Going for it. Our 2014 surprise shift.

by Kim on January 18, 2014 · 139 comments

“Know this for sure: When you get the chance, go for it.” –Oprah Winfrey

It started with an innocent little message from an old co-worker I hadn’t heard from in years. It said, simply, Hi Kim, this sounds like something you might be interested in. There was a press release attached to the message.

BACKPACKER Magazine announces search for traveling brand ambassadors

BACKPACKER Magazine is currently searching for outdoor enthusiasts who exemplify a passion for travel, backpacking, gear and essential backcountry skills to host 50-60 retail presentations and to represent BACKPACKER and many of the top Brands in the outdoor industry at a handful of outdoor festivals all across the United States in 2014.

BACKPACKER will provide the tour vehicle, pay for the gas, cover your campsite and lodging expenses and even give you a paycheck. Sound like your dream job? That’s because it is your dream job!

“Brian, what do you think about this?” I said, sliding my laptop over so he could read the announcement. “Should we apply?”

He read over it silently once. Then twice. And then he said, just as sure as anything, “Yes.”

Because, you know what? It totally was our dream job.

Proof? We did apply, even though the last thing we were looking for was a job. We sent off our application right before the deadline, emailing it from Budapest before catching a flight the following morning to Vietnam.

That’s how we found ourselves, a few weeks later, giving a presentation at 11 p.m. from our hotel room in Hanoi to the Editor in Chief of Backpacker Magazine, the former Editor in Chief of Backpacker Magazine, the Get Out More Tour Coordinators and the rest of their team.

We were nervous. But who could we be but ourselves? Either they’d like the skills and stories we could bring to the job or they wouldn’t. And either way it was okay because no matter which way this year ended up pointing, it’d be good.

Maybe you guessed it?

We got the job. And in that whirlwind week that followed we flew from Phu Quoc Island back to the United States. On Monday we leave for Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. Then we’ll head back to Ohio to spend time putting our presentation together and preparing for the months ahead of us.

Crazy, huh?

It’s funny because when I sat down to write my goals for 2014 one thing I wanted to focus on was public speaking. I’ve dreamed for a while now of setting up some sort of powerhouse tour filled with the most inspirational and talented people I know. My goal was (still is!) to speak directly to others to encourage us all to go for the biggest parts of our own lives.

And while this isn’t exactly that, this will still let me tour the country and share something I love with the people I meet. Brian and I will be representing a badass outdoor magazine that I have read and loved for years. I’ll cut my teeth, learn about the touring circuit, and the paycheck doesn’t hurt either.

It’s funny too because Brian and I were recently talking about the future. We didn’t have any immediate plans to stop traveling but I wanted to discuss what the future might look like if one or both of us went back to traditional jobs.

Brian’s dream has always been to be a Park Ranger. So I asked him why he wanted to be a Park Ranger. Maybe he could find the things that appeal to him about the Park Ranger role in other jobs? Turns out that when he boiled it down what he really wants is to be outside, to encourage people to preserve the environment, and to teach people about the outdoors. Well, I guess he just landed the job he always hoped for.

I swear it’s like this gig was made for us!

Yellowstone National Park

All smiles on our 2012 U.S. road trip

We’ll give about two presentations a week all around the country March through September. Maybe we’ll even get to meet you! We’ll also be attending a few outdoor festivals but I don’t know the details yet. Otherwise, our job is to take all of the gear we’ll soon be learning so much about and head out into the U.S. backcountry to camp, hike and backpack all summer long. And of course, as always, I’ll still be writing, writing, writing.

We’re excited and nervous. It will be strange to be back in the U.S. for 8 months but we’ll still be traveling and that keeps the pilot light of our wanderlust burning. Even with our three-month U.S. road trip in 2012 there’s still so much of the country we haven’t seen. This is our chance to see it.

And after this new and exciting adventure around the U.S. is over? Who knows. Maybe we’ll come back to SE Asia (this is the second time we’ve arrived only to leave too soon). Then again, October is the perfect time to trek in New Zealand and Nepal. And then there’s this orphanage I’ve been dreaming of volunteering at in Tanzania. Plus, the beaches of Mexico are calling. I suppose we’ll have eight months to craft our next move.

So that’s it, a major change of pace for us in 2014 but one that we are both incredibly excited about. And of course we’ll be blogging as always, sharing our adventures in the U.S. outdoors.

When we know the Get Out More Tour schedule I will share it on the blog. May 2014 find many of our paths crossing.

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