Lost Girl of the Week: Liz Behler

Lost Girl of the Week — By on June 15, 2011 at 7:00 am

After realizing how little time a full time travel editor got to actually travel, Liz Behler decided to quit her job. She’s currently four months into a year-long journey that will take her to six continents. Follow along on her blog (link: http://www.thetravelbeast.com/) and Twitter (link: http://twitter.com/thetravelbeast).

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For me, travel wasn’t only a passion, it was my job. And it was a combination of the two that helped me make the decision to leave everything behind and travel for one year.

As the features editor for a travel website, I was paid to think up and help execute story ideas that would inform, guide, and inspire others to take vacations, meanwhile taking very little time off for myself.

While we covered a wide range of topics in the travelsphere, significant chunks of my work life was spent reading, editing, and finding photos for daydream-inducing pieces on topics like secret beaches and travel fantasies. I worked on these articles from my cubicle, wishing I could work under a palm tree instead. After putting in a full day at the office, I would head home and read other travel sites and magazines. My passion made me good at my job, but it also made me anxious to be in the world instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.

One of the earliest articles I worked on was about people who quit their jobs to travel. I found and interviewed ten people who had taken the leap, asking them questions about their decisions, their experiences, and if they had any regrets. Overwhelmingly, not one person I talked to had any regrets about leaving everything behind. They all agreed that their decision had made their life better, personally and even professionally. Taking an extended trip around the world had always been a dream, but it had never seemed so possible.

I began saving, and a year and a half later I put in my notice. The decision to quit was not an easy one. I couldn’t help but feel that leaving behind a highly coveted, stable job in a faltering economy to spend my entire life’s savings was a risky move.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized taking this trip was not a choice. It was something necessary, for the growth of myself and my career.

Only four months in and I’ve traveled throughout eight countries on three continents. I rode horseback through the Pampas with Argentinean cowboys, hiked through the Brazilian rainforest, fed micro monkeys in Rio, climbed Mt. Vesuvius and walked the ruins of Pompeii, hiked through mountain-top vineyards in Cinque Terre, rode camels through the Sahara, visited ancient casbahs in Morocco, and picnicked in nearly every park in Paris.

And the trip isn’t even half over. Next I’m heading to Ireland where I’ll work on a farm, before flying to Thailand to work with elephants and learn how to cook Thai food. Bali and Australia are also on the list of places to explore before the year is out.

Lucky for me, travel is still my job, only in a different way. I keep track of my journey on my website, thetravelbeast.com, and have landed some freelance work. And depending upon where I am, it’s quite possible you could find me working under a palm tree.

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