A Conversation with Jetting Around Founder Pola Henderson
Pola Henderson is the founder and editor of Jetting Around, a blog dedicated to city travel. After we were invited to co-host #JAchat, Jetting Around’s weekly city travel discussion on Twitter, we saw first-hand how many people Pola has inspired. We weren’t surprised. After all, Pola has turned her passion into a business through her blog. She has also published her travel writing in a number of US-based publications though she grew up outside of the US. We were lucky enough to meet Pola recently at our travel writing retreat in Connecticut and learn more about her travels and work.
When did you first start traveling? Tell us about your first big adventure.
You might say I was born with the travel bug. My first flight was… when my mom was pregnant with me. The first adventure I remember was three years later – a family trip from my native Poland to Iraq, where my dad was working on an engineering assignment. I still remember the taste of freshly-baked bread in Baghdad and walking through the blue Ishtar Gate in Babylon. I’m very grateful to my parents for those early travel experiences.
What do you love most about traveling?
Possibilities. When you arrive in a new destination, you’re given carte blanche. You can let go of your cares and live in the moment, exploring places, foods, local culture.
What is the goal of Jetting Around? What does your day-to-day work look like?
The goal from day one has been to inspire gratifying urban travel – going beyond major attractions and experiencing the local culture. I plan to expand my City Guides section and add more interviews with travelers, expats, and globetrotting artists.
My daily routine consists of writing, photo editing, social media interactions, and lots of emails. I’m a night owl and love to write when everyone is asleep. You can also find me working from coffee shops – I practically live in them.
Tell us a little about how you turned Jetting Around into a business.
The blog began as a hobby when I had a full-time office position. For the first year or so, I didn’t seek out partnerships – I simply wanted to share my travel experiences. Then I realized that my job didn’t stand a chance and I decided to try freelancing. I also started attending travel industry events.
Jetting Around is no longer a side project, but still feels like a hobby… “Blogwork’ is the term I use. Even though I collaborate with brands, I continue to report on independent travels, and I don’t rely solely on blogging for income.
Jetting Around has an amazing community both online–through the weekly chats, and offline–through JA Cafe. Aside from a love of travel, what do your community members have in common? What are some topics that come up?
It’s such a diverse community that it’s hard to pinpoint common interests. We have expats, solo female travelers, foodie lovers, musicians, even sports fans who follow their teams on the road. There’s a lot of city talk, due to Jetting Around’s focus, and discussing world cultures. Never a dull moment!
We understand that you recently started a media company too. Please tell us a little about that.
My background is in marketing communications, and JA Media is both an extension of Jetting Around and an umbrella for a number of my ventures. Besides travel writing and destination marketing, I will provide social media, event photography, and artist management services.
As a traveler and entrepreneur, how do you manage the balance between work and traveling?
It’s something I’m still learning, because I came from a 9-5 environment. While I’m flexible to travel and write not only on weekends, my schedule is less structured. I sometimes find myself working at 2am…
Generally, I am active on social media when traveling, and write from home once the experience has sunk in. Having an editorial calendar and a project to-do list helps me plan ahead.
How often are you on the road?
It depends on projects and personal trips – usually once or twice a month.
What’s your next travel destination?
I’ll be attending a travel conference in Spain this April, and hopefully spend a few days in France and England on the way back.