So the metaphorical cat is out of the bag! I resigned from my job and have decided to head abroad for two months to gather information and travel planning insight for you (yes, you....).
In fact, this is being posted on my last day of employment with the corporation that I have been a part of for around 5 years. I have been blessed to have an incredible job, with an incredible team, lead by an incredible boss, for an incredible company (I'll say it again, they're incredible). I have no qualms with my job, my teammates, my 20 (AMAZING) employees, or the company itself. However, sometimes a passion just doesn't match where you've been getting your paycheck.
It all started a year or so ago. I started toying with the idea to help people plan the logistics of their vacations. I didn't know it this idea would work since travel agents had previously had a stronghold on the tourism industry and had managed how people plan their vacations. Yet I knew that I didn't use a travel agent, nor did I ever plan to, but I still could have used some serious tips before jet-setting abroad. I had a hunch that I was not alone in needing this kind of help...so I created a way to provide this for others while fueling my incessant curiosity of the world and my love for travel by founding Explorateur Travel, LLC, all while still maintaining my full time job.
Then, a dear friend of mine sent me an article on how to travel the world for free. Free? Not free, I'm sure....but I was intrigued and so I read on. I found a website called WorkAway.info where people can post jobs for hire in exchange for room and board, and often meals. I toyed around with the site, made a profile that I thought might be intriguing, and then signed off assuming that the whole thing had to be sketchy and was too good to be true.
But was it? I started getting emails from folks interested in hiring me in exchange for free stay. Now, I am not necessarily the best with kids and many families were wanting au pairs. Luckily, while I was politely declining one family, I saw a "similar listings" column to the right of the screen. There was a drawing of a Tuscan home with an advertisement asking for help in restoring an old farm house on an olive orchard. Um...yes. Although, it also didn't hurt that they advertised that their guests would benefit from their full pantry and wine stock.
I decided to reach out to see if this Californian/British couple had any need for one more volunteer in October of 2016 (this was December of 2015). They responded with a jovial "no...unless you know how to sew. If you do, we will give up our bedroom to make room for you." Little did they know that little-ol-me had spent a year at fashion design school and had been sewing since the fourth grade. And just like that, I convinced a couple to move out of their marital bedroom and make room for me so that I could make curtains for their newly refurbished home...in the middle of Tuscany...on an olive orchard during harvest season (O.M.G.).
I know this all sounds crazy. You may be thinking....so you don't know these people? and you are just moving in to sew curtains? by yourself? Yes. Yes. Yes.
I put it into the universe that I wanted a way to travel the world for a living. I prayed on it, I wished for it, and I talked about it to an incessant level to anyone who would listen. Here was an opening, and no matter how ridiculous it was, it was my gateway to an opportunity that I may never get again. I am going to sew curtains in order to enable my travel addiction, and I am totally okay with that.
At first, I was insecure about this decision. I downplayed it and made it sound like I hadn't decided if I was going and I held off on booking my ticket (semi-hoping that something would derail the plan). I also didn't talk about my business as if it were seriously what I was going to do with my life. However, I ended up gaining support in places that I didn't expect it. Isn't that the way, though? Life opens a door and this network of people who love you more than you know help push you through that said door. As a note: For all those folks who didn't think I was crazy and who have rooted for me, I owe you a HUGE thank you.
So as of next Wednesday, I am off on a BIG adventure. I am headed to Europe for two months to explore towns, gain insight on local cultures, find great restaurants, join in the best tours, and find culture-rich experiences that I can share with my clients. I would love for all of you to follow along in the journey and learn with me (go ahead and "like" my Facebook page or subscribe to by blog)!
To give you a sneak peak, here are the places that I will be featuring along the way:
- Italy (Sicily, Bologna, Rome, Tuscany, Venice, Naples, & Amalfi Coast)
- The islands of Malta
- The Cyclades in Greece
- Dublin, Ireland
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Bruges, Belgium
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Paris and the Loire Valley, France
There will be roughly 15 legs of flights, at least 10 train rides, and countless cabs and buses. I will be staying in a new place almost every other night, and will miss my family, friends, and dogs desperately. I will be traveling alone, but am lucky to have wonderful company joining the adventure along the way. I am fortunate for this opportunity to travel, but I consider myself even more fortunate to have the freedom to pursue a dream and a career that I am completely passionate about. For everyone who is reading this: you are giving my dream a voice and a purpose. Thank you to everyone who will be following along...it is sure to be an adventure!
Next summer will be here before you know it, and I cannot wait to help my clients create the best vacations of their lives through what I gain through what the next two months has in store!