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?
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.