Interview with Christine Gilbert

Today’s interview is with Christine Gilbert from Almost Fearless. Christine is a succesful freelance writer, blogger, and digital nomad. She lives a life that most aspiring writers dream of, and she does this while traveling the world with her husband, child, and two big slobbery dogs! Christine kindly took some time out to answer some of my questions, and also talk about her upcoming travel documentary project.

1. When did you first become interested in traveling?

My family didn’t really travel.  There was a trip to Florida to visit my ailing great grandmother when I was four and I can remember is the sun being so bright I couldn’t see.  Every year we went to the Cape for a week (we lived in Massachusetts) and each Sunday we’d drive two hours to Hampton beach during the summer.  My world was very small.  I ended up going to college at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and I was exposed to a whole new world.  There was tofu in the salad bar.  People were eating strange things like falafal, lentils and hummus.  I met kids from other countries.  A muslim girl in my dorm wore a headscarf.  Suddenly it clicked for me what I had been missing.  I studied French, German and Spanish in college.  I followed the practical path dictated by what I considered at the time to be common sense — go to college, get a job, buy a house… but I had this secret plan forming.  I would travel the world.  I just had to figure out how.  In 2003, when I married my husband, we honeymooned for two weeks in Europe.  After that I fell madly, deeply, hopelessly in love with travel.  It’s been in my life ever since.

2.  What finally gave you the push to go from thinking about travel, to actually hitting the road and becoming a freelance writer?

I got my dream job.  Weird, huh?  I mean, I should have been celebrating, happy to have finally reached my career goal.  Instead, I felt nothing.  I was 30 years old and I hadn’t really considered the fact that I had another 35-40 years left to my career.  I worked so hard in my twenties, I didn’t really think about what happened next.  Getting the perfect job left me wondering… now what?  It became painfully obvious that my heart wasn’t in what I was doing, so I knew I had to get out.

3. So many people dream of being a travel writer, and getting paid to travel full time. What would be your advice to anyone thinking of becoming a travel writer?

Don’t.  If your goal is to become a travel writer in order to get paid to travel, then you’ll never make it. If you want to get paid to travel, just get a job freelancing or working remotely and bring your laptop around the world with you.  It’s so much easier.  Becoming a travel writer in order to travel is like becoming a doctor in order to wear the white coat. It’s total overkill.

Now, if your goal is to become a travel writer because you want to write about travel, I’d advise you to start at home.  Everyone waits to start writing until they hit the road (I did) but the truth is, you’re already an expert on your home town.  Writing stories, reviews, articles, blog posts about the place you live is a great way to build a portfolio.  From there you can branch out into new destinations, but you’ll make your life so much easier if you start with what you know.

4. Throughout your travels you seem to have broken the mould, and traveled in a lot of ways that most people assume is impossible to do. First by traveling with pets, and now you have a baby to travel with too. What would be your top tips for other travelers thinking of traveling long term with pets or children, but not really sure how?

There are two requirements for traveling with pets and kids: patience and time.  For instance, when I was looking for an apartment in Madrid, with two dogs, I probably contacted a few dozen places until I found a place that worked.  That’s the patience piece.  You have to be willing to do the same travel planning as everyone else but with an order of magnitude.  You’ll also want to slow down your travels — time.  Skipping around Europe is all well and good, but it’s not really practical if you have special considerations. Setting a home base in one location and then making day trips from there is much easier.  Ultimately it’s all possible, you just have to take it step by step and find solutions for each stage of the trip.

5. I noticed that you are currently in the planning stages of filming a documentary on travel. What gave you the motivation to do this, and do you think travel documentaries are a route you will continue more in the future instead of writing?

I’ve always been interested in film, and this is a project that my husband and I have been talking about for a while.  I think as a travel writer it’s not about the format, it’s about traveling the world and bringing your observations back home — whether we do that via an article, a photograph or video, we’re still doing the same job.  Actually, if you watch a documentary carefully, you’ll realize that the writing plays an important role.  I wish more travel writers would dabble in film, I would love to hear those same voices I love in the written word played out on screen.

I do think the future of the online travel world will be in multimedia.  For the larger brands, it won’t be enough to just have blog posts or articles.  When the readers are more tech savvy than the big brands, you know you have a problem.  If my grandmother can take video with her flip phone, youtube it, and tweet me the link, then I certainly expect, as a reader, for my travel websites to have some embedded videos showing me the destination they are talking about.  We’re not there yet, but it pays to have the flexibility to tell a story in multiple formats.

To find out more about Christine, or her latest projects you can visit her website

4 Responses to “Interview with Christine Gilbert”

  1. Lauren says:

    Loved the interview Christine! Very inspiring. Especially no. 3- I was just thinking about how even though I can’t be traveling at the moment, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t write. I may not be frolicking around the world (although I pretend I am everyday through blogs like yours), but I did just move to a new city. Perfect canvas to practice my travel blogging. Thanks for driving this point home. Happy travels!

  2. Interesting take on why not to become a travel writer and get a digital job you can take with you. Something to consider for those who want to travel, but not overkill it.

  3. I really enjoyed this interview. I’m a newspaper reporter but plan to do freelance writing and be location independent in about 10 months. I love what Christine said about writers dabbling in film. For a while now I’ve wanted to get started creating documentaries, so I’m looking forward to learning more about her project.

  4. Inspiring interview. and the best advice was start at home.Looking forward to more inspiring interviews.


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