Get to know one of our Travel Insurance Master Affiliates, Claire of The Detour Effect. As a hiker, backpacker, road tripper, and hitchhiker, Claire shares stories and free self-guided trekking itineraries on The Detour Effect blog. She even connects with and inspires a community of travelers and adventurers called "Pin Pals!"
Claire, when did you start your blog?
Walk me through how or why you started?
I was working in the music industry in New York when my priorities started to shift. I looked ahead at the next 40 years of my life and recognized that every day would be the same. Even if I was making more money or working with different artists, and even though going to shows was fun, I’d still be waking up to the sound of jackhammers in the city, riding a crowded subway car to work, and sitting in a cubicle. I’d still be drinking and smoking too much and dealing with enraged old-school executives. I decided to leave my life behind and hitchhike across the States to Alaska, and since then I’ve just been following the wind, or different “detours” from my original life plan. I found that deviations from The Plan are often better than anything I could have tried to outline for myself. The concept of my blog is to be flexible and allow yourself to get off-track, and be open to the beauty you may find in unexpected places. I ended up getting to work seasonal jobs at hostels in Alaska and Colorado, at a ski resort, and at Grand Canyon National Park. I’ve also traveled to Europe to trek five different long-distance trails back-to-back, and now I work remotely for a guided trekking company.
Do you feature a specific type of travel or area?
I want to live as many lives as possible, so I travel in many different ways! Sometimes it’s hitchhiking, often it’s backpacking, hiking, or road trips. Seasonal jobs allowed me to live very cheaply with no rent, and now my remote job allows me to be location independent. I experiment with different things. I’ve also started mailing out The Detour Effect pins to the “Pin Pals”, a community of travelers who adventure in all different ways. They post photos of their pins in different locations, kind of like Flat Stanley. In that sense, the type of travel I feature is not limited to just my own style.
What is your favorite part about being a blogger?
Connecting with other people. I’ve met bloggers and adventurers from all around the world now, and I have a community right there at my fingertips that I can reach out to for advice. For instance, for my North Cascades trip, all I had to do was tweet asking for tips, and multiple different bloggers and hikers from the Pacific Northwest all chimed in with excellent advice that came from real experience. It’s better than Googling a question and hoping that whichever link you click on came from a source you can trust. I know I can trust the people I interact with on a daily basis, and I’m familiar with their experience and perspective.
What is your favorite or dream destination?
I’d really love to trek in Mongolia’s Altai Mountains. I like hiking long distance trails, so I would love to continue knocking those off my list, including the Kungsleden, Arctic Circle Trail, Basho Trail, Camino de Santiago, etc.
What is your favorite travel tip?
Don’t be so rigid with your plans (whether that means part of a day’s itinerary, an entire destination leg of your trip, or an overall life plan). Allow yourself to follow a whim if something catches your eye, even if it wasn’t on the schedule. Be as open, adaptable, and flexible as you can without sacrificing safety or your intuition.
What other suggestions do you have for travelers?
Get travel insurance! Especially if you’re like me and want to be as open and spontaneous as possible in your travels, you do have to give extra thought to what steps you’ll take to protect yourself. The only reason I feel confident enough to be adventurous is because I know I have built a net that will catch me if things go wrong. This includes insurance, a GPS Spot Tracker, backup power banks, and other failsafes.
What suggestions do you have for bloggers or what has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome with your blog?
I’m constantly going back and updating things that I did “wrong” in the beginning, like resizing photos, or adding a mailing list way too late. But honestly I think trying to follow any “must-do” lists for blogging is what makes so many sites interchangeable and generic. Don’t worry about that part so much. Focus on writing articles that mean something to you and connecting with people who “get it”.
How can our readers follow your travels?
All my social media handles are @TheDetourEffect and my site is TheDetourEffect.com. To follow the adventures of the Pin Pals you can watch my “Your Detours” Instagram story highlight or sign up for my newsletter. Contact me directly if you’d like to join the group and have a pin mailed to you so that we can follow your adventures too!
Anything else you would like to share?
If you’re thinking about quitting your entire life and starting over in a new place, you have my vote of confidence. Do it!