Interview: Erin Outdoors (Erin Sullivan)
We talk to photographer and blogger Erin Sullivan from 'Erin Outdoors' about her hugely successful and inspirational online travel blog.
Photography by Garrett King & Erin Sullivan
Can you tell us more about your background and how you became a travel blogger?
Sure – I'm originally from suburban Connecticut. I never went camping or did anything outdoorsy growing up and I didn't leave the country until I was 21, I just always had this curiosity about the world and knew I wanted to explore it. So as soon as I could make it happen, I did. Throughout college I worked as a summer camp counselor, which evolved into wilderness guiding. After graduating, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I decided to lead trips in countries I wanted to visit while I figured that out. Trip leading is a really cool job, but it's also really demanding, and all my friends wanted to know how I did it. I started the blog originally as a way to share my tips and adventures with my friends. It evolved into a place for me to write honestly about my experiences. My writing has matured a lot since I first started the blog, and now it is a place for empowerment and inspiration through adventure.
Why is travel and adventure so important to you?
I think we are most useful to this world when we know ourselves really well. And I think one excellent way to get to know yourself is to take yourself out of your routine completely and get immersed in something new. For most people, that can be accomplished through travel and adventure. I'm a huge fan of leaning into discomfort, because that's where we learn the most. Get to the cliff of what terrifies you and take a leap of faith – that's the type of adventure I am seeking, and that I hope everyone gets to experience in their lives.
Why do you feel it's so important to work in a field that you're passionate about?
The world doesn't need people who don't care about what they are doing. The world has no use for you if you're living your life like it's a chore. What the world desperately needs is people who are fired up about something – and it doesn't matter what that thing is, it just matters that you do it. Get quiet, pay attention to the things that light you up, and do more of that. >>>
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on putting together an amazing group of people for a 7 day adventure and personal development retreat in Greece. It's June 22-29 and spots are still available! This trip is for anyone looking for something that's a little more intentional then your normal vacation. So far, the participants on board are amazing. More details here: www.tripin.gr/trip/experience-cyclades-with-erin-outdoors.
How would you say social media contributes to your work?
My work has so much to do with connection between people, and I think social media can be an amazing tool for that. When I started being real about my experiences on Instagram, people were more open to me and they were more willing to share their experiences. There is such power in community. Social media can create that if we use it for the right reasons.
Where would you love to travel in the future?
I'd love to go to India or Brazil.
What is your favourite travel destination?
I can honestly find something good about every single place I have been, but I really enjoy a mix of culture and nature. Some of my favorite trips have been in Italy, Greece, New Zealand, and Guatemala.
What is your favourite gadget or must have adventure accessory?
The most important thing I travel with is my journal. I write every day – it's how I express myself, how I work through things, and often how I generate new ideas. I never leave home without it.
Whose work would you say influences you the most?
I'm really inspired by people who are honest about their stories in a public arena. Brené Brown's work has been a staple in my life since I started writing more vulnerable stuff. I'm inspired by Donald Miller, Bob Goff, Elizabeth Gilbert, Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes – anyone who is actively seeking to learn more and whose goal is to serve others. In my life I am blessed to be surrounded by inspiring people. When I am in Denver, I volunteer at a soup kitchen a friend of mine directs, and he is a huge inspiration to me. My friend & collaborator BC Serna inspires me for the way he shares his heart with the world in order to invite others to do the same. My friend Katie Boué inspires me for her dedication to preservation and protection of public lands. My friends who started the impact travel company Journey inspire me for the dream they are putting out into the world. My mom inspires me for the way she shows up for me and anyone she knows. Overall I feel so lucky to be surrounded by people who chase their dreams relentlessly.
What advice would you give to other travel bloggers trying to get started?
The best piece of advice I can give anyone is to just START. If you wait for permission, or for some kind of qualification, you will never actually do anything. It isn't going to be perfect at first – in fact, it might never be. But your definition of perfect is always on you, and you always have the option to change that definition. Who cares that you don't know what you're doing? Nobody actually knows what they are doing. Rip the bandaid off. Start today.
What are your future plans for Erin Outdoors?
I am so excited with where things are going. I fell into the personal development world on accident, but I know without a doubt that this is what I am on this planet to do – help people live a more purposeful and adventurous life on their terms. That's my dream, that's why I am here, so every single thing I do with Erin Outdoors has to do with that purpose. The future of Erin Outdoors involves expanding to reach more people on a deeper level. You're going to see me facilitating more workshops, doing more 1-1 coaching, webinars, and a book. I'm excited!