Well, hello again. Trips By Lance started nearly four years ago, but it seems like it’s time to start again. Looking back at 2016 — a year when Stacey officially joined the effort — we posted all of six times. It’s not her fault; we can thank my career decisions for the need for a rebirth of Trips By Lance. Let me explain.
So 2016 was a big travel year for our family. From a little day trip to Oxford, Mississippi, to several days in Dallas in the fall, it was a busy year. We spent half of July driving 2,500 miles from Memphis to Los Angeles, with several states and national parks along the way. We visited the beaches of Panama City Beach, Florida, and Gulf Shores, Alabama. There was a road trip to Minneapolis, playing catch in Iowa at the “Field of Dreams” property, cycling San Antonio’s missions and a baseball trip to Baltimore and Washington.
But even with all that travel, 2016 was the death of Trips By Lance. As Stacey launched her third novel and wrote her fourth, I decided to get serious with a freelance journalism career. It worked out well; 2016 was one of my best financial years of my career.
But it also was one of the hardest, and loneliest. See, in August 2015 I left a marketing job that never felt right so I could pursue my travel writing full time. Only, it seems, leaving that job put me in a panic mode. I scrambled to get my income back ASAP, and that meant relying on my many local journalism contacts in Memphis.
Within a couple of months the work and income returned, but I never had the opportunity to dig in and see what it would be like to devote myself to a freelance content creation career, instead of a life of journalism.
I left a 15-year career in newspapers in January 2015 to pursue marketing, thinking that would push me along the path of creating this life I envisioned, one I saw with all my friends in the travel blogging world. Some of them were permanent nomads, others were on career breaks traveling the world, and some continued working 9-to-5 careers while caring for families and traveling when they could. I envisioned a mix of all of it.
Instead what I got was a life of nose to the grindstone, writing two to three stories per day for clients. And then, thankfully, I got a contract to do great neighborhood journalism, telling the untold stories that take place in the underserved neighborhoods of Memphis. It’s a project that continues now. It’s great work, and something I hope continues.
But Trips By Lance started nearly four years ago as a way for me to create a career that ultimately would lead me to work opportunities that, at least in theory, wouldn’t matter where I lived.
I created a blog, developed friendships, read wonderful travel content and worked to find my place in the crowded landscape of travel writing. I loved it. But then I woke up one day and thought, “What’s the point?” I wondered why I would spend my days pushing out thousands of words for clients and then spend my evenings typing travel words for little or no pay.
I stopped. Officially, my last post came June 15, 2016. It was something I could’ve written in my sleep, titled “Top things to do in London.” I’d say the blog died nearly a year before that on Aug. 17, 2015, when I walked out of the marketing agency and decided to attempt this freelance writing gig. Possibly even before that on Jan. 15, 2015, when I left the comforts of my newspaper editing job.
So as I sit here on the evening of Jan. 3, 2017, I realize the few real friends I developed are still there. And I cherish them. But I miss the Twitter chats I used to participate in, getting to know other travel-obsessed people. I miss the press trip invitations I had to turn down because my full-time job wouldn’t allow me to go.
Do I want it all back? No, but I think it’s time to pursue what I originally sat out to do. My son was in kindergarten when I started the blog. He’s now in fourth grade. I turn 40 this weekend.
My point is it all goes by, quickly. For so long I was concerned about SEO, proper post titles and social media before even starting a blog post. Now? Hell, I’m just happy I’m sitting and writing. I’m going to inch back into travel writing and see what happens. Of course, I never left. I write a biweekly travel column for The Daily News newspaper in Memphis.
What will 2017 bring? I don’t know, and that’s OK. Will I continue as a Memphis “content creator” or will I find a full-time job again? No idea, but I do know I miss this world. And if I’m only writing this for myself, well, that’s OK, too.