Solo Travel Girl Inspires Others to Travel Alone, Not Lonely
Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Parks. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, is the public relations manager with the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau and maintains the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.
“Howdy! I’m Jennifer Huber (additional pen name: JA Huber) and I’m just your average forty-something-year-old gal living life solo,” reads her blog. “It wasn’t always that way but as life takes its twists and turns, I’ve found myself navigating this world alone. Rather than waiting for Mr. Right or finding a travel buddy to coordinate vacation schedules with, I’ve decided rather than giving up what I love – the adventure of travel – to embrace traveling solo.”
“I founded SoloTravelGirl.com because I found myself traveling alone, not lonely. My personal experiences are meant to inspire and empower other travelers to shed their fears and travel solo. I admit to still having uncomfortable butterflies when dining alone in a chichi restaurant or participating in an activity geared toward couples or families but I shrug off my insecurities and indulge in the moment of discovery and adventure.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Huber at the Florida Outdoor Writer’s Association conference in September. Her ability to keep a full-time job, and maintain a travel blog while using her vacation time for writing assignments really hit home for me. As someone who craves new experiences, but also needs stability, I really wanted to pick her brain about how she started getting paid to go on wonderful adventures and write about them. How cool is that?
She was pleasured to give us the scoop on what it’s like to be on the work grind while making the most of your vacation time.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself!
A: “I’m originally from Western New York and a hiking trail led me down a career path in tourism. When I was going to college for a degree in Earth Science, I spent summers working in Yellowstone National Park for a hospitality management company. After college, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do so I stayed with the company for a total of 10 years in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. I currently work as the public relations manager for the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Hobbies include travel, photography and exploring the outdoors, whether that’s hiking, biking or getting out on the water.”
Q: How did you get into travel writing? Was there one “aha” moment?
A: “My ‘aha’ moment happened when I worked in the Everglades as the sales and marketing manager. I was responsible for public relations, too and after reading what some of the writers I had hosted had written about their experience, I decided I could do that, too. It was a few years after that when I began writing.”
Q: Tell us about your first travel assignment? What was it like?
A: “As a blogger, I have my own assignments, although my first published work was a travel essay in the Orlando Sentinel about my Fourth of July trip to Washington, D.C.
However, my first travel experience for work, the one that made the most impact on me was a business trip to London. It was my first trip for the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau and my first trip abroad. My schedule was so packed, there wasn’t any time to see any of the tourist sites, and I was staying near Gatwick Airport which wasn’t near anything “touristy.” One morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and took the train into the city center to see Buckingham Palace. I grew up as a fan of Princess Diana and was fascinated with the Royal Family so this was a great treat. I had to be back to the hotel by 10 a.m. for my next appointment so although it was a brief sightseeing trip, it was a lesson to always make the most of a business trip by planning some time for sightseeing or enjoying the local flavor and scenery.”
Q: Is this a field that is hard to get into? If someone is interested in getting into the field, what is your advice to them?
A: “Yes and no. I entered college as a communications major and worked on the school paper and although I switched majors, journalism has still stayed with me, which has made me successful in my career in public relations and as a blogger.
Anyone can start a blog and hop on social media channels, but it takes consistency to post quality content. It’s time-consuming to manage a blog and utilizing appropriate social media channels. I suppose you can say blogging done right is a balance with writing, marketing and managing.”
Q: Out of the places you’ve been to, where has been your favorite and why?
A: “This is a tough question because I’ve traveled to several beautiful destinations and every place I’ve visited is unique in its own way. Choosing one, I’d say Ireland. It’s the motherland of my maternal grandmother whom I was very close. When I visit, I never know anyone, but I feel comfortable and welcomed. Riding through the countryside’s rolling, green hills is magical.”
Q: Who is your favorite female role model and why?
A: “This is a tough one! No giggling but Laura Ingalls Wilder played a big role in who I am today. Growing up, I read her books and was inspired to write and be bold and adventurous. I remember sitting down and beginning a journal after reading Little House in the Big Woods.”
Q: How does your “day job” differ from your travel writing job?
A: My day job and travel writing job complement each other. With my day job, I’m pitching and working with members of the travel media, but because I’m a travel blogger-marketing hybrid, I know what online influencers are looking for and can talk their language, so to say. Because I do have a day job, though, I need to be selective in the media trip invitations I accept and how much I travel. I have three weeks of vacation in order to plan my adventures.”
Q: What would you say are the biggest personal benefits of traveling?
A:”Definitely changes one’s perspective of the world and makes me appreciate my life. My life isn’t perfect but compared to others out there, it’s pretty dang good! Travel makes me seek out and appreciate experiences rather than collect material things.”
Q: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
A: “As corny as it is, ‘It’s the one who makes you laugh who counts.’ – Mr. Big, Sex in the City. I can get uptight about things so it’s a reminder to relax and laugh. It’s also a reminder about what type of people I want to surround myself.
Q: What is your favorite piece you’ve ever written and why?
A: “An essay I wrote for the February 2007 issue of the Apalachee Tortoise, a monthly community paper in Tallahassee, titled ‘Empowering Women is Key in Afghanistan’s Reconstruction.’ It was based on experiences I had during my March 2006 trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, with Global Exchange, a human rights organization. I lived in Tallahassee at the time and kept a blog about the trip. I had also written about my trip on a couple of online sites. The editor found me through my blog and asked me to contribute an article about the trip. Back then, I used the pen name “J.A. Huber” on my writings and the editor convinced me to use my actual name, Jennifer Huber, because not many women traveled to Afghanistan and wrote about the issues.
Thanks for being such an inspiring Renaissance Woman, Jennifer!