That title is beyond nauseatingly cheesy, but there’s really no other way to put it. Discovering travel hacking has had a huge impact on where I am right now. Three years ago, I was working in the research department of a health management organization. I was a year and a half into my first job out of college and though I had told myself I would be out of there in less than a year, I continued to wake up every morning before the sun was up and prepare for my 1.5 hour daily commute.
Standing on the platform at the BART station and waiting on the train every morning, I felt like a lamb being taken to the slaughterhouse. It was pure torture and because it was so depressing, it killed my spirit, my ambition, and anything else that would have motivated me to look for another job. I had a lunatic supervisor who worked out her middle school dodgeball complex on me, a lovely boss who exacerbated the situation by praising me in front of said lunatic, and this feeling of failure and defeat that is tough for someone who was as ambitious as I was my whole life.
My dad recognized my need for a change in scenery and called me at work one day, telling me to ask for time off because we were going to Kabul in less than two weeks. That trip completely changed my point of view. I had never felt so at peace as I did in Kabul. On the return, I knew I needed to make some change. I’ve always been fiercely independent and nothing has given me a greater sense of accomplishment than building something on my own. This 9-5 thing just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
Around the same time, I stumbled upon an NPR article about the US mint deal, which launched me into the travel hacking game. Being the hustler that I am, I was fascinated by the possibilities this opened up. People around me thought it was a scam, but when I pulled off a family trip to Afghanistan, Dubai, and Istanbul in the summer of 2012, they began to take notice and ask for advice. Yes, I’m one of those people who started blogging because I wanted to share my tips with friends and family. No, I didn’t realize how lucrative the credit card affiliate aspect was.
A company took notice of my new blog and offered me a guest posting gig on one of my favorite blogs, Frugal Travel Guy. Soon after, I was offered a job to manage said blog, which was unreal. A year and a half later, it’s my last day of work with no back-up plan – my own choice. I’m a hustler and I thrive when I’m out of my comfort zone. So what’s next? For starters, I’m not looking to become a full-time blogger and make a living from this. Not because it isn’t possible but because as a workaholic, my work needs to be meaningful on a bigger level. Plus, you know the saying, “When a man marries his mistress, he leaves a job vacancy”? Well, when a travel hacker turns her hobby into a job, she does the same. It no longer becomes fun.
For the time being, I’m going to take it easy and do some freelance writing and continue maintaining this blog. I’ve got a 20 page document on my desktop with ideas (products, businesses, books) I’ve been documenting for the past five years. It’s time to finally knock some of those things off my list, which I’m looking forward to doing.
Had it not been for my discovery of the travel hacking world, I would be in that same office building I was in three years ago, feeling hopeless and trapped. Now, I feel optimistic and at peace. Learning about this hobby, building this blog, writing, and having people be so supportive pulled me out of the depressed state I was in and gave me something to be passionate about. It’s because of that experience that I’m now confident and excited about venturing out on my own.
I’d love your feedback about how this hobby has affected you, if at all.
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