Reflections on a Life of Travel and Retiring The Traveling Philosopher Blog
I’m not going to beat around the bush; this is the last post here on The Traveling Philosopher. And by some definitions, therefore my last blog post as a travel blogger. It was four years ago that I had recently arrived in Costa Rica, the first Latin America stop on what was to be something of an indefinite, long-term trip around the world. Just months prior I had started this blog, The Traveling Philosopher, as a place that I could color outside the lines. Somewhere that I could put on paper everything that was in my head, where I didn’t have to abide by a publication’s style guide or an editor’s do and don’t list. I wanted it to be an expression of my feelings. And there was a lot, like unresolved feelings about the passing of my father, anger at the loss of my dream job, disappointment at a pile of debt, and discouragement of an impending divorce.
I’m about to write my own story. What will it entail? Not sure. But do we truly ever know? If we really knew where we were going to be months and years from now, would it hold the same allure and sense of adventure? I do, however, know that it’s going to involve moving; and more than likely out of the country, probably on the beaches of Central America. It’ll also involve traveling and writing about it, mixed with some volunteering. These are the things that I’m most passionate about in my life, and it’s about time I truly pursue those passions.
Those were the words of one of my first blog posts here, many months prior to Costa Rica. I had tried walking the line, living my life like I thought I was supposed to and what people expected of me, but it had left me at the bottom. And while the sensible thing didn’t seem to be to both travel the world and to start my own business, it felt like the right thing. And so a couple months later I had quit my job, sold or given away most of my things, and was living a nomadic life, traveling from place to place and needing little more than an Internet connection to maintain my newfound career as a writer, blogger, and digital marketer for the travel industry.
And it’s a life I’ve largely adopted and lived ever since. A few months in Central America, a year in San Francisco, a month in Sonoma, a couple months in Europe, a few months in Seattle, all the while documenting my travels, writing about it for publications and websites, and teaching travel brands how to better connect with travelers online. It’s been a trip, literally and figuratively, as I’ve packed in a lifetime of experiences in a short period of time, teaching me more about the world and myself then any school or textbooks ever did.
And it changed my life. Going into my last day of work in a cubicle with a briefcase and walking out with a backpack was my best decision to date. I took the biggest risk of my life and it in turn gave me my biggest return on investment to date that no monetary value could ever match. I saw the world for the beauty that it was, like a wide-eyed child full of wonder. I discovered what I was passionate about, eager to document my travels and tell stories about the places I visited and people I met. And I reached goals over the course of a couple years that I expected would take a lifetime, like getting published in major magazines and newspapers that my father collected, or serving as an Editor-in-Chief, or helping create platforms where travel storytellers could tell their stories beyond just the traditional publishing means.
And it’s for those reasons, and many more, that I’m retiring The Traveling Philosopher. When I first started traveling long-term and began The Traveling Philosopher, it was a means to an end. I had a romantic notion of travel writing, sitting on a beach with pen and paper, writing travel stories and slowly making my way around the world. I hoped and dreamed that years down the road, late in my career and life, that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to reach some of the goals I laid out above.
But many of those goals I’ve accomplished, or at least accomplished them on my own terms. And I am overcome with gratitude at what the travel industry has given me. Old friends gave me second chances. Strangers took risks for me. And colleagues-turned-friends gave me a platform and a voice. But as the world has evolved, so have I.
When I first started traveling several years ago, I always said that I would continue to do so until I found a place I never wanted to leave. That took me from Costa Rica to Western and Central Europe to South Africa to the Caribbean to all up and down the west coast of the U.S. And it only took me a couple years to find that place I never wanted to leave.
And I found it in the least likely of all places, Los Angeles. The morning cashier at my local 7-Eleven will ask me where I’ve been if she hasn’t seen me in a while. I have a bar where everyone —at least all the bartenders—knows my name. But more importantly, it’s the life and relationships I have built here. Most of those people I consider as family, outside of my sisters, are in California. And last, but no means least, I’ve seriously dated this year for the first time since I was married.
But don’t take any of this to mean that I’m burnt out on traveling. I have no less than five trips planned in the next couple months. What this all means, however, is that my life, passions, and interests have evolved, and seeing the return I’ve gotten from the risks I’ve taken the last few years, it’s now time to take new risks.
The fact is that I’m not going to stop documenting my travels. It’s just that whereas travel was what I was exclusively pursuing several years ago as I was traveling continuously, that lifestyle isn't where I am now, nor is it sustainable for me. Take a peek at my Instagram feed now as compared to a couple years ago and you’ll find that I have new interests, such as adventure sports, food, and drinks, just to name a few. And as travel over the years has been both a career and lifestyle, I want those new interests to hold a similar position in my life.
But what changes? Later this month, when you come to thetravelingphilosopher.com, you’ll notice a new multi-dimensional website. In short, it’s going to be a lifestyle website that better encompasses all of my interests and passions, beyond just travel (yes, I’m a tease, and that’s all the info you get for now :)). I’ll continue to travel and write about it, but it’ll be less, and I won’t be living as nomadically of a life. I’m not a travel blogger (friends, you can stop introducing me as that) any longer. I take photos, I shoot video, I write, I edit, I consult, I public-speak, I eat, I drink, I make cocktails, I blog. And travel is naturally a part of all those things. And I’ll continue to write about my travel, but there are a lot of other things I’m passionate about and have expertise in too.
I’m saying all of this now, in part as a little teaser. But also to prepare those who may have come here for years for the travel and philosophy. There won’t be as much traveling philosophy, and if that’s why you came here, then I understand why you feel so inclined to unsubscribe.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!-Hunter S. Thompson
But it’s also in part a post of gratitude. I started The Traveling Philosopher as just a blog to color outside the lines and write whatever I wanted to. And that I did, more heavy-handed at times than others, such as the first week I launched it when I called out the Huffington Post and those companies who make money but refuse to pay for content. Never would I have thought that this blog would be such a large part of my work and build something of a brand for me like it has. And I couldn’t have continued it like I have with the many comments, emails, phone calls, and friendships that have grown as a result of this. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. And now as I have evolved, it’s time for this to evolve as well. Thanks for sticking along for the ride. Continue to hang on if you so dare.