It’s actually all my fault – or so my wife Carol Cain, aka Girl Gone Travel likes to say.
I had always told her that she should have a radio talk show or write a book due to her ability to re-frame seemingly insurmountable problems in a way that would make immediate sense to the person whom they concerned – and she’s always been a great storyteller.
Alas, it’s not easy to get a job as a radio talk show host and getting a book deal, well, we all know how easy that can be.
So, in 2008 when I was offered a job that would bring my family and I back to New York City from the Midwest, I knew that my wife, Carol, would be staying home with our kids. They were both too young to be in school yet and we could not afford to have them both in NYC daycare. I wondered what she would do with her time. Obviously our 2 active boys would keep her physically busy – but what would she DO? How would she keep her creative mind active and productive?
Neither Carol nor I were very familiar with what blogging was all about, but after discussing how she could stay busy using her aforementioned talents, we realized that blogging was the most accessible…anyone with access to the internet and the passion to write was welcome to tell their stories to the world. I encouraged Carol to start writing about her adventures with our 2 boys in New York City because I knew our families – in different parts of the world – would love to read about what we were up to in the greatest city in the world. NYCityMama.com was born.
At first that’s exactly what it was – Carol writing about going to the park, the zoo, Times Square (or wherever), taking pictures and telling the stories of the things they saw and did. All the while with our kids seeing the city with fresh eyes and a sense of wonder. Carol loved doing it and she started to get daily readers beyond just family members who loved her photos and her unique voice.
Through really hard work and the convergence of several factors her blog became more than just a personal diary – she won awards, she started tweeting and Facebooking. She made “best of” lists and was invited to sit on panels at conferences. As more opportunities started presenting themselves Carol realized that the experiences she enjoyed writing about most were food and travel. She worked really hard to shift the focus of her blog and it was working. Carol was starting to travel more and more. In 2012, NY City Mama became Girl Gone Travel.
Now that you know this whole blog thing happened due to my encouragement – you might ask (and I do get asked often), “How do you feel about it now that it has taken off?”, “How do you feel about your wife traveling all the time?”, “Do you get jealous?”, “Angry?” The answers in order: Proud, accepting, sometimes, not anymore.
I am really proud of Carol and what she has done with her blog. She is such a great writer and has become a really great photographer as well…but most of all she has worked her ass off.
She is a great example of the old adage: do what you love, work hard, and you will be rewarded. Carol has made her blog into what it is today – not by luck, but by loving what she does and really caring about the content. She has built a large following on twitter by carrying on real conversations, telling it like she sees it and doing it everyday.
When Carol started traveling more regularly – I have to admit it was hard for me. Especially when it’s somewhere I’ve never been; Scotland, Bordeaux (France), Parma (Italy), Anguilla, Spain, Croatia, Aruba, the list goes on and on.
There was an especially hard stretch when she went to Italy and Scotland within the span of a month. When she told me about this itinerary I was angry and sad. How could she go all these places without me? How dare she experience all these amazing things without me at her side? Doesn’t she realize that it’s not fair that she is traveling while I’m stuck here working and taking care of the kids? I couldn’t speak or come to grips with all the emotions I was having at that moment.
The turning point in our travel blogging journey came in September of 2011. I was turning 40 on the 7th of that month. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to make a fuss about anything. I don’t like a lot of attention and generally don’t make a big deal out of the fact that it’s my birthday. But, I was turning 40. It’s a milestone people generally celebrate. Carol told me that she was going to be going to Mexico that September. She would be leaving on September 7th.
I kept thinking in the back of my head that her story was just a cover up for a trip to Mexico we would be taking together…I mean this is my 40th birthday, she must be planning something. The 7th came – and she went. I was so sad I had to stay home from work that day. Carol and I skyped at some point during her stay in Mexico and I told her how upset I was about the fact that she had left on my birthday and that we hadn’t celebrated it at all really.
We fought. It was kinda ugly. But in the end it helped both of us put the travel blogging thing in perspective. She realized that she had gotten caught up in feeling the need to travel all the time to get content. I realized that I was going to have to develop a way to cope with her traveling because it was her job – getting that content.
Luckily Carol and I have a strong relationship and made it through that challenge. And to say that I and my family have not benefited from her career would be a big ‘ol lie. While she most often has to travel by herself – our family has been able to take so many great trips because of GirlGoneTravel.com.
Our family has been able to take so many great trips because of GirlGoneTravel.com.
Costa Rica, Colorado Ski trips, a Caribbean cruise, a 10-day European cruise, the Dominican Republic, Ireland, several 2-week road trips and so many trips to Disney World our kids have the layout of the Magic Kingdom memorized! And I haven’t even mentioned the convertible Camaro we were given for a weekend last year!It’s not always I get to travel with my wife, but when I do, it’s always an unforgettable experience. This was in Dublin, where she was invited to speak at TBEX, something which I am extremely proud of her for.
Would I say it’s become easier for me to deal with her travel schedule? Yes it has.
Would I say I’m 100% ok with her going all these places without me? No, I wouldn’t say that. But I have learned to cope with it by keeping in mind several things:
1. As much as it may seem like it to the casual observer – she is NOT on vacation. She is working. Her itineraries during these trips often start early in the morning and go until late at night. She has to make sure she is looking for stories, constantly taking photos, tweeting, Instagramming – using the correct hashtags. Then she goes back to her room and often responds to the hundreds of emails she gets a day and writes until she can’t keep her eyes open anymore.
2. I guess this could be a part of #1, but: This IS her job. Getting content for her blog and the others she writes for (she writes for Expedia Viewfinder and Forbes Travel Guide as well) is what she is required to do. Cool job? Yep – it sure is – but it is a job.
3. She loves me with all her heart. And I love her with all mine. I know I can trust her and she can trust me. This is crucial. If this wasn’t the case we would both go crazy. I also know that she would be having more fun if I was there with her. 🙂
4. It makes Carol a happy, creatively fulfilled person. This benefits our whole family.
5. As I stated above – sometimes I and/or our family get to go along with her!
She loves me with all her heart. And I love her with all mine. I know I can trust her and she can trust me. This is crucial.
In short, I can see that her career as a blogger has been a boon for Carol, but it has made all of our lives richer. We have seen and experienced so many things because of it – I can’t even count them all. So, while I sometimes need to stop looking at her Instagram feed because I just can’t stand seeing another photo of her on a white sand beach eating lobster fresh from the ocean – I’ve learned to stop worrying about it and love her blog.