by Mallory Henderson
As college students and graduates transition into their lives as young professionals, they also begin to find new forms of recreation and entertainment. Increasingly young people begin to travel during the switch from school to career. What makes them want to take an adventurous trip instead of participating in the weekly night on the town? Photographer and travelista, Rena Iglehart, gave some perspective on the matter.
Q: What do you do for a living, and how does travel fit in with your career?
A: I am an entrepreneur. I create irreplaceable image collateral as a professional photographer; I help people see the world and allow them to make a living. I believe professionals in this generation see more value in making connections at a younger age.
If you are a true young professional you are constantly on the move looking for new opportunities in multiple places. When you travel you have the opportunity to connect to people around the world, build bridges, and make money in multiple time zones. The average young professional is aware that we cannot rely on one stream of income to secure our future or that of our children’s children. We always have to be on the lookout for opportunities. We have to think outside the box and create opportunity for ourselves that may not lie in our own city, but in another continent.
Q: Your first trip overseas was when you fell in love with traveling. What about that trip moved you?
A: My first day in Nice, France was when I realized I would be traveling for the rest of my life. I went to the museum and saw art that was so intriguing that it triggered my desire to learn more about other cultures. I [viewed] African art that I never expected to see in Southern France. … Experiencing different cultures for yourself and not from a book and TV screen is an entirely different experience. You [begin] to open your eyes and expand your potential, your knowledge of your own culture and life in general.
There were elderly people walking about smiling from ear to ear and simply looking out into the ocean. Americans are stressed. We work more than those in many countries and rarely go on vacations. Everyone in France was relaxed. That is when I learned that they usually have days off and don’t work nearly as many hours as the average white collar [American]. That is when I realized that there is more to life than getting a job; you have to really live your life.
Q: What are some important benefits of traveling?
A: You learn a lot about yourself when you travel. You meet people and learn things about other cultures and people. I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things at home like free cold water and a good economy. [We] passed by families living in tin shacks, but they had a spirit of those living in a mansion. The simple things in life like creating memories with those you love become evident when you travel. My friends and I constantly talk about our world travels, and that is something that will never be replaced.
Q: Do you find traveling necessary, especially for young professionals?
A: YES! The second you travel I guarantee you will see a positive change in your professional career. When you start traveling you learn [the] art of what I call Just Doing It. You don’t think about the price of the trip, you think about the experience and the benefits in the end. Once you have that mindset, it will translate into decisions you make in your career, and you will watch your career go to places you never expected.
Q: Are there specific places you recommend every young professional visit?
A: My only advice would be to get out of the country. Going to NYC and New Orleans is totally different than going to Florence or Rome. Since we are in Houston you can start small and simply go on a cruise. We are fortunate to live close to a port so we don’t have to pay extra. There are cruises out of Galveston that go to Mexico and a few Islands and [are] very affordable for any professional.
Q: How would you advise students and new professionals to assure they travel in the near future?
A: Find where you want to go and when and just book it. Don’t hesitate. The main excuse people use for not traveling is that it is too expensive or they don’t have time. I was working at Starbucks and a video editing company and making less than $20,000 when I went to Florence. If I can do it anyone can. Save accordingly, and find a few like-minded people you want to go with you.
Q: What’s one thing about traveling you want to share with young professionals?
A: Life is too short to wait until you are retired to travel, and people are retiring later and later these days. Why wait? The travel industry is an 8 TRILLION dollar industry. If you are looking to invest then you need to find a way to get in the travel industry. I’m part of a travel club where you can be just a member or be apart of the business where you have the ability to create a stream of income. I am not a travel agent, but we are able to go on trips for wholesale prices. My travel business has been a blessing and one of the smartest decisions I have ever made. … More people are traveling in their younger years than ever before!
*Photos Courtesy of Rena Iglehart