Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A Year of Traveling Savage

by Keith Savage · 34 comments

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Today is the one-year anniversary of Traveling Savage. It’s also my first weekday back in the States after a month in Argentina. The light doesn’t last long here, the snows are high, and I’ve managed to catch my first cold of the season – sounds like the perfect recipe for a little reflection and crystal ball-gazing.

Looking Back

I’d had years of quiet desperation. I was unfulfilled, stagnant, and successful in my corporate office job. This is one of the more sinister combinations of inner turmoil because, despite its presence, life still works and can be, in fact, comfortable. But somewhere along the road I’d left passion in the ashes.

Travel and writing. I realize, now, that I prevented myself from acknowledging these as my passions because I couldn’t see how they could be a legitimate career. So I spent weeks researching the possibilities. Countless Web sites and e-books provided the path to making a living off of a travel blog; this information sated my practical skepticism and I launched forward. Creating Traveling Savage was a rejection of those desperate years.

Since then, it has been a year of rehabilitation. My creative writing muscles atrophied in the long coma of office work, and the initial months of Traveling Savage represented my attempts to “move my legs,” to see if I could walk in this blog world, to see what I was capable of producing. And what about my voice? I knew I had something to say, I just didn’t know how it would sound. I scattered my words in the void and didn’t worry if anyone was reading them. As a beginning blogger, there’s a certain amount of delusion you’re okay with feeding yourself.

The more I wrote and read other travel blogs, the clearer my vision became. I realized that I valued cultural experiences and the personal growth that comes from traveling. I devised a travel plan that balanced my time abroad digging into cultures with time at home with my wife. While I waited for my departure date, I blogged about the philosophical side of travel and networked with the great travel blogging community.

And then I quit my job and spent a month in Argentina (more on this in future posts).

Looking Ahead

So what does the future hold? I’ve completed my first trip and stuck to all of my plans as outlined here, on this blog. Argentina provided me with ample time to ponder how I want to spend my time with this venture. After all, these travels of mine aren’t a vacation or a career break. They are a career build.

Given that, thoughts must ultimately turn to ways of making money. While I was originally seduced by the idea of selling massive amounts of advertising, writing for backlinks in article collectives, and creating link farms, I realized one sunny day in Salta that that type of work is neither what I want to do nor what I’m particularly good at. This doesn’t mean I won’t engage, to some degree, in these activities, just that given finite time and energy I will direct the bulk of my efforts elsewhere – to the craft of writing travel narratives.

I quit a lucrative job to do something I love. What kind of decision would I be making to throw myself into an unhappy grind for half of what I used to earn? A bad decision, that’s the kind.

The future Traveling Savage will be a lot like the old one, filled with thought-provoking essays on the nature of travel, sensory-laced travel narratives, and the occasional nuts-and-bolts logistical update and tip. In addition, you might see some experimental long-form essays as I use Traveling Savage as a portfolio of my work and as I spend more time writing for other outlets such as magazines. My ban on guest posts and sponsored posts will continue.

On the travel front, I’m continuing with my plans for one month at a time in destinations around the world. I’m currently in the process of choosing my next destination!

Is this a harder road toward financial sustainability? I don’t know; is there even a road here? Media outlets certainly are not short on publishable content. But if I’m going to give up financial stability to do something I love, then I’m going to do something I love. And you’ll hear it in my voice.

What do you think about my choices? Is there something you’d like to see more of on Traveling Savage? Less? Tell me in the comments!

AndiNo Gravatar December 29, 2010 at 6:07 PM

I think it is difficult to comment or judge someone else’s life decisions, but what I will say is that I am confident that your approach will lead you to a path that will bring you happiness.

PNR EnquiryNo Gravatar December 20, 2010 at 5:05 AM

Congrats on your blog birthday. I started a tumblr blog a few months ago, which has been a lot of fun, but now I’m starting to look into a real blog in earnest.

EviNo Gravatar December 15, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Great post, too bad I just found your blog as you finished up your first trip! Looking forward to the next one.

I too just quit a good job as a lawyer in the States to travel and write. I started a tumblr blog a few months ago, which has been a lot of fun, but now I’m starting to look into a “real” blog in earnest. (Unexpectedly have free wireless at my uncle’s apartment in Budapest where I’m spending a couple weeks before heading to India.) It’s overwhelming! There are so many fantastic blogs. I’ve decided I just need to take it a step at a time. First step – choose a web hosting company. I guess what I’m trying to say is, though it’s presumptuous of a total newbie, count me in on any unions you may have in mind!

Finally, for your next destination: Eastern Europe? Seems like there are few covering it, from my cursory, 72 hour review of the travel blogs I’ve stumble to.

MattNo Gravatar December 15, 2010 at 10:26 AM

I’m dealing with a cold / flu and am completely convinced it’s the result of Iowa’s sub zero wind chills. Needless to say that’s a shock for any body, especially one that just finished up two weeks in Southern Thailand!

Welcome home, and congrats on completing your first trip. I’m excited to follow you in the coming months!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 15, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Dude, me too. After a month in warm Argentina, it is FREEZING in Wisconsin right now. Thanks Matt, I’m doing a lot of reconfiguring as far as how I’m choosing destinations and what I’ll be doing there.

joshywashingtonNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Congrats on your blog birthday! May the best blog of last year be the worst blog of next year!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:16 PM

I like the sentiment, thanks Josh!

LauraNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Congrats to 1 year and completing your first “official” trip on the blog. Looking forward to reading what’s next.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Hey Laura, it feels good to have completed one of my trips (as odd as that may sound). I’m preparing a post on lessons learned and I’m eager to see my second trip improve upon these.

Jeff TiteliusNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Congratulations on a successful year, the first of many I am sure. Looking forward to seeing which path you choose at this crossroads and your enlightenment along the way!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:14 PM

Thanks Jeff, glad to have you along for the ride!

GrayNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I think you’ve made the right choice, Keith. I’ve never pictured you as the “link farm” type. I always assumed you’d be out there selling your writing to the biggie travel mags. I second the idea of a book!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:13 PM

The affirmations for my decision are encouraging – thanks Gray!

AndiNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Happy Anniversary!!! I think you should just follow what your heart says, it sounds like you’ve done a pretty good job of that thus far! I can’t wait to hear where your next month long trip is. I really do love your writing. I hope you write a book 1 day!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:05 PM

Now if I could just be sure my heart has a nose for money 🙂 Thanks Andi, I don’t think I can rightfully do anything BUT follow my heart here.

ClaireNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 9:39 AM

I applaud your choices and congrats on a year!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:04 PM

It went by really quickly!

JanetNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 7:08 AM

I think your choice is inspiring and more people should learn how to live! Money isn’t the be all end all. I’m proud to have seen your blog through in its infant stages. Interested/curious to see how this has worked for you as a career build. My year was sort of a break from career but now I’m starting to focus on build again…

JoAnnaNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 10:16 PM

Way to go, Keith! It sounds like it’s been a good, strong, growing year for you. Here’s to many more!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Thanks JoAnna, it has been a good year. Maybe the first year is the easiest?

JoAnnaNo Gravatar December 15, 2010 at 5:51 PM

I think every year is different. I’ve grown and changed every year in a different way, but I don’t know if I can say that any one year was easier than another.

Globetrooper ToddNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 9:18 PM

Congrats Keith. And, it was really enjoyable to catch up in Salta and BA. Lauren and I can certainly empathise re: cash flow. Maybe travel bloggers need to unite and do something on a grand scale. We’re all fighting our own small fights here in the blogosphere, but surely there’s an argument for joining forces. Don’t exactly know how, or for what, but it’s a start 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Maybe we should organize a travel blogger union or consortium. The main problem I see with a thousand small fights is that bloggers are undercutting each other and driving down the value of ad sales. There will always be someone who will sell an ad for less than you’re asking. Something to think about.

I also really enjoyed hanging out with you guys in Argentina. Totally blew away my expectations. You guys are warriors and I have little doubt you will succeed with Globetrooper.

AnnieNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Hi Keith! Congrats on your one year blog-iversary! Today is actually my 6 month! I’ve enjoyed your insightful posts and look forward to reading about your next destination and the decision process!! Good luck!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Hey Annie, congrats on six months. Those first six are a big milestone.

LauraNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Happy blog-iversary! And big congratulations of sticking to your plan so far… looking forward to what comes next!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 5:55 PM

It’s crazy to believe a year has passed. I’m looking forward to rolling out new posts, ideas, and products here on Traveling Savage. Thanks Laura.

AdamNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Oh yeah, congratulations on a year of blogging! You’ve done a helluva job in a year of doing this.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Thanks Adam-I won’t hesitate to say the same about your blog!

AdamNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Keith, I’m kind of in the same position as you. I know that I love writing and traveling, but how do I make a legitimate career out of it? Like you, I am starting to realize that “that type of work is neither what I want to do nor what I’m particularly good at.”

The cool thing about this whole travel blogging “business” is that it’s so new. We really are in on the ground floor of a new business, and there are going to be many different ways to make money. Some will work and provide a decent living. Some won’t.

As for the next destination, have you narrowed it down to a specific region or anything, or are you totally up in the air? I’m eager to see where your next adventure will take you.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 5:52 PM

In general, I think it’s a good thing that there’s no circumscribed way to make travel blogging work. This environment favors the creative, driven, and business-savvy bloggers, but those who lack in these departments will always be trailing those who don’t.

So, as much as I want to focus on writing, I will also need to dedicate significant mental energies toward breaking new ground: business propositions, partnerships, and products.

As for my next destination, I’ve pretty much got it picked out… 🙂

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