Travel Bloggers

Interview a traveler: the trailblazing travel bug, part 1

She self-created her own World Traveler Internship. She knows the ins and outs of commercial fishing. She's a star athlete with an extreme passion for satiating her wanderlust. Let's check her out.

Sierra Anderson Hanggliding

Sierra Anderson Hanggliding

Sierra Anderson and I have only met through google chats and phone conversations, but being on such similar paths led us to becoming friends and collaborators. I've been amazed by her tenacity ever since. This series - Interview a Traveler - continues to give kudos where they are due; to fellow travelers doing some very cool things.

Her Bio: I am an Alaskan native, a local of Breckenridge Colorado, and a daughter of a commercial fisherman and world traveler. I grew up in the remote bush of Alaska, and when I wasn’t traveling, my summers were spent fishing off the Alaska Peninsula. Through university and travel, my zest for the outdoors and thrills increased exponentially. I'm a self-proclaimed "Curious George."

So you're a self-proclaimed "travel bug." How did you acquire this fantastic disease?

I’m a genetic byproduct of my mother, the globetrotter. Having traveled to 87 countries herself, I was fortunate during my formative middle school years to join her in many of these exotic adventures. Since then, traveling has been in my blood. My mother made each experience as authentic and educational as possible. That meant reading up on everything, never traveled in tour groups, renting cars and traveling cross-country through the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

My dad is the same way. This was the start of an impacting theme of my life. I learned what it meant to push myself to the limits each day and it carried over to how I live my life now.

Tell us about the SMU Travel Bug and how you went about creating your own school-sponsored travel program.

It was a team effort. Without Shelley, Cody and our new "bug" Tyler, none of it would have happened. I was motivated to try something new. I took a risk in doing it, and I made some valuable relationships that helped make it all a reality.

I was inspired by STA’s World Travel Internship in December 2009. I applied right away, but after finding out in March that I didn’t make the cut, I wasn’t ready to give up. I discovered that the competition was a great learning experience and opportunity to meet some very cool and knowledgeable people in the field, not to mention meeting this awesome chick interviewing me right now.

Motivation: I thought to myself, "What if the World Travel Internship could be sponsored by SMU instead?" I wanted the challenge of making it happen for myself and to use my travels to inspire others with the spirit of adventure. I knew the intrinsic benefits of travel, and I wanted everyone else in my school bubble to see it, too.

Sierra Skiing

Sierra Skiing

Risk: Fortunately, I came out of college debt free but also with little to no money in hand. I needed the funding. In a matter of two months, I met my travel buddies, Shelley, Cody, and Tyler, then planned the journey to Europe with out really knowing whether or not it was actually going to happen.

Networking: After concocting a sponsorship proposal with our itinerary, budget, purpose and everything the SMU Travel Bug would do and provide, we presented these things to a number of teachers and faculty, including the International Department in hopes of gathering support. As an advocate for world travel himself, and mentor to me, Dean Niemi, of the Cox Business School, was on board and personally sent a letter to the International Department proclaiming his support and financial backing for the SMU Travel Bug. His support was fundamental.

Come May 1st, we got the approval of the Study Abroad and received enough funding to pay for my half of the journey (as a business school alumna). Halfway through our trip, Outdoor Interlaken, a prestigious outdoor adventure company in Switzerland, offered to sponsor that portion of our trip. The famous Hostel in Interlaken, Balmers Herberge, also hosted us for the week.

Where were you expecting the SMU TB to propel you, and what has actually come from the whole experience?

I’ve always wanted to start my own business, specifically in the adventure travel industry, and I thought this might be a means of working towards that. Unfortunately for the SMU TB, it ended up being too much too soon. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it, but in the meantime, it's a resource and portfolio of experience. Now I take more a journalist and multimedia approach to things. I have developed different skills that will propel me further down this path.

Sierra Anderson Running

Sierra Anderson Running

In your opinion, what are some essential characteristics of a compatible travel buddy?

Adventurous: It helps if they're a little crazy. But really, it's all about balance. Differences can be a positive thing, as long as they bring out the best and propel each other forward.

Sierra renting a car in Corfu

Sierra renting a car in Corfu

Positive: Find a team player that can make it through the grime with little fuss. My travel partner, Shelley, is a great example of this. When we were traveling from Romania to Greece on a stinky train, Shelley was incredibly sick. She had every reason to be miserable but managed to find some sense of humor in the situation and make the best of it. Attitude is everything, and it’s quite contagious.

Physically fit: Most people don’t consider this as that important, but it is. You never know when you might have to walk five miles with 40 pounds of luggage on your back. Yeah, it happens.

Flexible: If you’re on the hunt to find the perfect travel companion, remember you have to first be that person to them. You have to be able to make adjustments and sacrifices yourself. You’re not only living together but having to make quick, sound decisions every day.

Sierra Travel Bug

Sierra Travel Bug

What has this post-trip, post-graduation, “limbo” time been like for you, and how have you been deciding the next steps throughout this time?

The transition out of college is not often an easy adjustment. College is seriously a bubble. The SMU Travel Bug propelled me toward what I want to do, and since then, I’ve been working as a ski coach in Breckenridge, herring fishing in Sitka in the Spring, and salmon fishing in the summer. I’ve managed to deal with being ‘limbo’ from living in a resort town with varying seasons.

Presently, I am living in my hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. Having just returned from 3 months commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, I am embracing the freedom of now before starting my job as a ski coach and instructor. These next couple months are about documenting my story of commercial fishing in Alaska. As of right now, I am traveling in Turkey and taking advantage of my downtime to hone in on video editing and writing.

What is The Real Alaska? Be sure to check out the second half of this interview with Sierra. Do you have any questions for her about the SMU Travel Bug, travel-centric entrepreneurship, or her experiences throughout 40+ countries? Leave a comment, and I'll make sure she gets the question!

Consume & Update: Museum Roommate and Deep Thoughts

This week's outreach into the world of travel may pack a wallop for some of you eager to do something amazing.

$10,000 to be a Museum Live-in

Live in the Museum of Science and Industry for one month, learn something, write about it, and receive $10,000 for your efforts. This is not a shabby gig.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has launched a competition for tech-savvy, learn-happy extroverts that seems like the perfect position for a world traveler. We're interested in the world around us, in need of money, and often well-versed in online media and marketing (a.k.a the travel blogging type).

Month at the Museum

Month at the Museum

This seems to be yet another marketing campaign that doubles as a fantastic pooling of like-minded, lifelong learners. To live in the museum of science and have your mind revolve around discovery for four whole weeks would be a treat for anyone curious about their surroundings on this planet. Of course, the lucky individual isn't allowed to work elsewhere during that time period, nor are they given total freedom to their normal social lives, but this is an experiment in itself, an opportunity to be one with the universe and grow an ever deeper appreciation for how all things work.

There are a lot of wanderlusters out there looking for ways to do what they love and still sustain themselves. Not every opportunity out there is a "Best Job in the World" or a "World Traveler Internship," but there are plenty of other ways to learn about the world and craft your voice of expression, this definitely being one of them. Therefore, I'm here to pass this great opportunity along to you, the Pavlovian salivators to all things exploration.

Make a video application (and you know how to do that), write a lil' essay, complete an application form, throw on a photo, sign a waiver, bing, bang, boom, you're in the running. Let me know if you go for this!

Other Discoveries

Chris' Guide to Travel Hacking

Take the Seven Link Challenge: I know I will soon!

Bourdain is awarding an unpublished writer $10,000 and a spot in his newest book's paperback edition.

This Brave New Traveler piece touches on a topic I've been thinking about these past few weeks: home mind and travel mind.

The 2010 State of the Travel Blogosphere

Update on Nomadderwhere

Isolation

Isolation

This week has revolved around deep thoughts, cinematographic research, trying to NOT cut my fingers off with freshly sharpened knives, and, of course, work for ProjectExplorer.org. Here's what I've created in the last two weeks (since the last Consume & Update).

Stunning news from the world of Nomadderwhere: I'm going full steam ahead on my redesign for Nomadderwhere, to be scheduled for September 23, 2010. I would love to hear your feedback in any way, shape, or form. Video feedback is always best, but you can also contact me with a simple message or leave a comment below!

Q&A: Picking up and traveling for good

Q&A is a new series on Nomadderwhere that uses questions posed by readers and commentators to address topics of travel, alternative lifestyle design, blogging, and other interests. You can expect to see this series one or two Saturdays a month right here on Nomadderwhere.com. To send in your questions, contact me!

Hello, I would love to chat with you about my own plans since you are basically doing what I want to do.

I am leaving my job and selling my house in the spring, to travel the world and maybe never come back. I have so many questions though.

I figure I can get by on 10-15k a year on the road, but the question is: how do I go about making that? I have set up a travel blog and would love for that to generate some cash. I'm also a writer, and have published a photography/poetry book. I love writing and would like to do that for a living, while traveling the world. I'm also a pretty decent photographer.

Please give me any advice on how to make this happen. I'm a nice guy with nothing tying me down, and months away from dropping everything and seeing the world. -Sean R.

Hey Sean, I hope I can be of some assistance. Thanks for writing!

It's important to know travelers who move, think, and operate the same way you do, because getting advice from just anyone that moves could misdirect your preferred path. With that said, I know how to redirect your questions to other travelers who already do exactly what you want to do, because I can't quite relate to your travel dreams.

1. I don't have anything to leave behind. 2. I don't make money directly from my blog, writing, or photography.

Have you heard of Gary Arndt at Everything-Everywhere.com? He did what you are about to do (sold his house and traveled), and I'm sure you could learn quite a bit from his path. He's been on the road for over three years and has a huge following; however, I'm not positive whether he makes money from his blog.

Monetizing Your Blog

In order to make money from a travel blog, one has to look at their blog like a business and think:

To what end? What do I want to get out of my blog, and what valuable resource do I see it being or offering to readers?

Find your niche, and your niche market will follow, willing to pay for what you do. That's the long-term scenario. Keep in mind, however, that you don't have to have one absolutely specific focus. Your unique interests combined make for great content. And an additional note: don't claim a niche or expertise in one thing when you know you're not a real expert. The internet world doesn't need any more of those.

Get started by looking at Nomadic Matt's Secrets to Successful World Travel* ebook, as well as his Monetize Your Travel Blog ebook that has apparently been a big help for many people. I'm not so much interested in advertising as I am sponsorship and using my site as my resume and a resource for like-minded wanderlusters. I hope that gives you a better idea of what you want out of your travels and your blog.

Leaving It All Behind

AlmostFearless.com is yet another long-term traveler that started blogging after leaving her home and taking up a moving existence. I think her ebook entitled 30 Ways in 30 Days to Redesign your Life and Travel could help you out big time.

And a little hint: Subscribing to these bloggers RSS feeds and e-mails could score you these resources for free.

Getting Paid to Write and Photograph

Silvia Suarez

Silvia Suarez

What I've been doing is a little bit different.

I am not a long-term self-sustained traveler like those dudes and dudette - and presumably what you want to become. For leisure, I take shorter trips (though still around 1 to 7 months) and have very little money to my name (because I've spent it all on travel).

I'm a producer for a non-profit that makes virtual field trips for kids, but it's like business travel/film production. I don't get paid specifically for written pieces, though I'd love to and always keep my eye out for good opportunities.

Look into the Matador Network, because they pay $25 for articles.

My big thing isn't so much traveling but the expression of travel through multi-media, which could be what you're into as well. And it seems you're much more artistically minded than commercial - same as me, which means you probably like to work for your own agenda. That could either mean less marketability or more chance of you making a very distinct personal brand.

The Bottom Line

My advice is to check out the above links and see if any of those guys give you some inspiration toward your right path. Also, it wouldn't hurt to make out a little goal sheet or business plan that allows you to see where your blog could go in the future to make you some money. However, really make sure you stick to your trip's purpose, because the last thing you want is to be a slave to some commercial travel blog of yours that takes away from your time loving the city of Bogota or keeps you from lounging on the beach in Madagascar.

A last note, if you're serious about blogging and want some instant help with making it big time, check out Problogger and his 31 Days to Building a Better Blog.

Was this Question and Answer post helpful to you? Would you like me to expand on any points above? And if you're savvy to this topic, leave your own feedback and advice! Any other questions about anything? Comment below or contact me! And if you’d like to ask a question to be featured in this series, think about asking the question in a video and sending that URL to me!

*Note: There are affiliate links in this post. I've supplied the links to these resources not because I want your money shamelessly but because I know they've been valuable to many a diverse traveler. Though only some have been helpful to me, and contrary to what Whitney says, I'm not every woman, nor every traveler.

How My Blog Got Me a Bonafide Travel Job

How My Blog Got Me a Bonafide Travel Job

Mom, Dad, and long time readers: You've seen me struggle to satiate my passion for movement for over three years. I've blogged about this love of travel and my desire to get paid to live this lifestyle enough to make you and me both sick. It seemed like an impossible task, but I'm here today to tell you...I did it. My blog got me a dreamy travel job. Sincerely, Lindsay

Read More

Consume & Update: This Week's Reads and the New Design

Blog series, ebooks, and opportunities galore. Click on images to find the articles of discussion! Charlotte Halligan tapped into a topic this week I identify with and hope to explore further myself in the coming weeks.

"If you let it, traveling can give you the push you need to do the things you never thought you could. When you’re in the comfort zone of home, the prospect of doing something scary isn’t very tempting; you can find excuses with ease; you can tell yourself you have better things to do; you can procrastinate until opportunities wither and fade. But for me, being on the other side of the world and surrounded by the unfamiliar, taking the plunge is almost mandatory, because if I don’t, how can I justify all I have given up to be in that place, in that moment?"

Experiential Travel: it's the premise of a new travel magazine now out in physical form in America. I appreciate AFAR's approach to travel media and hope I implement some of their values in my own work. It seems if anyone wants to document travels for a viewing community, they must create relatable experiences that teleport wanna-be travelers into the body of the observer and participant. Here are the values they aspire to with experiential travel:

  • Explore from the inside looking out

  • Provide a sense of cultural immersion

  • Offer the unexpected

  • Touch on a range of emotions

  • Be genuine, real, authentic

  • Promote connection

  • Feed the curious

  • Respect the earth and its people

  • Celebrate global diversity

This week, I've been reading Jonathan Mead's free ebook about working for your passions, living a life where work and leisure blend and have no distinction. After reading this short 60-pager, I wrote my mission statement with clarity and felt the gears in my brain a-churning. The following quote also really got me going:

The master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his work and his play, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether his is working or playing. To himself, he is always doing both. —James A. Michener

Other discoveries

Vagablogging Calls for WritersThe Best Job in the CountryThe Ultimate Thailand Explorers

Update on Nomadderwhere

This Wednesday, the 23rd, Nomadderwhere will have a brand new look. It's so cool, I can barely force myself to look at the old design. I had no idea how to start self-hosting, and none of the progress I've achieved could have been possible without Jenn Vargas. Not only did she do some top-notch freelance work on the design but generously offered her expertise from start to finish. Thank her, as well as Joost Bakker (whose images make the new design look downright badass), for their excellent work come Wednesday.

Finding Purpose in Culture Shock

Ireland's Coast

Ireland's Coast

I never really know how my travel experiences have affected me until I return to my starting point: home. Flying through various destinations and worrying about logistics sometimes takes away the mind’s energy to process what it’s witnessed until it’s back on familiar soil. And since each trip is different, every time I return home, it’s a brand new feeling, a new form of culture shock I can never predict. Coming home from Italy, I have felt pissed off at my hometown for not being as historical and visually stimulating as Florence. After Semester at Sea, it pained me to be away from the people I grew very close to on board. And with the conclusion of my Big Journey, I think I felt more stable and purpose-driven, albeit more confused, than any previous homecoming led me to feel. I think it all depends on the nature of the journey and where you are in your personal path with self-awareness. Because that’s one major reason I travel: to become more self-aware.

And now with the winding down of the World Traveler Internship, I have a whole new set of emotions and passions driving me. For once, I’ve welcomed the comforts of home excitedly. Man did I love sitting around! And for the last month, I’ve spent about 90 hours a week working on my website, on personal projects, and anything fathomable to get me on the path towards being a freelance travel writer. It was the WTI program that assured me I love being thrown into a new country with a mission of documentation. I’ve learned how I love to travel, where I want to travel, and how to deal with the rigors of this oddball, unconventional, thrilling profession.

Anyone with a smidgeon of wanderlust would adore being a World Traveler Intern, but I can promise you an aspiring travel writer, photojournalist, basically anyone wanting to experience and express as a career will be numbed by how cool is to have this job. Throughout the trip, I sporadically stopped and smiled, so appreciative of the opportunity and fully aware of how lucky I was. And now I look forward to seeing what lucky souls will receive the honor next year. I’m certain they will have the time of their lives and return to their home bases more alive and wanderlust-ful, because as any traveler knows, that obsession never goes away. Travel begets more travel.

And now I apply the heaviest of connotations, the deepest of meaning to these next two words, directed at the lovely people at STA Travel: Thank you.

Consume & Update: Bloggers on Happiness, Ambition, and Reason

I did a little reading this week, and this is what stuck from the lot. Click on the images to read the articles.

Good Investments

I've only recently come to hear of Rolf Potts, and I look forward to reading his novel "Vagablogging" in the coming months. Here on his blog, fellow writer Scott Gilbertson discusses possible reasons for unhappiness as a result of putting your money to the wrong use: stuff for yourself, and not on experiences for yourself or the people around you. I've really tried to apply this philosophy to my life in the last three years, running from buying stuff and saving for memorable experiences...maybe not with the direct goal of happiness at the front of my mind but more for the "I know I'll be a better person for doing this" reason. I've never been Miss Moneybags and have been spending my own money for quite some time, but I've known I always had enough to do the things I wanted. It may also be that I've only chosen to desire the things that are within my reach. Travel the world? Who needs twenty years of savings! Buy some drinks for people I don't know? Bottoms up, strangers! And the times I've spent money on dresses or crap for the shelves have never been as fulfilling as the money spent on a chicken dinner and dance party for kids. I'm not trying to say I'm holier and happier than thou, but it's all we can do to make the sensible, compassionate steps toward being people we're proud of. And if we're proud of who we are, we're probably pretty happy.

Shake Up Your Lazy Inertia

This the second Vagabondish article I've really liked from author Turner Wright. His piece entitled "Why it's easier to stay fat, stupid and untraveled" is pretty straightforward. It's too bad our priorities as a mass population reflect a desire to do very little and be happy with that. We never stay still when we eat, or rarely even cook with known, natural ingredients. If your trigger finger is strong and nimble, you can shoot down every online deal you spend hours on your butt searching for. I guess I fall into the sloth lifestyle upon coming home. I work online or read sixteen hours a day and drive to the gym when I need to move around. I rationalize it as time spent researching and building a foundation for those times when I'm running around the world with a mission and a desire to live out ambitions. Anyway, this is an interesting article and one I'd love to hear reflections on from fellow readers.

You're You Everywhere

Lea Woodward writes well and often about being unattached to a place and still making a living. It's called Location Independence. Look into it. Often it's easy to look at a purpose-driven life that's created from one's passions and think "That is the life!" Well, wherever you go, though, there you are. There you are doing the same things, and even though the initial thrills will please you and your travel objectives, we humans are habitual and get into routines, which often feel remarkably similar to those we once had at home...in that stable, stiffling, mundane environment. Wait a minute. Her article isn't to say creating your own lifestyle anywhere in the world is unnecessary because everything's the same everywhere, but it's a "reality check" to make sure you're not in a dream world. Travel and location independence for some is the holy grail, but romanticizing it too much will lead you astray from the realities.

Toxicity Kills the Journey

If I'm honest, I've felt very toxic for the last few months. The acid in my mind (figuratively speaking...) almost felt tangible at moments, and sometimes it takes all the energy you can muster to make those thoughts liquefy and disperse in the name of happiness. This blog from Brave New Traveler, a Matador magazine on the inner thoughts of a traveler, could have been very useful to me in preventing toxicity during my travels.

Update on Nomadderwhere

Since I've been home from the World Traveler Internship, I've begun work on my new website, researched potential projects, and connected with many people interested in my trajectory. My work week is something like 90 hours. I drink a lot of tea. It doesn't feel like work, which means it's the right path, and surprisingly I still don't feel like I have enough hours to progress as far as I'd like.

So what does all this mean for Nomadderwhere?

  1. I'm learning how to write first and write well. Objectives = great subject matter, great blogs, potentially great book material

  2. I've scheduled four different speaking engagements throughout the Northern Indiana area, some directed at photography passionates and professionals. I'm moving from online expression to that of the verbal kind.

  3. The book on my solo RTW has begun its morphing process into a complete idea. It will take many years and many sessions in front of a blank screen...but that end result will come to be.

  4. A new website will be ready and raring by September 23rd that includes more travel advice, suggestions for reading, technology and destination highlights, free city guides, and an even more exciting development for photography.

  5. I have the incredible fortune of cheap travel in the near future, which gives me the perfect chance to create new work on places I've never been or really observed. October is the Mexican Riviera. November is Chicago, Illinois. Who knows if December will hold nothing or a fantastic travel opportunity with a favorite vagabond pal...

Consume & Update: Matador and Upgrade

One thing I missed while frantically running across the globe for the STA internship was the downtime to enjoy some of my favorite reading material: The Matador Network.

Click on the images to follow the stories!

In Traveler’s Notebook

iPod

iPod

Josh says your active earbuds stand in the way of experience the audio sensations of a destination. For me it completely depends on my mood, because sometimes I’m desperate to get away from the familiar and other times I want to tie old memories music-linked association to the new place I’m experiencing. Occasionally this adds layers to the music you already love (and usually gives me audio inspiration for videos), but I’m on Josh’s side with knowing all sensory factors of the places you visit.

In Matador Goods

Traveling with a scarf (or more specifically a shawl/pashmina/whatevayacallit) is something I firmly believe in. There have been many times when a scarf has served some key purposes: keeping my neck and head from touching snow and getting frostbite, looking dressy even while wearing pajamas, and dressing modestly in conservative areas.

In Brave New Traveler

One more person that makes me think my yet-to-be-explained need to write while traveling is absolutely necessary. Christine writes a good piece on travel writing that links to an interesting book I may just check out! And I understood the following excerpt all too well on the WTI trip.

“Even when we are traveling, attempting to see all the sights - and hit all the nightclubs - keeps us disconnected from this inner knowing. And when we are at home, ideas start drying up; inspiration is, well, lacking. We get frustrated and hit a wall…then, nothing.” Photo by The Trial

Young girl in an orphanage in Chennai, India

Young girl in an orphanage in Chennai, India

Shannon tackles an issue of having compassion on the road and realities behind the impoverished asking for help. I don’t like feeling so cold when confronted on the street by a shoeless child, but I know that giving money or any offering of care isn’t usually the most helpful thing to do. Shannon makes these inner thoughts visible and explains why she appears unaffected by the poverty of her resident country. We certainly all take it in and feel assorted levels of pain and guilt for the suffering of others, but what balance must we strike between indifference and active concern in order to make through the street, the trip, the long term journey? Heavy issue…good read.

And for a Nomadderwhere Update

I've decided to take Nomadderwhere a little further into the travel blog-o-sphere by moving from Wordpress.com to Wordpress.org. For those who don't understand that lingo, I'm making my website bigger and better and in doing so hopefully tailoring it more closely to what people want to read.

It may be wishful thinking, but I plan to launch the new website on my 24th birthday...not too far away! In the meantime, enjoy the current site and feel free to make suggestions for future content! The future may even hold a Nomadderwhere photography site, but it all depends on my computer capabilities...which are a bit lacking for the internet world. I hope you stick around for the revealing of:

The New Nomadderwhere coming September 23rd, 2009!

Another Good Read

Jenn Vargas, in a much appreciated move to satiate my travel reading desires, sent me an article I spent much time reading to the last period. It's about traveling on a budget that above all improves the traveler's experience through connections and relationships with places, people, and purposes.

One of the biggest expenses for a traveler is accommodation. Working (or rather, volunteering) in trade for accommodation – also known as caretaking - is a great way to meet the locals, learn about the land, and get off the beaten path. All the while saving thousands of dollars on places to sleep.

Travel Full-Time for less than $14,000 a Year by Nora Dunn