Welcome to the new iteration of Chasing the Unknown!
If you’re reading this on the website, you can see that things look a bit different. If you’re reading this in email, please click over to see the changes! Not only was I ready for an updated look, I wanted to make this site a proper home for a business: one that I can be proud of and excited about. Writing this post is hard for me as I’m going to ask for your help and I’ve never been good at that. Before I do, I want to tell you about the business and how I wound up here. It’s a fairly long read so I hope you’ll stick with me.
TL;DR: Customized travel planning for the educated consumer, busy professional, and anyone who wants a great vacation. Please let me help plan your next vacation and spread the word that I’m here to help!
When I set up this site, I thought it possible that someday I’d want to monetize it. I bought the domain and sunk a little money into making it look halfway respectable. Over the years I’ve sunk more money and an inordinate amount of time into it but somewhere along the way, I realized I didn’t want to monetize the blog. I don’t want ads here and I wasn’t interested in taking sponsored trips and writing about them just so I could make a few bucks. In short, I wasn’t interested in being a travel blogger. I do, however, want to help people travel. In the most practical way I know how: by being a travel agent.
Fresh out of college I worked for a travel agency. Office politics aside, I loved the work. Helping people take the vacations and trips they’d been dreaming of or the weekends away they needed, it was great. Piecing together the puzzles of airfare, accommodation, ground transportation, and what to do while they were away was fun. Post 9/11 the industry changed and my life went in a different direction. Fast forward more than a decade to 2013. I was practicing law in a large firm, had weathered various health issues, and had become a person my younger self would not have recognized. I knew that law was no longer the right career for me but I didn’t know what was. When events at work became too much to bear, I quit. I had no idea what I would do next but I knew I couldn’t carry on as I was.
Later that year I set off to travel with my now ex-wife. The first post on Chasing the Unknown states we thought we’d be gone at least 15 months. Not everything went as well as we’d hoped. Right around the 12-month mark, she flew back to the U.S. and I continued traveling. Our separation and subsequent divorce were mutually agreed but that doesn’t change the fact that I felt completely untethered. I had no career, no home, no partner, and no idea what to do next. So for six months, I traveled solo and had the time of my life. The eighteen months since then have been a rollercoaster. I returned to the US in the spring of 2015, 18 months after I left. I spent time with family and friends, tried out the idea of living in Colorado, attended a conference that inspired me but also left me feeling inadequate and aimless. Being in the U.S. stresses me: the constant news and media bombardment, the societal pressure to lead a normal life. The joy I’d found during my months of solo travel disappeared.
So I left again, willing to run down my savings even more if it meant finding my way back to happiness. And it did. Until it didn’t. For a while it’s fun to wake up without needing to report to work or otherwise be productive. But the more time that passed, the more I knew something was missing. My life had no purpose. I was offering nothing to other people. I didn’t want to return to the law and I couldn’t identify anything that I could offer the world. It was depressing.
Throughout these last 18 months, I’ve devoted untold hours to trying on different hats: should I be a copywriter? Try to make money as a travel writer? Should I look for quasi-legal work with an NGO in a part of the world I care about? I studied, I talked with people, I researched opportunities and income potentiality. Ever the studious nerd, I did my homework. What I realized is that I found my career at the age of 21. I’m a travel agent. I love helping people travel. I love planning vacations. I believe in the power of travel, especially for those who have full-time jobs and need to get away. I know what it’s like to not have time to plan a trip or the energy to make decisions while on it. I spent my 30th birthday on a cruise because it was easy and my blackberry wouldn’t have a signal. I came home heavier and mentally checked out. It was fun but it wasn’t the vacation I needed.
A vacation should be restful, yes. It should also be memorable and energizing. You should return home with a different perspective, if not about the world then about your own life or some part of it. Studies have shown that vacations can lower your risk of heart disease, improve mental health, your immune system, your sex life, your quality of sleep, increase your productivity at work, and build stronger relationships. Vacations that take you out of your comfort zone – that go beyond lounging on the beach with a cocktail day after day – build synapses and memories.
Planning trips like that takes time, expertise, and contacts. Hours can disappear reading TripAdviser reviews and comparing prices across different websites. And ultimately, a fair amount of guesswork is involved. I want to help. I like putting in the time. I have a network of connections around the world and personal experience traveling in more than 60 countries. On top of that, I belong to a network of agents who can fill in the gaps. I want people who are working long hours in stressful jobs to have vacations that send them back to work with new ideas and perspectives. I want that for people working less stressful jobs, too, of course. I want to make vacations great.
How you can help…
For the first time in a long while, I’m passionate about something. But to succeed in this, I need your help. In order for me to help others have incredible vacations, I need people to help. If you’re planning a vacation (and that includes cruises and packages – there’s a time for those in our lives and I’m happy to help you get the best value possible), please get in touch and let me help you. If you know someone who’s planning a vacation, please send them a link to this site or any of my social media pages. Share this post or my monthly newsletter or any of my other writings. Your support would mean the world to me.
In many instances, booking with me will cost the same as it would if you booked your trip directly. You’ll have the added benefit of knowing that I or one of my colleagues will be a phone call or email away to help if something goes wrong while you’re on vacation. In some situations, I charge a fee for my services. I’m upfront about those fees and work hard on your behalf to earn them. The work I do should save you time and stress and it should add value to your trip.
Please, take a few minutes to check out the new content and design of Chasing the Unknown. The blog is still there and I’ll keep posting to it. I don’t know how many more posts will include personal narratives. If you’re looking for those, follow me on Medium where I write about transitioning from backpacking to becoming a digital nomad and anything else that I feel like sharing. Regardless whether you or someone you know comes to me for travel planning, I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my journey.
I’m excited about this next chapter of my life and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for coming along.