What is your professional / educational background and how did that enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?
I've worked for 15 years in hospitality and food sales. When I worked in hotels, I had access to sweet employee discounts on hotel rooms that made travel a much less expensive venture, and in food sales, I have the opportunity to travel for work to some amazing destinations, along with racking up miles, hotel points, and rental car points that help drastically reduce my travel expenses. My entire life is based on the philosophy "Don't live to work, work to live!" and all of my financial decisions are based on prioritizing travel, because I regard it as an investment, not an expense. I drive a used car, I buy flea market furniture, and I rarely eat out in order to travel as much as I can. I use the "freebie" vacation days others overlook, like Memorial/Labor Day/4th of July and Thanksgiving in order to book a short European getaway or to explore somewhere in the US.
How did you end up in this career / role?
I went back to grad school in 2008 in order to make the move to food manufacturing sales, and began working for my current employer in 2010. I have a background in food distributor sales and hospitality as well.
What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
Europe. You are literally walking through history with every step you take. In Berlin, you're seeing the physical manifestation of the Berlin Wall in dividing a country during the Cold War; in Greece, you're walking where the "gods" once tread. Your stroll through the Forum in Rome is on the same ground as Julius and Augustus Caesar. It's thrilling and exciting, and seeing these artifacts and structures really enhances one's own understanding of the world as it once was and how that affects us today. And the castles!! The castles. Castles are awesome.
What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
? My sister and I travelled to Istanbul in November 2014 and on our first day, we visited the Grand Bazaar and were promptly terrified at the aggressive selling. The next day, we had a cooking class and our instructor gave us a tour of a small market and recommendations for other less tourist-y markets, and a fellow classmate gave us a wonderful recommendation for rugs. The other markets and rug seller were both great-we were able to browse and look at merchandise without getting shaken down, and we both ended up with unique Turkish rugs as a travel memento.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
First, make it a priority. Apply for an airline credit card-there are usually 25,000-50,000 mile bonuses when you sign up. 60,000 miles will get you almost anywhere in Europe on United. Be flexible-watch last minute sales on airline sites and you might catch a great fare to a place where perhaps you hadn't considered visiting before. If you want to visit Europe, Rick Steves' books are a must have-they are well-researched, organized, and the recommendations are always top notch.