Based in Northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati in the United States, Michelle Weigold has always had an interest in travel. When she was younger, she saved up her babysitting earnings so she could go to England. This was at the age of only 13! From her first trip, Michelle was hooked.
After studying Spanish in university which included some time studying abroad in Valencia, Spain she found her calling and passion in life. She went on to complete her masters degree in education and took off for another study abroad trip in Costa Rica. Many countries and experiences later, she is now living with her husband and two cats in Kentucky, writing her travel blog, The Great Wide Somewhere, while also working as a teacher and running her own Etsy shop. We checked in with Michelle to find out how she juggles travel, a career, and her own side gig. Here’s what she had to say…
Tell me a bit about what you do for a living.
I work as a high-school Spanish teacher during the school year, from late August through early June. In addition, I have an Etsy shop where I sell prints of my drawings and modern calligraphy pieces, and I also do custom pet portraits! Lastly, I work as a part-time wedding and portrait photographer, so I keep busy!
Do you have a certain amount of vacation days per year with your job?
During the school year I only have two personal days I can use for any sort of travel. Other than that, I’m confined to the schedules of the school and its holiday breaks. During the breaks, I typically spend time with family. My main travel opportunities are when I am off work from early June until late August. I guess I have approximately 75 days free for travel during the summer!
How often do you try and travel within a year?
I try to travel internationally at least once a year, and for at least 3 weeks minimum if at all possible. I try to take more local and national trips about once every two months. I find the biggest cost is airfare, so once I’m abroad I like to stretch the length of my trip as long as possible.
Do you ever feel limited to how often you can travel because of your job?
Despite having a schedule that many would find ideal, it is sometimes frustrating to only be able to travel during a 2 month span each year. This time is often high-season in many countries- Places are pricier, hotter, and more crowded. I would love to be able to travel more in the fall or winter, and go to certain festivals or events abroad that only happen during specific times. For example, I’ve been wanting to go to Day of the Dead in Mexico or Las Fallas in Spain, but these events are always during a time of the year I cannot take off work.
Do you find it hard to unplug from work while traveling?
In regards to my work as a teacher, not at all! Once the school year finishes up, I am able to decompress, unplug, and fully immerse myself in adventures! However, now that I have begun travel blogging, I do find it tricky to not mix business and pleasure.
Why is it important to you to have a career but also incorporate travel into your life?
If I could travel for my career, I would- but then I would quickly run out of money! It’s important for me to have a full time job here at home because I have a large family located here that I love spending time with, plus I’m a homeowner. At this point in my life, it wouldn’t be practical to leave my career for travel, although I did do that in the past (at the young age of 25!). I like having a career as a means to fund my travels, and essentially allow me to live out my life’s passions while still saving for the future.
What inspired you to start a travel blog?
I’ve always loved writing, and have been blogging since 2005 when it wasn’t even a big thing yet! As I traveled more, I realized I had some pretty great information to share with others, and thus the official idea for a blog began! It has been sooo much work and time learning analytics, promotions, coding, etc but also very rewarding.
If you had a piece of advice for someone that is trying to maintain a career & also see the world what would it be?
I guess it would be to give your career and work your best effort, but don’t let it BE your life. I see so many people with unhealthy work-life balances and it isn’t doing anyone any favors. Your life is not your job, and vice versa. Love your job, and do it well, but be able to separate the two. Do what truly makes you happy, travel when you can, but also be responsible.