I Quit My Job to Travel More

Here’s What I Learned…

Hi, I’m Theresa.

This is me at almost 60 years old, sitting on The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland…

Sometimes I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, because it wasn’t long ago that I believed I’d work my miserable retail job until I died.

No savings. No plan for the future. No retirement to speak of. And ten years ago, a divorce left me with a hefty debt.

Travel just wasn’t in the cards (or so I thought)…

Instead, I was putting in 60- to 70-hour work weeks, trying to stay afloat. I’d drag myself out of bed before the sun was up… face traffic… and then spend 12 hours manning a cash register before crawling home, exhausted.

I was putting in 60- to 70-hour work weeks, trying to stay afloat. I’d drag myself out of bed before the sun was up… face traffic… and then spend 12 hours manning a cash register before crawling home, exhausted.

The harder I worked, the more I got promoted. Which was great, because it meant more money... but it also came with more hours and more mental and emotional strain managing employees.

And to top it all off, while I was realizing how much financial and emotional trouble I was in, my mom was also dying.

One night, when she was very ill, she called me to her bedside and told me her greatest regret in life was that she never got to see Paris—that she lived her life for everybody else and not herself. 

That she always wanted to climb the Eiffel Tower but now here she is in bed without the health to do it and death staring her in the face.

Why hadn’t she ever gone?

I’d climb the Eiffel Tower… I’d sip a coffee on the Champs-Élysées… smell the roses in the Luxembourg Gardens… and take the Metro to the top of Montmartre.

In that moment, I made her a promise – half wanting her to feel better and half wanting a change in my life. Someday, I would go to Paris for her… I’d stop living my life as if I have no control over it, and I’d sit down and think about what I really want to do with my days.

I’d climb the Eiffel Tower… I’d sip a coffee on the Champs-Élysées… smell the roses in the Luxembourg Gardens… and take the metro to the top of Montmartre.

My mom is gone, but I kept my promise to her. And it changed my life.

Here’s how...

Step #1: Realizing that you’re in control whether you feel like it or not…

The day after I promised my mom I’d go to Paris, everything changed. I woke up bound and determined to get to Paris against all the odds and change my life into something more fun.

And here’s what you need to know about decisions like this – once you decide to do something -- I mean really decide – then you can do anything. It’s an incredibly powerful tool.

I just knew I was going to do it.

I’m sure that you can remember a time in your life when someone said you couldn’t do something but, come hell or high water, you made it happen?

Well, that’s what this particular day was like for me. It came with an immense feeling of power and confidence, even though I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. I just knew I was going to do it.

Here’s what I wrote down on a slip of paper at the kitchen table:

Now look…

I found a community of people online living the EXACT life I wanted. They were my age, coming from all different backgrounds. Things started to look up.

At 59, I’m no spring chicken and I didn’t, at the time, have a lot of writing skills. That, on top of being broke. Desperate. Sad. So, when I say my options were slim, I really mean it.

But then, I found a community of people online living the EXACT life I wanted. They were my age, coming from all different backgrounds. Things started to look up.

Many of the people I saw on forums were like me, with no skills but a desire to change. So, I decided to go for it.

One group in particular, a group of travel writers at Great Escape Publishing, caught my eye because they were getting paid to write stories about travel and that’s exactly what I wanted to do – travel more.

It turns out there are places out there – magazines and online newsletters that pay people to travel and then write about it… as well has hotel and restaurant owners who are willing to give you free hotel stays and meals if you include them in your stories.

Could this be true? I needed to know more.

All-expenses-paid trips... spa treatments... fine dining meals on the house... zip line jungle tours, exclusive entry into museums and festivals... it all sounded great but what was the catch?

There is one, of course.

Here it is: You actually do have to write about the things you see and do. And that’s what I do, now. I’m a travel writer. Even though I have no writing background. What’s funny is that I’m actually working more now than I ever did in the past.

But my work is exactly what I want to wake up and do every day. It’s better than a vacation. I’m swimming in crystal clear blue water with starfish in Fiji and hiking cliffs with sheep in Ireland. And I’m getting paid for it.

Here, I am...

In Fiji …

Ireland…

Paris…

I get to do a lot of cool things like ghost tours, food tours, wine tastings, and hikes.

I'm invited to dine in the very best restaurants, with $750 bottles of champagne brought to my table. I've been to luxurious hotels, just steps from the beach, spent hours in saunas, steam baths and spas. I've snorkeled in the South Pacific, wandered through art galleries in Paris, drunk beer out of sports trophies with the winning team in Ireland. The experiences I've had are remarkable and honestly, I'd have never have expected this just a few years ago. 

… And then I write about it for people who are looking for advice online or in magazines on where to go and what to do when they get there…

Here are a few of my recently published stories:

Best of all, I sometimes get to take friends!!

I took four girlfriends with me to Fiji. And another girlfriend with me to Ireland.

And it gives me an excuse to travel solo, too. I have questions to ask, people to interview, hotels to check out and chefs to meet.

I’m basically a food critic, wine tester, history buff, and explorer all in one.

You can do this, too. Anyone can. It works because there’s been a big change in the way travel is bought and sold online.

It used to be that hotels and restaurants had to advertise in big magazines or on TV to get business.

But with the internet, customers typically decide where to stay and eat from articles they read online.

Traditional TV ads cost as much as $300,000 to $500,000. And magazines like Travel + Leisure charge more than $70,000 for a 1-page ad.

But here, instead, is what the owner of a villa on the Sun Coast of Fiji got out of my stay when she invited me to vacation there on the house and write about it afterwards:

That’s eight published story mentions and all it cost her was a few pennies to host me for a few days. Practically nothing!

But for you and me, this is a big deal. Not only did I get a free stay in Fiji… but I was paid for those articles on top of it all. And again remember, I got to bring four of my girlfriends!!

It’s a win/win times four.

And, believe it or not, it’s regular folks who make the best travel writers… because it’s not just about the cost of advertising.

Today, we’re living in a time where people trust other customers MORE than we trust ads on TV and in magazines.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs, publications, and websites out there—all in need of your reviews and experiences for their articles… for recommendations (good and bad) for their readers. And they’ll pay you for them.

I started out with no experience, but today I’ve had more than 450 articles published so far. With no fancy writing background and no journalism degree.

I started out with no experience, but today I’ve had more than 450 articles published so far. With no fancy writing background and no journalism degree.

What’s more, I’m typically wined, dined and pampered wherever I go because these places want me to have a top-notch experience to ensure I mention them favorably (though note: I’m ALWAYS honest in my articles and I try to discern the difference between the way I’m treated and the way other guests are treated so my stories are true accounts of what a typical traveler can expect.)

And it’s not just international establishments looking for you to come and write about them, either.

I started in my local neighborhood in New York. I barely had money for gas, much less a plane ticket to Paris, so international travel was out for me the first year.

Instead, I reviewed places nearby—local B&Bs, restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a ghost trail. And in doing so, I made a lot of new local friends, had some really fun experiences—one of my favorites being a complimentary stay worth $1,300 at a cute hotel in downtown Saratoga—really honed my skills as a writer, and established my credentials, too.

These are the simple local stories publishers want—short, practical, what-to-see-and-do bits of advice. And if I can write them, you can, too.

And truth be told, I love my local travel-writing opportunities—meeting people and uncovering new gems where I live. And I can’t be gone all the time, anyway. I want to be with friends and family here, too… not always on the road.

I know some travel writers making an extra $10,000 to $12,000 a year and taking AMAZING VACATIONS. I know others who do it full time for a whole lot more.

For me, while money is certainly important, the lifestyle is even better. I’m taking as many as 15 trips a year now, with no savings account or spending money required.

For me, while money is certainly important, the lifestyle is even better. I’m taking as many as 15 trips a year now, with no savings account or spending money required.

There’s also a community of us out here, too. One you can join if you try this on your own.

Mary, another travel writer I know, had a successful career in digital publishing and graphic arts and planned to use her nest egg to travel in retirement. But injury and illness took it all away.

Broke, bored, and single, she had the same life epiphany I did and wanted to see the world, while she was still young (65).

She estimates that in the last two years of being a travel writer, she’s racked up more than $30,000 in free travel and perks. And she’s had more than 120 stories published, more than 200 photos, three videos, and several maps—all that go toward her income from travel.

I met Kurt a couple years ago, too. As a former successful real estate investor, he started with no writing experience but now travels about 8 weeks per year and uses travel writing to still “live large” in his retirement, without any extra cost.

He basically just wants to stay in luxury properties, eat amazing meals and take expensive fishing trips without having to pay for it.

He still works hard, like me. But it’s a different kind of work than what we used to expect.

No Startup Funds Required

If you start locally, all you need is a computer and an internet connection. I stayed local for my first dozen stories and you should, too.

If you start locally, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.

The only investment I made when I got started was a travel writing guide I bought from Great Escape Publishing. But if I started all over again today, I’d start with this little $7 execution plan.

For me, this transformation took many turns. But the outcome is that I’m getting paid to see the world and I can do it with friends or solo. I no longer feel like I’m wasting my life. I feel alive and ready to conquer my days!

I used to think it was sad to see people’s identities tied to their jobs. But now I’m grateful because my job and my new identity are cool. People actually want my life and that’s crazy to me because just a few short years ago, I was struggling.

Theresa St John quit her retail job in 2015 to pursue travel writing and photography. She’s now had 275 travel stories published and sometimes teaches for Great Escape Publishing.

Say "yes" to the travel writer's life today. Go here to get your blueprint for just $7 and get started.