Switching Track for a Richer Life Experience
Kurt Jacobson writing on geographical independence…
As we sat on the deck, bathed in Southern Hemisphere sunshine, we knew our trip to New Zealand was off to a great start. My wife, Atsuko, and I sipped Sauvignon Blanc while Tui and Bellbirds sang in the surrounding park-like vineyard. I just grinned through most of our meal. This was at Murdoch James Winery south of Martinborough, a place few will ever find.
Considering it was my first big trip as travel writer, things were looking great.
After careers in cooking and real estate I was in my late fifties and needed something new. I saw advertisements and emails saying “you too can be a travel writer.” And wondered could that be true? Not a chance, I would think, due to my lack of education and experience.
I had been immersed in food blogging but it was paying squat. However, I noticed fellow food bloggers were posting travel stories on their blogs and I started trying my hand at it.
Three months later, I had five important bylines and was being invited on press trips… with meal, accommodation, and travel expenses all covered.
On the trip to New Zealand, Atsuko and I were treated to two nights at a boutique cottage property in Martinborough in the Wairarapa region. Our patio looked out over fields of grape vines. The sunsets were gorgeous and memorable. We were offered free wine tastings at all the wineries we went to, thanks to my travel writer status. That trip opened our eyes to my new vocation in a big way, and I was just getting started.
On our next trip we went to Aspen, Colorado. I was offered a greatly reduced “Press Rate” for a night at one hotel – a ski-in-ski-out property that would have been, a budget buster for us in prime ski season. To top off that trip, we were given a free night in the stunning Westin DIA hotel that had recently opened to much acclaim. They gave us a junior suite with a sweeping view of the plains and mountains, plus a bucket of ice cold craft beers.
In my sixth month of travel writing, I was getting six to eight articles published per month by paying websites or magazines. This led to even more complimentary treats. I took two separate trips to Las Vegas in the winter receiving free hotel stays and some free attraction passes like ski passes, and helicopter tours, of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon.
My next big trip was to Prince Edward Island in Canada. The visitor’s bureau invited me to spend several nights with free lodging and complimentary theater tickets – as well as a $200 Visa gift card to buy local food products for my “cooking on vacation” article.
By my tenth month as a travel writer, I was making my own schedule, living large, and loving it. I rarely spent more than 25 hours per week on my laptop. I had received almost $4,000 worth of free travel and around $1,000 in pay from published stories. I traveled about eight weeks in my first year and loved every minute of it.
All this success was because I dared to dream of being a travel writer.