Hi, I’m Kristen.
Remember? The girl who was all about you guys for close to 3 years until May 2017 rolled around and I ghosted you out of nowhere?
I know right? Some nerve I have to just pop up here in your inbox as if nothing happened. It’s called submarining by the way. What I’m doing. Leaving you high and dry then just showing up unannounced with an upbeat “hey, whadupp?” like no time has passed at all.
But time has passed my friends.
And during that hiatus I put in some serious elbow grease to produce a new travel venture and writing prospectus just for you, my fave readers. Hopefully this piques your interest to the point where you forget about the whole ghosting thing long enough to hear me out. I promise it wasn’t personal and everything I’ve carried out in secret these past 6 months was for the sole purpose of never having to disappear on you again.
I’m now ready to fully commit and let you in on what’s been going on behind the curtain. Teaser: it involves a new full-time travel lifestyle, much more travel writing, and the relaunch of this site!
I’m Leaving a Job I Love for a Pipe Dream I May Come to Love Even More
I’ve been semi-nomadic for a couple years now, bouncing regularly between London, Miami, California, and Monaco. These travels were mostly dictated by my contract with a superyacht brokerage firm (yes that’s a thing), something I’ve alluded to in past posts but never mentioned outright. There were a few reasons for this:
1.) When you work for a firm responsible for selling the world’s largest megayachts, there’s a certain level of expected confidentiality. Confidentiality which is often legally binding.
2.) I love and hold so much respect for the company, its CEO, my direct boss, and my colleagues. I didn’t feel right exposing them to my very public online audience.
3.) Most my friends and family thought the job sounded fake so what chance did I have of convincing the internet it was real?
On the flip side I’ve also been freelance travel writing for the past three years. Traveling to Oman, Portugal, Iceland, Guatemala, and more, pushing my boundaries and crafting stories along the way. It was a hobby I fell into by accident at the age of 27, never having written anything in my life outside the college term papers required for my Classical Archaeology degree. It’s a far cry from filling blank pages with data and hypotheses to layering them with narrative prose of your own design.
Yet within a year of penning those initial words, my first commissioned piece was published as a feature article in a print magazine. That will forever mark the moment my love of travel writing began competing with the love I had for my burgeoning career in yachting.
This past August, almost two years later, my two loves came to a head.
I shuffled nervously into my bosses office, an office I’d been frequenting for almost 7 years, and officially handed in my notice to the company that, all those years ago, took a bold chance on a fresh-faced 23-year old. One with no prior job experience, no clue what they were doing in life, and one who may very well have wound up being a complete disaster.
They provided me with not only the tools I needed to get ahead, but also with the leadership and guidance necessary to teach me how to utilize those tools to carve a career path and devise opportunities I never imagined possible. I’ll forever be grateful to being fortunate enough to work for such an incredible, caring company. There have been few decisions in my life as difficult as the one to quit.
But often throughout life, new dreams form.
Sometimes burrowing deep and living in your subconscious long enough that they can’t – and shouldn’t – be ignored. If following them means walking away from the only thing you’ve ever known or giving up something you love based on the notion you could love your new passion even more, that’s okay (though maybe don’t apply this advice to men because my knowledge in that arena is zilch).
I’ve found goodbyes often make for the sweetest beginnings.
I’m Moving Permanently Onto The Road
Choosing to forge a full-time travel writing career meant losing more than just my job. With my main (and more importantly – steady) income becoming obsolete, so was the reality of affording my cushy Manhattan apartment. Besides, if I’m serious about a long-term future as a freelance travel writer, wouldn’t it make more sense to be out there, you know, traveling?
So on November 15th, oneway ticket crinkling in my clenched fist (or rather safe and sound on the iPhone tucked into my clenched fist because hello 2017), I’ll board a plane to Panama and join the ranks of the itinerant correspondents who came before.
Now, before we get into what this means for the blog and the new concept behind the website’s relaunch, I want to address the eyerolls in the back.
Believe me, I’m just as aware of the cliches and stigmas surrounding my announcement as you are. After all, I too live in the modern era of Instagram and Facebook where people who quit their job to travel are a dime a selfie. I like to think my situation isn’t as cut and dried as that, so I’ve taken it upon myself to debunk some of the popular cliches that aren’t applicable to me.
1. My move onto the road was 10 years in the making.
I’m publishing an entire post on this later in the week but after taking an objective look back at the past 10 years of my life, it baffles me how I never realized this was where my life was always heading. The moment I touched down in Italy for a summer abroad at the age of 19, my future was forged. Every major turning point in my life since has been defined by travel and with each passing milestone I’ve spent less and less time in one place. This decision was by no means a whim and came as no surprise to those who know me. Hell, even the part-owner of my (almost) former company replied to my leaving news with, “I’m surprised…but, not.”
2. I am not traveling to “find myself”.
Ya’ll, I’m 30 years old. I’ve known who I am for the better part of 2 years now. While you may argue people evolve and change over time, their core fundamentals remain the same and when it comes to my adult self, I’m brutally self-aware. I know my strengths and flaws inside and out. Even when I’m acting out or being crazy, I know which underlying issues within myself are causing me to behave in that particular manner. I recognize my insecurities and continually work on overcoming them. Lucky for me, they aren’t debilitating and the comfort I have with myself and who I am far outweighs my minor insecurities.
So no, I’m not traveling to find myself. I’m not getting over a break-up. I’m not recovering from a disappointment at work. I haven’t been betrayed by a friend or parent. I’m traveling because I’ve already found myself. On the road is where I live my best life and am the best version of myself.
3. Traveling is a business decision, albeit an unconventional one.
It may have taken me until I was 30 years old, but I know what I want to be when I grow up – a freelance travel writer. I’ve been freelancing as supplementary income for two years now. So traveling full time is simply the next step in my career progression. This isn’t some sabbatical. This is a life move for my business. So I’m asking you nicely – please stop asking me when my trip is going to be over. Because I’m not going on a “trip.”
4. I have no intention of pushing this travel lifestyle on anyone.
You’ve no doubt seen them plastered all over your friends’ Facebook pages – articles like “Why You Should Quit Your Job to Travel” and “6 Reasons Why Not Quitting Your Job to Travel is a Waste of Your Life” (yes, this is an actual article published by an online magazine. Pompous a**holes). I’m not going to preach any of this to you because I understand my dream is not your dream. The same way your dream is not my dream.
Take my childhood best friend – she’s told me on numerous occasions how jealous she is of my upcoming move. Yet, truthfully, she’s not jealous at all. She has a husband she loves, lives close to a family she loves, has a great job she loves (well, for the most part. But seriously, who has a job they love 100% of the time?), and she would HATE traveling and living on the road full time. The same way I have no interest in living the life she leads. I’m not naive (or self-centered depending on how you look at it) enough to believe everyone wants (or has the means) to pack up and leave everything behind for a nomadic existence.
5. Likewise I will never bash the 9 to 5 corporate life.
Did you not read my above soliloquy on leaving my company? It’s practically a love letter and should have been titled “An Ode to My Beloved Corporate Life, How I’ll Miss Thee So.”
6. I’m not in my twenties.
According to my southern hometown, I’m way past the marriageable age and well on my way to spinsterhood. Meaning while I may technically be “backpacking” around the world, I’m not really backpacking around the world. Not in the gap year sense anyway. Apparently I’m a grown-up now and while grown-ups enjoy the occasional cocktail, they don’t party-hop their way around the world with large packs of 20 year olds. So instead of blog posts boasting “The Top 10 Party Hostels in Bangkok” you’ll be reading about “That Time I Spent the Night in a Thai Jail for Punching the College Student Who Threw Up on Me on the Streets of Bangkok.”
Introducing The Travel Dispatch
And now for the main event (you know, as if leaving a job I held for 7 years and moving permanently onto the road weren’t “main event” material enough) – the relaunch of this website under its new guise.
If you’re a longtime reader and made it this far in the article without realizing this site is no longer called I’m Not A Tourist, I Swear, congrats – that’s quite an accomplishment reaching a level of attention to detail as abysmal as mine. Anywho, I know what you’re thinking – why on earth would I change such a brilliantly named website to something as basic as The Travel Dispatch? I assume you’re looking for an answer more sophisticated than because it was so freaking long no one ever remembered it?
If that’s the case you’re actually in luck. My reasons for the new name were two-fold, with the second being that it matched my new blog concept perfectly.
And what new blog concept would that be?
I thought long and hard about how I operated my previous site. On a positive note, I loved sharing posts on off-the-beaten path destinations, giving advice on cultural activities to try, detailing my adventure travel mishaps, and flexing my storytelling muscles on creative travel narratives. On the negative side, I hated how disjointed the timeline was. One week I was posting an in-depth itinerary for Oman and the next I was publishing a travel narrative about a situation that occurred nearly 10 years ago, only to come back a few days later to share an article on Portugal I had written two years prior.
My posting was erratic at best, not just in my shifting of subject matter but also in my posting frequency. Sometimes months would go by in-between new posts. At other times, mere days would pass between them. I saw the launch of my new site as an opportunity to rectify this. So I jotted down all my objectives:
- Streamline it so my articles are recent, in chronological order, and published at regular intervals.
- Continue creating similar, comprehensive travel content in the style of long-form blog posts.
- Make it easier for readers to follow the journey in real-time.
- Be completely transparent in everything I do, especially on social media.
- Incorporate a new and engaging email strategy other than just a monthly newsletter.
The challenge came in figuring out how to combine all these elements into something that made sense and had a well-defined purpose. I didn’t just want to blog randomly anymore. Clarity on how to do this came fresh on the heels of my decision to forge a new life on the road.
And The Travel Dispatch was born.
The Travel Dispatch – Premise. 60 Seconds Go.
The Travel Dispatch is a no-holds barred account of one expedition from beginning to end. Until I think of something more clever, I’m billing it as an unscripted travel-themed reality show – for your inbox (I know guys, but my brain hurts).
Each year I’ll allocate a specific amount of time and cash flow for one particular journey around the world. Documenting the trip in real time, readers can follow along step-by-step, tuktuk-by-tuktuk via their email inbox with short, daily dispatches chronicling every aspect of the expedition; from the pre-trip planning phase, to lift-off, and to all the moments en route to its completion.
Psst: For the email adverse, this will be supplemented with the same long-form destination blog posts you’ve come to expect and of course I’ll be sharing tidbits on social media. There’s a follow choice for everyone!
Season 1 – The First Journey
The upcoming route kicks off in Panama on November 15th and will showcase a classic “round the world” loop as I weave my way from Latin America to The Balkans, Eastern Europe to the Middle East, and Southeast Asia back to the US.
Running from Nov 15, 2017 to Nov 15, 2018, The Travel Dispatch’s initial journey will last a full 12 months. Upon its completion, a 2 month break will commence in order to plan and prepare for the subsequent journey slated for January 2019.
$25,000 is the threshold – not the target – for the full 12 month journey. Any Benjamins leftover will be applied to the next expedition along with all freelance income earned while on the road.
How It Works
Using a combination of email and the comprehensive blog posts you’re used to, The Travel Dispatch traces this round-the-world journey in its entirety. From local encounters to misadventures, unintended detours to planned activities, loneliness to romance, frustration to unadulterated happiness, the Travel Dispatch shares it all with a candid (and ofttimes humorous) mix of daily travel notes, weekly confessions, practical memos, and lengthy destination-inspired blog posts.
No carefully curated photos or rose-colored glasses included.
The Daily Dispatch
Under a 3 minute read, these brief anecdotes land in your inbox every afternoon for the duration of the 365 day adventure. The subject matter’s drawn from events transpiring earlier in the day, providing you with real-time updates ranging from notes on how to crash a father/son reunion in Scotland, travel warnings like never accept palinka-drinking challenges with Hungarians, advice on how to sail from Panama to Colombia, and much more.
Get Your Daily Dispatch Here!
The Weekly Dispatch
Prefer your updates weekly? Lucky for you, on Wednesdays we wear pink. This mid-week dispatch provides a categorical recap of the previous seven days’ travel highs, lows, WTFs, lessons learned, and more. Join the plastics here. Psst…if you’re signed up for the Daily Dispatch and suffer from FOMO, this is the same email that’ll hit your inbox on Wednesdays so no need to sign-up twice.
Navigating The Website
The Current Route: this page traces my “round the world” itinerary, showing you where I am currently and where I’ve been. Blog posts written about visited destinations are linked here and are searchable by country.
Financial Breakdown: updated weekly (or more often if productivity pays a visit), this page categorically breaks down every penny spent on the current journey, providing you a transparent glimpse on how much it actually costs to travel full time. The launch of this page coincides with the commencement of the journey on Nov 15.
Preplanning and Packing: the journey always starts way before ever boarding a plane. Checkout this page for all those tedious pre-trip logistics like how I saved moolah, what I packed, and how I prepared to move onto the road. This page officially launches Oct 27 so check back then.
Travel Resources Used: travel bloggers typically list their favorite resources but fail to tell you when they actually implement them themselves. This page is updated as and when I use each booking resource and details exactly what they were used for on the current journey. The launch of this page coincides with the commencement of the journey on Nov 15.
Blog Roll: don’t much care about the journey itself and just want destination inspiration and stories? No worries, I upload all new blog posts here. You can browse every post ever written (even those dating back to the pre-Travel Dispatch era).
Past Destinations: here you can browse every article written by country (including those published under I’m Not A Tourist, I Swear).
You may be interested in checking out my full About the Dispatch page.
Besides being more visually appealing, it houses additional sections for frequently asked questions [think how can I afford this? what happens once the journey ends? how annoying are these daily dispatches going to be (btw – I’m offended you would even ask)] and for social media handles. Feel free to poke around the rest of the site as well!
Over the coming weeks in the lead up to take-off, I’ll be sharing a few background articles on what lead to this expedition, how I saved and planned for it, what I packed, and where my rough draft itinerary *plans* on taking me.
I’m so overwhelmed by how quickly this new phase of my life is approaching. I have two weeks left in New York City before heading to Fort Lauderdale for my last event with the company I’ve been working for the past 7 years. November 7th marks my official last day and bittersweet doesn’t begin to cover my feelings about it. That same night I fly to my hometown to visit my family and take care of any last minute travel details before heading to Panama on the 15th.
I want to extend a special thank you to those who’ve been following along since the beginning for always being supportive of me and believing in my writing. If it weren’t for the unusually named I’m Not A Tourist, I Swear website a complete stranger convinced me to create 3 years ago, I’d never have discovered the passion that’d been lying dormant for most my life and definitely wouldn’t be heading off onto the road to make freelance writing my full-time job.
Those close to me know I don’t do well expressing heartfelt emotion so I’ll sign off before I ruin this moment with my standard deflection tool – sarcasm.
*champagne and confetti all around*
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
The current Travel Dispatch journey kicked off in Panama on Nov 15 and is showcasing a classic “round the world” loop as I weave my way from Latin America to The Balkans, Eastern Europe to the Middle East, and Southeast Asia back to the US over a period of 12 months and with a budget of $25,000. Finally along live by subscribing below!