Out of Office: Marissa, Life As Marissa

Our Out of Office weekly feature profiles brave souls who have taken the plunge in balancing both a career in a 9-6 full time as well as pursuing a fulfilling travel lifestyle. 


Marissa is a Washington, D.C.-based consultant and strategist who loves to travel. She has built a successful travel lifestyle that maximizes the amount of travel she can accomplish within a full-time working schedule. Her blog Life As Marissa provides insight into this lifestyle as well as tips for how others can replicate it in their own lives.

Outside of travel, Marissa has a strong passion for photography that began at a young age. She also loves anything involving the outdoors - hiking, camping, exploring - and hits the trails around D.C. and the nearby Shenandoah Valley whenever possible. An avid sports fan her whole life, you can also catch Marissa at games (or watching them with friends) whenever one of her teams is playing.

1. Where do you work and what’s your role?

I work at a heritage management agency as a consultant, doing strategic planning, account management, and business development. My background is in advertising so it’s a fun spin on that skill set – working with companies to leverage their history as a strategic and differentiating asset.

2. Tell us something interesting about you people don’t know.

I love geology. I’ll go to different national parks and research what the geological history is so I can better understand how the landscape came to be. I love trying to guess different types of rocks that I see when I travel.

3. How many trips do you take a year for leisure?

I average two vacations per year to new destinations, and five to ten shorter trips throughout the year to visit friends and family or see a new part of the country.

Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka

4. What’s your most memorable moment on a short trip?

I was just in Milwaukee for the Women in Travel Summit, and a member of the sponsoring committee recommended that I try a restaurant, The Vanguard. I went alone and sat at the bar.  I ate the best sausage of my life, and ended up striking up a conversation with the owner, the bartender, and a group of brewery representatives who were there. After multiple drinks, laughs, and great conversation, I left reminded that you should always take the advice of a local!

5. Why is travelling important to you?

Traveling is important to me because it forces me to exit my comfortable mindspace and enter into a world of the unknown. I don’t view travel as a series of vacations, I view it as education. It allows me to satisfy my infinite curiosity, and I think the experiences I have help shape me into a better person and global citizen. It’s hard to have ill will toward a population or stereotypes about a culture after you’ve spoken to people, looked them in the eyes, eaten their food, seen their lifestyle, been on their turf. Travel can be difficult, but it is always enriching.

6. What’s the one thing you’ve learnt in your job that travelling won’t teach you?

How to function within a business environment. Business drives the world, and knowing how to work with businesses and succeed within a business environment is very valuable.

7. Conversely, what has travelling taught you that you won’t learn in your job?

How to be open to new experiences and go with the flow. Travel is all about being open and vulnerable, thinking on your feet, being adaptable and flexible. The practical experience you get from traveling is very applicable at jobs, in my opinion.

Weligama, Sri Lanka

Weligama, Sri Lanka

8. What’s your #1 tip about how to balance work and travel?

Know what your priorities are. Travel is what I want to be doing when I’m not working, so that means I have to prioritize saving for trips and I have to be selfish with my personal time. I’ll book trips far in advance so I can have the vacation days approved and accounted for. I’ll negotiate for additional vacation time or the flexibility to work remotely so I can maximize the amount of time I can spend traveling.

9. What are your guilty pleasures?

My number one guilty pleasure is Bravo (the U.S. cable network). I watch just about every show they play, but my favorite is the Real Housewives franchise. I recently gave up cable and I’m going through withdrawal. It’s the worst.

10. If you could give advise to your younger self what would you say?

Take a gap year! I wish so much that I had done that, though it’s never too late…

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