Quitting Your Job And Getting Paid To Travel The Globe Is Possible
When my ex-colleague Collette Stohler told me that she and her husband Scott were quitting their jobs to travel, it blew my mind. Partly because I thought it was a wonderful endeavor and partly because my brain couldn't compute — at the time — the logistics of dropping everything to just travel the globe for a while. “What about work? What about your responsibilities? How will you fund your trip?!” (You get the idea.) Fast-forward 2.5 years and what started as a trip is now their job.
How did it all get started?
Our original plan was to take a grown-up half gap year. Gap years — a year between college and the “real world” to travel and explore — are perfectly acceptable and encouraged to young people around the world.
I went directly from college to graduate school to our careers (as many Americans do). Scott and I never took a beat just to explore and learn about things outside of a traditional school setting. After listening to a Tim Ferriss & Rolf Potts podcast about vagabonding, we were inspired to take time to explore the world together.
We started a blog for three reasons:
To keep our friends and family updated while we were traveling.
To create an incredible diary of our great adventure.
To have purpose while on the road.
Did you have any savings?
We were initially planning on buying a second house in the next few years, so we were in major saving mode. When the idea of traveling the world came up, we luckily had that savings to help our journey.
It took us only six weeks from the inception of the idea to boarding a one-way ticket to Rio De Janeiro. In that time, we rented our house, sold our cars, sold everything we could think of and ate like college students!
Did you know what you were getting into?
We didn’t know what we were getting into in this world of content creation and social media because it was so new. Even 2.5 years later, it’s still the wild, wild west.
We worked for free for a very long time – for over a year! We knew that we had to prove our worth and offer our services for free for people to see the value in what we were providing. As newbies to the business, we also had a lot to learn so we were grateful to have the opportunity to learn from some of the best brands in the market.
We had to hustle and work harder than we’ve ever worked before to get people to even give us a chance. Everyone sees our lives through rose-colored filters online, but there are grit, hustle, blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating the lives we’ve always dreamed of.
We started making money with small sponsored posts on Instagram and our blog. Our first real deal came when a hotel group approached us for a press trip that involved a set amount of deliverables spread across our social media platforms. Once we established a value for our services, we had a solid jumping off point to work from.
There were definitely moments where I thought, “WTF am I doing?” “How am I going to make a living at this?” But that intense desire in my heart to create, to tell stories, and to inspire the world trumped all of my other fears. The risk of staying complacent and “safe” in a job I didn’t love far outweighed the risk of me taking this chance.
Do you call yourself an influencer? What is your long-term plan?
I shy away from that term because I think it’s overused and doesn’t describe the capacity of our work. Influencer may be the sexy term right now, but I prefer the title of content creator. I’m a writer, producer, director, host, social media strategist, and web designer.
What have been your biggest learnings?
There is definitely sexism in negotiations and business. Men are expected to fight for a deal while a woman oftentimes can be perceived as too aggressive or bitchy if they go after what they want.
I’ve seen people respond positively to my husband negotiating rather than to me, solely because he’s a man. Admittedly, I’ve let this happen in the past, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve been worried about being liked in business, and it has gotten in the way of closing a deal.
I’ve seen firsthand how aggressively my husband will negotiate a price and close a deal and it has taught me a lot about how to speak up for myself in negotiations. Through trial and error and a LOT of practice, I’ve learned to fight for my worth and close deals with global clients.
What would you tell someone who is interested in becoming an influencer?
Don’t set out to become an “influencer.” Set out to inspire, educate, and tell your own unique story. Create because you have a burning desire in your heart and an unquenchable passion for storytelling.
Whether you’re a writer with a love for travel, a photographer with a passion for fashion, a videographer with a foodie flare, explore your craft and share it with the world. Read as much as possible, collaborate with other creatives, and become an expert in your specific field. Don’t stop when you hear a “no.” Don’t stop when you hear 100 “no’s.”
One of the biggest things I would recommend to someone that’s looking to break into this industry is to be willing to work for free. Many people don’t realize that Scott and I worked for free for over a year, proving ourselves to brands around the world. Do anything to get in front of the brand and prove your worth.
How many places have you visited and what have been your favorites?
I’m about to head out on a trip to my 75th country! It’s hard to name a favorite place because as a traveler, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I fall in love with every place I visit.
Italy and Japan are the two countries that I could visit over and over again – mainly because of the delicious food and welcoming people. South Africa, New Zealand, and Iceland wowed me with their unspoiled beauty and pristine landscapes.
You can follow Collette's (and Scott's) adventures on Instagram at @roamaroo.