These three professionals dumped it all for life on the road and invented totally new careers out of wanderlust. Follow their paths and recommendations to your next career – and adventure.
By Kelly Bastone
The Blogger-Turned-Brander [Stefaan DuPont]
miles-miles.com | @sdpnt
Like many Americans, Stefaan DuPont only had one or two weeks of annual vacation. So although he liked his work as a designer in New York, he felt deflated by the math: One trip per year over the next 30 years equaled a lot of world left unexplored. Together with his wife, Sarah Murphy, he launched a year’s worth of wanderings in March 2011 and posted their trip photos on Instagram and at their own website. And then something happened: Brands (especially travel brands and products) started following them, expressing interest. And so, while Miles & Miles started as a travel blog, it has since become a platform to collaborate with media outlets such as Outside Online and Afar and brands to help them promote products in organic travel settings like this shoot they did for Lotuff Leather in the desert of Marfa, Texas.
2 Travel Tips
Language barriers aren’t such a big deal. Body language and good intentions go a long way. “We’re all human beings. You just have to be comfortable with yourself.”
Beat your own path. Even though other travelers were telling them Laos was too extreme of a place to go, Dupont and his wife planned a four-day day motorcycle trip through the far-flung villages. “It ended up being one of the most memorable parts of that first year of traveling.”
The Traveling Foodist [Jodi Ettenberg]
legalnomads.com | @legalnomads
Everyone loves to eat when traveling, but for former Manhattan corporate lawyer Jodi Ettenberg, it runs deeper. “It’s delicious, yes, but I take a more holistic view of what food is.” Through food, we connect with history, anthropology, culture. That theme has served as the focal point for all of her wanderings, yet like all of these wanderlust professionals, the way she’s able to make a living out of traveling comes down to a patching together a variety of opportunities: Given her social media savvy (70k Instagram followers), she works as a social media strategist with brands. Her blog was named the Lowell Thomas Award for best travel blog in 2015 and featured everywhere from CNN to The New York Times. Her first book, The Food Traveler’s Handbook, was published in 2012. She’s a paid ambassador for adventure travel company G Adventures. And she freelance writes for the likes of BBC Travel and The Daily Beast.
2 Travel Tips
Make digital copies. Ettenberg’s simple extra step to the common recommendation of making copies of your credit cards, passport, and travel visas is to save them as a pdf, so they’re easily accessible while traveling.
Exploit the online travel community. Twitter is the world’s watercooler. Wherever you are – be it Bangkok or Torres del Paine – you can plug into a global network of travelers who can offer advice on the best tour guides, standout places to eat, and little-known bargains.
The Wayward Nomad [Francis Tapon]
francistapon.com | @ftapon
Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2001 was the seed that sparked this Harvard MBA’s desire for lifelong, globe-trotting retirement. In truth, though, “retirement” is the wrong word. He’s now his own brand and business – books, podcasts, a TedX talk on the value of travel, a commercial TV pilot about The Unseen Africa – he has done it all. What’s the end game for all that entrepreneurial action that takes him from Eastern Europe to the dustiest corners of Africa? Visiting every country in the world.
2 Travel Tips
Learn to say “thank you” in the local language. “It breaks open smiles and happiness, even smooths out bureaucracy problems, and it takes so little effort.”
Travel light. “It’s a cliché, but it really does make transfers less exhausting.” Tapon packs just one pair of shoes: trail runners. They dry quickly, are comfortable to hike in, and slip on and off easily. “You can always buy a $2 pair of sandals when you get where you’re going.”