Back on the Horse

margo-rome-1For 3 years I wrote 2+ blog posts per week then in May I totally stopped. Here’s why:

the back story

In 2013 we packed up all of our possessions into a dusty shipping container and moved across the Atlantic. Shortly thereafter I started a silly little blog to keep friends and family in the loop on my new life as an expat in Germany. I loved sharing my pictures and stories from our travels around Europe and, quite frankly, we were so darn lucky to have it all at our doorstep that I still have a hard time believing it. Paris for the weekend? Sure. A long weekend in Lisbon? Of course. Oktoberfest, kayaking in Ireland, tapas-crawling in Barcelona. We ate, drank, and low-cost carrier-d our way across Europe for two years straight. I had a lot of excitement to share and, as it turned, others enjoyed hearing about my escapades too.

spring & the travel consultancy

In late 2015 life changed drastically when we moved back to the US. Sure, there are the pangs of repatriation (wahh, I miss Italian table wine), but also a sheer, rather abrupt, change in lifestyle. Stateside we travel at a minutia the pace we did before, and an even more glaring problem for a travel blogger- I’m actually okay with it. Our new home in Charlottesville is as close to Pleasantville as it gets, so while floating down the James River in camo speckled inner-tubes isn’t quite as riveting as hiking the Amalfi Coast, that is life these days and I love it. Despite this, in January I decided to leave my job in the IT sector to focus on turning my blog into an actual European travel business. As I’m sure many bloggers do, I receive 1-2 emails per day with questions about traveling abroad – there had to be a business there, right? I went on an outright mission to figure it out and started helping travelers plan their own journeys (A*) to Europe under the vague title of being a ‘travel consultancy’. Initially it seemed fun and easy… and people really wanted my input. Supply + demand = success, right?

I was so adamant on making it work because “I just should” that I overlooked one a big, glaring problem: me.

I realized that despite my own love for travel, making it a full-time profession is not what I was meant to do. I missed the challenges and fulfillment I found in my old life in tech and, no surprise, travel isn’t nearly as fun to talk about if you aren’t the one going on the trip. Despite having a long list of clients, in May I decided to shut the books. In full disclosure, it was definitely one of the harder points in my adult life – for a long time, maybe even still, I felt that I failed at something despite pouring every ounce of my time and energy into it. I find solace in acknowledging that not every opportunity is the right opportunity and look forward to the day that I can look back on the experience and recognize the personal growth that my lack of success provided.

the perfect labor day weekend: Virgina wine country with the gals ?

A photo posted by margo paige (@margo.paige) on

a new chapter

With the goal of re-directing my career back towards a path that I was excited about, this summer I became a student again for the first time since 2008 and took an immersive web dev/UX design course. What’s UX design? Think of it as the psychology behind web and app development – building digital products based on helping the user accomplish their goals. For 6+ years I worked as a software instructor and led large-scale deployments around the world (hence my assignment in Deutschland) so while UX design is a new space for me professionally, it feels a bit like an old hat. I witnessed user challenges for years and now I can actually do something about it – proactively. It’s awesome. This summer I went on a blogging hiatus as I permitted myself to be totally consumed with my studies.

With the fall setting in, my day-to-day schedule is chock full of UX projects (*B) that feel like the farthest thing from work. Now that blogging isn’t in the hot seat to deliver, it’s amazing how much easier the stories flow. In fact, when I least expected it, Delta accepted my pitch to promote their in-flight services and we just ran off to Maine for the weekend. Funny how when you push for something with all your might it doesn’t budge – only to realize that a subtle lean was all that was needed.

Safe to say, it’s been a growing year on my end with lots of reflection and self-evaluation. I get the feeling that others in their late 20s/early 30s are wearing a similar pair of shoes. If that’s you, then I’m right there with ya! I can’t always promise the charm of Swiss alpine villages on this blog, but I am happy to continue sharing my story and, most importantly, am grateful to have you along for the ride.

for kicks

*A | Here is an example of a custom itinerary that I created for clients heading to Lisbon. If it’s not obvious, I got in the trenches of Adobe InDesign and enjoyed making the custom itineraries attractive almost as much as I liked writing the content.

*B | In the UX design world a snazzy personal portfolio site is just as important as a resume. Here is my personal site that I made from scratch: 🙂

<< End Giant Life Update >>

  • The website you’ve made from scratch looks amazing and so do your travel guides! It must have been hard to make such a huge career decision but also (from what it sounds like) a good choice! I know how hard it is moving from one place to another with the huge lifestyle changes. I just moved back to England from L.A and I miss the beach life terribly! Love your blog Margo, always have and always will!

    Abigail Alice x

    • Margo

      Abigail you are a sweetheart. Thanks so much for the kind words and support on this rather rocky chapter of my adult life. It’s definitely so helpful to hear your words of encouragement. Best of luck with YOUR transition back to merry ole England (sorry, had to!) – I’m sure soon enough you’ll be back in the swing of things and grateful for the experience that LA provided. Good luck! 🙂

  • The slow pace

    You have reinvented yourself, you have studied again, you have travelled a lot, you are happy with a new life… I applaud you!

    • Margo

      Always, always so encouraging and supportive. Thanks so much, my dear, for your ongoing thoughtful notes of support and love. It means so much to me.

  • Congrats on all the life changes! 🙂 Personally, I think Charlottesville is a fine choice of residences in the U.S., but I’m rather biased. Glad to see you back in the blogging world.

    • Margo

      I couldn’t agree more! How lucky are we to know it! I apologize for being so offline, I’d LOVE to meet up some day soon. If there’s one thing that I missed most during my blogging hiatus it’s connecting with like-minded gals like YOU!

  • thanks for sharing this with us!:) X

    • Margo

      Thanks, Tanja! I soooo appreciate all your thoughts and comments over the years! 😀

  • Welcome back friend! 🙂

    • Margo

      thanks so much, dear! I’ve got so much catching up to do on blog reading but I really hope all is well on your end! best wishes!

  • Welcome back to blogland 🙂

    • Margo

      thanks so much, girlfriend! I’m still sorting it all out but it felt SO great to get all my feelings out on paper…err, post. Thanks for the support!

  • Hey Margo!
    I totally feel you in this post. Since moving back to the US I too have let blogging take a back seat. At first guilt totally plagued me, but now it’s freeing. I miss it though! Great job with your UX design studies! Sometimes going back to school can be the greatest thing ever. 🙂 I’m excited to see what’s in store for you down the road!

    • Margo

      I knew, of anyone, you would totally understand this odd re-patriation world that I’ve been trudging through this past year. Life might not be nearly as glamorous but, as you said, it feels great just to be offline and not have any blogging/social media responsibilities. Freeing is a great word for it. Best of luck with everything on your end – it looks like your web development business has really taken off, way to go girl!

  • Erin Parr

    Great to see you back on here! Don’t think of it as failure…everything you pushed out to the world wide web will be useful and used by wonderlust travelers planning their next great trip for years to come – and their trips will be that much better, because of you! I was very fortunate to experience one of your amazingly planned travel itineraries to Paris! We had a fantastic time – LOVED the bicycle tour of Versailles! Regardless if you’re writing about travel abroad, trips stateside…or IT info..or about going to the dog park with your dog for the afternoon – I look forward to reading what you post! Remember, you always have something interesting to say (and for others to read) when it comes from the heart! Can’t wait to follow along on this next journey!
    Take care!

    • Margo

      Erin you are SO kind! Thanks so much for all the sweet words of encouragement and support. I’m also SO happy that you guys enjoyed your time in Paris and really appreciated you taking the time to share pics from your visit! You are so sweet and I’m so happy to have connected with you (and your family!)!

  • SO happy to see a post from you!
    I totally get you. I’ve been there. In fact I recently disappeared for a few months myself.

    I’m happy that you’re enjoying UX!

    • Margo

      After your amazing time in SA I’m sure you definitely know the challenges that repatriation can bring. I’m so happy to see that you guys are loving Seattle now and life has come together in a way that you love! Welcome back to Blogworld as well! Hugs!

  • I totally get it and its refreshing to see a blogger talk about something that didn’t work out or an opportunity that wasn’t right. Good for you for pursuing it and good for you to have realised that maybe it wasn’t the best opportunity for you. Best of luck with resuming your career and heading into UX design! I’ve recently been taking a lot of web based courses and I’m loving it!

    • Margo

      Thanks so much for the support gal – I’m definitely trying to be honest and open as possible about my situation these days because ultimately it just feels better and I’m pretty sure that lots of other folks have had similar feelings.

      What web based courses are you taking? I was using for awhile and was pretty impressed!

      • Yes it’s what I use. I really like it – some courses have so much detail and it has such a broad spectrum of available topics! I also use CodeAcademy for HTML and CSS.

  • Welcome back to the blogging world! I need to find my way back to it someday too lol. Glad you’re doing well and enjoying UX design! I know you’ll kick butt in that like you did everything else! I know you may look at your travel consulting period as something that just didn’t work out but I can guarantee you that all the people you helped during that time period were happy customers!

    • Margo

      thanks so much sweetie – you’ve always, always been so supportive, I really appreciate it. UX design is such a fun space but I don’t know that without a few flubs (travel consulting) I would’ve ever found it. funny how the wrong turns can actually lead to the right ones, you know? I’m thinking about you too! I was just chatting with Jordan a few weeks ago and we spent a good few minutes raving about what a wonderful gal you are! 😉

      • Awe! You girls are awesome! I would looooove to met up with both of y’all… let’s make it happen in the future!!

  • Veena

    Welcome back! I have missed your updates, but I completely understand the need for a break. I got back to the States in June and made myself write 1-2 not very good posts a week until I finally just gave myself a break for the entire month of August. When September rolled around, I realized I was actually excited about sitting down to write again, and as you say, the words just started flowing. It’s a great reminder that we need breaks in every aspect of life, and I’m so glad you took the time to refresh yourself and you are now back! I can’t wait to read about where all life has taken you these last few months and to hear more about your new endeavors. Good luck, and it’s good to have you back! xx

    • Margo

      Veena, thank you so much for the warm welcome! I totally agree with you – I’m not sure what would’ve come of any content I could’ve written during those harder months of figuring out my career, but I quite sure it would’ve only added more stress. Anyways – yes, so happy to be back and recharged now! Welcome back to you as well! I hope you loved your time back in the States! 😀

  • Let me just say how thrilled I am that is finally in use. This is a great update and I’m excited for you and this new career path. You’ll be successful at whatever you choose, I have zero doubt. Thanks for sharing!

    • Margo

      Thanks, my dear! I’m SO bummed that we’ll be ships passing in the night during my time in Europe but feel confident that our paths will cross again someday soon! Hugs, dear! Thank you so much for all the love and support along the way! 😀

  • So lovely to have you and your always beautiful written posts back my dear! I love falling your adventures no matter where in the world they are:)

    • Margo

      Gosh, nothing will ever compare to the joy and excitement you pen (well, type) from Iceland. Keep up the great work, girlfriend!

      • Awe wow thanks girl, huge compliment coming from you! I always get lost in your stories, looking forward to reading more about our own backyard as you explore more of the states:)

  • I’m glad you’re back! I’m halfway through a 3 year stint in Germany and your blog has always been my go-to for travel advice and the first website I send to friends when I find out they’re going somewhere I know you’ve been. It sounds like it’s been quite a transitional year and I appreciate your willingness to share what’s been going on in your life. xo

    • Margo

      You are always soooo sweet! Thank you, thank you for all your support of my blog. I really appreciate it. I totally remember that mid-term feeling while I was abroad. I honestly think it’s kind of the perfect time – you’ve still got so much to look forward to yet all those painful newbie expat lessons are behind you. Enjoy!

  • Good for you! I started reading your adventures while we were living in Sweden. When we moved to Virginia a year ago we had the same withdrawal, missing being able to walk to cafes or take Ryanair somewhere fun for school holidays. Back in the States I felt like I didn’t have anything interesting to blog about, but over time I have adjusted to the slower pace. Virginia isn’t Europe but there are plenty of places to explore. Thanks for sharing your story! Best of luck in your next chapter, even if it’s not what you had planned.

    • Margo

      Anne, thanks so much for your candidness. You’re exactly right and, of anyone, I think you might understand my situation almost perfectly. I just read your ‘One Year Later’ post and am so moved – I’m right there with ya. I’m glad to see that life has panned out (really!) well for you back in VA. I’m sure you knew that it would, but sometimes it takes awhile to get the hang of it. 🙂

  • HandLuggageOnly

    Welcome back Margo! Was just thinking about you the other day actually. 🙂

    • Margo

      Thanks so much guys! Glad to be back on board. ;D

  • Good for you! Seems like you’re right where you’re meant to be 🙂 look forward to your new adventures…and maybe sharing your tech knowledge with the blogging world? 🙂

    • Margo

      Oh man, I was actually just thinking about all the UX insight that I’ve been applying to my blog (it’s been a great playground) and how it might be a fun idea to share it in a post. Stay tuned!

  • Your posts and beautiful photos are fun no matter the context and frequency – you do you, girl! Congrats on your next step and on taking so much from these life lessons and experiences. We all have them, but not all of us handle them so thoughtfully! xo

    • Margo

      Thanks so much girlfriend! I feel like during my time off I kind of realized that there’s no shame in total honesty so if feels good to throw it all out on the blog like “hey, I took a misstep and maybe that’s okay…” because I get the feeling that others gals (and guys) might be in the same boat. Anyways, as always, thanks so much for the support!

  • I’m so glad to hear from you again 🙂 your site is gorgeous and somehow I never knew your work history, but it makes sense with how design savvy you are! my thought is that you can live an adventurous life in a “boring place” and you can live a boring life in an exotic one – it’s all in your attitude and how you approach it. also, it doesn’t hurt that your photos are alway gorgeous 😉 welcome back!

    • Margo

      thanks so much dear! I have to say, when you wrote your post earlier this summer about stepping away from blogging you were so honest and open about it, it was insanely refreshing. After thinking about it for awhile I realized that I was actually envious of your ability to just step back from it. So freeing! After things kind of toppled over with my career direction I realized that I needed to step away too, and it was great. So thank you for your honesty, then and always. Hugs!

  • I was just thinking about you the other day! I thought, “It has been quite a while since I’ve seen any of her posts pop up in my feed.” I hope you’ll stop by and share more often! Good luck on the dive into the UX world! It can be an exciting career and there are lots of opportunities in that realm.

    • Margo

      I’m definitely really thrilled about it (UX, that is)! Are you in the industry? If you have any pointers definitely feel free to share! Also, thanks a million for always being so kind and thoughtful in all of your comments. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m catching up with a bunch of posts tonight and have loved stumbling across your feedback on every one of them. You are so sweet! Hugs!

  • “Funny how when you push for something with all your might it doesn’t
    budge – only to realize that a subtle lean was all that was needed.” Absolutely LOVED that line, Margo! So true that sometimes we need to stop trying so hard and let things happen as they may – that’s when we find the things truly meant for us.

    Proud of you being able to step away from the travel consultancy and take the loss with humility. You were not wrong to try and those who did get to work with you are eternally grateful I am sure!

    Best of luck in the newest venture!

    • Margo

      You are so kind, girlfriend! It IS definitely fun to look back at travel pictures from some of their trips and see how much fun they had, so yes, that does make me feel REALLY great! Thanks so much for always, always being so supportive dear! I really appreciate it. XO!

  • Good for you! I think sometimes we are led down the path that may not be right for us just so that we can realize where the right one is! So happy you realized what you’re really passionate about and that you’re actively working on making it a bigger part of your life! Life is too short to not be happy with where you are and what you’re doing!

  • I have to say your design skills are amazing so it seems like this is a step in the right direction for you! I studied design at Parsons so it’s super important to me… I even refuse to follow blogs that have poor web design! 😉 Wishing you all the best of luck!


  • Oh Margo, I love this piece of writing! Your way with words is beautiful and I was pulled in even more when you started talking about UX design, which has recently become my profession (and probably vocation) too. I share your feelings – as much as I’d like to be a freelancer or make a business of my blog sometimes, I think I would miss the challenges of my actual job.

  • I’m so glad you are back writing and thank you for sharing your story!

  • Veronica

    Congrats and thanks for sharing your story! It was brave of you to follow your heart! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • You look wonderful in that black top

  • The background is really beautiful..