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My Line of Work Is Actually Not Glamorous

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.

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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 youngest.

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 live.

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 me.

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 it.

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 restful.

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.

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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.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY: Keryn Means

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