A new year is traditionally the time for both reflecting on the past and looking ahead, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the story I haven’t told: the story of how I started this website and why. The reason I haven’t told this story is because for a Type A personality like me, it’s hard to admit failure, even if it’s not my fault.
Because the truth is, I didn’t start writing about travel because it was my passion. I did it because I got fired.
Well, to be fair, that’s not entirely true. Travel has always been a passion of mine, ever since I first picked up a 1969 National Geographic magazine. And anyone who knows me would say that stories are my thing, especially when it comes to talking about the places I’ve been.
I say that because my work had never been about a paycheck or having a place to go in the morning (both very handy, though, don’t get me wrong!). Working in advertising provided an outlet for my creativity, it allowed me to indulge my love of beauty and design, it challenged me to solve problems every day – business problems, creative problems, ways to influence behaviour, ways to change people’s perceptions. And it introduced me to likeminded people every single day. It wasn’t so much a career as an extension of who I was as a person, and what could be better than that?
So, the big question loomed large: what do I do now that will give me the same kind of personal fulfillment?
The funny thing is, sometimes the answers to life’s biggest questions are right in front of you staring you in the face, while you are busy trying to look through, over, and around them for some giant ‘a-ha!’ that lies behind the obvious.
So it actually took me by surprise when I stumbled onto that obvious thing: I was talking with a friend about how much I love sharing my travel experiences, when I realized just how happy travel made me. In fact, it was the one thing that motivated me to protect every vacation day every year, the one thing that took me happily away from my job, and the thing that brought out the best in me, by showing me the world around me and giving me the chance to tell others about it. Travel WAS the thing.
“A-HA!” (or ‘D-uh’ because it seems so obvious in retrospect!)Unfortunately, a-ha moments don’t come with job offers.
So I hired myself, and in the process, I gave myself a promotion: I became Chief Experience Officer at a place I could fill with inspiration, stories, design, beautiful imagery, and information that could help other like-minded travellers get the absolute most out of their own travels: I created GreyRoutesandTips.com.
(Note: this was the first iteration of what is now Grownup Travels.com)
It’s been a little over 18 months since I launched this site, and I still freelance in the advertising world (because as any blogger will tell you, this gig is financially more a labour of love than a lucrative income source!). And I’m still looking for other ways to bring work and travel together, which has turned out to be anything BUT a linear path.
But there’s a satisfaction in doing this that feels familiar yet fresh and new at the same time, which is what keeps it exciting. Because while I’m figuring out how to make travel an even bigger part of my future, I’m learning to enjoy the unpredictability of the ride.
In the meantime, thank you for riding along with me, and for allowing me to share my experiences with you.
Here’s to looking ahead to the next big adventure for all of us, whatever that may be!
Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established GrownupTravels.com in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.
It may be cliche, but it’s true: everything happens for a reason. I’ve been there, and the layoff was the best thing that happened to me. Thank you for the inspiring post!
It’s true, I know, and hindsight gives you that perspective. Maybe one day I’ll say "I wouldn’t have become the number 1 travel blogger in the world if I hadn’t been fired!." Here’s to moving forward 🙂
Looking back it’s interesting that the things we’ve perceived at the time as failures (layoffs, job changes and disatisfaction, etc.) have turned into big opportunities because they forced us away for our comfort zones into seeking viable alternatives, This seems to be similar to what you’ve experienced and it sounds like you’re going to enjoy exploring new directions!
So true. The first time I found myself unwillingly having to work freelance was 14 years ago, but it actually enabled me to buy a house! That was because I was able to save more money self-employed than when I was salaried. At least that showed me that there can be an up-side to every downturn.
I read with great interest how you started your travel writing life. I am always fascinated when hearing about other writers’ paths. Excellent!!
Thanks, Marilyn. I think the storytelling was always there for me, but now there’s more opportunities to share publicly.
Since Boomer Travel Bloggers is a travel blogging Facebook group and life is most definitely a journey, thanks for sharing a bit of your path. I think I’m still looking for mine. I’m finding that lawyer to ?????? is most definitely not a straight line.
Funny, that you’ve come from such a defined world into one that is so much more subjective and interpretive. Do you find that freeing or infuriating at times?
Oh, how well I relate to travel being "the thing" and much that you have to say. To you and all of us with passions for travel navigating our ways in the world of blogging — much success and happy travels!
Thank you Cathy!
I like to hear what got other people into blogging, I too love sharing travel experiences and that is one of the reasons I started as well. I love your diagram on the path of success. It’s so easy to forget that when deviations from the straight path happen and we get discouraged. I’m looking forward to reading more of your travel experiences. All the best in 2015.
I think most people can really relate to the scribble. Especially those of us who, for one reason or another, have had to do some course corrections in our life.
It is interesting how many travel writers/bloggers started out in different fields. I was originally an elementary school teacher who fell into this in a squiggly line way as a result of having a colicky baby who was soothed by long rides in the car.
I have so much admiration for moms who blog! Never having been a parent, I can’t imagine where you would find time to do anything but breathe with that much on your plate. But then, I think parents understand squiggly lines a lot better than those of us without kids, because there’s nothing more unpredictable that a child!