How did Travel Become my Career?

———————————————————

Hi,

I found it interesting that you write about your travels and I found that inspiring. Traveling is something I would love to do as a career. How did you get into it, especially just coming out of college?

Cheers,
Sarah 

———————————————————

I get these types of messages all the time.  I generally respond within a couple of days or at the most a week.  These emails inspire me, they remind me that what I do is something that many people dream of doing.  I don’t feel that doing what I do was an accident, nor do I think that I fell into it by chance.  I know how much hard work I’ve put in.  I also know that anyone can do it, if they truly love it.  What I do isn’t difficult.  Yes, it takes dedication.  Yes, it takes a lot of often unpaid and unrewarded hours of work.  And yes, sometimes travel can beat you down and make you feel like just another insignificant ant picking away at life’s anthill.  But at the end of the day, I am doing what I want to do, where I want to be doing it and how few people can say they wake up every day content with that fact.

Anyways, I’m not all to sure what made me write an article in response to this email, but I felt compelled.  This is my completely self-indulgent response:

—————————————————————————————————————–

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your email.  I am always completely entertained by the fact that people look to me for inspiration.  The truth is that just a couple years ago I too was looking around for inspiration.  I tell the story time and time again.  I was sitting at my desk having just graduated university with degrees (and high GPAs I might add) in both Political Science and Human Geography.  In front of me I had a stack of University grad school acceptance letters, a couple of job offers, and some applications I had yet to turn in for law school.  I began to weigh my options.  Law school would be great.  In just a couple of years I could be earning enough money to take extravagant vacations.  Grad school would also be fun, I was offered scholarships to study in England, Belgium or Holland; in all my time off I could travel Europe.  Or maybe with my political science degree I could become a diplomat and travel the world representing my country.  By my third analysis that I realized what I really cared about, and it was travel.

I told myself that I needed time to shake the travel bug free from my itching feet which so maliciously pulled me towards the door.  I was drawn to maps.  Maps were filled with places I hadn’t been, cultures I had yet to explore, and experiences I had yet to have.  The biggest problem, however, was that I had no money.  My bank account was dry, my student loans were about to start raining down on me, and to top it all off how could I not struggle with the idea that by leaving the many opportunities I had behind me I was, essentially, underachieving or selling myself short of my true potential?

Me choosing to not to walk on the sidewalk.

Exactly 2 years ago today I took a leap of faith and jumped on a plane to Toronto for an interview; an interview for a job that would pay less than I could ever imagine agreeing to work for.  I fought for this job, not because it was glamorous, high paying, or because it would add prestige to my resume.  I took this job because above all the opportunities I had this one made my skin crawl with excitement, made my heart sink like a boy with a crush, and made me feel like I was about to fulfill a lifelong dream.  I was about to become a tour leader for an adventure travel company.  I chose the the path less travelled because I know that those who walk the sidewalks life provides us only see the world through the same eyes as everyone else.

That job brought me to where I am today, not because I advanced in that job or with that company, but because it gave me the opportunity to find what it was that I really wanted.  It allowed me to spread my wings and set out on my own life journey.  A journey that was written in colourful crayon which failed to stay within the lines.  Two years later I have travelled to every single country on the mainland of the Americas and have even made a hop over to Antarctica.  And it may sound funny to say, but the biggest blessing hasn’t been seeing the things I have seen, exploring the places I have been, or having the experiences I’ve had.  The greatest blessing is the fact that I have been able to share my experiences, through my words and my photos, to such an amazing wealth of people. I can’t help but be humbled by that.  It blows my mind that so many people, like yourself, send in emails every single week inspired by what I am doing.  In the end, it is you all that push me to keep doing what I do.

Now, I realize that what I’ve just written might not make sense to you, nor may it address the true question that you are asking.  You see, the reason I have responded in the way I have is because I can see that you may be sitting at your desk right now with a pile of applications, acceptance letters, and job offers right now.  But like I was, you are wondering if travel could hold a viable part of your future?  Can travel become a career? Can I make a living doing what I really want to be doing?  Of course you can.

We are caged only by our fears

I’ll always remember my mother telling me to “find what you really love doing in life, and then find a way to earn money doing it.” And the truth is that mother’s are quite often right, although some wish they hadn’t been (I’m sure my mother is kicking herself for being such an inspiration to me).  Life, however, is too short to be living whilst wondering what it would be like another way.

If you want to make travel a career, it is absolutely possible.  I’m not the only one who has done it, and I’m not the only one that has left home with 500$ in their pocket to travel the world for years.  We are blessed with opportunities we don’t even realize.  We can teach English, work on a cruise ship, write travel articles, or even guide tours around strange lands.  If the passion to achieve exists it can not be stopped until that passion runs dry.  Because as most of us who have been on the road for years at a time soon realize, the world does not restrict us as we may believe. It is often our own personal fears that restrict us. It is often our own personal fears that stop us from doing what we really want to be doing.

Poke your head out into the world and explore

You see Sarah, if travel really is what you want to be do doing then go out and do it. If you seek guidance you need not look further than your own desires. If you need support your friends and family will always be there for you. And if you need a hand those who have set the trail ahead of you will always be there to lead you or, more importantly, remind you that it’s alright to burn your own path.

Best of luck in this journey wherever it may take you,

And remember, those who inspire are those who follow their dreams rather than making excuses as to why they are not.

Kind regards,

Brendan


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than he has the desire to count. Check out his profile on . for a little bit more about him.

Share This Post On

50 Comments

  1. Brilliant mate. Great post.

    Post a Reply
  2. Great post, but you might want to change it to a leap of faith rather then a leap of fail. ;-)

    Post a Reply
    • @Nicki – OOPs… I guess that’s what I get for editing at 2:30am haha. Thanks!

      Post a Reply
  3. Great post Brendan. I think figuring out what it is that we really want is so important and often overlooked.

    Post a Reply
    • Agreed Phil! And glad you liked the article.

      Post a Reply
  4. Thank you for this letter. I agree with your last statement “those who inspire are those who follow their dreams rather than making excuses as to why they are not.” My fiance and I are about to leave our ‘high paying jobs’ and set out on our own adventure. I can’t wait to see where it will take us. Cheers!

    Post a Reply
    • @Lina… best of luck! Remembers there are not failures just good stories waiting to be written.

      Post a Reply
  5. Such sensible advice! I’m not sure why so many of us find it so hard to find what we really love doing and find a way to earn money doing it. Inspiration like yours opens the minds and hearts of so many! :-)

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you for your nice words Peggy… It really is true isn’t it?

      Post a Reply
  6. I love to be inspired by others who have done what I haven’t dared to do…yet. Thanks for the post. :)

    Post a Reply
  7. Definitely great mom advice. I love the article and I like how you responded to the email like a blog post :D My emails tend to be more conversational, rather than polished!

    Post a Reply
    • @Janet… thanks. Yup, it’s good to mix it up every now and then

      Post a Reply
  8. Lovely post Brendan – a great letter of encouragement that everyone should read to remind themselves they can ‘do it’ =)

    Post a Reply
  9. Hi again,

    Great post and Thanks for your words of advice. I enjoy learning about peoples successes and I’m glad to hear that you followed your heart on what you truly wanted to do.

    Good luck with future endeavors!

    tschüß,
    Sarah

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Sarah, hi Brendan.

      Sarah, what became of your career travel dreams? I hope that you’re living them!

      Brendan, I’ve been a big admirer of what you have been doing since you passed through Limbe, Cameroon. I absolutely LOVED the scooter trip and you’re exceptionally brave for doing that! Congo, wow – what a story.

      My dream too is to work somewhere in the travel industry. I certainly am inspired by what you’re doing. Take care and I look forward to the upcoming adventures!

      Post a Reply
  10. Brendan, as I was reading this post the thought went through my mind, “I’ll bet he gets a lot of responses!” I was right. Well done son!!!

    Post a Reply
    • @Dad – I pay most of these people to comment… :)

      Post a Reply
  11. Hey Brendan, enjoyed the post. I especially liked and appreciated you mentioning your mom’s inspirational words! Take care and keep doing what you love. :)

    Post a Reply
  12. Great post Brendan. I wish my mum had wanted me to do something I loved – I was rather encouraged to get a career!!!

    Post a Reply
    • @Dad – I am paying you by not getting kidnapped more than once a month… that’s pure gold dude!

      Post a Reply
  13. I’m enjoying your Dad’s comments =) I agree, it is really hard to figure out what you want to do in life. For me, law school wasn’t it either, even though I got into one and sometimes I have dark moments where I wish I’d become a lawyer. Because that seems easier to me than the path I chose, which was advertising, then entrepreneurship and now, travel (and hopefully a combination of both soon). At the time I asked myself what I would do with a law degree and had no answer so that was all it took to throw away that opportunity. I hope Sarah and everyone else out there struggling with these questions finds their happy niche in life.

    Post a Reply
  14. Inspiring post! I like how you left the house with such limited funds & had the confidence to pursue your dreams. I find it fascinating how ‘we travelers’ find a way to make it work. For some it’s working hard for a year and then playing until funds run out and for others it’s a combination of everything in between.

    Post a Reply
  15. Hey Brendan, that is a great response. I totally feel you. I make it happen too, I love traveling too much not to.

    Post a Reply
  16. great post man… this got stuck in my head “We are caged only by our fears”… i should be taking more risks in relation to what i want to achieve….

    Post a Reply
  17. Inspiring response :) I hope Sarah takes it to heart. Your mother is a smart lady :)

    Post a Reply
  18. Brendan, awesome post! I have just started out on an adventure of my own having left a somewhat mainstream career in software for a nomadic life in photography and writing. I have found that completely changing your life is much easier than one would think. It seems like a huge amount of work to make the change, and it is definitely a bit terrifying, but once it is all done, I only wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. Still I find an inspiration post like yours makes me even more confident that I have done the right thing. Now I just need to find a way to get paid for it! :)

    Post a Reply
  19. Very inspirational, and I hope Sarah paid attention and was equally inspired. And I would have totally taken the tour leader job too!

    Post a Reply
  20. This is beautiful and extremely inspirational. Thank you very much for these words.

    Post a Reply
    • @Claudia – I’m glad you like it!

      Post a Reply
  21. Hey, since last year its been my endeavor to travel across the globe. But being a female is one of my inhibitions, and I cannot always rely on friends to accompany me. Was also wondering how does one sustain having limited money?

    Post a Reply
    • @Rebecca – There are lots of women that do it, and do it solo. Check out authors from pages like solotravelerblog.com and holeinthedonut.com it is definitely possible. You don’t need someone to travel with, there are always people to meet at the hostels… you’re solo, but never alone.

      Post a Reply
  22. Very Inspiring !! thanks. . .that really helped me a lot :)

    Post a Reply
  23. hey brendan, a very motivational post really, I want to make career in traveling but I think there are’nt much of opportunities here in India. so please recommend a better solution, mate ur advice will be vital for me………VJ.

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Vansh, there are always more opportunities than you think. Tour guiding, consulting, etc. can all be the step you need into the industry.

      Post a Reply
  24. I js lovd it. I always wanted 2 travel d world.its my passion n want it 2 b my destiny. Very mch impressed wid ur article.m pursuing my masters in computer apps now at 22 age frm india. I dnt knw when bt il accomplish my dream sooner.. Awaiting 4 d moment. Thanku.. -sharu

    Post a Reply
  25. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been enjoying reading about your adventures with Anne Murray in West Africa, and it’s nice to know a little more back story about the author. I’m a big fan of people chasing their dreams and doing whatever it takes to make them happen.

    “And remember, those who inspire are those who follow their dreams rather than making excuses as to why they are not.” …. btw, I love that quote.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Ryan. Glad you’re enjoying the adventures :D

      Post a Reply
  26. Very inspiring post Brendan… the “leap” is always the hardest part. It’s hard to remove yourself from the perceived safety of routine. Best of luck to you!

    Post a Reply
  27. Hey Brendan! I love the article. Very inspiring especially since it seems I am in the same boat as you once were a couple years back. The only thing holding me back is paying off loans. Can you elaborate on how you paid off your loans while traveling and not making much money? Thanks for all the helpful information.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Claudine, I wish I could say I paid them off! I’m still fighting with them. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t have borrowed the money in the first place. However, the fear of the payments catching up to me constantly definitely helps push me to work harder. So there is a bright side, I suppose. Good luck!

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>