One Story Ends, Another Begins: A Farewell Message to You
Today’s post on this blog will be one of my last for the foreseeable future. I’ll be taking an extended hiatus from travel blogging while I move on to the next step in this blogging journey. To many of you, this may come as a sudden surprise and opens up many questions. I’d like to spend the rest of this post answering them.
First, I’m not going away entirely. AdventuresWithBen.com will still remain online and you can continue to find me on my facebook and twitter accounts. I’ll still reply to comments, emails, tweets and however else you find me. I just won’t be publishing new content on a regular basis.
And no, I haven’t grown tired of travel. I’ve only scratched the surface of discovering all the places I would like to visit. As you read this, I’ll be preparing for a trip to Costa Rica, a long overdue trip. And in 2013, there’s a good chance I’ll be back in Hawaii for both business and pleasure and a family trip to South Africa should round out the year. Oh, and did I mention Peru in 2014?
And yes, my health is fine.
So why am I taking a break from blogging? There are a few reasons…
The Next Step Would Be…
I’ve been blogging for three and a half years and have seen steady growth in traffic, revenue and partnerships in travel. What started as a fun way to share my travels and stay connected with my family and friends, has become a real business that has exceeded my wildest imagination. Between writing posts, editing photos and video, authoring a newsletter and visiting all sorts of places, I spend a lot of time running this site. I could argue, maybe too much time. Somehow, I fit it all in around a full-time job that has me on the road every month.
I’ve done, just about all I can do at this moment in time. The next logical leap in this journey would be to pursue this full time; Traveling more frequently, writing more often and building even more relationships with industry insiders. Many bloggers currently do this full time, and while I do find that lifestyle appealing, I also have other projects I’d like to work on. It’s not the career I want.
The most immediate project of mine is a new, local website Orlando Water Hole. It will start as a podcast about the people, places, things and events that shape the Orlando Community. Think of it like a Piers Morgan Tonight take on Orlando, just without the accent and focus on “hard news” (maybe it’s more Oprah-like).
In any event, Orlando is a unique city in that many of it’s residents aren’t from around here. As such, the feeling of “home” and “belonging” we feel towards the communities we grew up in, doesn’t feel as strong here in Orlando – at least that’s how I’ve felt. Since Orlando is my home, I’d like to change that perception and feeling. I’d like to play a role in creating the community I had longed for, for so many years. So I’d like to blog about the Orlando community and be the change that I want to see (without trying to sound too lofty or egotistical).
I’ve tried launching several sites in the past. Some of you may remember my first podcast experiment, Florida Travel Cocktail, last year. But if there’s anything I’ve learned managing more than one website, it’s that it’s really tough to manage more than one website and do either of them well.
So I need all my energy, time, attention and resources focused on Orlando Water Hole to make it successful.
But the blog is just phase one.
For the past year or so, I’ve become more and more interested in opening up a real, brick and mortar business. Over the summer, I celebrated the payoff of my car loan three years ahead of schedule. And just last week, I paid off my student loan about five years ahead of schedule. Over the next year or so, I’ll be squirreling away the savings to invest into this business idea of mine.
Now you’re probably wondering what it is I have in mind. And while I’m not ready to share publicly what it will be, the idea is to parlay the digital community building from Orlando Water Hole into a physical space and experience. I’m so early in the planning stages that I truly have no idea what I could be getting myself into, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from travel, it’s that sometimes you just have to jump (like from out of a plane, into shark infested waters or off a bridge).
Mark Twain once said,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I want to take this risk. To see what could happen. To avoid looking back in the future and asking, “what if”.
So if this business is to work, I have to eliminate distractions. And as much as I have relished all the opportunities travel blogging has brought me, and how sad I am to see it end (for now), it’s the right decision.
A Word of Thanks
I started writing this blog for me, my family and friends. But then more of you started to read it, so I started writing for you too. But then you became much bigger than I imagined. “You” came from 190 countries and territories and left over 300,000 impressions on the site. I think it’s a staggering reach for a guy who just wanted to share silly videos of him dancing in a hotel lobby.
This summer I had the opportunity to work with Expedia.com, one of the biggest brands in travel and you helped me get there. You voted for me in the Ultimate Thailand Explorers competition, took the time to write comments to my posts, sent me tweets and emails and even made arrangements to meet in person. Nothing on this site would have been possible without your participation, encouragement and engagement.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming along on this journey with me.
For my Travel Blogging friends, I’ll still subscribe and read your posts and talk to you online. And if the opportunity presents itself, perhaps I may guest post on your site? I’d still love to continue to learn from what you do and stay connected.
And for everyone else, there’s a chance, when the time is right, my travel writings will resume. So if you’d like to know when they do, be sure to become a fan on Facebook and sign up for my newsletter. In the meantime, here are the top travel blogs I recommend reading.
Do Extraordinary Things
I recently spoke at a travel conference in Los Angeles and shared the vision I developed for this site. The irony is, it took me about three years to really nail it down, and now that I have, it’s time to move on. If there’s any message I want you to remember, it’s this.
Do Extraordinary Things.
We only have one life, with an end time we just don’t know. We live on a rich planet with diverse ecosystems, delicious foods, welcoming people, moments that can take your breath away and limitless opportunities. There is no time like the present to get started and experiencing it all.
Wherever life may lead you, whatever choices you make, I hope, it’s extraordinary.
I’ll see you out there…!