I spent this past Sunday evening planning my ‘Round The World’ trip on Star Alliance. Please note that I did not purchase my ticket, I only planned. On my itinerary? Santorini, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Barcelona, Florence and on. So, what contributed to my sudden urge to indulge in my wanderlust? Jenny McIver and her travel site, RTWin30days.com. Jenny has managed to have a full-time career, with ESPN, while taking adequate time to visit over 120 countries and help others plan their own trips. All in all, she’s taken 7 Round the World trips. She plans to take her 8th in January 2013. Each trip spans 30 days and she works remotely.
Her brazen determination to travel has inspired many, some who never thought they’d have the time or money to take a trip, and others who are continually on the hunt for their next adventure, to make giant leaps forward in their exploration of the world. And, as fate would have it, her commitment to do what she loves has turned into an unlikely business venture that may just continue to expand.
So, what advice does Jenny have for those looking to balance work and their love for travel? Keep reading!
How did your RTW in 30 days website begin?
I took my first trip around the world 7 years ago. It was meant to be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip and, though I’d never really written anything before, I wanted to keep a journal of the trip. I used a website called MyTripJournal.com which allows travelers to keep an online journal of their travels. The next year when I decided to do another RTW trip, I continued using the MyTripJournal site but by the 3rd year I realized this was going to be an annual event and I needed to transition to my own site where I could better control the content. The one thing that made my travels unique from other RTW travelers/bloggers is that I managed to maintain a career at home while working short (by RTW standards) month-long trips into my schedule. Thus the name, “Round the World in 30 Days.”
RTW has expanded into a travel advice guide of sorts. Did you imagine or intend for the website to take on this scope?
Not really. At first the blog was merely intended to keep my friends and family up to date on my travels and provide me with a written journal of my travel experiences. With each RTW trip, the readership circle continued to expand to the point where the site began to attract travelers planning their own RTW trips and looking for advice. I love giving readers advice on RTW tickets, destinations, etc. I remember how much guidance I needed when I was planning my first trip. You’d be surprised how many people have done one RTW trip but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else who’s done seven! I’m also proud to say that the website has even inspired people to start planning a RTW trip. That’s my ultimate goal. To get people who never even dreamed of taking a trip like this to realize that it’s not a crazy idea. Anyone can do it and you don’t have to quit your job, sell your house and take off for a year for a RTW trip to be worthwhile. You really can fit the trip of a lifetime into your life.
How open have resorts and travel organizations been to partner?
Companies are really just starting to recognize the power of bloggers as a marketing medium. I attended a travel bloggers conference (TBEX) this summer with travel heavy hitters like Expedia and American Express in attendance and looking to partner with bloggers. TBEX is only 4 years old and this was my 2nd year attending. The corporate interest in that conference has exploded in the past year or two and it continues to grow as destinations and travel-related companies begin to see concrete, measurable results from their work with bloggers. I am currently in talks with a company that would be my dream sponsor and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to work out a deal soon.
You’ve managed to build an incredible lifestyle where traveling is a priority and financially feasible. How would you suggest someone with two weeks best utilize their vacation time?
It really is all about your priorities in life, isn’t it? For me, travel is obviously a priority. I carve out time in my schedule for it. Something I’ve learned, though, is that the main reason most people think they can’t take more than two weeks off is because they’ve never asked to take more than two weeks off. In the U.S. it’s just assumed that two weeks in the norm and it can’t be exceeded. However, if you want to plan a big trip, there are lots of alternatives. Some companies offer sabbatical time or try combining vacation time with telecommuting to extend your days away from the office. It’s possible to work from anywhere; I work daily on every trip. And as I like to say…why work from home when you can work from Rome?
But if you absolutely can’t get more than two weeks, a RTW trip is still well-worth the effort. A RTW ticket is the single most efficient way to see more of the world in less time and they’re not as expensive as you think. How much can you really see in just two weeks, you ask? Here’s a two-week snippet from the middle of my first RTW trip:
Cape Town, South Africa – Cairo, Egypt – Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Agra, India – Bangkok, Thailand – Phuket, Thailand – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
During those two weeks, I hiked Table Mountain, took a safari, rode a camel around the Pyramids, snorkeled in the Red Sea, spent a night at the world’s only 7-star hotel in Dubai, marveled at the Taj Mahal, explored the gleaming temples of Bangkok and the pristine beaches of Phuket and visited the Petronas Towers. So what can you see in just two weeks? More than some people see in their entire lives.
What’s been key in building your life as an entrepreneur?
Paying my dues early on. Right out of college I spent 7 years working back-to-back jobs with 80-hour weeks and very little pay. I didn’t have the time or money to travel and I didn’t dwell on it. But it was those years that allowed me to make the connections that ultimately led to starting my own business in 2000. Since then, one thing I’ve learned about having my own business is that I’m never on vacation. That may sound ridiculous since most people think I’m always on vacation but when you’re a company of one – the office is always open. Of course, that office may be an overwater bungalow in Tahiti…but it’s open.
In all of your travels, what’s your all time favorite destination?
Tough question! But one that I get a lot. If I had to choose one country, it would be Thailand with New Zealand and Greece as a close tie for 2nd. I’m a big fan of islands, especially in the South Pacific, and I’ve visited some incredible ones like Easter Island, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. My next big travel goal is Antarctica.
Three things: My family & friends, my health and my U.S. passport. My family and friends are the primary reason I have no desire to travel the world for a year like most RTW travelers do, I would miss them too much! Without my health, I wouldn’t be able to travel to many of the places I’ve gone. So many people take that for granted, but I don’t. And never underestimate the power of a U.S. passport. It’s an all-access pass to see the world and I’m thankful to have it.
Thank you, Jenny!
Even if traveling isn’t a priority in your life, Jenny’s journey is proof that one can plan for and have the life they want.
If you’d like to read more about Jenny’s travels, get information/advice about planning your own trip, or just take a welcome break from your day, please find the information for RTWin30Days below.
And, as always, be thankful.
RTW in 30 Days Website: www.RTWin30days.com
Star Alliance Trip Planner: Just in Case…