Digital Marketer + Traveler: Interview with Mari of Mari On The Map

Mari is a part-time world traveler based in the USA. She’s originally from the Jersey Shore but is in the process of relocating to Atlanta (if you have any tips for her on the area, comment below). At a young age, Mari caught the travel bug. After studying abroad in college about ten years ago, she’s been on the move ever since, visiting over 40 countries and six continents so far. Currently she’s waiting for a new bundle of joy to arrive with her husband Garrett, her main travel partner in crime and I had a chance to chat with her about how she makes travel a part of her life, even while juggling a full-time job and soon, a family.

Tell me a bit about what you do for a living.

I’m in digital marketing, which means that I help companies large and small get their names out there and gain new customers. Since my focus is in digital media, the tactics I employ to help companies are completely online and include social media, display advertising, pay-per-click campaigns, and more. I recently started my own consulting business as well and would love to chat with anyone who wants to learn more about how to stand out from the competition with digital marketing (check out Mari’s professional website here).

Do you have a certain amount of vacation days per year with your job?

Yes, my current role has a set number of vacation days, which is standard for most US-based jobs. My best advice is to negotiate as much as you can to get more paid time off when you start a new role or when you’re up for a promotion. Vacation days are an inexpensive way for a company to show they value their employees. If they can’t give you extra cash, a few extra days off a year might be a good compromise for you and your employer.

How often do you try and travel within a year?

I try to travel as often as I can! I love to take weekend trips, and I usually do one or two long trips a year, which are somewhere around a week to ten days each.

Do you ever feel limited to how often you can travel because of your job?

I think the toughest situation happens when you’ve planned out your yearly vacations and an amazing opportunity comes up that you can’t take – something like a deal you see online that’s too good to pass up or a friend who had a last minute travel buddy cancellation and wants you to join their trip. While it’s hard to miss out on those opportunities, it’s because of my job that I’m able to travel at all.

I think it’s the case for most of us that we need our income to fund our fun hobbies, like travel, so if I didn’t work and have a career that kept replenishing my travel fund, I would be stuck at home all the time! The alternative is being a digital nomad, but I don’t think that’s realistic for most people. To start, it’s quite a challenge to find a full-time role that is 100% remote. On top of that, many people don’t want to be completely away from their loved ones for year at a time or have no home base. So, yes, at times, I am certainly limited in how often I can travel by having a full-time job, but without my full-time job, my travel life wouldn’t exist!

Do you find it hard to unplug from work while traveling?

I don’t find it hard to unplug, just because I’ve learned the importance of recharging while you’re away. There have been so many studies about the importance of time off and boundaries with your work life vs your personal life. I’m way more refreshed after I have some time to decompress and relax on vacation. Plus, I really like to be engaged and immersed in the culture and activities of the new place I’m visiting, and it’s not possible to do that if you’re glued to your phone. If you’re struggling to unplug, my best advice is to put your phone in airplane mode, so you’re only able to connect when you’re in a WiFi zone (usually at your hotel or some restaurants). That will give you some breaks throughout the day when you have to disconnect.

Why is it important to you to have a career but also incorporate travel into your life?

It’s important for me to have a career and a travel lifestyle because I always enjoyed learning, and I’ve been fortunate to have success in a field where constant learning is essential. I’ve never been the type to just “have a job”, and I like to feel I’m contributing to the overall success of the companies with whom I work. Many people today have different elements in their lives that define them, and no one wants to be defined by just one thing, like what they do. Life is so much more fun when you can be a career gal, a traveler, a partner, a sister, a daughter, a mom, etc. And just like travel, my career gives me the opportunity to expand my network, learn from those around me, and make an impact.

What inspired you to start a travel blog, Mari On The Map?

My coworkers were my main inspiration for starting my blog. They were constantly asking me if I had more vacation time than they had or if I was making way more money. Neither is the case – I was just so passionate about travel that I milked every last moment out of my PTO and planned around federal holidays and other “free” days off to make the most of my time off. I was giving out advice and itineraries so often that I figured a blog would be a great way to share with all of them more easily. And I was lucky that other travelers all over the globe were interested in what I was doing, too!

If you had a piece of advice for someone that is trying to maintain a career & also see the world what would it be?

My biggest piece of advice is just say “yes”! When you’re trying to “have it all” – aka your career, plus time with family and friends, and that jet set life, your time is valuable. And being based in the US, we get such little vacation time. Most entry level jobs start with only 10 days per year, and even seasoned professionals are generally only getting 15 days a year. That means you have to be really creative with how you use your time, so try to be as flexible as you can and have that “yes” attitude. Yes, you can go to Europe from the east coast of the US or Canada for a long weekend. Get on a Thursday night redeye, plan a pre-dinner nap for Friday, and spend that weekend in Italy! You can do it, and being a little jet-lagged abroad is better than another Netflix binge weekend any day!

You can follow Mari’s adventures on her blog, Mari On The Map, or on Instagram or Facebook.  

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