The other day I was chatting on Facebook with a friend of more than 20 years when she said something that bothered me. She jokingly asked if I’d even spent three days in a row at home all year long. It bothered me because balancing my home and work (travel) lives is something I care a lot about and while it’s not at all easy, I thought I’d been doing a good job. That conversation made me rethink things a bit, but it also made me want to share what my daily life is like at home when I’m NOT traveling. Because I typically just share my travel experiences – this is a travel blog after all – you all miss the other half of my life. There’s a good reason for that, I don’t think it’s all that interesting, but I did want to share some common habits and activities that make up my day-to-day life when I’m at home. Hopefully this will lift the veil a bit more, and you can learn more about who I am as a person, which is what a good blog should be all about really.
How much do I really travel?
I do not travel fulltime nor do I have any desire to do so. I take my hat off to those intrepid few who bounce around the planet without a care, but that’s not the life for me and it never has been. When I started LandLopers more than five years ago, I had a fulltime job and the site was a creative outlet for me. Things have obviously changed, I left that fulltime job three years ago and while it’s still a creative outlet, this site is very much my life. That being said, I also cherish my home life. I like having a house, a significant other and three dogs. While I love the travel experience dearly, being away from home for too long is draining both physically and emotionally, and I need my time at home to rest and recharge, as well as work. I’ve kept the same travel style as when I was a fulltime professional; my trips are usually around 7-10 days in length and they’re manageable. I like to think that I travel like most other people, that I’m relatable in that way.
All of that being said, I really try to keep my travel at around 25-33% of the year. This fluctuates throughout the year of course, but it’s an average that I think is very reasonable. It’s reasonable for me and it’s reasonable for my partner who has a 9-5 job he likes. It’s hard to be the one left at home and I understand that, it’s a loneliness that I wouldn’t want to experience and so I try to minimize it for him. There’s also the economics of it. With three dogs, I have to pay boarding for them whenever I leave home, so every trip has extra, unseen costs that I have to take into account before I board the next flight to wherever. Increasingly though, being at home is important for me as I have a lot of work to do, work that’s almost impossible to get done while traveling.
I work all day, but on what?
One of the first questions people ask me when we meet in person, is how exactly I make money. Being a professional travel blogger is a concept that confuses many, and I don’t blame them. It’s an industry that simply didn’t exist a few years ago and it’s still one that is early in its development. There is no one answer for how bloggers make money, we seem to each find our own paths to making this work. Early on I saw that freelance writing wasn’t going to pay my bills, so I’ve essentially become a freelance digital professional. This is realized in a few different ways. I do a lot of editing and assignment work for corporate travel blogs, finding writers for them, reviewing their work and preparing it for online publication on the corporate sites. That has traditionally been the bulk of my work. I’m also though keenly involved with the digital marketing world, principally as North American Director for iAmbassador, a collective of bloggers from around the world who conceptualize and execute digital and social marketing/PR campaigns for destinations and companies. I never saw myself as a marketing guy, but I have come to truly love it as well as the process of helping people understand the digital world a little bit better. I also work on a lot of random assignments, some writing, some photography and everything in between. The net result is that I am busy, happily so, working in a field that I love dearly. I say (often) that I’ve never worked harder, but that I’ve never been happier and it’s true. Finding your passion in life, no matter what it may be, is essential and once you do find it you’ll never want to look back.
Suburban world travel woes
So if I travel about a third of the time, that means I’m home in the warm embrace of American suburbia for 2/3 of the year. I live right outside Washington, DC in the exurbs of Maryland in the rolling hills of what is still farm and horse country. And you know what, I love it. Even though the metro is only a ten-minute drive away and the Beltway is five minutes from home, it feels like a world apart and provides me with the peace and quiet I need in order to recharge in-between trips. So my daily life is pretty normal really. I spend most of my day in front of my computer, doing whatever it is that needs to be done that day, from writing to editing to joining Twitter chats. I also have three dogs to take care of, although to be honest they mostly just sleep all day. Even before I left my fulltime job though I worked from home, so it’s a routine that has been normal for me for almost a decade and at this point, I couldn’t imagine going back into an office environment. There are things that one misses working from home though, most notably human contact. Say what you will, but the casual camaraderie of an office environment is nice, from water cooler talk to celebrating endless birthdays. I have made up for it by making sure I leave the house once a day, or at least every other day to run errands or to see friends. It’s important to not be cocooned when you work from home, and it’s something I pay careful attention to. Running out to PetSmart or the grocery store isn’t exciting or sexy, so you’ll rarely see me mention it on social media, but those little chores are a part of my life just as they are for millions of others.
Finding balance, no matter what you do or where you live, is difficult but essential. Growing up I was told that we should do everything in moderation, and it’s a New England Puritan ethos that still rings true with me today. While I am guilty of spending far too much time in front of a computer screen, I have made an effort to turn off the laptop, relax watching TV or going out to eat or something else that brings me back to normal life. It’s ironic, but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the digital world that you start to lose track of real life, and that’s something I never want to see happen. We all struggle with this balance though; I think it’s just a perpetual affliction of the modern world.
So there you go, a look into what my everyday life when I’m not traveling is really like. It’s not all that sexy and I don’t think it’s even that interesting, but I did want to let everyone know that I’m not always on a far flung beach or off exploring natural wonders around the world. No, a lot of my time is spent in the same way most other people spend their days, happily working and trying to take care of their families.