
Thanks again for your email! I finally have a minute as I'm waiting for my car to get an oil change here in Seattle. So, I totally relate to your concerns and, although it may seem like I'm living a "dream life" I'm just as lost about my future as anyone. I'm currently traveling for White Claw as you probably know, but at the end of these 6 months, I'm not sure at all what's going to happen – where I'll live, what I'll do for work, etc. Just like you, I'm seeing this as an incredible opportunity, but it can definitely be a little overwhelming when you have seemingly endless options and need to make a choice. My favorite quote ever (and the most relatable for me) is from Sylvia Plath's book, The Bell Jar. I think it might help here.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
For me, this quote sums up the challenge of this time in our lives. How do we chose the right path to lead us to the life we want? What if we miss out on something amazing because we choose the wrong path?
What you said about trying to focus on what motivates you and delving into your interests seems like the best course of action to me. My best advice is to try a ton of different things that interest you and stick to them for a good amount of time (I struggle with this but I am going to try, too). We're young and we have time, so take a job that sounds interesting somewhere totally new, take an online course in something that interests you (I use MasterClass to learn about music, writing, etc.), or join a local group that lines up with your interests. Being surrounded by people in similar situations and with similar interests can lead to helping you figure it out, and even potentially amazing collaborations.
As for your Psychology degree, I majored in Sociology with the same problem– I suddenly had a degree that was interesting, but not in a field I wanted to work in. That's totally ok! In today's world, I know so many people who work in a field totally different than that of their degree. Lucky for us, the internet makes it possible for us to learn new skills and share our creative work for free or super cheap.
Life obviously requires money though, so we can't just sit around working on creating all the time (unless it's an income stream). I think the best way to find the balance is, as my Mom always says, to choose what kind of lifestyle you want and find a way to make money to enable that. For example, I want a life full of friends, family, beautiful places, a comfortable place, adventure, and creating. To make this possible, I need to figure out the best way to make money that also enables me to have the time for all those things. I'm still figuring this out but it looks something like creating content with brands and people I like.
So, if you keep looking at this time as an exciting period of your life filled with possibilities, you'll be just fine. Just the fact that you took the time to reach out, shows that you're serious about finding your path. I'm confident you'll find something great!
If you have any other questions or just want to chat about ideas you have, I'm more than happy to keep in touch. I really appreciate you looking to me as someone to consult about this – it's really cool for me to realize that people are out there (other than my family and friends) following my journey and thinking about this stuff – so thanks!
Hope this dialogue sheds some light on the problems a lot of people I their twenties are dealing with. If anyone else has concerns or questions, I don’t claim to have any answers but I love thinking and talking about these things, so feel free to email me, DM me, etc.!
Being back on the road feels like being home. It seems strange to be at home in a moving car, but I love the feeling of the open road, my cozy Honda Fit, and music or an audiobook playing as the miles pass by.
While I have taken several other roadtrips, I've never had as much freedom as I do on this trip. I have nothing on my calendar the rest of this entire year, aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. I'm not rushing to get across the country and back (like I needed to last time), and I am completely free to explore new areas for as long as I'd like. Thanks to White Claw, I'm able to do this and not be worried about money – which is huge. Last roadtrip, I needed to post for my different clients every day on multiple platforms and was semi-stressed from this obligation (because I had to have data service every day which is very difficult to find in almost every flyover state). This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm so grateful that I get to do this.
Just wanted to share my initial feelings and thank all of you for the support on here and on Instagram, in person, on the phone, etc. – it keeps me going.
Here's to the spirit of adventure and the open road.
So you're dreaming of hitting the road for a good ole' fashioned American road trip. Images of Route 66, vintage VW buses, and/or the song California by Phantom Planet have crossed your mind. You know you want to go, but how do you even begin figuring out how to actually make it happen? Look no further, here's a step by step guide for how to plan out every detail of your trek!
Step 1: Plan Nothing
Step 2: See Step 1
Planning your roadtrip to a T will likely result in an enjoyable, yet largely uneventful vacation. You will stay at nice pre-booked campsites/hotels, you will check out the TripAdvisor Top 10, and then be back to your ordinary life with little more than some Instagram photos and a bag of dirty laundry.
A true roadtrip, on the other hand, has no more plan than a general directional heading and a well selected, very long roadtrip playlist (here's a good start). The open road is about freedom, and to contain that freedom with a strict plan is to miss out on all the road truly is.
Here's what I learned from my time on the road:
- TAKE WHATEVER VEHICLE YOU HAVE. I was always waiting around for the money and time to buy and work on a bus or van to live out of. For me, that time never came so I just picked up and went in my tiny hatchback one day.
- THINK ABOUT IT ONE DAY AT A TIME. When I left for my trip, I only knew that I was going to Indiana for that night. The next day, I decided to drive west from there – eventually making it all the way to California and up the coast. It's less intimidating and more fun to plan as you go and see where the road takes you.
- BE OPEN TO EXPLORING NEW PLACES. Because of people I met along the road, I ended up visiting a ton of places I never would have otherwise. Be outgoing, ask locals, and explore – you'll be happy you did.
- STAY AT HOSTELS. Most people don't even know that there are hostels in the US, but as I've found, they are some of the nicest in the world (for example, I stayed one block from South Beach, Miami and had a rooftop pool at one). Use HostelWorld.com to locate a nice hostel in whichever city or town you're coming up on next. It's the best way to meet people, which makes exploring easier and more fun.
- SAVE UP SOME MONEY - BUT NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK. I road tripped from DC to California, up the coast, and back for one month. The trip cost me less than $2,000. Stay with friends, sleep in your car, eat cheap. Fun is often free, you just have to find it.
- DON'T WAIT FOR YOUR FRIENDS. Just as I was waiting to build out a travel bus, I was waiting for my friends to be free to roadtrip with me. While road tripping together is super fun, don't let your friends' schedules hold you back. If you're free, take advantage of it and get to know yourself a little better. (I suggest listening to On The Road by Jack Kerouac on Audible.com)
So get out there and drive (safely) towards your dreams. Don't overthink it, meet new people, visit amazing places, and come back changed for good. You'll be happy you did.
AUGUST 8TH, 2018, 4AM: My alarm sounds and I'm already awake. It's hard to sleep when you're so excited about life. I shower, get dressed, and pack the last few things before the white lines & streetlights of the highway blur by and I'm up in the air over Boston, Chicago bound.
Since finding out that I'm the White Claw Hard Seltzer Best Life Ambassador, my life has been a bit of a blur (in a good way). On Tuesday I flew out to Chicago for a day-long orientation and brand immersion at the White Claw HQ. Wednesday, I flew back and had friends visiting from NYC for the weekend so I was in full hosting mode. Now, I finally have the first second free to reflect on this busy week.
I arrived in Chicago on Tuesday morning and got an Uber to the hotel White Claw put us up in. It was a super nice little boutique hotel called the Kinzie and was RIGHT downtown (so many great restaurants and shops nearby!). I had a few minutes to freshen up before getting another Uber over to the HQ building. When I arrived, I got in the elevator with a woman pulling a White Claw cooler bag – this was Christine, the other winner. We chatted about how excited we were to have this opportunity. It was so nice to be able to talk to someone who really gets the emotions I'm feeling because it's a unique experience and everything is better shared.
We arrived and were greeted by the White Claw team. They were SO nice and welcoming and toured us around the office, which is a modern, open, and naturally lit top floor space.
We had a catered lunch and got down to the brand immersion meeting. We learned a ton about the brand values, discussed travel plans, and tasted the difference between White Claw and other brands. It was so nice to find that White Claw is an amazing brand that I can proudly stand behind and support wholeheartedly. I honestly could not ask for a better team, company, brand, or product to work with/for on this. If I was excited about this before Chicago (spoiler alert: I was), I am twice as excited now that it's becoming more real.
After the day of orientation, we headed back to the hotel and freshened up before dinner. We went to an incredible restaurant called Barrio where I enjoyed THE BEST TACOS of my life. (and I'm not just saying that... they were soft shell wild mushroom tacos with some unreal sauce and cheese blend). Then we all cruised over to the Shedd Aquarium for Jazzin' at the Shedd – a night of drinks, aquatic animals, skyline views, jazz, and fun!
After the fun of dinner and the event wrapped up, Christine suggested we check out the Skydeck because we'd both been to Chicago but never been up there. We thought it'd be easy to get in because it was a Wednesday night and around 9pm... not the case. We had to wait an hour and a half to get our five minutes on the glass. However, it was super fun to chat with Christine about her adventure plans, and the views were awesome so it worked out well.
The next morning I had breakfast with my friend Kit who is a well known Food Blogger in Chicago. This was super fun and she gave me some incredibly useful advice about working in this ever-changing industry. She has inspired me to treat blogging more like a job and so I'm very excited for the challenge these next 6-months and beyond!
Hope you all will follow along and I'd love feedback on what you think of my content– photos, writing, and all!
9:22am // Monday morning // late July
I'm seated at my makeshift desk in my tiny home office, which is really my bedroom. I procrastinate through my morning social media posts as I sip my coffee. Quite the normal morning, until I glance at my lit up phone and see a Gmail notification with the subject line: "CONGRATULATIONS"
Yesterday morning, I got the email notification that I've been selected as the first ever White Claw Best Life Ambassador. What all that means is that White Claw – a large US based Spiked-Seltzer brand– is giving me $60,000 to travel for 6 months around the US. They just want me to provide adventurous, lifestyle content associated with their brand. Below I'm going to outline the timeline of how this came to be but first I will just reflect on how I've been feeling since I found out.
So, after seeing the subject line and that the email was from White Claw, my heart immediately started racing. I opened the email as fast as I could and the first line read something like, "We're thrilled to inform you that you've been selected as our first-ever White Claw Ambassador!" I initially couldn't believe it (and still am processing it) because I was honestly so prepared to not get it. I didn't want to get my hopes up before hearing because I always do that and get let down. However, this time, It went my way! Following the realization that I had really won, I put on loud music (the song "Drive" by Ben Rector) and jumped around for a bit– during which I ripped my shorts due to the jumping. I then drove over to my parents and told them, told my friends and siblings, and then posted an Instagram live video sharing the news with everyone else.
I'm still processing how I feel and what this will mean for my life. I'm hoping it will set me up to do more sponsorship/influencer work in the future but who knows? I'm also thinking a lot about the actual reality of what I need to plan out – all the flights, trips, etc. I'm very excited, but that excitement has given way to feeling slightly overwhelmed. I'm going to take tomorrow to really think everything out, get the paperwork in order and start to plan.
Anyway, I will definitely share so much more about this as it progresses, but for now, I'll just post a general timeline of when this all started to now:
March-ish 2018 (i think...?): I somehow hear about this White Claw Contest for a ton of money to travel, and apply. To apply, I just needed to share links to my social presence, a photo of myself, and a 250 word blurb about what my Best Life would look like/how I'm living my best life. I vaguely remember writing a bit about my philosophy on life – how many of my friends went the corporate route but that wasn't for me and how I think our society is really off balance with all the wrong things prioritized.
June 2018: I get an email notification that I've been selected as one of 5 male finalists out of thousands for the White Claw Best Life Contest. I read all about it and then remember having applied months before. I share the news with my family (since we were on family vacation) and buy a bunch of White Claw to try (raspberry was the unanimous favorite flavor. I submitted some paperwork for a background check and releases, etc. and then was told I'd be notified about a skype interview.
Mid-July 2018: I have my skype interview and am asked about a variety of things related to travel and my life. Had a nice time talking to the great people running the contest, but wasn't sure how the interview went. I felt like I said most of what I wanted to but was certainly not sure if I had won them over.
Yesterday (last Monday of July 2018): I received word that I was chosen!
"An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while". The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
One thing I've come to realize through my time working, traveling, and living life is that time is the most important thing of all. If your end goal is a lot of money and your means to that money is giving over all your time, what's the point? Why own an amazing, huge house with fancy cars, etc. if you have to work so much that you can't even enjoy them? Wouldn't a smaller house with just one car be better because you'd have the time to do what you want. Of course, this world requires money, but there's science to suggest our happiness doesn't come from higher income after 70k. This is because 70K is enough to not have to worry about money and this level of income enables you to afford things you need and also, to buy some things that you want.
My end goal with my current "career path" plan, is to set up diverse passive income streams that enable me to pursue what I want to do, without the constraints of financial dependance tied to whatever it may be that I want to try. For example, making furniture out of wood is a hobby of mine that I enjoy however, if I had to sell a table to make rent for the month, I don't think I'd enjoy it quite so much.
Anyway, I love the above story because it points out the hypocrisy of the capitalist model. I think it's super important to consider The Point in whatever you do. Think about what you're working towards and why you want it. That's what I'm trying to do and it helps me make it closer everyday.
So two exciting things are in the works for me currently. First, I recently decided to move into Portsmouth with a friend. We haven't found the exact place yet, but I'm very excited to finally set up camp and put down roots somewhere starting in July. My plan is to use Portsmouth as my home base – grow my social media business there locally, and then travel once that's established.
However, tonight I received news that may change that plan slightly – for the better. At around 5pm I was having a glass of wine and cooking out with my family. I checked my phone (as I do every 30 seconds...) and I saw I had an email from a company running an ambassador travel contest. I thought about it and then recalled that I had entered myself into the running a few months ago with a photo of me and a short blurb about how I live my #BestLife.
Until today, I hadn't thought once about that entry at all, but I assumed the email would be a "We regret to inform you...." – as so many emails I've received before have been. However, as it turns out, I am a finalist for the position and I'm one of only 5 male finalists from over 1,000 applicants.
The position basically boils down to this: If chosen, I would receive $60,000 to travel twice a month for 6 months ($10k/month). I'd have to document my travels with photo and video (as I'd already want to do anyway) and promote the brand through this. One great detail is that I could still work because it only asks that you take two trips in the US per month. This is like my dream anyway but the money was what was missing... with this opportunity, it wouldn't be anymore.
It goes without saying that this would be an incredible opportunity and I'm super excited to see what happens. My main thought with this is that it would be an amazing jump start to my career in influencer marketing and travel blogging.
Anyway, I will definitely be updating as things progress but for now, finger's crossed it works out!
It was a bright but cold Saturday morning in March and snow was still on the ground as I merged onto the highway with little more than the general heading of West.
The allure of the West had always called to me, but it was "never the right time" – there were always endless excuses: work, money, or friends who were unable to go. It was always easier to say "someday" than to say "today", and so I always put it off. However, then I came across this quote,
"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." - Henry David Thoreau
This simple quote reminded me that you don't need to rely on other people for your own happiness – nor do you need companionship for something to be worthwhile. The time to do what you want is now.
As I drove the 3,000+ miles West, I came to get to know myself better and I'll always value that time I spent alone on the road. (Coincidentally, I listened to 'On The Road' by Jack Kerouac all the way out – highly recommend)
Along the road I came to appreciate a lot of things. For one, the hospitality and kindness of people in this vast country of ours. From my friend Jeremy's farm in Indiana where he and his family greeted me with unbelievable warmth and delicious farm fresh food, to my friend Shelly's ranch in California where I spent an incredible day being guided through the mountains, to my Godparent's house in Oregon where they invited me to stay as longs as I'd like – people continued to amaze me with their kindness all along my way. It was truly unbelievable.
I also came to appreciate how lucky I am to be able to pursue what I want in life. For many, the idea of loving your job is almost laughable. Yet, my ultimate goal is to not have to work at all. Considering the injustice of this stark contrast made me realize I want to give back. My good fortune and privilege in this life can be used for good rather than just ignored and explained away as "good luck". Thus, I realized that I need to work to help others move towards a life they want, not just help myself fulfill my goals.
I circled back through the north – Spokane, Bismarck, Chicago and, upon arriving back to the east coast was left with a lot to think about. I'm still processing the experiences I had on the road but the main things I realized are that life is short and "the death rate is still holding steady at 100%" so we might as well get to living.
To set the level of honesty on this blog at 'extremely high' from the get-go, I don't understand blogging .
Specifically, I don't understand who it is that reads blogs. I know very few people will read mine (hopefully only at the beginning...), but I mean, I don't understand these thousands of seemingly-mythical people who are reading the well known blogs – where are they, who are they, and how do they find the time?!
That said, welcome to my blog! (because if you can't understand something, just do it anyway...) I hope that I'll come to understand the world of blogging through just doing. But seriously, I do love writing about my life, experiences, and travels, so I'm excited for a more polished, public opportunity to share.
My story begins in the fall of 2012 – well, technically, my story begins in Portland, Maine on March 3rd, 1993 at 4:01pm… but that is a far longer, far less interesting story. This particular story, regarding my love of travel, begins in the fall of 2012.
I had just completed my freshman year of college and, though I enjoyed my friends and studies at school, I found myself lost among the manicured hedges and arbitrary deadlines of the collegiate experience. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in or what career I wanted to pursue post-grad, so I opted for a year off to travel, work, and figure it all out.
I traveled everywhere from the dusty honky-tonk bars of the American South to the humid jungles and desolate beaches of Eastern Costa Rica. From the cool, green rolling hills of Ireland to the blazing hot sun and bioluminescent waters of the Virgin Islands. Yet, after all this, what I figured out was that I had figured out nothing at all, and I was just one year older. So, I (somewhat reluctantly) returned to college to continue aimlessly “moving forward” and eventually earned my B.A. in Sociology.
Despite its ostensible uselessness, this gap year planted within me a seed. A stream of questions that I’d never though to ask began to flow, visions of innumerable life paths I’d never before considered appeared. Had it not been for this time when I stepped off the fast-moving treadmill of the modern-day school-college-job track, I would not have thought so deeply about these questions, or likely even considered the innumerable possibilities my future held.
Now, it is 2018 and I’m twenty-five years old. I work for myself and I travel the world, meeting amazing people and constantly creating: photographs, videos, music, and more. It took me a while to get here – and I still haven’t “figured everything out”, and probably never will. But that’s okay. I find life is much more exciting when you don’t know what tomorrow holds anyway…
I hope you’ll join me and take what you can from my life. I’d love to have you along for the ride.
“Don’t fear death, Fear the unlived life” – Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
SOME BRIEF NOTES
This blog isn’t meant to self-promote or to say, “Look at me! My life is awesome!” – it’s meant to inspire others to think differently and go against the grain. To introduce the different potential life paths out there and to share what I learn along my way. It goes without saying that I am extremely privileged to be in the position I’m in (living, working, and traveling this way). I couldn’t lead the life I do without the help of my family, friends, and the “invisible knapsack” (in the words of Peggy McIntosh), which I possess. However, my aim with this blog is to help others move towards the life they dream of, regardless of where they start out from. So, whoever you are – wherever you come from– I hope you’ll come along on this journey with me.