This is part of my unconventional interview series, designed to demonstrate the wildly varied ways we can live, work, and chase our dreams. Please keep in mind that, since these are interviews, the opinions, methods, and websites contained within do not necessarily reflect my own views or experiences. (Which is, in my opinion, part of what makes them wonderful.)
Today, I’m happy to have Kim Dinan of So Many Places here to talk about landing a travel job, traveling full-time, and working from the road.
First, tell us about you.
I’m Kim. I’m originally from Ohio, but moved to Oregon in my early 20s after college. I used to work in the environmental field as a Sustainability Coordinator in Portland, Oregon, before I left my job back in 2012 to pursue my dreams of writing and traveling.
Now I am a freelance writer, blogger, author, blog coach, and, currently, professional public speaker for Backpacker Magazine.
When did you first start traveling and what made you fall in love with it?
The first time I left the country was in 2007 on my honeymoon. My husband and I went to Costa Rica for two weeks. I left again in 2009 to visit France and Italy and then in 2012 on this never-ending trip around the world.
I’d always dreamed of traveling, but it wasn’t something I was raised doing. My parents have never left the U.S. We rarely even went on vacation. But I was always a wanderer. I would explore the streets and forests around my neighborhood as a kid. I always wanted to know what was around the next corner. My mom jokes that I was the only baby she’d ever met that would not fall asleep in the car. No matter the time of day or night I’d be wide-eyed, staring out the window.
As I grew older I realized that people traveled! The first time I heard about anyone traveling for an extended period of time I was transfixed. But, of course, I couldn’t afford it. I worked for almost a decade before I could afford to travel and at 30 I quit my full-time job so that I could give all of my energy to my main passions: writing and traveling.
Having a job that centers on adventure travel sounds pretty amazing. How did you find this job/what career path led you here?
At the beginning of 2014, after two years of full-time travel, my husband and I came back to the U.S. to take a job touring the country for Backpacker Magazine. We give presentations in almost all of the lower 48 states about backpacking gear and skills. We found the job on Facebook, if you would believe it.
After we saw the Backpacker job on Facebook, we had to submit a three-minute video and write a blog-style letter about ourselves. Brian and I were in Budapest at the time and we filmed the video outside (it was right before Christmas and freezing), sent it in along with our written materials, and thought to ourselves, “well, that’s done. No way we’ll get that job!”
A few weeks later, we were told we’d made it through to the next round of Interviews. We had several phone interviews and then for our final interview we had to give a 15-minute presentation. By this time, we were in Vietnam, so we did the whole thing over Skype! It was almost midnight in Vietnam when we connected in with the editor-and-chief of Backpacker Magazine, amongst others, and gave our presentations. It was about 9 a.m. in Boulder, CO where they were. Anyway, shortly after that we found out we got the job. We were on a plane back to the states the following week.
Aside from the Backpacker job, my first (and favorite) career is writing. I have carved out this writing career by writing my blog, writing freelance for a number of publications, and publishing my first book, Life on Fire: A Step-By-Step-Guide to Living Your Dreams. I’ve also just recently started blog coaching, working with a few clients to help them build their blogs, their audience, and their online voice. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
None of these things would have been possible if I hadn’t followed my initial dream of writing and traveling. Following that dream has opened so many doors for me and taken me in directions I couldn’t have imagined.
What are the biggest challenges of your work and of traveling for said work?
The biggest challenge with my job for Backpacker Magazine is that we move way too fast. There are some weeks where we’re in four cities in five days. We spend a ton of time in the car. It’s just too much, too fast. I prefer to travel slowly and this is high-speed travel. Likewise, the job with the magazine is time-intensive and I have less time to work on my other projects. So, my writing has really had to move to the back burner while I finish up this job with the magazine.
What are the greatest joys?
Without a doubt the greatest joys of my Backpacker Magazine job is connecting with other adventure junkies. When I stand in front of a crowd and see that my stories are inspiring the audience to plan their next big adventure, I feel like an incredibly lucky person to do what I do. Likewise, my blog has also connected me to so many like-minded people all over the world. The greatest joy has been building this community of people that have a passion to live, explore, and discover.
Where has the job taken you so far? And how do you decide where to go next? (Or is it dictated by the position?)
The job for Backpacker Magazine has taken us to almost all of the lower 48 states. We’ve driven 35,000 miles over the past 7 months! Our schedule is dictated by the position, but we’ve had good chunks of time off in Acadia National Park in Maine, Glacier National Park in Montana, and Yosemite National Park in California.
My job writing and blogging has taken me to over 20 countries on five continents and many more are planned for the future. What I love about working and writing online is that I can do it from anywhere.
What tips do you have for people who want to find jobs that incorporate travel and adventure?
What worked for me is to walk the walk. When I set out to live this dream of travel and adventure, I didn’t know that it would lead to a job. I did it because I loved to do it. I backpacked in mountains all over the world because I love it, not because I thought it would lead to a job. But only by doing the things I love to do was I qualified for this job in travel and adventure. If I was still sitting in my cubicle and only getting out on the weekends, I wouldn’t have been selected for the job. I lived my adventure and the job followed.
Also, connect with everyone. The people that read your writing, come to your presentations, or even befriend you in a coffee shop could all be your next potential client or partner. At a presentation I did in North Carolina, I met the editor of a magazine (she was in the audience) who assigned me a really great story. You never know who you are speaking to, so let everyone know who you are.
Any favorite places for adventure travel?
India is my favorite country in the world. I drove a rickshaw through India and if that isn’t an adventure than I don’t know what is! My husband’s favorite country is Nepal and I think Nepal is my runner-up. Nepal has some of the highest mountains in the world. If you love mountains, Nepal should be on your list.
What comes next for you and Brian?
When our job with Backpacker Magazine ends at the end of October, we’ll be headed to Mexico. We’ve rented an apartment on the beach for five months and we’ve got some major projects we’re working on. We’ll be launching an e-course called Travel School to help everyone plan the logistics of their long-term trips. I’m working on my next book and building my blog coaching business. We’re so excited to have time to work and can’t wait to see what the next year holds.
Did this post help you? Share the love by:
:: Clicking here before you make your next Amazon order (it doesn’t matter what you order, if you start by clicking from my site, I’ll get a commission!)