I get this idea, one that I am sure is not mine alone, that travel is a privilege. Travel is a break from work, it is play, it is vacation. So why on earth would I think myself so privileged as to vacation all the time? Why should I be one of the lucky few who get to travel instead of work?
And then I realize how erroneous that line of thought is. Travel and vacation are two different things. I am not currently in Iceland on vacation; for the first two and a half weeks, I didn’t even have a full day off of work. True, if you have a job that allows you to travel and work at the same time, or travel for work itself, then you are part of an extremely lucky few. However, this idea that you laze around in grand hotels, eating fascinating food and seeing beautiful sights, is so far-fetched. Travel is difficult. Whether you are on a program like Workaway or being paid by a magazine to stay at a fancy resort and write about it, it’s no light-hearted walk in the park.
Travel is exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s stressful. And yes, it’s amazing and wonderful and adventurous and exciting too, but hopefully, whatever life or career you have chosen will provide both ends of the spectrum for you as well, no matter where it is in the world or how far from home.
Unfortunately, being a working traveler is quite glamorized, much like being an actor. So many people want to be an actor. They think it’s fun, easy, well-paid, fame-inducing, exciting, etc. Talk to actual working actors, and you quickly find the real picture. The glamor is short-lived, if it even exists at all. There are long hours, weeks or months away from home and family, new skills to learn, constant judgment and rejection, pressure to improve, and some very unglamorous requirements. Yet so many potentials don’t realize this, and the competition becomes stiff with thousands and thousands of people all trying to make a living “the easy way.”
Just because it’s not daily nine-to-five desk work or manual labor, doesn’t mean it’s the easy route. In fact, it’s usually the much harder route.
One of the frequently used phrases at Disney World is “We work while others play.” I think being a travel writer is much like that: they work so others can play. They do the research and the experimentation every single day so that when you get that week off of work, you don’t have to waste any time. You can do exactly what you want to do where you want to do it, because they put in the leg work beforehand and published the results.
It was only recently that the idea of being a travel writer became more and more of a focus for me. It seemed like a sort of fantasy concept: something I know people are out there doing for a living but I don’t at all know how they achieved. And I thought to myself, You can’t just go jumping on the travel writer train thinking you’ll try it out and then move on to something else. See, I have this problem of being fascinated with something, but only wanting to try it out for a short time before finding myself fascinated by something else. For the first time though, I’m thinking this is something I’d like to do for the rest of my life. That’s huge for me. I’ve never wanted to do anything for the rest of my life; I’ve always wanted to do stuff for the next six months, maybe the next year at most. And today, while watching an amazing show on Netflix called The Chef’s Table (which I highly suggest you check out if you have any interest in food or in documentaries or even in art), I think I discovered why being a travel writer is the first thing I’ve truly considered for a life-long career.
There’s this concept of creation for me that is so special and so divine. It’s what drew me toward so many of my great loves: theatre, literature, cooking. I wanted to be a part of the process of artistic creation in general, and I was never able to nail down exactly what branch or what field or what specific region because it was never any small part in itself that excited me, but rather the combination of many small parts to result in something whole and new and amazing.
I thought, I’d love to write, perhaps novels, perhaps children’s books, perhaps editorials or journalistic articles. But then wouldn’t being an editor be fun? And what about proofreading? That could be an interesting start. Or maybe I’ll be a chef, but what kind of chef? Do I want to focus on pastries or bread or sauces or French cuisine or Italian or Asian? I love entertainment, I should go into that field. Look how broad that field is! What will I choose in the end as a career? Stage or screen? Performance or technical? Shall I be an actress or a costume designer or a director or a set decorator? Can I do them all?
You see, I just wanted to be a part of the process of creation in any way I could.
And then, I think back to what I’ve wanted for a long time. Back when I was young. I look at the lists of things I said I wanted to be when I grew up; I look at the big picture. I want to inspire people to create, I want to assist them in their process of creation, and I want to promote their hard work. And that is why I want to write. When I find something I love, whether it’s a new TV show or a great restaurant or a little-known travel location, I just want to share it with others. I want to bring people back and show them and say, “Look at this amazing thing! Come experience this incredible adventure.” I want the creators of the show and the chefs at the restaurant and the people who showed me the secret haven to be known and appreciated and rewarded for what they do. I want to work hard promoting other people’s hard work, because they deserve it. I find myself craving a bigger audience, not for any sort of self-glory, but so that more people can share in an experience I loved. So that more people can find that hidden canyon in Iceland that was some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen. So that more people can admire my sister’s heartfelt and stunning photography that never ceases to amaze me. So that more people will go see this work of performance art that really moved me and made me think in a new way. So that more people will be inspired to go back home and create something themselves.
Creation moves in a circle: someone is inspired, someone creates, someone else is inspired by that creation, and that someone creates. In a world that is increasingly caught up in hate and violence and despair, I want to promote inspiration and creativity and beauty, whether it be in literature, theatre, food, language, nature, art, architecture, photography, film, hospitality, adventure…
If I can write an article that inspires even one person to support someone else or try something new, then it will be a job well done for me. That is a job I would like to do for the rest of my life. And that is why being a travel writer is the first career I have seriously considered with no thought of when I would stop, what I would do next, what I could try at the same time. That is my dream.