From Pets to Jets

Brandon A. Schultz ’06 pivoted from authoring books about cats and dogs to becoming a freelance travel writer.

By: Meghan Kita  Wednesday, November 17, 2021 08:56 AM

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At left, Schultz with a friend’s dog, Poppy, in Breckenridge, Colorado; at right, Schultz in the Mexican village La Noria

Travel writer Brandon A. Schultz ’06, who was a psychology major and anthropology minor at Muhlenberg, worked in book publishing for seven years before going freelance in 2018. During that time, he wrote four books (including three pet-centric titles, like 2015’s Cooking for Two—Your Cat & You! Delicious Recipes for You and Your Favorite Feline) and built a network that would eventually allow him to freelance full-time. His first magazine travel piece appeared in Out in 2014. Now, he travels 50 weeks out of the year, has a travel column on and contributes to more than a dozen other outlets. He authored three chapters of Fodor's Best Road Trips in the USA: 50 Epic Trips Across All 50 States, out this month. His first solo-authored travel book, 111 Places in Philadelphia That You Must Not Miss, publishes next summer.

Muhlenberg Magazine What has it been like to be a travel writer during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

BAS Oh dang, not ideal! Obviously, I had to stay home for a while, and that was a serious lifestyle change. I got to spend so much more time with my partner and my pets. That was a tremendous silver lining personally, but it definitely required a dramatic change in content professionally. I wrote loads of travel-related product guides for those five months that I was completely grounded and then transitioned to road-trip stories when domestic travel opened up slightly in late summer of 2020.

MM What’s the most challenging part of your career? 

BAS Freelancing is a constant hustle. As a new friend recently said to me, we wake up unemployed every day until we find someone to hire us. That’s frightening to a lot of people. And, while I know everyone says they are tired all the time, it’s extremely exhausting being in new places at least weekly, and often a couple times per week, changing time zones regularly, catching a few hours of sleep on a plane when possible and never knowing what day or, sometimes, what month it is.

MM What’s the most enjoyable part? 

BAS Seeing the world for free is amazing. Before my study abroad year in Rome through Muhlenberg, I had never left the country. My family never took vacations and we didn’t have a lot of money, so travel just wasn’t part of my life, though I always wished it were. I still can’t believe that I get to do it almost every day now.