For many, unexpected life-changing twists can drum up fear and anxiety crippling one’s sense of forward drive…
For Robin Esrock however, it’s precisely this sort of event that brought him to quit his job, pack up his things – or life – and set onto the path of the undiscovered, with the world as his new playground and extraordinary adventures at his fingertips.
Curious to know how this renowned travel writer and bucket list expert got to where he is now? Read on…
What fuelled me most is a pathological curiosity, and the belief that the people who say it can’t be done should just get out of the way of the people doing it.
▹ Your journey as a well-known travel writer started somewhat unexpectedly. At the time, it must have been daunting and exciting. Looking back, what are your thoughts?
▸ I had bought a scooter to liven things up a little, zipping about the traffic in downtown Vancouver, easy to find parking for all the shows I had to attend (I worked in artist development for a music agency). One morning an unlicensed driver didn’t see a stop sign and drove through an intersection. I managed to brake just in time to smash into the side door, breaking my kneecap in the process. I call that the luckiest break of my life. It set off the chain of events that led to me travel, most notably with a $20,000 insurance settlement. Not winning the lottery by any stretch, but the incident was a major wake-up call about what I wanted to accomplish in life, and the cash was a painfully earned gift to enable me to actually get out there and do it.
▹ Can you share a memory from your travels that you often revisit?
▸ So many people, so many places, so many adventures, so many escapes and wonders and inspiring moments. The memories are legion and warm me like a comforter. I often recall not so much a particular memory but an overall sense of being lost and alone and therefore perfectly positioned to capture what I see and share it.
▹ What brought you to share your travels with the world and how did you navigate the digital world of travel journalism?
▸ I’d always kept travel journals, but never forgot the heartache when a good friend of mine lost his treasured travel journal in a backpack theft. Blogs were just starting to be a thing in 2005, and seemed like a platform to not only capture my travels, but make sure the images and words remain safe. I had done some web development out of college, so hand-coded every page, which was a lot of work in addition to the writing and photographing. But it created an impressive resume of my talent for capturing impressive experiences. Although for all its advantages, digital has come with a myriad of challenges, removing many of the traditional media filters for quality.
▹ What is the biggest misconception you come across regarding your work?
▸ That I’m on a permanent holiday. Sure, there are perks, as with any job, but there’s a lot of grunt work behind the scenes. Another misconception is that anyone can do it, and if you love travel, you can do travel media.
▹ You’ve worked in TV, Print, Web, to publishing your own book. How did you navigate all of these different channels and how do you create a coherent voice across channels?
▸ It was really important to create a voice and stick to it. Fortunately, that voice is my own. I’ve just followed my gut and used my voice and entered each new medium with the same sense of wonder and curiosity. Some mediums suit my voice better than others, and with the splintering of media, those are the ones I focus on.
▹ Take us way back. What were you like growing up? What fuelled you?
▸ Green and red juice, which were these high sugar concentrate cordials alleging to be cream soda (green) and raspberry (red) flavours. No organic, cold-pressed juices for us in the 1970’s! Lord knows what they put in those drinks, but it might have had something to do with the fact I couldn’t sit still as a child, and still can’t. What fuelled me most is a pathological curiosity, and the belief that the people who say it can’t be done should just get out of the way of the people doing it.
▹ What’s the toughest part of your job?
▸ Pitching. You can’t get what you don’t ask for, but the constant asking gets tiresome.
▹ What brought you to Mentorly? Have you been mentored before
▸ Mentoring is crucial, and along my career, I’ve had some crucial people come along who’ve given me a boost when I need it. Often, it’s just a small piece of advice that goes a long way… or hearing something rephrased in a way that makes it click. In my industry, there are various media organizations that strive to mentor new writers, although things have changed so quickly that so many of the old rules no longer apply.
▹ Can you share some advice for writers who are eager to adopt the nomadic lifestyle and get their work noticed?
▸ There’s a ton of resources out there, and Digital Nomadism has become really popular. If you look for it, you’ll probably find it.
Watch Robin’s TEDx talk to learn more about his incredible journey!
Click HERE to book your session with Robin and learn how to pursue your dream job!