How I Got Started

I get so many emails asking so many different questions everyday that it would be impossible for me to answer them all. So I’ve decided to answer some common questions as blog posts from time to time. For my first question, I’m going to answer how I got started and some advice on how you can get started too.
Lee Abbamonte, Torres del Paine, Chile
Now the question how I got started generally goes two ways. First, how I got started traveling in the first place. Second, how I got started in my businesses aka what I’m doing now. So I’m going to answer both in short.

How I Got Started Traveling

First, I never traveled as a kid. I never left the country until September 7, 1998 when I flew to London to study abroad. I was just past my 20th birthday. That trip changed my life and shaped my future and love of travel.
Lee Abbamonte, Falkland Islands
I traveled to some 15 countries during my time abroad in Europe and then from there I was hooked and just kept going but it was study abroad that I always point to as the best decision I ever made. I owe my buddy Mike for suggesting I go in the first place. Otherwise, I probably never would have gone anywhere-ever!
Lee Abbamonte, Wave Rock, Hyden, Western Australia
The rest is history as they say but the foundation of how I got started will always be in study abroad. Whether you’re a college student, grad student or any age just thinking about living abroad for a period-do it…it’s the best thing you can do for life perspective and your own education.

How I Got Started in my Business/Job

I started my website back in late 2006 and launched it in January 2007 as a way to simply document my travels and pursuit of going to every country in the world. I had already been to 100+ countries at that point but I thought it would be fun so my friends and family could see what I was doing. I never intended to do anything with it business-wise. I was also still working on Wall Street at the time at a major firm and had no plans on resigning at all.
Lee Abbamonte, Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernandez Archipelago
In August 2008, I resigned from my job and enrolled at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona; which at the time was the #1 International Business School in the world. Now it’s a complete embarrassment/disaster and a part of Arizona State University but that’s another story for another day.
Lee Abbamonte, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
During my time in business school I earned an MBA and I also completed visiting every country in the world shortly after graduation. Along the way, people started to notice my site. I got a manager, agent and started doing a lot of television, got a Facebook fan page and eventually got on Twitter. I still hate Twitter by the way.
Lee Abbamonte, Ibiza
So with my unique story and personality, companies started asking me to work with them, public relations people and destination representatives started asking me to visit their hotels and destinations and I started doing speaking events.
Lee Abbamonte, Alberta, hike
This all just kept coming without me seeking it out. So with all this new stuff going on around me, I started to understand how the game worked and figuring out how I could possibly make some money off of all I had achieved in travel and that’s exactly what I did.
Lee Abbamonte, Manila, Philippines
Now I have several different businesses and multiple employees that I can barely keep up with. I work with some of the largest travel brands, top destinations and tour companies on Earth and have keynoted and spoken at some of the biggest travel conferences in the world. I often get paid to travel and to give my opinions on travel and travel related things via my website and my other outlets.
Lee Abbamonte, Abu Simbel, Egypt
It’s obviously a little more complicated than what I just described and it took A LOT of hard work to get to that point. Remember, it’s not luck. Things don’t just happen to people-you have to make them happen. You have to be aggressive and you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. If you sit around waiting for something to happen, it will never happen.

How Can You Get Started?

So basically, when people ask me how I got started and how they can do what I do the answer is fairly complicated. It’s possible of course, anything is, but you need to network-that’s so important. I don’t mean befriending bloggers or writers, I mean networking with decision makers and influential people. Also, you need to be nice-people need to like you. It sounds so simple but so many people are awkward socially or rude and really blow opportunities because they can’t get out of their own way. There’s a reason you may see many of the same people working with a lot of different brands or destinations.
Lee Abbamonte, Big Island, Hawaii, Green Beach
Also, it’s important to differentiate what working with means and what your goals are-even as a veteran blogger/writer. Remember, getting free trips or hotel nights does not put money in your bank account but it all depends on your goals.
Lee Abbamonte, South Pole
Plus, you need a hook to get people interested in what you’re doing or who you are. Basically, why should people listen to you? Why should they care what you have to say?
Lee Abbamonte, ice climbing, Antarctica
There’s so many travel bloggers and resources out there these days, you need to really differentiate yourself, find something and own it. I can’t tell you what that is but whatever it is, do it with personality, have fun, and be unique to get your name out there.
Lee Abbamonte, Meteora, Greece
Unless you’re a Google geek, people won’t find or read your site regularly without a hook or a personality. Why are you credible? Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask for money and don’t be afraid to be told no or to fail because sometimes you will fail and you will be told no.
Lee Abbamonte, Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland
Me personally, it’s not that I don’t accept no as an answer…it’s just I don’t accept it as the final answer.

Comments

  1. Allan Trinidad says:

    So you were traveling while in business school?

    • Yes we were o a trimester curriculum so I have months off at a time to travel in the summer plus 6 weeks over winter break so was able to travel for long periods of time during business school plus I lived in Europe for a semester as well which was helpful!

      • That makes so much more sense now! I have read previous posts where you have stated you worked on Wall Street, but I couldn’t figure out how you were able to travel up to 4 – 6 weeks at a time while doing that. Unless you are like the “Rainman” of Wall Street and have this savant like quality for picking winners. 😉

        But, full time MBA plus student exchange overseas makes complete sense! Appreciate that tip!

  2. This is a great post and thanks for being straight with people. You have a fascinating story that I am sure inspires many. Good for you on your success and well deserved. Keep up the good work and thanks for letting us see the world with you.

  3. I’m maintaining my stance that there is some luck involved. Luck to have been born where and when you were, luck to be physically able to do so, luck to not be the sole caregiver for someone physically (or financially) dependent on you, and maybe even lucky not to be married to someone who hates to travel or something. But otherwise, I do agree it all comes down to priorities and working at it.

    • Carina, of course we are lucky to be physically able and not have tough family responsibilities etc…we’re also lucky to be alive and born as humans on Earth. That said, it’s what you make with what you’re given.

  4. Great post, Lee.

  5. Leilani Austria says:

    Love this post Lee. It is obvious to me that your love and passion for travel and zest for life opened and created where you are now – so infectious. So true that whatever we spend our energy (or thoughts) on the most, is what we’ll have in our life. Thank you for sharing with all and raising and expanding consciousness to loving the world. This world is, beyond words, BEAUTIFUL!

  6. Andrew Saltman says:

    “Make it Happen” – Lee Abbamonte

  7. I was going to ask this question. Thanks for being honest with your response. I will be retiring telatively young from my day job in a couple of years and contemplating on doing something fun. I have full benefits, lots of time, some money saved up for travels. You gave me some great ideas. This is it! Whether I make money or not, it’s something I love! You’re fortunate that you have that “eureka” moment while you’re still young and when blogging just started out. You’re a pioneer in this respect. Keep sharing and I hope to come meet you on the other side of the globe. Thanks for inspiring!

  8. I think one of the things that really set you apart was that your blog would have posts on random places like Lakshadweep and Abkhavia and Mali, whereas a lot of the bloggers rehash cookie cutter things like “10 Best Sites in Paris” and you were bringing attention to hardcore, little-known spots.

  9. Great insight on how you were able to visit every country in the world and then turn a passion into a job, which so very few of us are able to do. You mention that the idea of visiting every country developed shortly after hitting 100+ countries. Was there any defining moment up to that point on your travels where you thought to yourself, “I should just keep on going.” Like a particular country you visited or a person who met along the way on the road?

    • Ray, it really just kind of developed over time but after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, that was a big moment/achievement for me and I really thought I could do anything and the idea hatched very shortly after that which was early September 2006.

  10. Thank you for sharing your perspective on your journeys. I am in high school and have no idea what to pursue. However, this is a possible choice for me. It’s very difficult to find a job you truly love. I’m glad you did.

  11. At first when you were traveling did you make a list of achievable things to do and still leave time to do things that you found when you got there? How much research did you do prior to traveling? Did you travel alone or hook up with others like Mendoza Argentina?

    • Herb, I always knew basics of what I wanted to do in any place I went more or less then I always left time for things that come up on the ground. I did about 1/3 of my travel solo. I was fortunate to have 4 or 5 really good friends the were able to travel a lot with me over the years…if I was alone I would often meet people as I’m very outgoing but some places here are not many people to meet but those are great too!

  12. Hello Lee i love your story and pictures, how many days you stay in one country?
    thanks!!

    • Alfredo, thank you! It really depends on the country and what I’m up to…no blanket answer on that question…I’ve spent one day in some places and months in others.

  13. Great article Lee – harwork x effort (networking) = opportunities, then its what one makes of it. Your pic above, where your facing the mountains in a snowscape, where was that taken. Amazing.

  14. Really enjoyed the article! Would love to see photo captions of where all those amazing pictures were taken!

  15. This was a really good legit read. Thank you it all sounds very solid.

  16. Kristen Carrero says:

    What a wonderful life Lee! I hope one day to be able to travel with my two sons and see most of the world. As a single parent, money is always the issue when it comes to travel. Besides Disney, a few Caribbean islands and some U.S. states, we have been very limited in our travels. Do you have any additional tips for being able to afford some of these excursions, aside from what you posted? Any ideas for generating income from home as a single working parent (I am a teacher)? My boys (12 & 11) love to travel and are always up for new adventures!

  17. Kristen Carrero says:

    I was trying to send you a comment, but the site said that I may be a Spammer. I am a living, breathing person just looking to comment on your travels. LOL Can this issue be resolved?

  18. Kristen Carrero says:

    I will try this again. LOL
    Hello Lee! I am so enchanted by your travels! I am a single mom who would one day love to travel to some of the beautiful and exotic countries that I have read about every time that you post. Besides Disney, a few Caribbean islands and some U.S. states, our traveling as been pretty limited. Do you have any additional tips for being able to afford some of these trips? Any ideas for generating income from home as a single, working mom (I am a teacher)? My boys (12 & 11) love to travel and always love to plan vacations and read about far away places. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We are always up for new adventures!

  19. How did you find a manager and agent for such a unique niche?

  20. Thanks for your wise and true words I worked the last years as a tourguide for a lot of travel agencts and companies, met a lot of people all over the world and traveld – to honest I have no clue – I think I have to count…;-) but my study semester in South Africa as an Austrian Girl was also for me the start to love love travelling and to meet other people all over the world. I do the things I love and life my own life. And yes for the most people the most difficult thing is to be kind to other people and to get out of their comfort zone.
    All the best Eva-Maria

  21. THanks for the great article and really helpfil

  22. Well said and inspiring 🙂

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