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I blame my passion for travel on the exotic exchange students I met senior year of high school. Trendy and heavily accented, we use to hang out in the back of their American parents’ houses and exchange witty, sometimes unintelligible banter over drinks that they had been drinking for years back home. Legally, of course.

In my early 20s, I made it my mission to leave the continental US whenever possible. Why not see the good ole’ US of A, you ask? Because, as I told myself, I’d one day criss-cross the country in the family van seeing everything from the yarn ball of Iowa to the stone faces of Yosemite.

Once I started working post-college, I’d share my travel passion with folks older and wiser and in response I usually heard melancholy claims of “Do it now before you have real responsibilities” or “Travel while you can”. I never understood those claims, as travel and work never seemed mutually exclusive to me.

So, I continued to travel whenever possible.

What’s that – you have a buddy pass and want to go to Ireland for five days?

I’m in.

Planning on going to Catalonia for spring break?

Sicky sicky pow pow! Let’s see the snow of Andorra.

I truly believed that the time for “easy” travel – the days before wife, children (I’m not there yet!) and adult responsibilities – was within my reach and I intended to take full advantage of it.

BA obelisk @ sunset

And take advantage I did.

I managed to visit 40 countries within a five year span, an effort I’m still proud of today. But after a trip a few years back that took me through Eastern Europe, which found me bunking up with hostelers nearly a decade younger, I realized that my passionate for travel was evolving. I had experienced SO much in my trips to five continents but somehow I found myself less than fulfilled in a Krakow hostel, as I lay awake all night to sounds of youngins screaming as they went in-and-out of the thump-thump club across the alley.

Like a college football coach who lost one too many games and saw the end on the horizon, I knew my best hostelling days were behind me. On top of that, having had the chance to get so much of the travel “bug” out of me, I felt a burning desire to BUILD something enduring. Rather than just experience travel, I wanted to translate that passion and history into something I could show others.

Let me also preface these comments by throwing out a personal disclaimer. If I’m working, I’m a workaholic. If I’m travelling, I have to see EVERYTHING. My first big trip in Europe I managed to circumnavigate nearly the entire continent in 5 weeks. When I’m focused, I have to do it all. When I was in Thailand, I’d run into other people my age that had been on Koh Tao for months at a time. After 3 days on the island, I was bored. That’s just the kind of person I am.

So with this strange realization that I was getting on the north end of acceptable hostel age, I realized that I wanted to build a business that incorporated my passion for travel. My first attempt was a company that created travel posters incorporating all of the details of a great trip – itinerary, photos and maps. A great concept, but ahead of its time (I like to think).

logo-adroll

More recently, I took my experience in the apparel world and launched Hostel Dog. Hostel Dog has been the sweet spot for me. With tons of experience in design, digital marketing and web development, I don’t know why it took me so long to start the company. T-shirts aren’t brain surgery, I’ll be the first to admit, and the greatest byproduct of Hostel Dog has been the chance, no the excuse, to talk frequently with you guys, my fellow travelers. Hostel Dog for me was the confluence of all things I am good at, both professionally and personally.

With the launch of Hostel Dog I realized that it really is possible to take your passion for travel and infuse it more into your work life back home. Again, I was reminded of my thoughts years before about them not being mutually exclusive.

Based on my experiences over the years, I’ve come up with five possibly intelligent reasons on how you too can meld your professional and travel world just a bit more.

1. It’s all about framing: travel and work aren’t mutually exclusive. Realize that it’s possible to combine both successfully.

If you’re waiting to travel, figure out how to incorporate work into your upcoming trip. If you’re home after travelling, look for unmet needs for other people that are passionate about travel, like you.

2. Find professional support groups nearby to find others with complementary skills and vision.

Meetup.com is a great place to find a segment of folks interested in the same things you are. Your greatest strength is your knowledge of the travel world. Use Meetup.com to find the complementary skill sets you need to launch your business.

3. You’ve been to places and see things that most people can only dream of. Find a niche in the travel world and fill it.

Are you a lawyer who plans on travelling? Use your travel experience as a launch pad into a position in the international law field. Or even better, while travelling, set up meetings in law offices around the world and just start a conversation. Conversations never hurt.

4. Learn the basics of the digital marketing world.

When you’re away from home or if you’re building a travel-flavored business from home, communicating via blog, website, Twitter or Facebook is your most realistic means of communication. Learn the basics and don’t be shy about asking for help.

5. Take your professional aspirations on the road: partner with an outdoor apparel or travel business that needs pictures of their products in natural settings.

I spent a summer at Eagle Creek Travel Gear and we offered free gear and cash to a passionate traveler in exchange for photos of gear in subways from around the world. Those photos made their way to the website and in tons of company marketing materials.

Ultimately, I have been successful in bringing my travel passion into my work life because I am constantly looking at ways to incorporate it. Begin to think of your travel experience as a valuable asset and you’ll soon find yourself writing down business ideas left and write.

Good luck!

Garrett
HostelDog.com

garrett-hostel-dog-bandw

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