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Lush tropical beaches, fast-paced
European cities, luxury shopping sprees, wine tasting, fine dining and
working on my tan: These are all things that people think travel writers and travel bloggers do.
Sure, there are definitely perks to my career choice, but
let's get real. When a travel writer finally crashes into bed at the end of the
night she (or he) is always exhausted from ... a job. The one thing people
rarely remember is that travel writing is a job, not a vacation.
I honestly can't remember
the last time I went on a vacation. Probably with my husband's family to the
beach, when I promised I wouldn't write about our trip and I tried to relax a
little. Naturally, this did not extend to social media. As a travel writer and the founder of my own blog, Walking
On Travels, I need to stay active even if my blog is chugging along, thanks to
a tidy editorial schedule, and all of my freelance assignments are wrapped up.
So, you wonder, what does a typical day look
like for me? Probably pretty similar to yours. I am a full-time, work-at-home
mom. My husband works long hours, so somedays I am even a single parent with no
back-up in site. I wake up, throw breakfast in front of my kids, pack lunch,
run my two boys to two different schools, get back home, make coffee and plop in
front of my computer. I have three and a half hours in the morning to catch up
on emails, negotiate pricing for projects, pitch my editors, write assignments,
update social media and check in to see what everyone else is
up to (you just can't be one-sided about social media. You need to engage too!)
I edit stories from contributors to my blog, and I try to get my own writing
done as well.
Before I know it, I have to run to preschool to grab my
My boys, after years of training, have learned not to touch their food until I give the go-ahead.
After preschool, we hit the grocery store before heading home. He hates it, and you may wonder why
I don't go before I pick him up. Those are precious hours that I need for work, not for the luxury of grocery shopping alone.
Before preschool started this fall, I would work into the wee hours of the
night. I'm trying to get to bed by midnight—instead of 2 a.m. these days—so we can all be a bit happier and spend more time together.
Once we are home, my
youngest gets some "homework" time with PBSKids.org, while I work on a project
for another travel site that needed a project manager to keep them in line.
What can I say, my love of spreadsheets and past life as a project manager have
come in handy.
After 3 p.m., we pick up big brother, get him home to do homework,
play with the neighbor kids, make dinner, give the kids a bath, get them in bed
and then I collapse in front of the TV. Phew! Now I can rest. Well, maybe not.
I may still have to edit a piece that is due tomorrow, pull photos, correct photos for color and sizing, and schedule the next week of posts going
Really. it never ends.
So when does all of this
travel I'm writing about come in? Well, a few times a month I'm on the road. I
work like mad while I'm home, because it's next to impossible for me to get any
writing done unless I'm on a plane and, especially, if my boys are traveling with
Normal people get
to sit down with a glass of wine and a fancy meal out on the road, but I have to take notes on what I
ordered, how it was prepared and whether it was worth it. I'm also photographing
every plate before anyone sticks a fork near it. My boys, after years of
training, have learned not to touch their food until I give the go-ahead. They
have also learned not to go into a hotel room until I'm finished photographing
I go on hotel tours with PR people, while my boys tag along or hang out at
the pool with their dad. I ride in helicopters, zip line, bike, paddle board
and tour five wineries in five hours. I'm not complaining, I have a pretty amazing
life and my job has allowed me to show my boys things I would never think to
show them—or be able to afford to do with them—but it is work, and it is rarely
Travel writing isn't just
about free travel and lots of downtime with your kids.
I admit, gladly, that it's work that comes with perks, but the pay is either nonexistent or
minimal if you are trying to make it in writing. You have to wear a lot of hats
to make it financially worth it. I'm losing time with my kids and showing
people more of the world than I am actually living it most days.
The next time you get down on your own life and think travel writers have it made, remember that, just like you, they are packing lunches and tucking kids into bed.
Why do I keep
doing it? It's simple. I love it.
I love exploring the world on my own and with
my kids. I love showing families that travel is possible with babies on up
through teens. It is the most exciting career I've ever had, and I'm in control
of it. It is a lot of work, and I do make sacrifices for it—some that other
moms would not make.
At the end of the day—even at 2 a.m. when I'm still
working—I love my job.
The next time you get
down on your own life and think travel writers have it made, remember that, just
like you, they are packing lunches and tucking kids into bed. They just get to
do it in Mexico, Japan and Italy a little more often than you do.