“Jessie, you’re 26. When are you going to get a real job?”
This is a common question I receive as a full time travel blogger. It doesn’t matter that I’m able to live a comfortable lifestyle in New York City, paying for an apartment and nights of $15 cocktails, many of my family and friends are still under the impression that that my profession is a game and I get payed in Monopoly money. Maybe it’s because it’s unconventional, maybe it’s because it wasn’t a job I had to interview for or maybe it’s because I actually love my job, but nobody seems to think it’s real life.
I love responding to people when they ask me this question, “What is your definition of a real job?”
Nobody is ever really quite sure how to answer. Apparently, a real job entails any or all of the following: Making real money (not the Monopoly money I was apparently making), sitting at an office desk from 9am to 5pm, having health insurance, having a boss and earning a set salary.
I especially enjoyed family gatherings where people would discuss my life as if I weren’t sitting right there…but I was. My mom would talk about how my lifestyle didn’t allow me to date properly or settle down and have a normal life — which I was never asked if I wanted — while others would console her by saying I was in my twenties and it was just a phase.
It always amazed me how, despite my successes in the travel industry and the fact I created my own small business that allowed me to travel the world and have truly bucket list experiences, my parents would push me to apply for jobs that I was way over qualified for, answering phones at television production companies and working the front desk at car rental agencies, just so I would have a real job and wouldn’t be “wasting my Masters Degree” on travel blogging.
I’ll admit the judgement has gotten better over the years — I guess people are starting to see it isn’t just a phase — although I have to be careful with what I say. For example, if I have a cough and my mom tells me to go to the doctor and I remind her that I don’t have health insurance, she tells me that if I had a “real job” I would be able to go to the doctor. Or if I talk about how I’m budgeting myself with groceries I’ll get a retort about how I need to pinch pennies because of my “job situation.”
The reality is I have many friends who have 9-to-5 office jobs who feel completely unfulfilled. They may make a steady paycheck and have health insurance, but by the end of the year I often come out ahead or equal in terms of overall earnings — and I get to travel. I don’t have to request permission if I want a day off because I’m my own boss, and I don’t have to coordinate my schedule around other peoples’ vacation time because seeing the world is my job. It’s a career that makes me feel fulfilled, pays my bills and allows me to have life-changing experiences. Like most jobs I deal with meetings, deadlines, project strategizing and the usual stressors that come with wanting to complete a task and impress clients and editors. And while there’s nothing wrong with choosing a career with set hours where you work from a desk, I get to change up my office scenery between beaches, jungles, cities and deserts while having a schedule that always keeps me guessing. It’s what suits my personality and what I want out of life. And while it may not be the job for everyone, it is a job. A real job.
What are your thoughts on travel blogging as a career?