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Ep. 257: How this independent traveler connects with locals around the world with Lynne Nieman

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In this episode, I speak with Lynne Nieman who is a travel addict, nature lover, podcaster, and the founder of Wander Your Way. 

Which is a travel blog that helps to connect travelers with locals.  

For 8 years she has been planning independent trips to Europe as well as photographing and writing about Europe.

So listen on to find out how to fully connect with travelers around the world.

Listen Below:

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Transcription:

Debbie:

Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to speak with my guest today. 

I’m here with Lynne. Hi, Lynne. 

Lynne:

Hi Debbie. How are you?

Debbie:

I am wonderful. Thank you so much. 

I already love talking to Lynne before we even did this interview because she’s so positive and her energy is already getting me up and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” I’m already like, “Uh! Offbeat,” because of her. 

So I’m even more excited to talk to you Lynne. 

So can you tell us about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Lynne:

So I live an offbeat life because I’m not in the cubicle, not doing the 9 to 5. I really think it’s just kind of pursuing your own passions and pursuing what you love and that’s what I’m doing. 

I’m pursuing travel, I do a bit of traveling and I have made travel into my business. I am a travel planner, travel blogger, photographer, writer, podcaster. So yeah. 

I get to work when I want, how I want. I always say I do what I want when I want and how I want to do it. So that’s me with an offbeat life. 

Debbie:

Well, that’s certainly something that we all want in our life, we all strive for. And it’s a journey to get there and I’m sure it has been a journey for you too, Lynne. What was that like for you? And I’m pretty sure you had a 9 to 5, right? Or did you? 

Lynne:

Yeah, I did.

Debbie:

And how is that transition like and what made you decide to finally leave that? Because I feel like we all have that moment in our life where you choose, right? You either stay in your comfortable life, or you take a risk and do something big that you may fail in so it’s a little scary. But there’s always that moment. What was that like for you and how did you decide to move forward? 

Lynne:

Well, I kind of got started, I’d say, a little bit late because I kind of just was struggling after I finished college. And at 22, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. 

Photography was always a big part of my life but I think I was always afraid to pursue it. And when I went back to school in my late twenties and FYI, I’m now 56, which is hard for me to say but I am.

And I pursued a photography degree and then I moved away from Ohio and moved to Colorado. And I kind of thought, “Well, I’m probably going to have a little bit of a non-traditional kind of life as I’m living here,” because of something like photography, especially because I wanted to do, like, outdoor photography.

That’s going to be like maybe doing a little bit of traveling and not having regular hours. But then I got sucked into doing the whole “if I was kind of failing at that”. I wouldn’t say failing but I just wasn’t getting where I wanted to. 

So then you kind of go to those backup plans and you take that sort of nine-to-five job and I ended up working in county government when I lived in Colorado. And I had a nice good salary, benefits, and time off. Then I started to travel. 

And as I started to go outside of the US for travel. For disclosure, I was 39 the first time I left the US.

Debbie:

Wow.

Lynne:

Yeah, I was pretty old.

That was it for me. 

I went to Spain and I was like, “Oh my God, this is awesome.” And I think I knew at that point that I had to figure it out. I had to figure out what my life was going to be because I knew it wasn’t going to be working for the county government for 20-30 years. 

So I kept pursuing my photography to some degree and it was probably, like, after 15 years of living in Colorado. I think it was probably around 2009 or 10, I decided that I was just going to start stacking away some money and that I was going to quit. 

And sometime in 2011, I was going to talk to my parents. I was like, “Can I go back to my old room so that I can start my own business without having the overhead of paying rent and utilities?” And they graciously said yes because they are the best parents ever.

And I was able to come back and start a business. And I kind of went down the road of photography. Like, I wanted to really make photography such a part of it, part of my life because it had been part of my life since I was 12.

And I realized it wasn’t going to just be photography. I mean, talk about, like, failing. I took off in 2011 and traveled for, let me see, maybe 3 to 4 months. I think I was gone and I thought, “Okay, I got a nice stack of money. I’ll just travel and I’ll try to get some photography stuff as I go along.” And it didn’t really happen. 

So I didn’t have a good plan. So I came back and just decided that I needed to kind of reset. And after kind of resetting, I realized that maybe becoming a travel planner, a travel agent if you will, was a good idea because travel agents were starting to make a bit of a comeback then. 

So I found a way to kind of start to melt things together and kind of did the whole, like, started a blog so people can kind of start to find me. And then got to the point where I put out my shingle so to speak, hung up my little side, wandered away, and started my travel planning business. 

Yeah, it was really kind of a long circuitous kind of journey to get there as I think many of us have and a lot of us do. I think we go down one path and we’re like, “Uh… This isn’t quite the right one.” But I knew, like, after working in the county government, I think I was there for 10 years in that job, and after about six or seven, I’m like, “This is not how it’s going to end. I can’t.” 

Debbie:

Well, it’s really interesting in that sense because that obviously happened to me when I was in my day job. 

And one of the things that I always say is I looked at everybody that was around me and I had a really good job. My bosses were incredible, the people I was working with were great. And I think that’s the hardest when it doesn’t really suck when there’s nothing wrong about it and you’re very comfortable and that’s even harder to leave when nothing is wrong. 

But what made me really decide was looking at everybody and saying to myself, “Do I want their life? Do I want that for my future?” And then realizing that, “No, it’s not. It’s not what I want.” It’s like really taking stock of that. Looking at what your life is like and being like, “Okay, is this what my future is going to be?”

And then when you’re like, “Oh my gosh. No, I don’t want it. I want something more,” it comes like an eye-opener. And I love that you did all of that and you took a chance because it is a lot of failures. 

There’s so much that happens to it and you have to humble yourself in so many different ways and especially if you come from an environment where maybe you’re the boss, you have, like, a high paying salary and then all of a sudden you’re back to square one. 

Lynne:

Yeah.

Debbie:

It’s an awful feeling but it’s also a really good one because it’s going to lead you to everything you’ve ever wanted. But again, it’s like going back to square one again most of the time. 

Lynne:

Yeah. Very much so. 

And like you, I always say that the boss that I had, shout out to Mike, he was the best boss ever ’cause it was like, “Oh my God, I want to take three weeks off and go to Europe.” He goes, “Do you have the time saved up?” “Yep.” “Okay. Bye. Have fun.”

There was a good kind of work-life balance I think with the group that I worked with. And I had wonderful co-workers who I’m still friends with. And that was hard but, like I said, I just knew that it wasn’t for me, that that wasn’t the life I wanted to live.

I had gone out and I had done some traveling and I was like, “That’s when I felt the most alive, that’s when I felt, like, I was me.” And I think kind of being true to yourself and who you really are. And I think the gifts that you have that you need to give to the world.

So many of us, I think, end up, like, in jobs that we’re not really fully utilizing our gifts that we were given from the universe or whatever you believe in. But I believe that we all have those gifts and it’s like, “You got to go out there and you got to be you and give those gifts back to the world.”

Debbie:

And also believing that you can do it, right? Because I think a lot of us really doubt ourselves or maybe we’re surrounded by people who have never done anything that was a risk or they’re just living a comfortable life. And you feel like that’s what you should be doing because that’s what everyone in your circle is doing. 

I was listening to a podcast, I forgot which one it was, and he was talking about, like, his mother and some other person that always told him, like, he was crazy for wanting to do what he was doing, what he was trying to pursue. 

And he said, “I don’t want to do that to my own children or my own friends, or anybody around me.” So, he says that whenever anybody ever tells them something crazy, like, a crazy thing they want to do with their life, he always says, “How can we make this happen?” Instead of saying, “Are you nuts? That’s impossible. You’re never going to do that. That’s too hard.” 

So now every time I think about what I want to do or I hear somebody say something, like, outlandish or for me is crazy, I always say, “How can we make this happen? How can I help you get to that point?” Because most of us don’t have that and I would have liked to hear that from somebody that was close to me. 

So I’m like, “Oh my gosh. That’s the perfect thing to say to somebody.”

Lynne:

I agree with that.

And I grew up obviously being a little bit older and it was just more traditional. So all the things that I kind of wanted to do, everybody looks at me like, “Are you crazy?” Plus I come from the midwest which adds another part to it because people tend to be a little bit more kind of have traditional jobs. So It was really hard for me to say that this is what I want to do. 

And people saying, “How’s that going to work? You can’t make that work. That is nuts.” And I think that that kind of brings another thing. It’s really good to find a community of people who can support you. I hate to say this but sometimes it means you have to break up with people, break up with friends. 

It’s really hard if it’s family members but sometimes you just have to maybe spend a little less time with those family members if they’re not helping you, supporting you, and lifting you up. But, yeah, I think that that positive way of framing that is like, “How can I make that happen?” Because anything’s possible.

Debbie:

Yeah. Absolutely.

I mean, I look at so many people right now that are doing things that are impossible and I’m like, “They can do it.” Obviously, not everyone is going to be the same like that but they also don’t have the same goals. Like, what a person wants is something that you may not want but that doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve it. And it could be impossible. 

There are a lot of things: walking to the moon, having an airplane, even a car. Those things were impossible for so many of us and also, like, when I was growing up and it was crazy to even think that we can see people on video when we’re doing a call. And now that is what we do every single day. That’s what we’re doing now. 

And I’m like, “There are so many things that people thought were impossible and I can’t even imagine how many people would have done things that were impossible into possibilities if somebody just said to them, ‘How can we make this happen? How can I help you get to that next level?’” 

And it’s a crushing thing when you hear that from somebody that you care about, somebody that you love. And I think I definitely had that mentality for myself and for other people as well but when they started changing it’s like a mental blockage that you have, right? 

Lynne:

Right.

Debbie:

It turns things around. It makes things feel like there is something out there for you. And it’s so important to remember that.

Lynne:

Yeah.

Sometimes it’s hard. We all have that imposter syndrome: “I think I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough,” or whatever. 

But you just have to, like you said, surround yourself with people who believe in you and can kind of keep uplifting you – is kind of one way for you to follow that passion or whatever it is you feel like that “this is what I want to be doing with my life.” And that’s taking you down some sort of non-traditional type of life then you need to go for it. 

And getting over that imposter syndrome can be really hard and it’s that mindset that you really have to kind of start to just shift. And I think, again, surrounding yourself with people that do believe in you and can support you is, like, a huge part of helping you shift your mindset. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

So let’s go back to kind of what you’ve been doing, Lynne, because you’re doing so many incredible things. You’re in the travel industry but not just in one niche, you are in a lot of different things. You’re a travel planner, you blog, you do photography, you do podcasts. Like, how did you get into all of these things? 

I mean, I’m in a lot of things too and I’m like, “Lynne, how do you focus?” ‘Cause, that’s one of the things, that’s why before we did the interview I was like, “Lynne, I forget everything that’s why I write everything down because there’s so much in my head.” Sometimes I’ve even forgotten what day it is. I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” 

I’m trying to learn here. I’m like, “How do you do it, Lynne?”

Lynne:

Oh, well.

I’m older so I definitely write everything down as we were talking beforehand. 

I think those of us who are entrepreneurs have our fingers on a lot of different pies so to speak. We do sometimes have trouble with focus. 

So I think sometimes just learning how to maybe theme or block your time: Monday mornings are going to be for this task and Monday afternoons I’m going to do this. That’s one way to help. I kind of have to say, “Okay, this is maybe a photography day. So I’m going to just work on photography, on this day. This is the day where I’m going to maybe, like, work on client work on planning trips. So I might want to set up times since I do a lot of Europe.” 

Well, really, the only thing I do is Europe travel planning. So kind of keeping the time difference in mind, I might say, “Well it’s going to be better for me to try to do that work in the morning ’cause I know I’ll get a response from emailing people. I need to call people.” 

So I think kind of one thing is blocking out time and learning to use whatever works for you. Whether it’s a calendar, like, a Google Calendar or something like that, or if you’re a paper person then you use the old-fashioned kind of planner. 

I tend to be both because I feel like I need both places to do that. 

So, yeah, I think kind of that whole thing that’s kind of a big thing with time management is that kind of time blocking or theming your days. I don’t like to do the same thing all day long. So I like to do it, like, in chunks of time. Like, “Okay, I’ll set aside a couple of hours and maybe record a podcast or write a blog or I’ll take a couple of hours and do some research for a client.” 

So, yeah,I think that’s kind of one thing. It is hard though. There are lots of notes. Like, things everywhere. 

Debbie:

Oh my gosh.

Yeah.

And I’m the same way. Like whenever I am writing something. I mean, when I’m recording, like, I’ll just go straight to it and then I’ll finish everything. But especially when I’m writing something, I always have to take a break because I’m like, “This is a lot.” 

You’re doing a lot of research, you’re writing and it takes a lot of mental energy. And I’m like, “I always have to take a break.” I’m always like, “How do I take a snack?” Not even a break, I take a snack. 

Lynne:

There’s nothing wrong with that. 

And the other thing is, like, when you are working for yourself, you have to remember to take care of yourself. That self-care is huge, you have to make yourself get up and get away from your desk, like, every 30 minutes, 60 Minutes, whatever. 

I mean, I’ve had times where I know I’ve been sitting too long because I get up and I’m like, “I can feel it. I haven’t been moving.” So getting up on a regular basis and moving around. 

It’s very easy for us to, like, work well into the night, which if that’s when you’re at your most productive or most creative, power to you. Then maybe you have to opt for your day.

I’ve kind of started to make sure it’s like, “No. It’s 6 o’clock in the evening. I’m done.” I’m closing the laptop. I’m not going to do anything else unless I would have, like, a client call because of the after-work time or something. 

But I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re also taking care of yourself. It’s something that we, entrepreneurs, are bad at. 

Debbie:

It’s so hard. Oh, my gosh.

I’m raising my hand on that one because that’s really hard. But what I find with myself too is that it’s really hard to put things down because I do really enjoy everything that I do. And when I get bored, I work, when I’m sad, I work, when I’m happy, I work. Like every emotion, I work. I’m just like, “Okay, that has to stop.” 

And now I know when to stop because my eyes get blurry and I’m like, “Okay, that means I have to stop.” But that’s a good thing, right? Like, you love what you do so much that you don’t want to stop working but it’s also not good because you also need to have balance in your life. 

Lynne:

Exactly.

And I have to admit that I’ve been really bad about taking time off and because like you, it’s like I love what I do. So it’s like, “Heh. It doesn’t feel like work,” right?

Debbie:

Exactly.

Oh, my gosh.

Lynne:

So I’m just gonna keep going.

I think, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, you need to walk away. You definitely need to take that time off. So that’s something that I personally have been. It’s kind of a, I guess, New Year’s resolution if you will. So I’m trying to work on that a little bit more

And even if it means, like, I take Sunday afternoons off or something. Maybe I do a couple of hours in the morning and then I’m like, “Okay, I’m done.”. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

Lynne:

And that’s probably more because I would just go. And then I kind of feel like though, I mean, I don’t know if you have this problem, Debbie, if you kind of just go, go go but then you kind of, like, hit the wall. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

Lynne:

And then you’re like, “I can’t, I just can’t.” 

Debbie:

Yeah.

And when that happens to me, I’ll take, like, a whole week off. I’m like, “That’s why I don’t do this ’cause I can’t do anything.”

Lynne:

Right.

Debbie:

But it’s true, you have to have balance in your life because otherwise, it’s just going to bring you down and you can’t work and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m trying to learn from that. So…” 

Lynne:

Yeah.

It is a learning process. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

So you’re definitely working for yourself, you’re doing all of these things, how are you actually able to create income doing what you love in the travel space right now? 

Lynne:

Well, things were on the upswing until the pandemic came along. 

When I was living here, well, I am still living here in Cincinnati, I did take a part-time kind of location-dependent job where I was working at our local community center. Kind of to supplement my income as I was trying to build my business. 

Now, I work for LocationIndie.com where I’m the community manager. So I do about 12 hours a week for them. So that gives me kind of a base income and then it’s really through travel planning.

I have, like, three levels of service and that’s where I make my money into a little bit of stock photography selling – doesn’t really pay like it used to. There might be a little bit of affiliate sales. I do have some eguides which I’m hoping to expand and do a few more of those.

Yeah, 2020 was gonna be my best year and then we all know what happened. 

So this year, 2022, is actually looking like it’s going to be my best year. So, thankfully, I think barring any major variants of covid coming along that shut things down. I think everybody is just ready to get back out there and start traveling. 

So, that’s really how I’m bringing my income.  So it’s multiple streams really. I do have kind of an asset thing with my community manager position with LocationIndie. And then all the travel stuff. 

And that keeps growing and I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes in starting my business and I didn’t know what I didn’t know kind of thing. And so I feel like in these last few years even despite the pandemic, I’ve just been able to get my name out there a little bit more. 

I’ve kinda learned to be a better blogger, with things like SEO, and the podcast which I just started a year ago. I started it in January of 2021. That helped also to bring in more people since so many people obviously listen to podcasts these days. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

Lynne:

So it’s multiple revenue streams and I think it will remain that way going forward. 

Debbie:

I love that. 

Well, that’s really how we all survive this, right? And I think before the pandemic, people would look at us and say, “Well, that’s really unstable. How do you survive that?” And now after the pandemic, they’re like, “How can we do the same thing that you do?” Because now if you lose one stream of income, you’re still making money from something else. 

Lynne:

Right. 

Debbie:

And on top of that, you learn so many different skills working for yourself that you can work in so many different sectors, right? Like, you could be a photographer, a writer, a podcaster, all of these different things that you’ve learned that not a lot of people who’ve only done one job their whole entire life can do. So that makes you unique.

Lynne:

You know, what? I agree. 

In fact, as that happened, I had worked on my own website and I had a couple of people then approached me because I had worked in WordPress and just kind of figured it out. And everybody is like, “I really like your website. I’m like, “I did it myself.”

And so I ended up kind of picking up a few jobs that way and making and earning a little bit of extra income. The worst part of the pandemic, when people definitely weren’t traveling and were able to create some income that way. 

So, yeah, I mean, that’s it. I think when you are an entrepreneur and you are still an entrepreneur and you’re doing all the things and wearing all the hats, you do get a lot of skills and it is very helpful for sure. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

And you don’t realize how valuable the skills that you are learning until, like, you’re actually either making income or other people are coming to you to do all of these services or whatever it is that you’re doing. Because it’s really valuable, it’s super valuable. 

So don’t be afraid to go out there even if you are in your regular job right now, to do it on your own because you don’t know, you could get another job, remote work, doing exactly what you’re doing right now for yourself. 

And if it’s what you’re doing for yourself for free, you must love it, too. 

Lynne:

Yeah. Exactly.

Love that. 

Debbie:

So, Lynne, let’s move forward to about 20 to 30 years from now and you’re looking back on your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for? 

Lynne:

I think one of the things that I always love as a travel planner is when my clients come back and they tell me what a great trip they had and they’ve created these wonderful memories with the loved one, family, or whoever they happen to be traveling with. Or if they’re solo travelers, it’s just memories that they have, right? 

I guess that’s what I kind of hope that I’m remembered for; is that I really kind of helped people create these wonderful trips and create these wonderful memories, and that they can look back at that and that I had a little hand on that and helped them create that trip. 

Or for people that maybe don’t come to me to actually plan their trip, it’s just maybe through some of my photography, my writing, and the podcasting that maybe inspired them to maybe take a trip that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

I really believe in travel. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone especially if you’re not traveling in the posh places. And I think when you get out, you meet other people and you see other ways of life and walks of life and you meet all kinds of people and I think it enriches your life hugely. 

And so I feel like that’s my greater purpose with Wander Your Way as I just want to keep encouraging and inspiring people to travel. And to travel internationally and really see that we may have our differences but when it comes down to the core things, we are all the same. 

Debbie:

Yeah.

And the thing about what you do is you are a part of their memory whenever they look back at what they’ve done. And for some people, they really have been waiting for this for so long or they’ve saved up for it and you’re part of that. You’re part of making sure that their dream is coming true. 

Lynne:

Yeah.

Debbie:

So that is a really big thing. 

Lynne:

Yeah.

I love it.

Debbie:

They’re going to remember that forever ’cause that’s what I remember. I’m like, “I remember the people, the places, and the travels that you do.” So I love that legacy that you’re building and creating and continuing to do. So, that’s amazing, Lynne.

I am so happy that you joined us here today, Lynne. I’m so appreciative of you. 

If our listeners want to learn more about you, where can they find you? 

Lynne:

They can find me at Wander Your Way on all the channels. It’s like I’m wandering but not lost. And you can find me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, or probably on Pinterest – probably the two I’m the most active on.

Debbie:

Love it.

Lynne:

So yeah, WanderYourWay.com. Go check it out. 

Debbie:

That’s awesome. 

It’s simple, it’s easy. Make sure you check Lynne out everywhere. 

Thanks again, Lynne. We really appreciate you. 

Lynne:

Thanks, Debbie. I appreciate you too. It’s been a pleasure.


Listen to Lynne’s extended interview where she shares why you don’t have to be in your 20’s to start life on your own terms.

What you’ll find:

In this episode, Lynne will make you realize that you can start your life on your own terms.


Follow Lynne:


Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

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