Bret Love of Green Global Travel Speaking at TBEX Athens, Photo by Vera Wolters

Speaking at TBEX Athens, Photo by Vera Wolters

Why I Quit My Travel Dream to Get a Job

 

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of traveling the world, as most teenagers do. But, unlike most teenagers, I actually had a plan for how I would make this travel dream life happen.

 

Classically trained from the age of 11, I could sing my butt off. I even sang for Pope John Paul II in the Vatican when I was 12. By age 16, many people who knew about such things were telling me that I could be a star on Broadway, if I wanted. But by the time I finished high school later that year, I had a much grander vision for my life: I was going to be a rock star!

 

I eventually enrolled in the Music Business program at Georgia State University, with a focus on business management so I wouldn’t get screwed out of royalties. Some friends and I put together a rap-rock band (this was 1991, before that sound was passé), which I managed. I learned Recording Engineering so that I could produce our demo. I worked at a high-profile radio station (WRAS) and record company (BMG) to make industry connections. All the pieces were in place to make my dream come true.

 

Bret Love with Ziggy Marley

Backstage with Ziggy Marley, circa 1995

 

But then a funny thing happened: I started getting to hang out with actual rock stars. I played video games with Tool. I escorted Henry Rollins to book signings. I went in the studio with Chuck D. I partied with everyone from Ziggy Marley to Willie Nelson. I got to chat with them about the realities of life on the road, of constant movement, of missing friends and family and the milestones in their lives.

 

I eventually came to realize that the reality of the “travel dream life” did not measure up to the fantasy. And that’s when I decided to become a writer instead of a rock star.

 

Magazine_Covers-horizontal

A Few of Our Freelance Outlets When We Started GGT

 

Fast forward 15 years, and my writing career had reached incredible heights. I’d written for everyone from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution to Rolling Stone; interviewed over 1,000 musicians, movie stars, authors and political leaders; and had more than a dozen active airline and hotel magazine clients.

 

But I still wasn’t satisfied. My success was empty, without deeper meaning.

 

I still wanted to travel the world, but I wanted to do it my way– responsibly, sustainably, to remote destinations with indigenous peoples whose stories never seemed to make it into those magazines I worked for. I’d wanted to devote my life to ecotourism ever since a 2-week trip to South Africa in 2000. But, until I met Mary, I had no idea how to make that dream a reality.

 

Around 18 months after the day we met, Green Global Travel was born. Combining our love of ecotourism and adventure with our respective business management backgrounds, Mary and I built GGT much like we had the successful improv comedy company we were running– one step at a time.

 

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Making New Friends in the Galapagos Islands, 2011

 

For the first year the blog was really just a hobby we did in our spare time: Our improv business was booming, the money was good, and entertaining people was a TON of fun. But then another funny thing happened: We took a trip to the Galapagos Islands around our 1-year blogiversary, our “Wildlife of the Galapagos” video series got picked up by World Wildlife Fund, and suddenly our traffic exploded.

 

Our 2012 was a weird, wild, wonderful whirlwind. WWF-affiliated companies like International Expeditions and Natural Habitat Adventures reached out to us about working together. We traveled more than 90 days that year, visiting Yellowstone National Park, the Peruvian Amazon, Bermuda, Panama, Dominica, New York City, New Jersey (where Mary’s dad lives), Jordan, Churchill (a.k.a. Polar Bear capitol of the world), Fort Lauderdale, Chilean Patagonia and Antarctica. A dream come true, right?

 

Love Family Christmas

Christmas 2012

 

Well… yes and no. In our enthusiasm to embrace all the awesome opportunities that came our way, we forgot to calculate the cost of those opportunities. Traveling constantly, we missed my daughter, our dog, and the comfort of the home we’d made for ourselves. We missed important events, including holidays, weddings and births. We lost touch with friends we’d known for nearly a decade, and had trouble keeping up with those we did stay connected to.

 

Professionally, we were devoting so much time to GGT that we couldn’t keep up with freelance work. Though our press trips were bartered, we went thousands of dollars into debt from loss of income. We were so exhausted from a life of travel that we didn’t have time to enjoy it all: There was no time for reflection, no space for perspective, just a constant state of motion. It felt like we were starring in our own version of The Amazing Race, without the million-dollar prize at the end.

 

Bret Love & Huckleberry, 2013

Enjoying down time with my best buddy, Huckleberry, in 2013

 

I can see some of you now, reading this and thinking, “What the hell are they complaining about? They were Living the Travel Dream Life!” But for us, “the dream” was really an imbalance of priorities, with friends, family, romance, responsibilities, freelance work and down time all taking a backseat. The life of perpetual travel was fun, but it simply wasn’t sustainable in the long-term. And that’s when I was reminded that I had no interest in a life of full-time travel.

 

As a result, we didn’t travel much in 2013. Aside from big trips to Tahiti, Mexico and Costa Rica, we really focused on paying off our debt, planning a sustainable strategy for this hobby-turned-business of ours, and seeking more opportunities to get paid when we traveled (without selling out in the process).

 

Last year, as we sought the intersection where our freelance work, our business savvy, our backgrounds in management, and our blogs all came together, everything FINALLY clicked into place with the launch of Green Travel Media. What we ultimately realized is that travel is an amazing thing, but it’s not the only thing. For us, travel is best as part of a well-balanced, sustainable lifestyle.

 

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Orleans

Photo by Shannon Brinkman, courtesy of Preservation Hall

 

All of which brings us to the incredibly busy (but well-balanced) year we have planned, and the amazing opportunities that have resulted from our business-focused strategies of 2013-2014:

 

MARCH- Next month we’ll be heading across the southern U.S. for back-to-back freelance assignments. First we’ll be visiting South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas for Travel Mindset. Though best known as a Spring Break destination, we’ll be exploring the ecotourism offerings of Padre Island National Seashore, the largest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world.  The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and tidal flats, providing a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and a haven for 380 bird species.

 

Then we’ll head back to New Orleans for a story in Southbound magazine on Tremé, America’s oldest neighborhood for free people of color. Made famous by the HBO show of the same name, this historic community was the birthplace of many of the beloved traditions we associate with New Orleans today, including Creole cuisine, jazz (and brass bands in particular) and Mardi Gras Indians. We’ll learn about the community and its culture through the eyes of local residents, and examine the state of the city 10 years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

 

Bret Love Speaking on How to Build a Better Blogging Brand at TBEX Athens

Photo by Laurence Norah

 

APRIL- When we appeared as part of the Keynote Session at TBEX Cancun in September, we’d never even attended a travel conference before. So we were surprised (and grateful) that our TBEX appearances quickly led to more speaking gigs. In April we’ll be appearing at two conferences in New York back-to-back– the New York Travel Fest and Canada Media Marketplace. Fortunately, we’ll be speaking about the same topic at both, discussing how DMOs, Tour Operators and other travel brands can work with top travel bloggers (which is, of course, what Green Travel Media is all about).

 

We’ll also be going to TBEX Europe in Costa Brava, Spain, where we’ll be teaching a 2-day workshop that expands on our How To Build a Better Blogging Brand talk at TBEX Athens. Aimed at bloggers and small businesses, our Branding Intensive will take a mastermind approach, combining detailed analysis and feedback with actionable items. We’ll cover everything from mission statement and tagline, to content, social media, PR outreach, freelance work and monetization, refining participants’ branding message and giving inside tips on how to use that message in every aspect of their business. There are only 12 spots, and you can sign up now via TBEX Registration.

 

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Cheetahs in South Africa

 

JUNE- Thankfully, in keeping with the “balance” theme, not all of our trips will be about work. In mid-June my daughter (who’s graduating from middle school) and I will be traveling with our friends at International Expeditions on their 32-person Galapagos Cruise. It’ll be a thrill to return to the incredible ecotourism destination that originally launched Green Global Travel, especially because I’ll get to introduce my kiddo (who aspires to be a marine biologist) to the wonderful wildlife that makes the Galapagos so extraordinary.

 

JULY or SEPTEMBER– Though the details aren’t confirmed yet, we’re currently negotiating what would be the biggest trip we’ve ever taken, not to mention a lifelong travel dream come true. The goal is to spend two weeks following the annual Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, and then head over to Rwanda or Uganda for a week of gorilla trekking. We’re still lining up our hosts and sponsors, but this trip is our #1 (i.e. ONLY) priority for the latter half of the year, which would mark the 15-year anniversary of the trip to Africa that inspired my interest in ecotourism and informs everything we do today.

 

Sunset on Lake Allatoona, Georgia

Lake Allatoona, Georgia

 

I’m fully aware that, to non-bloggers, this still sounds like a helluva lot of travel. And to full-time bloggers, it probably sounds like a helluva lot of work.

 

But, in all, it adds up to about 60 days of travel, or about 66% of what we did in 2012. It also leaves us 5 months with no travel at all, including August (when my daughter turns 14 and starts… shudder… high school) and the holidays. And nearly every single one of these trips will either generate profit, provide an opportunity to find Green Travel Media clients, or make a lifelong dream come true.

 

I realize that for our many perpetual nomad friends, “living the travel dream” is all about never staying in one place for too long. But, for us, happiness lies in the balance of work/play, rest/adventure, family/foreigners and home/travel. After four long years of struggling to put all the pieces together, it’s incredibly rewarding to feel as if we finally understand how to solve the puzzle that makes our lives feel perfectly complete.  –Bret Love

 

As part of Green Travel Media’s partnership with International Expeditions, they’ve extended a special offer for GGT readers. Join their August 14 Galapagos Islands Cruise and save $750 per person, plus they’ll throw in an exclusive gift pack featuring an IE duffel bag, hat, Eagle Creek daypack and Galapagos tervis tumbler. Just mention GGTGalapagos when booking! 

If you enjoyed our post on Why I Quit My Travel Dream to Get a Job, you might also like:

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How To Be Happier: 5 Secrets To Improvising Your Life

40 Responses to Why I Quit My Travel Dream to Get a Job

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  • I agree that balance is needed. I love to travel but I have to have a home and friends where I come to recharge. I couldn’t possibly do the amount of travel many bloggers too – it would leave me frazzled and exhausted. I’m glad you and Mary came up with the balance that works for you and especially at such an important age for your daughter. ( I always remember 14 being the hardest year of my life – mainly because I didn’t develop boobs.)
    kay Dougherty recently posted..What is “luxury” travel to you?My Profile

  • Kerwin says:

    Dude, you met Ziggy? Way cool.
    I went to Primary school with his sister, Sharon and he went to a school across the street from my school. Such a small world indeed. I’m three years older than he is.

    Great story; kudos on finding what works for you; not many of us do.
    Kerwin recently posted..10 Things Passengers Do During The Safety Demo, That They Shouldn’tMy Profile

  • What a well written and honest piece about the need for a work and life balance. No wonder your workshops and speaking engagements are so eagerly anticipated, and we fully intend to make it to one of them soon.

    We also have concentrated on a work/life balance and it is not as easy as people think. Yes we get to travel because we want to and because it is now our career and we want to share with other Baby Boomers that they can travel their own way, without compromising. We remind them that rebellion is in their genes. We also are like homing pigeons needing to come back to base camp to take stock of things.

    Great article and PS, I met Ziggy Marleys father :))
    Paula McInerney recently posted..Murni and Murni’s in Ubud, BaliMy Profile

  • You really are living the dream-to have a home base and still travel frequently. That’s so awesome! I can definitely relate to why you scaled back; I too got tired of missing holidays and birthdays and life events back home.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how do you get into freelance writing for magazines? When I’ve looked into submission guidelines it seems like they won’t even consider anyone who hasn’t already been published.
    Katrina the Two Week Traveler recently posted..The Day I Hated BeijingMy Profile

  • grasya says:

    I’m into eco tourism and self sustainable ways of travel and living too. Hope there will be more of us who promote this kind of living.
    grasya recently posted..Where to eat in Cebu: Not just your ordinary eateries in CebuMy Profile

  • Dude, that picture of you back in the day is priceless! Took some guts to post it but I’m sitting here with my beer glass up in the air giving you a toast for doing so.
    Mike | VagabondingMike recently posted..My Intimate Encounter With A PickpocketMy Profile

  • Lyndsay says:

    I agree, I am not opposed to a long term travel in fact, I wanted the same dream. Along the way, you get to ask where this journey is gonna end up? It was fun and awesome meeting people, culture, and places. I was living my life in the moment indeed but then on my quiet time it was fantasizing doing it forever, until suddenly doing it forever won’t be rhat fun anymore. It is a dream, and I think we also have to move on once the dream is realized because that how to live life really, letting it go, to really live our lives freely.

    The forever nomad isn’t for everybody and it’s not a bad thing if you can’t, its healthier to follow your own path than doing it how most people does it. If that’s what makes you happy then go for it, may ut be forever nomad or starting a semi-settled life is living the dream, your own dream! So be safe on teavels everyone, wherever you feet will take you.
    Lyndsay recently posted..4 Must Try Authentic Greek FoodMy Profile

  • Bret and Mary, it is great to hear more about your journey to find the business and travel option which best works for you. I totally agree that while many people aspire to travel full time, I have also personally felt that I do not have that as a goal, and I am happy to be a part time travel blogger who also has a full time job and we travel on a periodic basis.

    There seems to be a travel blogger perception that if you are not travelling full time that you can’t REALLY be a travel blogger – but I am happy with my niche and I travel in balance with the rest of my life, which includes raising our three young children.

    All the best with your year ahead, the trips you are planning sound great! I can personally attest that seeing the great migration is definitely a worthwhile trip – courtesy of my parents I saw it when I was only 9 years old when we lived in Kenya for three years as Australian expats.
    Anne Sutherland-Smith recently posted..How Travel Brands Can Find the Right Influencers For Their Social Media CampaignsMy Profile

  • Melanie Murrish says:

    Thanks for the reality check Bret….I needed to be brought back down to earth!

  • Fantastic story. I did not know you were a classically trained singer.
    Charles McCool recently posted..5 Minutes With Tom Bartel, Travel Past 50My Profile

    • Thanks, Charles. I’ve written about my classical singing days before (I was in the Atlanta Boy Choir’s touring choir for a year), but it’s been quite some time. At various times in my life, I’ve also been a semi-professional dancer, performed in musicals, and did Improv Comedy at Atlanta’s biggest improv theatre. Suffice it to say it’s been a weird, wild, crazy life!

  • Natalie says:

    This is such a phenomenal piece to remind everyone interested in travel that there are levels of travel for everyone–and that we all have to remind ourselves what our perfect balance is. I know I’m guilty of wanting to travel all of the time, but I know if I did, I’d miss out on my toddler, my family, and other opportunities. I’m so glad that you finally found a good travel/ work/ family balance–it’s hard to do, but so worth it! By the way, you’ve had one of the most interesting lives I’ve ever heard! 🙂
    Natalie recently posted..Ernest Hemingway, Key West, and 6 Toed Cats: Literature Comes to the Florida KeysMy Profile

    • “You’ve had one of the most interesting lives I’ve ever heard!”

      For me, that is arguably the greatest compliment you could ever give. I abhor boredom, and strive to make each day memorable. Thanks for reading, and for the props!

  • Ha, I love that pic of you, looking pretty 90s badass there! Nice title switch too. Some would say that you’re having the best of both worlds, not an easy balance to strike either, kudos!

    • Thanks Jools! The early and mid-’90s were a FANTASTIC time to be a music/movie critic. Some great memories of that era, for sure. Just last night I was showing Mary photos of being onstage photographing Radiohead in a small club for their OK Computer tour. As for the best of both worlds thing, that’s totally the goal. Nobody’s life is perfect, but ours is definitely getting better all the time!

  • sarah says:

    I love everything you guys do, although I had no idea that you started as a singer. Ziggy Marley? Cool!! I’m a huge believer in balance and I know firsthand that it’s a challenge finding it at the best of times but traveling full time really kicks it up a notch or 20! I’m glad that you guys are finding yours and are enjoying the success that you so deserve.
    PS: I am signing up for the workshop in Spain!!
    sarah recently posted..Paris in 48 Hours – A Quickie in the City of LoveMy Profile

    • That’s so cool, Sarah! We look forward to working with you.

      I’ve got a post (linked in this story) about singing for Pope John Paul II, which was my first trip outside the southeastern U.S. And I actually still sing: A group of friends I used to play with recently got back together after several years and started jamming again. Maybe I’ll have some new music to share soon… 😉

  • Great post. It’s always interesting to hear the path that others have taken to get where they are as well as finding their own personal balance. I’m looking forward to hearing you speak at CMM this April in NYC.
    Arnette RTW recently posted..The Oscars 2015 Red Carpet Experience With United AirlinesMy Profile

  • Renuka says:

    Oh…I am so happy that you wrote this post! It talks about real life, real perspective…I mean the life of travel is indeed a dream, but imbalance does hurt eventually. So glad that you found the right perspective and right balance, and would like to travel as and when you can manage. All the best!
    Renuka recently posted..An Abandoned World Called LakhpatMy Profile

  • What a great read. Life truly is all about balance and perspective.
    Kenin Bassart recently posted..Puttin’ on the Ritz: 4 of NY’s Most Expensive HotelsMy Profile

  • Mette says:

    Thanks you for sharing your personal stories and reflections. It’s been a great inspiration to read.
    Mette recently posted..What to do in TrevisoMy Profile

  • Loredana says:

    What an inspiring story – it is amazing what we can realize when we look back!
    Loredana recently posted..The spring is here with „Martisor” holidayMy Profile

  • So great to read about your success story (and the vintage photos are great!). Shame I can’t make it to TBEX in the end, though if you’re hoping to hop down to Seville later, I’d love to host!
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Photo Post: the Chirigotas of the Carnavales de CádizMy Profile

  • I totally get it. I like a little more balance to life. Being able to travel, have amazing experiences and a home base, that sounds perfect to me. Congrats on making your dreams come true – again.
    Penny Sadler recently posted..Where Would You Go? Creating A Bucket ListMy Profile

  • Thanks for sharing your valuable insights. Your ability to plan ahead is impressive. Sounds like it will be a great year!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Yotel New York exhibit: Lost and found as artMy Profile

  • Grace | The Beauty of Everywhere says:

    I love this! It’s definitely all about finding the balance that suits you. Some people are happiest when hopping from one place to the next! Others need a secure base. It’s about trying things and figuring out what makes you happy.

    (Also, I can’t believe you played video games with Tool :))
    Grace | The Beauty of Everywhere recently posted..Snapshot Sunday: Trakai, LithuaniaMy Profile

  • Balance is so important – and it’s always a fine line, because there are so many exciting things to explore!
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Through the Eyes of an Educator: San Diego, CaliforniaMy Profile

  • Well said! It’s all about doing what YOU feel is right, huh? For us that’s full time travel at the moment but it might not always be.
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Can You Fly Business Class with Kids?My Profile

  • jennifer says:

    I had no idea about your background! Now you have to sing for us at TBEX Spain. 😉

    I totally get needing the balance. The perpetual nomad life also isn’t for me. And I don’t think many readers actually identity with that lifestyle. Most people are trying to balance time to travel with their careers.
    jennifer recently posted..Unforgettable Winter Adventures in Swedish LaplandMy Profile

  • Another engaging read, Bret. We love how you’re so candid. It’s such a personal experience with your blog posts. Like you’re telling us your life stories as we share a pitcher of beer.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted..Diving in Sardina del NorteMy Profile

  • Wow Brett, you really cleaned up for travel! ha ha… That rocker spirit is what I noticed of backpackers. j/k.

    As a travel blogger, yeah, that sounds like a helluva lot of work! But the way both you and Mary have managed to organize and prioritize your travel business, while still maintaining the practicalities of a home life in the U.S. still impresses me! The U.S. requires a strong business sense, strategy and practical sense in order to afford a decent living. Mad respect.

    I’m juggling freelance careers and blogging… and I’m looking for a job outside of blogging! I’m only now starting to shift blog priorities to video (whch I should’ve done long ago), where i’m not splitting my career focus any more and I get some money back for my time. Writing has always drained me.

    I’ve read a lot of posts glorifying travel blogging and traveling without needing money and I feel like often those writers are either expats or living in Southeast Asia. Kuddos for being real.
    Christine | GRRRLTRAVELER recently posted..Greece Food Porn | 11 Greek Food Faves (VIDEO)My Profile

  • Now I want to hear you sing!! Hehe 🙂 That was a great post. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I am a travel blogger who always imagined that traveling constantly like you did in the beginning was a privilege. The deeper I get into blogging, the more I realized that it really becomes work. A balance is absolutely necessary for sure!
    Francesca @onegrloneworld recently posted..February Was Fantastic! What’s Next?My Profile

  • Tawanna says:

    I love hearing about who people are, were, are working to be. I hear you loud and clear about prioritizing travel and really understanding the toll a full-time life of travel can take. For some people it is sustainable and it works. For others, not so much so. You know what they say, “Different strokes for different folks.”

  • Heather says:

    I travel over 175 days a year and you are right – 90 days would be like a dream! I really respect what you are doing, the trial and error and passing on the gift of travel to your daughter. Will be on the lookout for you should you ever make it to San Diego.
    Heather recently posted..5 Reasons I Didn’t Love ChileMy Profile

  • Ryan says:

    Wow, that photo of you and Ziggy is freaking awesome! I just saw him this past summer in concert haha. Wow, incredible story, and happy that you are now fulfilling your passion to help the world and put your talents to the cause of ecotourism and awareness. Incredible journey my friend.
    Ryan recently posted..21 Days Until I Travel to India — Am I Even Prepared For This?My Profile

  • Nina says:

    Hi guys, love your post (and your site, been binge-reading it all morning :)). Couldn’t agree more: it’s all about finding a balance. I used to be passionate about the idea of full time traveling, but there was always something (study, work, family, love…) that kept me from my dream. It used to frustrate me, but now I’m actually happy it never happened: today I realize that I need the time to reflect on things, to have a steady home and to surround me with friends and family. They aren’t interested in traveling and that’s a good thing: they remind me that there is more to live than just traveling and being on the road. Life itself is a journey. 🙂 Today I’m happy with part-time traveling and I wouldn’t want it differently.

  • Lillie says:

    Congratulations on all your successes! You have had such an amazing life.

    I wholeheartedly am in your camp that a job that you love can be a much better (steadier!) fit than a crazy life on the road.
    Lillie recently posted..The Burren, Ireland’s Most Famous Ancient Portal StonesMy Profile

  • Deb says:

    Great reading about your backstory. Congratulations on always following your dreams.

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