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.
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.
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!