I Wanted To Be a Travel Photographer

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Actually maybe I wanted to be a travel writer, or even better – a combination of the both. So it’s no surprise that 12 months ago, when I started to pin the location of my Facebook friends onto a world map canvas I purchased at TYPO that I started to hatch a grand plan.

I decided I was going to meet as many of my international Facebook friends as possible and document the journey via photography. I’d pretend I was a travel photographer I told myself. I wanted to see if the travel photography lifestyle was really as glamorous as it seemed. I wanted to know if I could actually be a travel photographer.


With a very limited budget I started to plan my dream adventure – six weeks in the USA. I planned an epic road trip from LA to NYC but I couldn’t afford accommodation and car rental so I had an idea! I hired a campervan from Escape Campervans USA and to save even more money I decided to use my Anytime Fitness gym membership to its fullest. Rather than pay camping fees, I was going to camp at the gym, using the facilities along the way.

So what actually happened?

I arrived at LA on the day before Thanksgiving, caught a cab to Escape Campervans, picked up my new home for the next 6 weeks and drove off into the sunset.

On the wrong side of the road for the first 50 meters.


I made it all the way to Manhattan Beach, a mere 15 minutes away, where I fell asleep and received a parking ticket. Clearly I was off to a great start. The sun was rapidly setting and I had to find somewhere to stay… in the van. Using the Anytime Fitness App I was able to locate a gym close by, I drove there, settled in – And that’s where I parked overnight; in a gym carpark somewhere in LA.


The following morning I woke up… ready to start my adventure and quickly settled into my daily routine for the next 40 days and 40 nights.


What was my daily routine?

Upon waking I’d quickly dash into the gym to visit the bathroom – this was often an embarrassing shuffle in my PJ’s with bed hair. I’d get changed into my workout gear and head back to the van.


Next I would have breakfast and do some house work (fold away the bed) before heading into the gym for my daily workout. A 1 hour workout would turn into a three hour event by the time I’d actually work out, shower and get dressed then spend a while talking to the other patrons.

I’d then usually spend about an hour exploring the neighbourhood, doing some street photography along the way before returning back to the van.


Using the Anytime Fitness app I’d then decide where I was going to spend that night, usually aiming to drive 3-4 hours each day. I’d stop along the way if I saw something that NEEDED to be photographed.


When I arrived at that nights ‘destination’ gym I’d go in at meet the owners, get the WIFI codes and check out the other facilities. I quickly discovered that if I parked the van close enough to the gym, I could get WIFI in the van! Each night I’d spend an hour or two editing the day’s images and uploading them to social media.


Where did I go?

Over the six weeks I drove from LA to San Fran then all the way to Pensacola in Florida (and everywhere else inbetween). I then headed deep into the US’s corn country, all the way up to Chicago, before heading to Washington, Philly and finally NYC. In total I covered over 7500 miles.


Where did I stay in NYC?

Downtown Manhattan, in a high-rise parking lot – in my campervan.


What gear did I take?

– Nikon D800

24-70 f2.8 lens

– 2 spare batteries (EN-EL15)

– many memory cards

– portable hard drive

– mac book

– a cheap travel tripod that ended up in a bin somewhere in Texas.

– ThinkTank Retrospective 40


Did I meet any of my Facebook Friends?

YES! In total I met 8 amazing people, but the funny thing, I made even more friends along the way.


So, Do I still want to be a travel photographer?



However, it’s not as glamorous as I thought. It was a lot of hard work, it was exhausting and I actually didn’t have time to write a single blog post while I was gone. I had totally underestimated just how much hard work was involved with being a travel writer and photographer, and next time, I’m going to have to work harder or socialise much less.

You can hear more about my trip here where I was interviewed by Valerie Jardin on her Street Focus Podcast

About the author:

Cherie McKay


Melbournian to the heart, divorced mum of four boys, Cherie is an entrepreneur, photographer and writer. She ventured into photography after spending over ten years in the corporate sector but quickly realised the world didn’t need another portrait photographer – instead the world needed beautiful camera bags specifically designed for women.

Cherie went on and designed her own range of camera bags and founded the company SHUTTER|bag in 2009 and after establishing international distributors, Cherie sold SHUTTER|bag in 2013.

Cherie is currently working on a book based on her popular short stories (www.cheriemckay.com) as well as managing her photography business The Memory Supply Co, but behind the scenes, she’s trying to hatch a plan to incorporate more travel and street photography into her life. You can find Cherie on the following channels: FacebookFacebook Page TwitterGoogle+Instagram Website