Get up and go travel! It’s the best advice I could give to anyone who is searching for more in their life. I can distinctly remember all the mundane moments of my life that led my curiosity to where I am today. What I didn’t know was that following my heart and what I was fiercely passionate about (traveling) would lead me to a career that I am equally blessed and crazy about.
Go Travel! I Travel Because…
I know it is easy for me to say “go travel” to you. I know it isn’t always that easy, but where there is a will, there is a way. I know I am extremely privileged to travel for a career path. Getting here was never on my radar and it wasn’t easy, but I have loved every second of it.
I remember growing up in a single family household in Detroit and being so curious about the world. I always wanted to go to theme parks in Michigan and Ohio and stay in Hotels. I loved hotels so much at a young age that I would ask my mother to buy me a room for my birthday to have a hotel party. Then it escalated to staying in hotels just for fun, and this is when I was a kid.
My curiosity for the world isn’t something I just “grew out of” one day. When I was 18 I started taking seasonal jobs on Mackinac Island in Michigan, out in Estes Park, Colorado and even did a summer in the Badlands National park. Whenever I would get restless at home, I would go travel. Having these seasonal jobs in new locations meant that I didn’t have to save a ton of money to make them happen. Usually I just needed to get there and then I would have months to explore and meet fantastic people.
*Tip: If you are interested in having a seasonal job, Coolworks is a great place to start.
There is one moment that stands out as a pretty epic travel adventure. I was living in Florida with my best friend at the time and we found an article in the local paper that read “Have fun in the sun, travel for free.” Could this be my destiny? I called to find out how I could get involved immediately. I’ll be completely honest, it was not the most glamorous job. It was travelling the United States selling magazines door to door. What I loved about this job was that it opened my eyes to new people and cultures in my own country every single day. I got to talk to people 8-10 hours a day AND travel for free, because we only stayed in locations for about a week.
Taking on the seasonal jobs and selling magazines is what helped me see most of the United States but also further pushed me to go travel and see the world. After deciding to leave the magazine industry because it was not a long term plan, I left, went home, met my then boyfriend, and eventually moved to Virginia where I started college and my passion for travel continued.
My very first international travel destination was to the Bahamas in 2007. I was 24 years old and had a lot of experience under my belt traveling the United States. When I decided to go to the Bahamas it was one of those “just book the ticket and go travel” moments for me. I loved it so much there, that when I returned home, I booked another trip two months later to return. What I didn’t know was that this trip was going to change me.
After I went back to the Bahamas in April of 2007, my obsession with seeing more of the world started to grow at a fast rate. I spent hours a day online researching destinations, figuring out where the deals were, how to best book a trip, and how to do it right now. This was the first time in my life that I realized I was fiercely passionate about seeing the world and nothing was going to stop me. When I needed more money for travel, I worked more jobs and quit spending. When I needed time to travel, I took time off without pay or arranged it off far in advance. Nothing was going to stop me from my destiny.
Every year between 2007-2014 were pretty big travel years for me. 2011/2012 was a big step for me in traveling. I so desperately wanted to go travel and no one else wanted to or could. So I sought out the study abroad department at my college and they were running a trip to Turkey for two weeks over Christmas break. Turkey wasn’t even on my radar, but the price was right and I didn’t have to convince anyone else to go, they arranged a group trip. SOLD! Little did I know that I was visiting a country that would steal my heart. Cappadocia was basically untouched and Istanbul was such a dream. This trip pushed me even more to see experience the world. This was my first time in a country so different from America, and I could not get enough of it. The sights, the smells, the people – I was in love.
In 2014 I was finally able to convince my best friend to go to Europe and we planned this epic and crazy 3 week adventure over 6 countries and 13 cities. I’ll be completely honest – we did NOT know what we were doing, but I had convinced myself because I had traveled so much that we would be ok, and we were. Its not how I travel now, but I would do it again and change nothing. We started in London, went to Paris, explored Venice, Greece and the Greek Islands, Turkey, a full tour of Italy, South of France, and Barcelona. This trip I believe lit a travel bug in my best friend, and now we have been to 8 European Countries, Turks and Caicos, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and more local destinations together. Soon enough we embark on another grand European adventure where we will be exploring four new countries together.
After coming home from this trip, my wanderlust was on high mode. I could not stop and traveling was consuming my every thought. I was finishing school, probably going to be a lawyer, and all I could think about was seeing the world. After I finished school I knew I did not want to be a lawyer but loved business. So I took a gig at a real estate firm that did not offer generous time off and found that I was taking weekend trips or making trips happen on long holiday weekends. I couldn’t just go travel at this point. I was essentially tied to a desk in an office. In the 2 years + that I stayed working for this firm, I decided that I wanted to get an MBA, had a destination wedding (because what else would I do?) and figured out how to keep traveling with my limited time off.
I finally hit a breaking point with the job and said no more. I quit. The very next day my husband and I went up to Wintergreen Resort where I sat down trying to map my future and I thought “I’ll start a blog.” I was fascinated by all the wineries in Virginia (over 250+) and thought I would write about them all. That lasted about a week because I wanted to write about travel. This blog later evolved into travel and food but started first as diary type entries about places I visited. This was August of 2015.
I remember sitting across from my husband and telling him that I would not be going back to work for the remainder of the year. I was going to travel and start my MBA. I planned a few epic trips like visiting my 49th state of Hawaii and doing more local travel. I got restless though and started a career in late September. What I loved was that my boss gave me SIX WEEKS of vacation and I had to use it between the time I started and like March. EASY!! I left later the next year.
2016 is when things actually took off. I had a trip with Expedia to Dubai and Abu Dhabi that was just unreal. I went on my first solo trip to Iceland AND Ireland. Simultaneously I was sharing my adventures with the world on Instagram and my blog. My channels started to grow and before I knew it, people were asking to pay me to travel. WAS THIS A DREAM? If it is, I have not woken up from it.
Since the day I started my blog in August of 2015, my life has changed forever. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was starting a career that I would want to wake up for every single day and go to. I was allowing myself to sit in front of a screen or in books to read about cultures and destinations, because I was being paid to do it.
Now that I have shared my back story on travel, I want to share the why. In short, I travel because I am in love with the world. Meeting new people and having those connections, learning about new cultures, seeing how people live, eating all the food around the globe, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and facing fears, and that high I get when I book a new trip – it’s an addiction. Luckily it’s a healthy one. There is nothing in my life that I am more passionate about than seeing the world. Maybe that sounds strange – but nothing in my life gives me the joy that I get from traveling. Everyday of my life feels like a new adventure. I don’t know who I am going to meet, what delicious food I will be eating or what lies within the new cities I am visiting.
I travel because it is all consuming. I feel like I have a gene in my body that is for a travel addiction. I have gotten everyone close to me to travel with me and see more of the world. Do they love it the way that I do? No. But they do enjoy the occasional trip. Traveling is no longer a vacation to me, it is my way of life. I am living a vacation (but not really it is a lot of work).
Go Travel! But No One Will Go With Me:
The best advice I was ever given was “go travel!” That meant not waiting for anyone and just leaving every comfort zone I had behind. I’m not telling you to go to the most dangerous part of the world solo. I AM however telling you that I give you permission to seek out that wanderlust feeling that you feel in your soul. If you are like me, it was a void I could not fill by having tangible goods, relationships, etc. Contentment was not an option.
I’m glad I followed my heart. Whenever I would plan a trip, I would start with a few people interested and then I would start to hear people could not get time off, could not afford it, etc. So then the trip would be off the table.
The BEST decision I ever made was to take that solo trip to Iceland and Ireland in 2016. That was the year that I went on to explore several countries alone, including spending 2 MONTHS in Asia. I went to the Philippines for a month by myself and island hopped, I went to Bali for two weeks on my own “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, Singapore was a blast, and I even went to Sri Lanka.
Traveling solo has taught me so much about myself and what I am truly capable of. It also taught me to be comfortable with my own company. In addition, I gave myself permission to keep seeing the world, even if it meant going alone.
If you want to see the world and have no one to go with, I highly recommend doing a lot of research and trying solo travel or joining group trips. I really wanted to go to Morocco two years ago and I knew I was going alone. Guess what? It was one of the most incredible trips I have ever taken, I did it on Thanksgiving weekend so I didn’t have to lose time off from work and I fell in LOVE!
Go Travel! But I Cannot Afford It
I hear this a lot and believe when I say, I get it. When I was younger I was hustling doing everything in my power to make travel a reality. Here are some of the things I did so I could just pick up and go travel:
- gave up convenience coffee ($5-8 a day)
- cancelled subscription services like monthly make-up, magazines, etc
- quit eating out every meal – the work lunch was when it truly hit me how much I was spending. It was $10-20 a day, 5 days a week. That was $200-400 a MONTH! And that was just lunch. To put that into perspective, $200-400 could get me a ticket to most destinations in the USA and a lot of Central American and Caribbean destinations. In three months time I could actually go to one of these destinations simply by not eating out for lunch.
- limited happy hours from everyday to 1-2 times a month (I rarely go now because of my schedule)
- I quit getting my nails done every two weeks – I do get them done now, but my situation is different. I shoot a lot of food products with my hands and my nails are always white. I also use gel polish and it tends to last 3-4 weeks. If I am home for a long stretch, I do not get them done.
- took on side jobs to make more money (at one point I was working 2 jobs and going to school full-time to fuel this addiction)
- I scoured the internet for deals to get the most bang for my buck
- got a credit card with a high sign up bonus and amazing travel perks. I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve and have used it since 2015. Figuring out miles and rewards can help you travel more.
- started getting status for places like Marriott and American Airlines so that I can get upgrades, etc
So you see, there is a lot of ways you can save money for travel. I know everyone is very different as is their financial and home situation. You just have to make cuts where you can and save.
Go Travel! But I Wouldn’t Even Know Where To Start
When all of us set out to go travel, we primarily do the same leg work. I can’t tell you how many books I have read or the endless hours I have put into the internet to make travel happen, but with each trip, things get easier. You learn about what works and what doesn’t, you learn about yourself and what you are capable of, you make better decisions about the entire trip through experiences in your life.
I want to tell you though, travel doesn’t have to be about going to the same places everyone else is visiting, the most expensive places in the world or even leaving your own country. I get a lot of joy from local travel and exploring my own back yard. I have learned so much from local travel and have met so many amazing people from it. Start somewhere. Day trips, weekend trips, etc. You do NOT have to quit your job and move to Bali to travel.
Give yourself permission to travel.
Here is what I use when I am starting to plan a trip. After I decide on a destination …
- head to Pinterest and start reading blogs and finding photos of the places I would like to visit. I am making sure this is where I want to go.
- browse Instagram and search the travel hashtags or locations to see what other people are sharing from there
- look for all the best deals and times to visit. Usually if I am booking a trip, I will look into off season travel to save money and have less crowds.
- once I book my trip I make sure I have travel insurance!! If I worked this hard to make a trip happen, you can bet that I am going to do what I can to protect it and myself. You never know what is going to happen on the road. Travel insurance is actually not costly. Usually when I book a trip, and it depends on the total cost, I will see the option to add on travel insurance and its typically LESS than $50. If you travel a lot, I would recommend the year long plan Allianz offers. for me it is about $150 for the year (where you live and other factors are taken into consideration).
- I have had some hairy situations come up in the past where I did not have travel insurance – had I purchased it, I would have been covered. Do NOT travel abroad without travel insurance.
So you see, I travel because it is who I am. It is part of my DNA to keep exploring the world. I don’t feel half as passionate about anything as I do traveling (relationships aside). If you are looking to go travel and see the world, I can’t recommend it more. It has changed my life in ways that I am forever grateful for. All these memories can never be taken from me. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but for right now, I have an adventure to get to.
Disclaimer: As an ambassador of Allianz, this post is written in partnership with Allianz Travel Insurance. As always, opinions are entirely my own.