I rushed into Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe like a Tasmanian devil whirlwind of crazy. I’m not sure why tardiness was becoming a signature of mine, but I wasn’t happy about it.
Luckily, the couple looked friendly and I could see they already had ordered coffee. Chris stood up, his tall frame towering over mine. He embraced me in a giant bear hug like we’d known each other forever. Tawny stood up, pint-sized in comparison, but every bit as lovely as photos made her out to be.
“I hope you don’t mind, but we ordered some of the Athen’s Fries.” She smiled with her eyes, and I knew we were going to get along just fine.
“Be careful,” I cautioned as we sat down. “They’re addicting. Locals call them crack fries. It’s the dipping sauce; it rewires something in your head and you crave them at the most inopportune of moments.”
“So noted,” Chris said.
I was trying to play it cool even though it was incredibly difficult. I was lunching with my favorite travel blogging couple: Captain and Clark.
We all work for USA Today, so our assigning editor recommended we meet up while they were in Vegas. I jumped on the train right away, as I had followed their blog for almost a year. I was obsessed with their love story.
They’d met climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, traveled together extensively, and got engaged at the Taj Mahal. Their Bavarian style wedding would make any hopeless romantic swoon with envy. Chris posts love notes and photos albums to Tawny on their Facebook page. I share them compulsively with friends.
It’s a sickness, I know.
Luckily, they were every bit as down to earth, personable, and positive as they appeared in videos. (It’s a fear, you know? Sometimes you don’t want to meet your heroes— er— fellow bloggers).
They debated over which of my USA Today videos was their favorite (Chris liked my Fantasy Girl Training. Tawny preferred when I went backstage at Thunder From Down Under). I learned about their history and they laughed at my wacky adventures. “You say things like ‘cuddling cubs’ like it’s a common occurrence,” Chris teased. “Not everyone gets to grow up around lions, Hilary.”
As our lunch went on, we discussed our paths to blogging, our blogging friends, and our future goals. I was shocked to realize that my identity crisis as a ‘travel blogger’ was actually rather common.
It shouldn’t have been so surprising; there are billions of people on the planet. Statistically SOMEONE is bound to feel like me. But I learned a lot about myself and the community of adventurers over our meal that I want to share. After all, what’s the point of a quarter-life crisis if you can’t use the panic, insecurities, and learning experiences to help others?
SECRETS OF TRAVEL BLOGGERS
1. Sometimes we want to lay roots.
After two years of nomadic living, Chris and Tawny were ready to nest in their first apartment. They were picking out furniture and all. Tawny told me how weird she felt wanting to decorate and paint things. But I understood and I hadn’t been NEARLY as nomadic as they had over the past year. In a world of couch surfing, air mattresses, guest bedrooms, hotels, hostels, airplane armrest naps, and living with your parents, you start to appreciate the importance of personal space.
There are very few travel bloggers I know who don’t have a home base somewhere. And if they don’t, they stay at a relative’s place or do elongated stays in hostels or live with roommates.
Sometimes I feel a pressure to have to keep moving because that’s what I feel is expected from me. Sometimes it feels like pegging myself as The Nomad Grad or as a travel blogger may have been a mistake. My life is constantly changing and evolving into something different.
In all reality, I think I’d be happy splitting my time between my own space in the States and some exotic location (to be determined… preferably on the beach) with some travel in between. But having a space, even a small one, to come home to sounds appealing.
2. We crave financial stability.
Adventurers have bills too. I just thought I was the only one who was prioritizing income over adventure. I could work less and travel more. And I know I could always find work if I really needed it. But I’m tired of working odd jobs and constantly searching for the next paycheck. I want to do things that excite me… use my skills and contribute in areas that I’m good at. And I want to get paid for them in regular or semi-regular increments. My work doesn’t have to be boring to be stable. But living on the hope that work will come is stressful over a long periods of time.
I always thought if I vocalized my desire for financial security, I would be tied to a stake and burned. But I’m learning most bloggers want consistent work too.
3. We like spontaneous adventures. But we also like plans.
Living in the moment is an incredible rush. Being able to enjoy the day for what it is and cherishing the ‘now’ is a great skill to have. But we also need something to look forward to. We know things will come up and plans will change. But there’s a level of peace that comes from knowing which ballpark you’ll be playing in a few months from now. Constantly waiting for the unknown to show you what’s next creates unnecessary stress. And while we get really good at being able to change with the tide, we want intentional travel.
But even given these desires that we haven’t figured out how to fulfill yet, Chris said it best. “We have pretty awesome lives where we get to do amazing things and share our stories with others. We are very blessed.”
I left lunch feeling enlightened and if possible, even physically lighter. It was like the invisible burden of self-doubt I’d been carrying as a traveler was left with the remainder of the fries. My gratitude for their time, openness, and friendship filled its place.
A few days later, Chris and Tawny boarded a flight to South Korea. They tweeted me the following:
I love them so.