How Traveling Can Boost Your Career (Why I Spent 4 Months Alone On The Road)

If you’d have told me a year ago that I would spend nearly half of 2015 traveling the US, I would have said you were delusional and then curled back up into my ball of comfort. I am not by any means a wandering spirit. I like the stability and comfort of a stable home and the security of knowing that my family is nearby. But after a particularly tumultuous 2014, I found myself questioning the legitimacy of my comfort strategy. Could I really grow to the level I wanted if I stayed in one spot? Could my current city offer me everything I wanted and needed? What about all the people out there that I hadn’t met who had the power to change my life and grow my career? In an uncharacteristically rash decision, I decided to spend the summer and fall of 2015 driving across the US. And you know what? It taught me more about myself and what I want out of my career than I could have ever imagined.

Opportunity to network

The biggest and most obvious benefit to traveling for your career is that it allows you a host of opportunities to network. The more cities and communities you can plant yourself in, the better. For me, this meant launching and helping organize Balanced Breakfast meetups, (a music community filled with musicians and industry pros) in Nashville, Austin, and Portland, Oregon. Through those meet ups I met amazing people that I still keep in touch with, work with, and get referrals from today. For you, it might mean discovering new bands and making connections that can help you out when you decide to tour. It could mean meeting a manager that really believes in you, or someone involved in sync licensing who can answer all your questions about getting your song on TV.

Be open to the possibilities and the quirky way in which the universe brings people together, and I promise you’ll meet some career changing people on the road—and probably start more than a few lasting friendships.

Creative revitalization

We all know the importance of rest and relaxation for cultivating a creative spark. We’re simply not at our creative best when we’re bogged down in our day to day responsibilities. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and into new environments can be just the creative boost you need. By traveling to new cities and embedding yourself in unfamiliar communities, you’re opening your eyes to a new way of life. You’ll learn what’s most important to you and what you value above all. Each new experience will test your limits and challenge your beliefs, and that kind of mindset is key for creativity. When you allow for creativity to re-enter your life you open yourself up to a world of new possibilities.

Appreciation for your hometown

One of the most powerful and unexpected things this trip taught me was that the grass isn’t always greener. A lot of people in this industry have a vision that New York, Nashville, or Los Angeles will change their lives. That if only they can get to those creative hubs everything is going to work out for them. The truth is that even though those places are abundant in musicians and industry professionals, they’re also oversaturated, and they attract (and require) a very specific type of person. So if your dream city doesn’t live up to your expectations, that doesn’t mean your hometown can’t be exactly what you need.

When I returned from my trip, I viewed Boston in a whole new light. I had a renewed sense of appreciation for so many things I had taken for granted (public transportation! Dunkin Donuts!) and I realized that more than anything, being away from home taught me to appreciate what I had—however flawed it may have seemed before. Understanding what I did and didn’t like from the cities I visited helped me to better understand exactly what it was I was looking for, and how I could use my experiences to further my career right where I was.

In the end, traveling made me a better person, and a better business owner—and I know it can do the same for you. It doesn’t have to be a major trip either—traveling once or twice a year to an industry conference, a road trip a state or two over, or a weekend tour with your band are all things that can inspire the same kind of growth. The most important thing to remember is to make the most of your travel. Whether it’s to the next town or clear across the country, every trip is an opportunity to meet with the person who could change your life or become your best friend—so have fun with it!

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, a Boston based public relations firm specializing in personalized campaign initiatives for independent artists. Muddy Paw artists have seen placements in Noisey, AbsolutePunk, PureVolume, Substream, and many other leading publications. Angela also owns music blog Infectious Magazine, and is the curator of several chapters of the music community Balanced Breakfast. She loves hanging out with her dog, eating ice cream, and a good book. Read more at https://angelamastrogiacomo.wordpress.com/

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.