Just a little over a year ago, I decided to take the leap and give full-time travel writing a chance. To the day in 2013, I was finishing an incredible press trip in Costa Brava, Spain with Charming Villas Catalonia. Somewhat in a panic, I wondered if I’d ever get another invitation. A few days later, Jordan and Maui came calling, and things have been rolling ever since. I couldn’t be happier with the opportunities I’ve had in the last 365 days. These experiences have truly been blessings.
The start of 2014 has been incredible, but also incredibly busy. In the last 74 days, I’ve amassed the following travel numbers:
42,196 air miles
11 different airports
1 carriage ride
6 ski resorts
Looking at those numbers, it’s difficult to fathom that just a year ago I had anxiety about my ability to consistently work with destinations and brands. Of course, these opportunities didn’t just fall out of the sky. I spent about two months organizing the Paris and Bordeaux trip. And the most recent trip to Austria and Switzerland had been in the works since November.
There’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes. Travel writing and blogging isn’t just about visiting incredible places and posting the photos on Facebook. If approached in a professional way, it’s actually not only physically tiring, but also mentally and emotionally exhausting.
Yeah…Yeah…Yeah…I can imagine a chorus of eye rolls right now, but it’s absolutely true. As wonderful as my experiences are, there is rarely an opportunity to just sit back and relax. A nine course Michelin-starred meal must be documented, and a five-star hotel must be toured and photographed. Meetings with guides and PR people are all but a given, and there are perfectly choreographed itineraries that must be followed. E-mails and deadlines don’t care if you’re traveling, and the social media monster must always be fed. An alarm set for 5:30 am is not uncommon, nor are lights off after midnight. That doesn’t even include the actual writing once I return home.
There’s always work to be done. Essentially, I am a small business and the only employee. Truthfully, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Imagining a life teaching high school English turns my stomach, and frankly, I’d rather live in a Paris subway than to have that life again. However, at the moment, I’m tired.
A few days into the Austria leg of my Best of the Alps trip, I decided I wanted a vacation. I’m sure many of you think my entire life is one vacation after another, but I assure you, it’s not. But I digress. One call to Lufthansa and my European trip was extended an additional five nights. In that moment, I felt a different kind of excitement, one that I’d not felt in quite some time.
In my brief bio on the right of this page, it reads, “Leah’s about doing and not just seeing stuff and believes that the journey is just as important as the destination.” During the last several months, I’ve sort of forgotten the last part about the importance of embracing the journey. My focus was so much on getting the best photos and documenting the tiniest details that I didn’t take the time to truly appreciate the moment. What I needed to do was put the pen and camera down and say, “This is pretty freakin’ cool.” Instead, I was writing rough drafts and article titles in my head.
I am currently lying on my hotel bed in a European city. It’s nearly noon, and I’m wearing a robe. Last night, I had a lovely dinner, complete with wine. I didn’t write down what I ate nor did I take a single photo. This morning I woke up early and took a stroll around the empty city. My Nikon remained locked in the safe. I lingered over breakfast, and I’ll take advantage of the beautiful weather by taking a walk this afternoon. Then again, I might just remain in my robe.
I’m not totally obligation free; I am working with a few hotels on this trip. Old habits die hard, I suppose. But other than that, I’m on vacation. I’m traveling for travel’s sake and not for the stories and photos that will result. I plan on catching up on some writing and recharging my batteries, which is sorely needed. Upon my return to Texas, I hit the ground running again. I’ve recently inked two deals that I am VERY excited about, but that will also keep me incredibly busy. I’ll be announcing those details soon.
These five days will be a rewiring of sorts. The DSLR will remain in my hotel room, and I will not pick up a single card from a café or shop. My social media will be pared down significantly, and I will live more in the moment. I will remember what it’s like to travel for travel’s sake and carry that lesson with me on my next working trip.
Wish me luck!