Have you ever thought about chucking your job, and becoming a full-time Travel Guide leading people around the world on Adventure trips?
Here is a Q & A, which is part of a portrait project I am shooting of Travel guides and Adventurers.
Jen Cheng, is a guide based in San Francisco and who leads camping trips for small groups into the High Sierras. I caught up with her at Ocean Beach, and was able to ask her a few questions and get a few photos, before she headed off onto her next adventure!
Where are you from originally and what did you study in school?
I'm originally from a small town in Pennsylvania called Lebanon. There's a lot of cows, corn, and Amish people around. It was a nice place to grow up, but definitely not where I wanted to spend my 20s. I went to school in New Jersey and got my BS in Marketing and my MBA in Marketing with a concentration in Media and Professional Communications.
What prompted your move out out California?
I'd always dreamed of moving to California to pursue a career in the film industry, but what ultimately got me out here was my passion for travel. I landed a position with Intrepid Travel based in Santa Rosa, CA in April 2010 and have been around ever since.
How long have you been guiding and what inspired you to want that type of work?
I have been a guide now for three years! My trip to New Zealand in 2009 was what inspired me to become a guide. It was never a part of "the plan" but after meeting my wonderful Intrepid guides in New Zealand (who were both women) I just thought, "Why couldn't I do this too? It's just one summer of my life, and what is one summer in a life time?" Three years later and I can't seem to walk away.
What are your favorite places you've been guiding, and where else do you hope to guide in the future?
It's hard to pick favorites because every place is so different and I love each place for different reasons, but in general the Pacific Northwest is one of my favorites. It's just so picturesque and I have a lot of fond memories associated with it. Even when I'm not guiding, that's where I like to escape to on my own. New Orleans is probably one of my favorite cities to go to and the Southwest just never gets old for me. I'd have to say Yosemite is my favorite national park. If I could, I'd guide in Western Canada forever.
What is your travel experience aside from guiding?
When I was 18, my older sister convinced me to spend the money I had saved for college on a trip to Hawaii with her, and that's when I caught the travel bug. Since then, any chance I got to see some place new, I took it. I studied abroad in England for a semester in college and got to see most of the UK, France, and Spain. Spent two months traveling around in China with my family, but my two favorite places, so far, are New Zealand and Portugal. I'd love to go to Africa, Antarctica, and Southeast Asia.
What are your immediate plans in the future?
I have no immediate plans for the future. I try to keep my options open and look for signs and new opportunities that present themselves to me and I just wing it for the most part. Some people may look down on that sort of rootless existence, but I'm just riding this ridiculous train of life, chasing the dream, and looking for happiness. I like San Francisco for now, but I know I need the horizon in my life so, who knows where my next stop will be.