Traveling can be a fantastic experience at the best of times but it’s even better when you can combine it with something you are passionate about. Diana Edelman took to the road in 2010 after realizing that her “dream” career in public relations wasn’t making her happy.
She’d developed a passion for elephants ever since first encountering them and badgered her way into a volunteer position taking care of the magnificent creatures in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
After 2 ½ wonderful years there Diana decided to move on to her new home base of Madrid – a city she had fallen in love with on an earlier trip.
We caught up with her and her two traveling cats where she shares her experiences of living in Chiang Mai, the opportunities ahead for her in Madrid and we discussed her passion for responsible tourism
What I learned from Diana’s interview:
- Chiang Mai is an inspiring location but be wary of the burn season from February until April. The jungle surrounds are burned off filling the town with smoke and haze. It’s a good time to head to the southern beaches if you don’t want to be breathing in the air!
- Responsible tourism is a fast growing area which focuses on doing the right thing in the places which you visit – not only from an environmental perspective but also from an economic one.
- Spain have recently introduced an entrepreneur visa, no doubt prompted by the economic turmoil going on in the country. If you can present a solid business plan to the appropriate entity they will assess whether or not your business idea is sustainable and will help the local economy. If you pass then you could have a chance to stay longer term.
- It’s a good idea to have a back-up plan. Diana is learning to teach English. Even though it’s not her primary objective it will give her another means of income if her writing should slow down at all
- Although not comparable to the costs of Chiang Mai (she was able to live for around $US700 per month while there) Madrid can still offer an affordable lifestyle. She is paying around $US750 per month for a 48sqm apartment but she is centrally located which reduces transport costs. All up Madrid is costing her around $US1300 per month to live
- If you’re going to write be genuine. Diana has developed a very successful blog because she writes well but she emphasizes the need to be genuine if you want your blog to rise above the many that are currently appearing online. Writing for Google ranking is not the most effective way to build a long term following.