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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.