INTERVIEW: Orla Corrigan – Travelorlabout

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When I decided to start an interview series on my blog I had hoped that it would give me the chance to meet some interesting people along the way. So far, I’ve been right. This is only my second interview on Niamh Serena and already I’ve been so amazed by people’s stories.

Orla Corrigan of travel blog, Travelorlabout, hasn’t taken the most conventional career path since graduating and if you happen to know me on a personal level, you’ll know exactly why this sparked my interest but more on that another time.

After graduating in 2011 she decided to take a 3 month trip to Zakinthos. This turned into years of amazing travelling and an explosive CV. In order to fund her travels Orla took on odd jobs, working in roles including promoter, event planner, fashion stylist, au pair, freelance writer and so much more in countries across the world.

The 26 year old has now gone back to her roots and come home to Ireland. Dying to hear more, I was lucky enough to sit down (virtually) with Orla for an interview.

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FIRSTLY, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO ON THIS AMAZING TRAVELLING ADVENTURE AROUND THE WORLD? TALK US THROUGH HOW IT ALL STARTED.

I think growing up in a remote countryside village (Ballinamuck) in Ireland gave me a push to want to see the bigger world. Even when I moved to Dublin for the first time to study my degree I fell in love with city life and having a fast paced lifestyle.

My brother had moved to Australia before me and I remember seeing his pictures and him telling me of his adventures and that sealed the deal for me – I just had to go! It was officially after a three month season of living in Greece that I wanted to keep travelling for as long as possible. I have been travelling now for five years and have no plans to stop anytime soon.

I’M REALLY INTRIGUED AS TO HOW THE WHOLE PROCESS WORKED AND I KNOW THAT MAKING TRAVELLING PLANS CAN BE TRICKY AT TIMES. HOW MUCH OF THE TRIP, IN TERMS OF DESTINATIONS, CAME DOWN TO SPONTANEITY? HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHERE TO GO AND WHEN TO LEAVE?

I would say I am a pretty random person, if someone invites me along on a trip, it’s unlikely I would say no. Sometimes I could be scrolling through Skyscanner and I will see cheap flights to a destination I have never been, I’ll book them straight away without even thinking too much about it.

 As far as the five countries I have lived in (Greece, UK, Austria, Australia, Thailand) that took a lot more planning. I like to research destinations I am going to live in, in depth and have everything from visas to job sorted if possible. I always connect with people living in the country I am moving to beforehand as well. I usually leave a country when my visa runs up or I get itchy feet to move somewhere else.

THROUGHOUT YOUR TRAVELS YOU’VE EXPERIENCED FORMS OF TRAVEL COMPANIONSHIP IN MOST FORMS, TRAVELLING BOTH BY YOURSELF AND WITH FRIENDS. WHEN IT CAME TO TRAVELLING WITH OR WITHOUT PEOPLE WHICH DID YOU PREFER?

I will have to admit I feel very fortunate to have experienced all the different travelling types, solo, with friends, with a partner and even with my family. If I had to choose between solo and with friends I would choose friends. Being an incredibly social person I like to share amazing experiences and create memories with others. However if there is no one available to come on a trip with me that will never stop me from going. I make friends pretty easily and hostels are a great place to surround yourself with likeminded people.

YOU’VE CHOSEN TO TAKE A LESS TRADITIONAL APPROACH TO BUILDING A CAREER PATH FOR YOURSELF AND IN THE PROCESS HAVE HAD THE CHANCE TO REALLY TRY A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FINDING WORK AS YOU MOVED FROM DESTINATION TO DESTINATION?

Yes my resume is exploding at this stage from all the various jobs I have done. Finding the work all really depends on the place and my current situation at that time. Sometimes I had contacts in certain places that knew of employment opportunities that were going. Most of the time I was trying to experience jobs that I could see myself having a career in. I loved my time working in events and that is still an area of employment I could see myself in. The opportunities I have had work wise are amazing. I got to work at the Grand Prix in Melbourne and as a TV extra too. Next month I am starting a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing and Online PR and I am pretty confident this will be the career area I will pursue from here on in. My best advice is to push yourself to try jobs even if you don’t meet all the requirements the job role has listed, show and demonstrate your willingness to learn, that has always worked for me. I find agency work to be great for when you are travelling, you have the freedom to choose your working hours etc.

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WERE THERE EVER MOMENTS WHEN YOU WANTED TO JUST PACK IT ALL IN AND COME HOME? IF SO, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO KEEP GOING AND PUSH THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES?

Travelling isn’t always easy that’s for sure. I have experienced hitting low points where I found myself in another country with not a lot of money. Luckily I have an amazing supportive family who are always there for me. You also learn to grow up and live independently very quickly when travelling and you find the friends you make travelling will help you through anything. Once you believe you can do anything, you can make it through anything. There will often be down days but they are rare in comparison to the good times, I can promise that.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR OVERALL TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE?

There has been so many amazing moments that it is difficult to pick one stand out moment. Travelling wise the highlight has been making friends for life all over the world. I am regularly in touch with loads of travel buddies I have made. Only a couple of weeks ago I met an American friend of mine in Dublin whom I met years ago on a Contiki trip round the Greek Islands. Next month I am off to Morocco with a friend I met in Melbourne.

 Work wise I am very proud of the international jobs I have nabbed and the skills they have taught me over the years. Getting my first travel article published in an Expat lifestyle magazine is one of my proudest moments and seeing my travel story featured in INSIDER travel two weeks ago was also a major travelling/work highlight. See it here.

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WHAT DO YOU FEEL THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

It has taught me so many things. I am now such an open minded person who is willing to try new things. Travelling has made me always want more in life and be quite ambitious. It’s also helped to make me more independent and confident in various ways like job interviews and networking. It has also taught me to appreciate little things in life when you witness other cultures who have much less than we do. The main thing it has taught me is to live in the moment and never turn down an opportunity. I am scared of nothing now, travelling is such an empowering experience.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO COME HOME? 

There are a few reasons I came home for a year

  • To learn how to drive and get my licence (hopefully). I drove a motorbike in Thailand but have never actually drove a car so that was one of my major priorities for this year. I am still a danger despite being eleven lessons in.
  • Work on and grow by blog by revamping my website and creating new engaging content.
  • Complete my course in digital marketing which also includes an internship for 3 months
  • Travel more of Europe. Living in Ireland it’s so easy to just hop on a plane and experience a new country in an hour or two.

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LASTLY, NOW THAT YOU HAVE RETURNED TO IRELAND, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED FOR YOUR NEXT MOVE? ARE YOU HERE TO STAY?

The next three places I am visiting are Morocco, Lisbon and Amsterdam. I honestly don’t think I am here to stay in Ireland (unless I get an amazing job offer where travel is part of my role). I am hoping Canada will be my next location to live and work. I never like to plan too far ahead though as my plans often change on a weekly basis which keeps life very exciting.

WARNING: When interviewing a travel blogger expect to leave with severely itchy feet. Prepare to feel inspired to ditch the day job, pack it all in and travel the world starting tomorrow. I know I was certainly tempted. Between her attitude and incredibly impressive CV this girl is definitely destined for great things.

Keep up to date with Orla’s adventures over on www.travelorlabout.com 

Follow her along Facebook , Instagram and Twitter or contact Orla at orla@travelorlabout.com

 Niamh  ♥
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