This column, “Escape Artist”, is a series on people who escaped. More importantly, this bi-weekly column is for those considering swapping 9-to-5 existences with their legs chained to the desk to forge their own path. The brave outliers featured in this collection of interviews are the digital nomads, online entrepreneurs and lifestyle makers who have decided it’s time to say hell with the routine and grab life by the roots.
Marc Wiens short Migrationology and Eat Thai food, blogs focused on travel and culture through food. After graduating with a degree in global studies from Arizona State University in 2008, Wiens traveled across South America on a solo trip, taught English and hiked the mountains of Patagonia. He started blogging, photographing, and creating food travel guides, which turned into a full-time career. In 2016, he focuses on cooking videos.
The “escape the 9 to 5” mentality seems to be popular now. What are your impressions ?
Marc Wiens Being able to use the Internet to communicate and disseminate information (in all formats) has completely changed the world. I think a lot of people have the false impression of escaping the 9 to 5 and dreaming of a permanent vacation. But really, escaping the 9 to 5 is about working harder, probably 40+ hours a week, doing something you’re passionate about while having flexibility and freedom.
What was the “aha” moment that sparked an ongoing journey for you?
MW I grew up traveling and living in several different countries with my family. It wasn’t an “aha” moment, but a mindset I had while in college in the United States that I was going to travel as soon as I graduated. With this goal in mind, I lived intentionally by working and saving throughout my studies.
How does a life of travel compare to your life in Arizona before hitting the road?
MW When you’re truly passionate about something, you create experiences that revolve around what you love. At Arizona State, I didn’t get to travel often, but I had a group of friends from all over the world. When some of my friends heard how much I loved trying new foods, they invited me over to their house or their dorm to cook. Now my life is a bit different because I can travel with more freedom, but the experience of eating and connecting with people is available all over the world.
What inspired you to start migrationology and how did it first develop?
MW When I started traveling permanently, I started taking photos of every meal I ate and accumulated loads of food photos. I started a blog to share these photos and inform my family and friends of my travels. Initially, my blog was only for people I knew. However, as I continued to post, I noticed that my blog was growing and people were finding it through search engines. So I decided to provide others with useful information about travel and food. My blog has grown through a combination of search engine optimization, guest posts, and features on other websites and blogs.
Do you have a favorite travel story you’d like to share with Paste readers?
MW A few years ago I took a trip to Sri Lanka. Through a series of contacts, a friend and I found ourselves in the tea fields of central Sri Lanka and stayed with an amazing grandmother who was as excited to cook for me as I was excited to eat. One day I went to the market and bought a chicken and cooked everything by hand. We roasted and ground spices and pressed coconut milk to make coconut oil for a Sri Lankan chicken curry. It was the best chicken curry I have ever had in my life because she put love into her cooking. Experiences like this make food travel so special.
The “dream job” and “travel blogging” mentality is also becoming more popular. Does the market seem saturated and how do you stay connected with your followers?
MW First of all, travel blogging is hard work, and if you’re not committed and passionate about what you’re blogging about, chances are your blogging will just be a hobby rather than a business. . However, I don’t think the market is saturated, and I think there are even more opportunities now than before. You have the ability to create better content than before, and there’s a world of marketing information at your fingertips as long as you’re willing to learn. Then you succeed by developing a unique angle, providing useful content, promoting your content, and staying engaged. I stay connected with my readers through social media, especially YouTube, and email.
What advice do you have for readers who want to live a life like yours?
MW From a business perspective, make it your goal to provide something useful to others. When you discover the intersection between your passion and how you can help solve problems and benefit others, that’s when you can live your life with more freedom.
What are you most looking forward to focusing on in 2016?
MW Along with blogging, I focus on creating videos. It’s a format that I love to consume, and I think many others around the world do too. In 2016 I plan to do more cooking and travel videos on Youtube who inspire and provide useful advice on food and travel.
Caroline Christ is a freelance journalist based in Georgia. She writes about travel, health and business for regional and national publications.