We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayley Sohn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayley, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’ve spent most of my adult life pursuing my doctorate in engineering, and work-life balance was essentially nonexistent while working in the lab. That lack of balance and room for creative expression inspired me to create my travel account on Instagram. “Oh, She’s Traveling” became a fun escape from my day to day and allowed me to fill my creative cup, meet new people, and learn new skills. Upon defending my thesis, graduating, and starting a new job, I now have more time to devote to improving the account and the partnerships I pursue through it.
My perspective on work-life balance has changed pretty drastically over the past few years, especially once we moved from the suburbs of Denver to a small town in the mountains. This change in scenery has been pretty instrumental in establishing a slower, more intentional, and mindful lifestyle. Now, my expectations for maintaining “balance” include much more time outdoors, with my dogs, and around my family.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy creatively?
I run the @oh.shes.traveling Instagram account, which taps into my hobbies of travel photography, videography, editing, and writing. I think one of the reasons why this account has been so popular is that I’m posting realistic photos and tips that aren’t too curated or polished. I have a full time job and travel either for work or on my own time, which is different from a lot of travel influences on Instagram who are traveling full time. I think this makes my page a little more relatable than some of the larger accounts, especially because I try to meet people where they are by sharing tips for getting great photos with just an iPhone, traveling while working full time, and saving money while you’re exploring.
The pandemic was tough on both my creativity and sense of wanderlust. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t traveling anywhere and definitely wasn’t in the mood to reminisce about travels past. With my inactivity, I lost quite a few followers and started questioning if I even wanted to continue using the account. I recently decided to start posting again and have leaned in to the strong community of Colorado-based influencers and travel photographers. This has helped me to appreciate that I don’t have to travel abroad to generate content that people want to see, I just have to go out my back door.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh, what a great question! First, I’d love to focus on my favorite places in and around my small town of Woodland Park, which is about 30 minutes away from Colorado Springs. Let’s start with the good stuff – hiking!
When people come to visit, we always start with a short hike at the Red Rocks Group in Pike National Forest. It’s a crowd favorite because it’s a low-effort, high-reward hike with some gorgeous rock features. It’s a great spot for out-of-towners who are trying to adjust to the altitude! If you want to graduate to a trail that is a bit harder but still not all that strenuous, Lovell Gulch is another great option in town. I also love hiking Rampart Reservoir from Shubarth Trail because once you get to the water, there’s a great view of Pikes Peak across the way. You can’t come all this way and not go to Pikes, so we usually set aside a morning to drive all the way up to the summit, too! (The rumors are true — the donuts up there are some of the best you’ll ever have.)
Once you’re worn out from all that hiking, there are so many great restaurants in town to choose from! The Hungry Bear is great for breakfast and lunch, and Joanie’s is our go-to for wraps and salads. If you need a pick-me-up, Cafe Leo and The Human Bean are my favorite coffee shops in town.
We also usually take a day to go down into Colorado Springs to hit all our favorite climbing spots like Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Open Space. Trail’s End Brewery is a great pay-per-ounce spot near the hiking trails and that’s quickly becoming a favorite hang-out spot! I also love walking around Old Colorado City and still feel like I haven’t quite checked out all of the fun shops there. If the weather’s bad, Gripstone and CityRock are both fantastic climbing gyms and I’d love to spend more time at both places. I haven’t checked out the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, but it’s high on my list for this winter!
If you have more time to spare, I strongly recommend taking a day trip to Buena Vista to see the Collegiate Peaks. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs is quickly becoming a family favorite, and you have to stop at Casa Sanchez before leaving town for some of the best Mexican food Colorado has to offer!
Finally, no visit is complete without a drive up Rampart Range Road to see this aspens. This is one of my favorite drives in the fall when the leaves are turning, but it’s gorgeous all year round!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to shoutout my friends and family for all their love and support! My husband, Corbin, is the best teammate I could ever imagine having in the game of life. I also want to acknowledge that my family, especially my parents and sister, is always game to tag along on a trip or hike a mountain with me, even when they think it sounds a little crazy. Likewise, I have some friends who feel like family in Colorado (Craig, Shaye, Dan, & Kia!) and they push me to make even weekends at home into big adventures. I’d never been in this position without them or my social media community of followers. I’m so lucky to have found such an amazing group of like-minded adventurous people through this platform.