Do you ever get that feeling? This urge for exploration, the sense that you need to head out into the world and discover new places? Wanderlust has become the word of a whole generation, describing what we all have in common: our love for travel. Whether it’s the roadtrip through a foreign country, a weekend in a far-off city or backpacking in the wilderness – voyages make us feel alive. But for some people travelling has become more than just a crave for new adventure. It’s part of their job and who they are as a person. Madi has met three young travellovers that have found a way to combine passion and career and share their story about how they make it work every single day.
First in line is travel photographer and blogger Lora Wagener. Born in Luxembourg but raised in America, the 25-year-old has known the excitement of travelling since forever and has probably spent more hours in a plane than you and I together. Camera always ready, Lora The Explora loves flying off into the unknown and capturing what- or whoever meets her eye along the way:
“It just fuels my fire. I can never stay in one place for too long before I get itchy and feel the need to leave”
At her relatively young age, the photographer has found a way to make a business out of her passion. “In June I’ll be heading to Bali to do a paid shoot for a yoga retreat. Once there, I’ll try and organize some private shoots in order to make more money”, she explains. And this is exactly how her job works: besides shooting couples or weddings, Lora earns her living by selling travel photoprints, working with models in different countries, or creating visual content for brands she likes. “For example, last year I took the pictures for the 2018 collection of Strange Bikinis. Usually brands send me their products before they are released so that I can photograph them. Some give me a certain idea of what they want but often I get total creative freedom and can choose the models and places I want to shoot”, the young photographer says.
A big part of her business, however, happens online, via social media. “It’s what makes this popular. Without posting about everything you do, who’d know about it? So it’s kind of the driving force behind it and what gives you credibility as a blogger”, she says. And that’s where being your own entrepreneur gets tricky: the hidden parts of the job that travelers such as Lora don’t necessarily post about:
“One thing I’ve learned about my lifestyle is that it’s a one-man show. You basically have to wear the hats of many different jobs. It’s not just photography, that’s maybe ten percent of what I do, but I have to handle my finances, do my accounting, maintain my website, answer to e-mails and so on. This admin side is really time-consuming”
But what happens if the wifi is suddenly gone and the blogger can’t share her pictures with her followers? “Then I edit photos or take notes on my phone about new ideas or captions. I work wherever whenever, whether it’s right now in my sister’s apartment, in a copyshop, at my own place, in a hostel or during a train ride”, Lora says. A lifestyle that’s not necessarily for everybody. “Everybody can travel, but to make a full-time job out of it, you really have to want it”, she says. Besides mostly funding her travels herself, timing is what makes her work so special:
“Some days I work twelve hours and forget to eat, that’s not normal but it’s just become a part of me I guess”
Also while actually discovering new places, Lora’s job seldomly leaves her mind. “It’s really rare that I feel like I can actually turn off. I just love capturing things and therefore I’m almost always in photographer mode. Sometimes I only have one hour at a certain spot, so I have to squeeze the most out of it. But I also love soaking in the moment and seeing the place with my own eyes”, she says. And that’s exactly what makes her passion grow bigger and bigger with every voyage she makes. “I follow my own dream-bucket list of places I want to visit. Some I’d rather keep a secret, like Positano in Italy for example. This is one of my favorite spots in the world”, Lora says. And her list of personal travel gems continues: “The Hawaiian islands are all incredible and then there’s Cannon Beach in Oregon, the coast there is absolutely beautiful. What I feel is still a very underrated country is Portugal. Everybody travels to Spain, which is also nice, but Portugal is just amazing.”
So, what is Lora’s secret to maintaining her lifestyle and not totally going bankrupt with it? “People often message me saying that they are jealous about my travelling so much. But you can make travelling as cheap or expensive as you want it to be, you just have to be smart about it and do some research. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the right deals”, she says. Finding the best hostel, learning to condense your stuff to reduce luggage weight and calculating in advance are some of the pro tips Lora wants to share. “Right now there’s a big trend for travelling on a budget. Especially in Europe there are so many options for cheap flights. In the US that’s not really a thing, there roadtripping is the cheapest way to get around”, she says. All in all, Lora wouldn’t swap her job for a million dollars, even if she had the chance:
“This is my dream job and I’ll do whatever it takes to make this work. Many people don’t consider what I do a real profession, they think it’s just a phase but I’m stubborn and I will continue following my passion”
Some of the photos: Lora Wagener