Give For Granted Founder Jenna Davis
I came to know Jenna Davis while living in Düsseldorf Germany where I work, and where she has perfected the art of making play, work. Jenna is a rare breed. She is one who stood up and said, “yes!” Her story is truly one of living ones’ “what if,” and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview her and learn about her journey in life. Enjoy the interview, get inspired, and leave Jenna a comment below.
Connect with Jenna Davis and with Give For Granted:
Many people dream of quitting their 9-5 job and adventuring around the world, but you did it. What is it about your personality, upbringing, or life philosophy that got you across the tipping-point and out into the world?
That’s just it. Why dream of quitting your 9-5 job and adventuring around the world, when you can just do it?
The number of times that I’ve heard friends and family say “I’m so jealous of the life you live, you get to travel the world, experience amazing things and meet wonderful people”… it’s absurd.
I am no different from you or anyone else in this world, the only difference between my life and someone working a 9-5 job is that I decided to quit and leave.
Of course, it helped to have that “push” to get up and go. This “push” for me was the realization that I was spending 3-4 hours in traffic everyday on my way to work, racking up car bills and taking medication for anxiety and depression. I didn’t want to do any of it and I didn’t want to take medication. The doctor said it was essential in order for me to feel better, but I found an easier answer. The answer was simply to do something I loved, something that made me happy and didn’t bog me down.
Once you realize that life goes on and if you don’t do it now, you might never, that’s when you should be making the switch to a happier and healthier life. For some, this might not be travelling, but working from home or spending more time with family. Do what makes you happy and fulfill your dreams.
What was the moment when everything changed? When you went from being who you were before, to being the global adventurer that you are today?
I was sitting at my office desk in a marketing firm in Toronto. I decided it was the day I was going to put my foot down and actually take a lunch break (not many people did). So I sat behind my computer, took my lunch break, and started searching for terms like “win a trip to Africa”, “will write for free” and “Apply to work abroad”.
I found an opportunity to write a short essay on why I wanted to travel across South Africa. If I won the competition, I would set off on a 1.5 month journey visiting a number of Hostels from Johannesburg down to Cape Town.
Well… I won the competition, set off on that month and a half journey, and never looked back.
It was my job to write a short blog post each and everyday about my experiences on the road, to inspire other travellers and backpackers to visit South Africa’s most beautiful hostels.
I found a passion in writing and marketing my blog and decided to start up my own project and title it Give for Granted, a travel blog about sustainable and philanthropic adventures around the globe.
You have been very successful in finding flexible work which has supported your nomadic lifestyle. What tips or advice can you offer for finding work while traveling? How about obtaining visas to work (or working without one)?
Forget about making money on the blog for a minute. If you want to travel the world and write about your adventures, then do it… but find an alternative way to make money.
This tip might only help a few people, but I found that once I started investing time and money into creating a blog that I would turn into my full-time job, I lost the passion in it. Instead, I’ve kept my blog as a hobby project and looked elsewhere for employment opportunities.
The easiest thing you can do is sit down and think about what your strengths are, what you’re great at.
I knew I had a knack for social media marketing and creating blog content. So instead of pushing through and finding a way to get paid on my own blog, I started offering my services to others. Today, I am a Social Media Manager, Global Content Editor and Blogger Campaign Manager (for a number of different clients).
Can you summarize 4 work-related skills that are very helpful to have when pursuing a nomadic lifestyle?
- Organization: Some people call me an organizational freak, but if I lacked any of the organizational skills I have today, I wouldn’t succeed in this nomadic lifestyle. Without order, it’s hard to constantly keep up multiple projects on-the-go, while travelling the world.
- Marketing Knowledge: Social media and online marketing can often be learned online and at home, but there is a core component to my nomadic lifestyle that relies heavily on what I learned in my marketing classes in University.
- Time Management: This relates to having organizational skills as well, but making sure that you manage your time accordingly is extremely important. When you’re working with others and are required to work on the go, clients expect you to get your work submitted on time.
- Networking: In the workplace, you’re always required to put your best foot forward, network with your colleagues and make a good name for yourself. However, when you’re working on-the-go, it’s even more important for you to network and promote yourself and your skills. This is the only way you’re going to be able to build new client lists and make friends along the way.
You studied sport management business in university. Has that helped or hindered your pursuits of traveling the world?
While it doesn’t relate completely to my new career as a nomadic social media manager and content creator, my studies in Sport Management Business have helped me greatly. I learned the rules of financial management, law, marketing and entrepreneurship. While this all had a focus on sport, it isn’t hard to put the spin on travel.
In my third year of University I travelled to Peru to help educate teachers and professionals in Lima how to incorporate sport into their daily lifestyles. In my fourth year of University I took a 4 month course in Thailand learning about Sustainable Tourism and Environment. From there, everything just started fitting in place.
What obstacles have you faced as a solo woman traveler around the world? How have you overcome them?
I’ve faced many obstacles as a traveler in general, but the only obstacle I’ve faced being a solo female traveler is that everyone else around me seems to be worried about my safety and well being.
I am strong, I am smart and I am well-traveled.
I tell myself this in situations where I feel uncomfortable, and I remind myself that regardless of whether I’m 25 or 50, female or male, we are all the same. We can all avoid being put in dangerous situations, we can all kick into fight or flight mode and we can all take care of ourselves.
As a female, I simply make sure that I do my research before visiting a country and I avoid travelling alone at night.
Being independent does not mean going at it alone. Who most influenced you in your pursuit of your initial solo backpacking adventure, and how?
My husband. Ironically, my husband and I met on my very first backpacking/blogging adventure in South Africa back in 2012. For the first couple years in our relationship, we were trying to make long distance work. In order to find enough time to travel and visit him, I needed to create a nomadic lifestyle that would allow me to be on the road. In order to afford the flights and accommodations, I need to find remote work at the same time.
While there were numerous bumps in the road, my husband pushed me to follow my dreams and was often at the other end of the world waiting for me. In 2014, I made the decision to pack my things up from Canada and move to Germany to live with him. The opportunities in Europe as a blogger have been endless. It was the best decision I could have possibly made.
You have had a few mishaps in your journeys: a bus crash in India, being attacked by orangutans in the Indonesian rainforest. Do these experiences discourage your from traveling, or are they what make the journey worthwhile?
At the end of the day, it’s experiences like these that make the best stories. However, that’s not to say that these experiences haven’t shaped the kind of travel I embrace today.
I’ve lived and I’ve learned over the past 5 years.
I’ve lived through these wild experiences to tell amazing stories when meeting friends for a beer or new travellers on the road, and I’ve learned from these mishaps along the way. Yes, I still have numerous wild and adventurous stories to tell, but many of them nowadays are not while I’m on solo adventures. I’ve now decided to pick and choose my solo adventures and my group travel.
These mishaps led me to enjoying solo travel in the city and group travel in the nature. It’s easy to make new friends and explore beautiful sights in a city while travelling solo, but adventure travel tends to be more fun when I travel with a group.
Life is about the journey, not the destination. What is your #1 highlight of your current journey?
Call me cheesy, but my #1 highlight has been the entire journey itself. If I hadn’t of made that decision back in 2012 to quit my job, travel the world and do what I love… I would not be:
- Living in Germany
- Married to the man I love
- Running my own website
- Making international friends
- … and living my life
Sometimes I sit back and try to imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t get up and go… and I am 100% sure that I’d be sitting in that same chair at that marketing office, on a double-dose of medication driving 3-4 hours in traffic everyday.
The secret? I stopped waiting for life to happen, I made it happen.
Connect with Jenna Davis
Thank you Jenna for taking the time to provide these insights about how you have successfully escaped the rat-race of others’ expectations and gone out into the world to live your own life. The happiness you have found radiates to those around you, and to those you read your work. To all the readers who have made it this far, please leave a comment for Jenna, or connect with her online: GiveForGranted.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram.