BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Geraldine DeRuiter sat in the middle of a hotel bed in Naples, thousands of miles away from home, attempting to drown her sorrows with sweets and wine when she got the text. After months of waiting and worrying, she had been laid off of her copywriting job in Seattle. While her initial reaction was a sigh of relief—DeRuiter had known the news was coming eventually—she couldn’t help but feel disconnected and sad that she wasn’t at home to support her 70 other co-workers and friends who had also lost their jobs. The news really hit her on the trip back home when passport services asked her what she did for a living. “I’m a copywriter,” DeRuiter replied. “Actually, I was a copywriter.”
Once at home, DeRuiter felt lost without her daily routine. She tried to enjoy time with her husband, Rand, but that was difficult as he travelled often for work. She started looking for new jobs, but was having very little luck. It’s an unsettling situation DeRuiter says—losing your dream job. One weekend Rand was getting ready to travel to Iceland and proposed an idea: “Come with me,” he said. DeRuiter was skeptical and didn’t think it would be financially responsible. Even though she felt guilty and like she was running away from her problems, she packed her bags for Iceland—which would prove to be just what she needed. Of the trip DeRuiter said, “ We had the most amazing time and I thought to myself, this is what I should be doing.”
After DeRuiter was laid off she packed her bags and left on a trip to Iceland with her husband- little did she know that two years later this would become her fulltime career.
After Iceland DeRuiter continued to search for the right job. She began freelancing and travelling with Rand a little more, who suggested that she start a blog. DeRuiter didn’t think that anyone would want to read a blog about her travel rants, but started one anyway so that she and Rand could remember all of the adventures they had been on. For the first few months traffic was very slow. “I basically had two readers,” DeRuiter joked. “And one of them was my husband.” It was almost exactly two years later when everything changed; her blog “The Everywhereist,” had been listed on Time Magazine’s ‘Best Blogs of 2011’ list.
“At first I thought it was a mistake and then I thought it was a scam email. I was having Rand check, cause I thought they were going to ask for my credit cards—I had no idea what was going on,” recalls DeRuiter of her initial reaction to the news. But it wasn’t a mistake and when she went to check her blog, she found she had gained an enormous amount of traffic. “It initially petrified me,” DeRuiter said. “Because as a writer it’s easy to create work that you think no one will read. There’s no risk, you’re just shouting into an empty room. If the room suddenly gets filled with people, you can get stage fright, which is sort of what happened.” She described the next chapter of her blog as an awkward adolescence, where she didn’t know who she was and struggled a bit to regain her voice—which she feels is the most important tool a writer has.
After two years of hard work her blog, “The Everywhereist,” was listed on Time Magazine’s ‘Best Blogs of 2011’
Blogging is an easy way to get your writing out into the world, but if you want to establish loyal followers, DeRuiter says finding your voice is critical. She recommends experimenting and not being afraid to try anything. “In the beginning, I did everything. I threw what I had at the wall to see what would stick.” DeRuiter says that being honest is the best way to stay true to your voice and to influence people. “When you’re sincere and you’re passionate about what you’re writing about—that’s what people connect to.”
Above all, DeRuiter hopes to instil the message that anyone can travel. She also wants people to stray away from the idea that it’s only “real” travel if you quit everything—pour gasoline over your life and light a match—in order to start anew. You don’t have to quit your job and drop everything to have an adventure—you can have both. “If you have a job, and a mortgage or kids, don’t feel like you need to abandon that,” DeRuiter said. “There are so many ways to travel. You can explore your own hometown, you can go on a road trip, you can watch a documentary. The thing that you need to have is a curiosity and empathy for the people and world around you.” DeRuiter believes there is no such thing as small travel. Whether a family weekend trip to a new part of the province or a six-month extreme hike throughout Asia—both are amazing. “Travel is extremely accessible, but we start to forget that when we only put value on certain trips.”
With her blog traffic high, DeRuiter plans to continue writing and travelling and sharing her adventures with the world. She has some domestic travel plans for the next few months—Boston, New York, Philadelphia—and then hopefully a trip to Europe. “I fell into this. I wasn’t planning on having this great adventure,” DeRuiter said. “I feel very fortunate that it turned out really positively for me. I hadn’t anticipated that.” The old adage reads, ‘fortune favours the bold’—DeRuiter is living proof that adventure is a meeting point between aspiration and need.
DeRuiter hopes to instil the message that absolutely anyone can travel; you just have to take the leap. The old saying goes “fortune favours the bold”
Sources: dailytravelpodcast.com – photos 2 – 3 by Geraldine DeRuiter