As the #PassportExpress heads west towards Whitefish, Montana guest Gina Nicole Fontes reflects on the trip so far and the personal growth she has experienced.


Words by Gina Nicole Fontes:

Though it’s a perk, the focal point of the Passport Express does not lie in the cities explored or small towns rolling passed the train window. Rather, the heart and soul of this journey comes from the people, the personal growth, and the professional development that happens when you put almost 40 wildly creative humans within the cozy quarters of an Amtrak train.


Beyond the locations and clicking of cameras (which happens, a lot) this trip has been entirely made up of priceless conversations. I think I can speak for everyone when I say the group discussions and one-on-one chats are what have made this experience so valuable. In speaking to those who’ve found success before me I’ve learned more than I ever could by sitting in a classroom or reading a book.

From Michael George, a “National Geographic featured photographer”, I learned that not all creative projects need a destination. That sometimes it’s enough to create “just because”. From Adrienne Pitts, an art director turned editorial photographer, I learned that achieving your goals often means taking proactive yet terrifying measures. And from Mickela Mallozzi, a music manager turned television producer I learned that it’s really normal to hear the word “NO”, all the time, and still become successful. The common thread in all of these lessons is that passion for your work, and a belief that it’s necessary, whatever the reason, is the key to accomplishing things that fulfill you.



Listening to each mentor speak about their personal career stories has brought me a sense of relief that even the most unconventional path can lead to success. From behind Instagram profiles it often seems like the lives of those who are living “our dreams” are flawless, full of moments of inspiration, forever #blessed, but by spending time with these people I admire for their work, I’ve learned to appreciate them for their human nature. I’ve learned that all people, no matter how successful they may be, have insecurities, and find themselves at various crossroads throughout their lives.

We’ve only made our way through one half of this two week train adventure, and already I’ve grown to know more about myself and my potential than ever before. All credit goes to the people that surround me and the ways in which they challenge me to go outside my normal stream of thoughts. Only one week down and I feel like a revitalized version of myself. My biggest take away thus far? The key to becoming your best self is surrounding yourself with good company.

Come along for the ride.

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The Passport Express