Who doesn’t want to quit their day job? But traveling the world, while desirable, may seem unattainable. While the farthest you could ever travel is deep inside yourself, travel exhorts the most imminent version of yourself, away from the shadows of superficialities that may try to define you – like a job, locale, or material items. Absent these, exploration and adventure become tingly little propellers deep within you, and shiny little objects all around you. The sun shines more unapologetically. The sky screams blue while the clouds sun dance softly. Perspectives change. And that little life of yours you kept neatly tucked in, escapes to come into its riotous own. Everyone’s journey is different, but the reality is you don’t have to have a lot of money or time to live this life. We share abridged and diverse stories from people who’ve chosen this audacious, tangible, traveling lifestyle – why they started, how they do it, what they’ve learned along the way. In the end, we introduce a local who epitomizes how to take off those pretenses, just go, and be inspired without ever looking back.
written by nicole camack
photography by vikk shayen
Once upon a time I lived a completely different life. I had a nice apartment, a car and a ton of clothes and shoes. I earned 10 times more than I do now. You think I was happy earning thousands of Euros every month? I was miserable. Counting the hours until I could get home, counting the days until the weekend. Always waiting for better times, long weekends, vacation, whatever. While I was waiting, I was a wreck.
In less than one year I’ve created my dream job. I became a travel blogger, and I can tell you, I’m not a professional at all. All I do is have a passion. Passion for traveling – sharing my stories, photos and quotes. I wanted to inspire people.
How was this all possible? Because I truly believed in something; because I did something from the heart. I loved traveling to the point of madness, and I was able to channel that into a job. I’m no longer sitting in offices. I’m a travel blogger now. Yay.
Money can’t buy happiness. Seriously, it’s true. The income I earn from blogging doesn’t make me rich, but it’s enough to pay my room and food. I might live a simple life, but I can work from anywhere in the world. What do I need more? I earned something that money could never buy: Freedom.
I sleep every day until noon. I have no schedules, no useless meetings, no deadlines. I just do what I love. I travel. I take photos. I write. I play with the street cats in front of the house. Talk with friends. Enjoy the sun. Sleep. (I write this sitting in my bed).
Enjoy every moment. Go out, experience nature. You’ll be amazed how beautiful this world is.
I’m not saying you should stop working, but I am saying you should work on something that you truly love.
If it’s not your passion to sit in an office from 9 to 5, you’d better quit. Nobody except you is holding you back from pursuing your dream. Don’t settle; make a change.
Find your passion, become more knowledgeable about it, and become an expert! Learn by doing. It’s important that you mix your passion with something that is useful for other people, because only if your skills are useful to others will you succeed.
Don’t be afraid to fail, it will teach you even more…and you’ll get better by learning from your mistakes. The biggest failure is you never trying. Start today.
Many travel blogs are written by people who’ve sold all their possessions, and have taken
a huge plunge into the world of long-term travel. I’m not one of those people.
I have rent to pay, and a car payment, and bills, and the trappings of a fairly typical middle class, young, urban professional life. I have a cat. I work in a cubicle. I like some amount of routine, and sleeping in my own bed. I have a ladder to climb, that I want to climb.
I also don’t have a ton of free income to spend on travel. Despite all this, in the past two years I’ve managed to visit nine cities in four countries (Colombia, Jordan, Egypt, Spain) and very soon I’ll be off to visit seven more cities in three countries; a few weeks after I return, I’m off again. When I’m done, that’s 16 cities, seven countries, in just two years. Not much for the permanent nomad, but a lot for someone who’s expected to be at work by 8:30 every weekday.
Travel can be affordable, if you plan for it and prioritize it in your life. Here’s how I do it:
1. Flights. By far, this can be the single most expensive purchase of your trip. The trick is: don’t buy your ticket with actual money. Buy it with fake money called points or miles. A few years ago,
I strategically opened two different credit cards.
2. Rooms. A lot of people associate budget travel with roughing it, but it is possible to be comfortable. In fact, by avoiding the beaten path, I usually have a less expensive, equally as comfortable, and more interesting cultural experience. Most of my international trips have involved staying at a combination of private rooms at hostels, small independently owned hotels, bed & breakfasts, and private apartments.
3. Timing and trip length. I would be remiss to say that the above two factors are the only methods I use to travel to so many places affordably. The fact is, I can say I fit in so many places because of how many of those cities and countries I manage to pack into a single trip. This year, I’ll do a17-day trip (that’s essentially 12 vacation days) to Italy, Croatia, and Spain. Considering all the places within those countries I travel to in each trip, I typically pack up and move on every two-three days. That’s not a lot of time in each place. This pace is not for everyone, but it works for me. I intend to see the world, and I have to do it in two weeks per year. So, I compromise. It can be a little tiring, but I don’t take these trips necessarily to relax — I take them to recharge in other ways. Travel is my passion and I crave new cultural experiences. My worldview has expanded a little more each time I set foot on U.S. soil again; this is creative fuel to the fire of everything I do, from painting to marketing strategy. That’s why I’m determined to prioritize it, even with a limited budget. For those who’ve also been bitten by the travel bug, you get it. The rest of the world will go on thinking that we’re rich, and I suppose that’s fine.
The world beyond my window has disappeared, shrouded by a dense mist that draws
everything inside it, a well-kept secret waiting to be revealed.
Every morning I stand here; I pull back the curtains and gaze out across unexplored hillsides, their greens and browns growing more familiar with each passing day. Their lines will soon be as recognizable as those that crisscross my palm, this daily moment in time a gift that Lee and I have given one another: to stand at the same window each morning, drink tea from the same cup, and share breakfast at the same table as we house sit for the next six months.
We have spent the past year arriving. We arrived and then departed more times than I am able to recall, a blurred mass of newness and fresh slates. With every hoist of my backpack I felt an ebbing of sorts, a vital part of me draining away as though a plug had been pulled from the soles of my feet. When you are travelling, you are what you are in that moment, your most immediate self. The people you meet see only that version of you, and it’s hard to maintain your wholeness in this fragmented and transitory existence.
It’s only our second week here in France, but already I feel myself coming back to old ways, with new ones still emerging. There is so much life in this stillness, so much to discover in this delicious half year of ours. Today we walked the woods that lay just beyond our doorstep, collecting leaves and Horse Chestnuts and new memories. A deer darted from our path, galloping across the fields beyond, thrilling us both with its closeness. The ability to forage and collect freely made my heart sing, no longer restricted. Lee mocked me as I filled my pockets with my muddy treasures, then washed them clean on returning home and set them on the table, my artist’s eye soothed by their sleek beauty.
I sit here now at my laptop, my notepad and pens spread across the blue linen tablecloth. The last of the day’s warmth streams through the window, warming my back as I type, and my fingertips still bear the charcoal stains from my afternoon of sketching. I feel as though I am stepping back into myself again, as though the past year has been spent in some kind of fugue state. There is so much space for us to be ourselves in, no longer kept to confines.
Here, in the midst of so much beauty, four miles from the nearest town, where the only noise that breaks the silence is the call of tree frogs and the bell of our resident cat. Right here, where there is time to combine all that brings me joy. My love, my art, travel. This is where the adventure finally begins, an adventure lived my way.
Rolling over on what I’m convinced is the most comfortable air mattress in the
entire world, cocooned in a huge down comforter with just the right amount of pillows (four),
I turn off the alarm. Time to fly to Rome. Except, I didn’t want to go to Italy. Like, I really,
really did not want to go to Italy.
How did I go from the girl who not only said yes to every adventure imaginable, but who ran after them like a thief, to a girl who couldn’t get out of bed with the prospect of a trip to Italy?
My life motto since high school has always been “You can sleep when you die;” I’ve never shied away from long travel, early morning wake-up calls or even just the whiff of an adventure. No matter how scared or tired I got, I was always able to dig deep inside myself and find enough courage and strength to overcome it.
Almost exactly six months earlier, I quit my job to travel full-time and move abroad again. I was following my dreams and doing what I loved, right? But why wasn’t I happy? Why was I feeling like this?
It was that moment of self-realization that I finally became aware of a problem I was having. I was burnt out. Mentally exhausted, I could barely function anymore. Six months of nonstop travel finally got to me. I was tired of sleeping in a new bed every other night. I was tired of planes and trains and buses and taxis. I was tired of living out of a backpack and not being able to wash my clothes whenever I wanted. I was tired of eating food I didn’t make myself.
There on that air mattress, was when it hit me that I had bitten off more than I could chew. Afraid of missing out on something, letting people down or just saying “no” I inadvertently had spread myself so thin I reached a breaking point and I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. Things couldn’t continue this way.
I need to find my voice again. I needed to find my creativity again. I needed to find myself again.
I was rushing. I needed to slow down. That being said, I’m also not cut out to be living in an apartment in DC working 9 to 5 either. I want to travel slowly, live abroad and take my time. I would much rather have a slower, more in-depth and profound trip where maybe I see a lot less, but take away more, than an action-packed trip that flashes by in the blink of an eye.
I thrive now on experiential travel, on the people I meet, the stories I hear, the choices I make myself, and then any inspiration I can provide later about those places. I like to take my time in a destination, to dig and really get to know it, not spend a night there and pretend to make major, groundbreaking cultural observations.
For me, in the long run, less is more – maybe not in terms of nutella or cupcakes, but definitely in terms of travel.
She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist, if she dared find it.