For the last year or so, I’ve been struggling with a dilemma. I’ve been working toward the goal to build this blog into a business that sustains both Tim and I financially, and I’ve been doing it for three years while also working full time at the university job I was once sure would be my career.
Unlike many of my lawyer-turned-travel-blogger or inn-keeper-turned-travel-personality friends that have taken this road before me, I wasn’t chained to a desk in a windowless cubicle only traveling on a week’s vacation here and there. I’ve been location independent for six years with the freedom to work from anywhere I had reliable internet. That’s included my home base in Italy and, on occasion, locations like Iceland, Greece and Spain. I also had seven weeks vacation and, more importantly, a reliable paycheck that arrived like clockwork every two weeks.
Security is a hard thing to walk away from.
But it was more than that. I felt guilty too. When Tim’s job required a move not only across states, but to another whole continent, I had nothing to lose in asking if I could telecommute. Ironically, my boss at the time and who telecommuted from another state said no. A week later, another opportunity presented itself and I accepted a new position at the university. Best of all, I would be able to have a six month period in which we would give telecommuting a try once Tim and I moved to Italy.
I worked my ass off. I worked harder and longer than anyone else for the six months leading up to our move, for the six months of my telecommuting trial period, and for the next five years that I continued to work from Italy. As the sole person responsible for social media, I answered students questions from cruise ships and the top of the Eiffel Tower. I did it willingly because I loved social media management, because it was the right thing for the students…and because my boss put himself on the line to let me work from Italy. How could I ever let him down?
Eventually I proved the ROI of offering customer service on social media and I was able to hire a team of people to do the day-to-day. I took on a managerial role that revolved around a lot of reports and graphs. I was no longer so integral to the success because I’d trained my team well. By then I was also blogging five days a week and our blog had started to take off, we were being invited on many more press trips, and I was even speaking at conferences – both in the travel and higher education industries – about social media strategy.
I wasn’t feeling challenged or fulfilled at work anymore; more like I was just going through the motions. I no longer felt guilt, but there was something else holding me back from turning in my notice.
I’ve wanted some sort of career that involved travel since I participated in a study abroad program in Costa Rica with my high school – that was in 1997. Those chips began to fall in to place thanks to a friend and being in the right place at the right time over a decade later. Life’s funny that way sometimes.
My friend is a print travel writer. We’d meet up at least once a month for a sushi date and I’d gush (enviously) over her last month on safari, cruising to Australia, and the never ending list of fabulous places she’d been. It wasn’t until she invited me as her guest on a cruise ship launch and just about everyone on board asked if I was a travel writer or travel blogger too, that I even realized there were professional bloggers.
I had a blog, a hobby blog that is. I updated it when I felt like and wrote travel diary posts that I’d basically be mortified for anyone to read now. It must not have been totally terrible (after all, I did write for Ranger Rick Magazine when I was a kid), because Johnny Jet followed up with me a few months after that cruise and sent me on my first press trip.
It was after that trip to Finnish Lapland that I bought my domain. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I picked a stupid name and built a website to the best of my ability. It wasn’t the prettiest or most professional looking, but I wrote and wrote pushing out posts five times a week.
It’s been three years nearly to the day that I built that site. Even though more than 1 million of you visited our site in 2014 and money has been consistently coming in for the last year through a variety of revenue streams, I am still afraid of failing.
What if I fail at my dream?
Launching Luxe Adventure Traveler
So what’s next? First is getting our brand new re-branded site finally launched. It’s been about six months in the making, but over the last week I’ve had more time (and motivation) to get with my designer and get it done.
You can expect the same great content we’ve always produced, but on a magazine style website. Some changes you can look forward to:
- Our new homepage is a static page where we can showcase the top seasonal adventures and a stream will still show our three newest posts.
- A newly updated Start Here page where you can easily discover what we’re all about and our most popular posts.
- A shop where you can find travel guides produced by us with our personal recommendations of where to stay and eat and what to do. You’ll also find our favorite gear, photography equipment, beauty products and more.
Content Creation, Consulting and Services
And for our brand partners, we have a brand new Work With Us page. Over the last three years, we’ve experimented with a variety of ways we can work with brands and we’ve put together our service offerings based on both what has been most successful and how we enjoy working.
2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year. We’ve already done projects in Swedish Lapland chasing the Northern Lights and I managed to not break or bruise anything during snowboard lessons in the French Alps.
We’ve got another major life change coming up that I can’t quite discuss yet, but February and March will likely be spent mostly close to home here in Italy, though we do have a short getaway planned in Istria, Croatia. Truffle hunting anyone? April and May are going to be crazy with trips / conferences in Romania and Spain. I’m also speaking about social media campaigns at TBEX Lloret de Mar before heading off to France for a Viking River Cruise in the Bordeaux wine region. I plan to wrap up my Spain-France trip by swinging by Disneyland Paris because I’m just dying to feel rat sized at Bistro Chez Remy, themed after one of my very favorite Disney movies: Ratatouille.
What do you do besides work?
There are two questions people love to ask me: “what do I do besides work and travel?” and “when do I sleep?” Good questions!
On the sleep matter, I spent six years working for a company nine time zones behind me. That meant odd hours and often not going to bed until 3 or 4am. Truthfully, I took naps for six years and it took its toll on me. So I’m still trying to adjust to actually going to bed at a reasonable time and getting a full nights rest.
Working full time and basically putting in full time hours to build this business left little time for anything else. I used to work out five or six days each week and as we’ve seen in the latest pictures I desperately try not to be in (imagine me snarling at Tim a la Carrie Bradshaw when she falls flat on her face in her jeweled panties on the runway and tells her photographer beau to “stop taking her f’ing picture”), I have not been working out. That already changed this week. 2015 is the year I’m going to be 35 and fabulous.
I also used to read books. You know, for enjoyment. Not travel books I’m reviewing. This month I’ve already downloaded one of the dozen or so books I’ve bought on my Nook account in the last year and never got around to reading. And…I actually finished it! It feels so good to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot tea and read for fun again.
And I love cooking. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I can still vividly remember when Tim and I toured the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary school in Scottsdale. I made a smart decision not to go at the time. I would have had to continue working full time while going to school five days per week for a minimum of 15 months. You were only allowed to miss three days over the course of the 15 month program. I’m pretty sure (now -back then I thought I was invincible) it would have killed me and the $37,000 tuition would have went right down the drain.
Though I never became a professional chef, I love trying new recipes and cooking at home. Just being exhausted all the time and only having an hour each night while on my “lunch” to prepare and eat dinner meant I made a lot of quick meals. Dinner had become so monotonous! But I’m slowly getting back to cooking. I’ve made the peppermint bark brownies I intended to make during the holidays and even tried a homemade tartiflette that turned out really good. Maybe I’ll even break out the recipes I learned at the Thai and Greek cooking lessons we’ve had.
Whew! That was a really long winded way of saying that I’m already enjoying discovering myself again. I think I lost a bit of myself for a while when I became all work and no play.
So, I didn’t exactly quit my job to travel the world in the sense that I plan to sell everything and hit the road on a year-long round-the-world trip with nothing more than a backpack and what I can fit in it. The nomad lifestyle just isn’t for me. I do plan to put everything I’ve got, and then some, into making Luxe Adventure Traveler a successful business. And well, traveling the world just happens to be a fantastic job perk.
Wish me luck!