Have you ever been afraid to try something because you might fail?
Or worse… you’re afraid of what people might say?
Yeah… Me too. This year, that’s changing.
It all started when …
To properly tell this story of my current fear and my determination to overcome it, I have to go back to my college days when I participated in a study abroad program called Semester at Sea. It was a semester on a ship that circled the globe stopping at ten countries along the way. Was it terrifying leaving the safety of my American life with my American friends in my stereotypical American college experience for months with strangers in strange parts of the world? Absolutely. But I did it anyway, and I’m so glad I did. To say it broadened my horizons would be an enormous understatement. It shaped who I am today and instilled in me a desire to keep exploring, always.
I’ve always been a little bit crazy!
Fast forward to adulthood. When I left my stable, full-time job as a news reporter (something I had worked so hard for) to start my own business, I was terrified of failure. Did I mention I was also a single mom? I know people thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy, too. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Venturing, as a freelancer, into the world of voiceover and corporate video allows me the freedom to accept projects I’m passionate about and work with people I learn from and enjoy. No longer bound by the constraints of a 6 pm live shot, I can pick up my daughter from school at 3:30 and enjoy family dinners a few hours later.
The career I have now may lack the security of a “nine to five” and regular payday that I had in my previous life, but aside from spending more time with the people I love, it has also given me the flexibility to pursue my greatest obsession. The one I discovered back in college. Travel.
This is where – as we often see in life when we’re actually paying attention – opportunity presents itself. At the same time (for me anyway) fear creeps in.
You(Tube) are doing what?!
So, I’ll stop beating around the bush. I’m launching a YouTube channel about travel. More specifically (as I know there is no shortage of YouTube channels on travel) I’ll be exploring home exchange travel, which is just as it sounds. You swap homes with someone in another part of the world. They come to your place, you go to theirs and you explore a new part of the world, a new community, a new culture kind-of like a local. (There are a few other options for exchanging, but I’ll get into that in an upcoming YouTube video).
Home Exchange has 150,000 members in 145 different countries, giving their members the opportunity to swap homes with other adventurers pretty much anywhere around the globe. I’ve been home swapping for about five years and have had some amazing experiences. We’ve stayed in a cottage in the bay on the northern tip of Ireland, a loft with a spiral staircase in Edinburgh, a 5-bedroom traditional Parisian apartment in the Latin Quarter and a cute beach cottage on the island of Kona. And I pay an annual fee of $220. It’s literally the cost of one night at a moderately priced hotel in Chicago … but allowed me to spend two months in England and France in 2023 as well as a handful of other trips throughout the year.
Home exchange feeds my travel addiction and at the same time, it’s providing incredible family experiences without breaking the bank. It’s also something I can do while I work. My now well-travelled audio booth (and well-worn thanks to United Airlines losing it for two weeks last year) goes everywhere with us. So, I’m still able to earn money while travelling abroad. Sometimes I even have a nice office to work from (sure beats recording audio with pillows piled high on a hotel room bed)!
What’s so Scary about YouTube?
There are a few things that scare me when it comes to launching a YouTube channel.
1. First is putting myself “out there” on such a personal level. Yes, I’ll be explaining what Home Exchange is and how it works … but I’ll also be taking you along on my exchange adventures. Like … my personal vacation time. Will it make vacations less fun if I’m constantly shooting video and playing field producer with myself on-camera? We’ll see!
2. Aside from that, there are a million travel YouTubers. What makes me think I’m any different? Will I succeed, or become lost in the crowded world of YouTube?
3. Finally, … I don’t want to be considered a “YouTuber”. I’m not in my 20’s (not even close)! There’s a certain stigma that goes along with being a YouTuber. It’s a ridiculous fear, I know, but once again, I’m being brutally honest here.
I’ve found over the years that we have two options when it comes to fear … we can let it drive our decisions and eventually lead to regret, or we can use it to motivate us to work harder and not give up. Looking back at the jobs I really wanted, the changes in my life I was determined to create, the relationships that went wrong and then the ones that went right … it all happened because fear pushed me on. It prevented me from giving up. This time will have to be no different.
Why am I doing this, you may ask?
That’s a great question.
1. For one, I am absolutely passionate about travel and talk about it constantly, anyway. Why not talk about it with a camera rolling? Considering I’ve worked in the media and video worlds my entire life, it’s not too far outside of my comfort zone.
2. It also feeds my constant itch to be creative. I have amazing voice over and video clients who are very open to my creative ideas, but still … being creative about a healthcare eLearning video series is much different than being creative about my real-life passion (ahem … obsession) for travel.
3. After spending two months in Europe last summer, I had plenty of people hint around at how I pulled it off. Do I have family in those places? Did I win some kind of big trip? Do I have a secret source of millions that’s funding all of this travel? (The answer to all three, in case you didn’t know, is NO). I want to set the record straight. More importantly, I want to share the tips I’ve learned for creating an amazing experience abroad (or even in another city, if you like to stay close to home). I love talking travel with my friends and seeing their excitement when they sign up with Home Exchange and call me for tips on hosting their first exchange. Travel is an adventure that should be shared, and I honestly believe this provides a way for most people to do it affordably and authentically!
4. Finally, travel has been life-changing for me. It has opened my eyes to the world and all of the beautiful ways people are different, yet at the same time, we are all the same. I’ve loved sharing the journey with my daughters and watching the excitement of seeing a new place for the first time through their eyes. You learn so much about other people when you travel to a new place, and often you learn more about yourself as well.
My YouTube channel is about sharing the joy and adventure of travel in a way you won’t find when you simply book a hotel room in a tourist destination. Staying at a real house, shopping at a neighborhood grocery store, walking amongst the locals on the streets of a new city … it’s a different experience than simply ‘vacationing’. People often think this kind of experience come with a huge price tag, but with home exchange, it’s very attainable. I’ve made friends around the world and have had experiences I never would have imagined … and I love to share this with anyone else who is passionate about travel and exploring the planet.
I look forward to answering the questions that I often get from my friends:
“Is it weird to have strangers staying in your home?”
“What do you do with all your stuff?”
“Where’s the coolest place you’ve gone on an exchange?”
I hope you’ll follow along for the journey. Now that I’m officially putting this out there, I feel like there’s no going back. I’m doing this – despite my fears! I know, as is always the case when we do something that scares us, that it will be an adventure I’ll be glad I embarked upon. Look for my YouTube channel featuring Home Exchange tips (thanks to @homeexchange for being incredible) and my own exchange adventures to launch March 1 (although I’m so excited, it could happen sooner)!
Oh, also – if you’re so inclined, please be one of my first subscribers … click here to subscribe now. Up to this point, YouTube has been a hub for my “work”, so please overlook the video and voiceover projects that reside there and click on the travel content. I’ll be adding more in the coming weeks. So, think of it is being invited to the “soft opening” of a new restaurant (only there’ll be no food and drinks. Yet). I’m also happy to take your questions. In fact, I welcome them as they may provide great ideas for future videos!