Like many well-traveled people, the idea of blogging had long been camping out in the dark, neglected recesses of my mind. I’d been encouraged to do it on numerous occasions, especially on my longer sojourns, and even gave it a half-hearted effort once while on a two-month road trip across the United States. My best friend Molly and I chronicled our adventures on a very rudimentary blog with no intention or expectation that our story would be read by anyone other than family and friends who wanted to make sure we were having fun and hadn’t yet murdered each other after spending so much time together in a small car.
I’m not even sure that my mom read it.
Six years later, it took losing a job I loved, grinding through the employment search process, and finally being offered an exciting position in Philadelphia for me to realize what I truly wanted out of a career, and what would actually make me happy.
I wanted a place where I could share my experiences, in the hope that the lessons I’ve learned and the places I’ve visited can inspire and assist others in making their travel dreams a reality.
I wanted a platform to be able to share the stories of people who inspire me, from those who have pursued careers overseas to those who fit incredible voyages into “normal” lives.
I wanted an opportunity to use my talents to serve those who might need them, people for whom the thought of taking a vacation is met with just as much anxiety and overwhelm as it is excitement.
I wanted this.
I wanted Full Life, Full Passport.
In the spring of 2017, I was informed that my position creating and executing technology implementation events for a certain “fruit company” (as my dad called it) was being phased out. I was devastated. Anyone who has lost a job can probably relate to the grief, uncertainty, and fear that comes with such a sudden change. You saw your life and career going in one direction (in my case setting goals for the next quarter and year in my job, purchasing a house, starting a family), and then suddenly everything you thought you knew and were working toward has been called into question.
I was fortunate to pick up some freelance work that allowed me the time to really examine what I wanted out of my next career move. As I scoured the web, networked through friends, and sent resumes into the abysses of HR departments, one thing became very clear: what would make me happiest would be to be able to help people achieve their travel goals and vacation dreams. When people would ask, “Well, what’s your dream job?”, my response would always sound something like, “I would love to just be able to plan trips for people.”
A few months later, I received a very promising job offer in Philadelphia. It had a lot of great things going for it: a new company where I could have a strong influence in creating my role and its processes, a job description that hit on many of my strengths, an opportunity to grow and be challenged in a new and exciting way, and a female president and vice president in whom I could already see the promise of great colleagues and mentors.
So why was I so unexcited about it?
The decision as to whether or not to accept the job was a difficult one. In the end, my husband (whom I will call M on this site), sat me down and presented me with a notebook with three distinct sections written out. The first held Scripture verses and Biblical references related to decision-making. The second was more fill-in-the-blank; I was to make a list of pros, a list of cons, and a list of the potential lifestyle impacts that would come from taking the job before ultimately calculating whether it was a net positive or net negative. I was told I was not allowed to look at the third section until after I had made my decision.
When I finally decided to turn down the offer, M showed me the third section. In it, he had sketched out a rough three year plan for starting a travel blog.
Yes, of course I started crying.
It was as if I needed something as great as the Philly job to come along to show me what I really wanted and propel me headlong into it. Suddenly, I had answers to all of the arguments in my head that used to hold me back.
Everyone and their mother is a blogger nowadays. What makes you any different?
Maybe, but I now recognized that I have a unique perspective, a heart for serving others through travel, deep first-hand knowledge of some pretty popular destinations, and a killer network of people with even more experience and knowledge than me.
What would you even write about? There’s no way you could generate enough content.
Suddenly, the ideas came pouring out of me. Highlight reels of places I’d visited. Essays on relevant travel issues. How-to guides for planning, organizing, and packing. Resources to maximize PTO and minimize the stress of going back to work. Itineraries for shorter versions of trips I’d taken. Alaska everything.
But what if you fail miserably?
I might. Some do. But worse than failure would be to never know if I could have succeeded. And if not now, when? Who am I to say the job I loved wasn’t taken away for such a time as this?
So welcome. Welcome to the product of months of planning, writing, research, discussions, prayers, and the steep learning curves of website building.
Welcome to Full Life, Full Passport.
This website is not a nonstop chronicle of my own adventures across the globe. I learned a long time ago that there is a big, important part of me that values putting down roots and having a place to call home. While my wanderlust is always an arm’s length away, waiting for any opportunity to strike and whisk me off to the airport, the fact remains that I spend more time in our suburban apartment than a mountain chalet or oceanfront bungalow.
Instead, Full Life, Full Passport is meant for people who may not want or be able to sell everything and hit the road permanently, but still want to have incredible experiences with the precious time off that they have. It’s geared toward those for whom travel planning is overwhelming or stressful, so they could use a little help. It’s aimed at folks who love to dream about the big, beautiful world at their doorsteps and need some practical help in getting out there.
I hope that this blog will be less “look what I’ve done!” and more “look what you can do!” I also have a lot of plans, itineraries, interviews, and services to roll out that I can’t wait to share with you as we move forward together.
So, thank you. Thank you for visiting Full Life, Full Passport. Thank you for reading to the bottom of this post. Thank you for helping make this passion project possible. I hope that this website becomes a great resource (and great bit of entertainment!) for you, and I hope that when it misses the mark or when you have expertise to add you’ll let me know.
As a little girl growing up in a rural, homogenous county in central Pennsylvania, I never could have imagined that thirty-one-year-old me would have already crossed twenty-five countries and forty-five U.S. states off her list. I can’t wait to help you achieve the adventures that you never thought possible.
So happy that you have been able to take a step back and further delve into your true passion. Absolutely loved the journal story! Great job M! Looking forward to reading the many more posts about trip planning and your adventures! This girl from suburban NY loves to travel too!
Thank you so much, Marisa, and thanks for being my first ever blog commenter! I hope that you enjoy the content that is to come and that you’ll let me if you and that hubby of yours could use any help with your own adventures! Miss you!
Actually… we need to book our vacation to Europe this summer! We weee thinking of going around he Mediterranean. Have you explored that area? And what are some of your tips for savings without cutting quality (I have a husband that love luxury!)?
Oooh, how exciting! I haven’t been to the Mediterranean yet myself, but it’s definitely up there on the priority list.
One of my biggest tips for cutting costs is to travel outside of peak season if it works for you. Months like May and October can still be really beautiful without the crowds and price tags of June, July, and August. If you’re committed to the summer, I would suggest setting up some price tracking with Google Flights (https://www.google.com/flights/) or use Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights. It also might make sense to prioritize what sort of luxuries hubby expects – can you do more self-catering to save money on eating out, then put that extra cash toward an awesome hotel? Can you do an AirB&B and then put the money you save toward amazing dinners?
It also might make sense to make sure that you’re using a credit card that gets great cash back on travel, so that when you do splurge you’re getting rewarded for it!
I would also subscribe to the TravelZoo Top 20 email that goes out every week and keep an eye out for Mediterranean deals.
Let me know if you’d like to chat further! 🙂
I CANT WAIT!! This blog is exactly what the busy life person who loves to traveler needs! Im looking forward to see your advice on things.
You’re the best, Em! Don’t think I won’t be coming to you constantly to take advantage of your expertise 🙂
Very excited to see what’s to come this year! Congratulations!
Thanks, Laura! Excited to have you along! Please don’t hesitate to give feedback if you think something can be done better, especially as I’m getting this up and running!
What a great opportunity and a great way to use your talents and passion!
Thanks, Tina! I appreciate you always being in my corner 🙂
I can’t wait to read up & use this from across the pond Gwen! Very excited & proud of you!
That’s so kind of you, Andrea! I hope it’s really helpful, and that you’ll correct me if I botch some SE Asia info. Did I see that you’re headed to the Himalaya sometime in the future?! I smell an interview!!
Sure am – Everest adventures are in April (Sarah is coming too!) I’m here for all questioning!
Lots of other travels planned for 2018 too!
That’s incredible! I can’t wait to hear all about it! Please know that will now be devoting the month of April to my jealousy 🙂
Looking forward to following your adventures. Retiring suddenly I embarked on traveling sooner than I anticipated. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us!
Thanks, Elaine! Happy to help in any way that I can! Miss you and hope you’re loving retirement!
Can’t wait to see you flourish, Gwen! You made our Alaska trip amazing… Happy to help in any way!
Thanks so much, Andrea, and thanks again, also, for the tip on my FB post.
Also, can you believe it’s been 10 years since we studied abroad together??
Amazing story! I hope to be able to risk traveling with two kids some day and will need some help!
Thanks so much! I’m here when you’re ready 🙂 I obviously don’t have kids yet myself, but I’ve read lots of accounts and how-to’s that seem to conclude that it’s not only manageable, but a wonderful time for the family and very formative for the little ones. I know you’ll do splendidly!
I love this, Gwen!!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate you reading and especially taking the time to comment!
This is your area of expertise. I have always been impressed with how well you planned all your trips, accounting for anything that could possibly go wrong. You are the person for this line of work.
Thanks so much, Granddad! You’ve always been in my corner and I can’t thank you enough 🙂 Love you!
Gwen, I just read your story and I’m so excited for you!! You are doing something I’ve often thought of but never got serious. I’ve traveled to 96 countries so far and every one of our 50 states so totally understand your enthusiasm for travel. All the best and I have a feeling you will definitely succeed.
Susan, you’re such an inspiration and it’s so kind of you to comment! I knew that you were always on the go but don’t know that I realized you had so many countries under your belt! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope to catch up with you soon. It’s been far too long since we last hung out in the Land of the Midnight Sun!
Thanks so much, Dana!
ALL THE HEART EMOJIS
Haha, thanks, Chad! And thanks again for the eagle eye on the type-o!
Yayyy so excited for you! 🙂 If anyone wants travel tips to Antarctica or you want a guest post about road tripping you know who to call 😉
Oh, you know it! Thanks so much, and be on the lookout for the first road trip post to go live next week!
Gwen, this is so wonderful! As I told Aunt C, I now have you bookmarked on all my devices 🙂
Molly, that’s so kind of you! I hope you continue to enjoy the articles moving forward. If you’d prefer to get an email when something new is posted, you can always subscribe and save yourself from having to check! Thanks so much for your support, and I hope to see you all very soon.
So excited for what’s to come – exactly what me and my family need. We can’t travel all the time with busy jobs, a kid, and one on the way, but it will be great to have the ideas ready for when we find that long weekend. After all, we want to use our ability to travel in the shoulder season now, before kids are in school! We can personally attest to how much that saves and to how worth it it is to bring the little ones along and see the wonder of travel and new places through their eyes.
As one of M’s colleagues, I love the notebook story – it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. He’s a truly supportive colleague and I have no doubt that the two of you will accomplish much together. Good luck! Can’t wait for more!
Thank you so much, Condylia! I’m honored that you took the time to check out the site and hope that it will be helpful to you! M and I have had the same conversation about taking children abroad and letting them learn and experience the world through travel. I hope we can swap tips! Please let me know if I can help you in any way to make that happen – and congratulations on the kid on the way! I’m also glad I’ve found a fellow shoulder-season lover 🙂
Thank you, also, for your kind words about M. I know I’m biased, so it helps to have some of those biases confirmed once in a while!
Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and I hope that you enjoy the forthcoming articles!
Mary Jane Anderson
Yeah Gwen!! I am so happy to be able to share your blog!!! You go girl!!!
Aw, Mary Jane, thank you so much! Your support means a lot to me and I hope you enjoy the articles! Happy travels!