Traveler Interview #1: Kelly Dunning of Global Goose

Traveler Interview #1: Kelly Dunning of Global Goose

The travel community is filled with incredibly interesting people. There are business travelers, budget travelers, short and long term travelers and everyone in between. All are dreamers and doers and find a way to include travel as a focal point in their lives. Research and social media have given me the opportunity to reach out to a few prominent bloggers who are living life on their own terms. Some live and work in the travel industry, some travel to disaster-relief incidents around the world, some closed up shop and headed off to see the world with no end in sight and others are living and working in a ‘location-independent’ lifestyle merging travel and life on their own terms. Over the next few weeks/months you’ll see interviews with some of these travelers and see what they believe to be the ‘gift of travel’ in their own lives. Read their stories – hear what they have to say. Perhaps they will inspire you to bring the gift of travel more to the forefront of your life in a way that works for you.

Hammock office in Thailand

Hammock office in Thailand

Interview with Global Goose (Kelly Dunning/Lee Carter)

 1.When did you get started traveling? My first solo trip ever was in the Autumn of 2008 just before I turned 22. I had just graduated from University and had worked two jobs all summer in order to save up for a trip to Europe. I went to France, The Netherlands and Germany for three weeks and it was the most empowering thing I had ever done for myself. It gave me an enormous boost of confidence and I caught the wanderlust bug. As soon as I returned, I started saving up for a longer trip and one year later I was heading to New Zealand on a Working Holiday visa. New Zealand was the adventure that really changed my life.

2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent existence? As I was traveling around New Zealand on a working holiday, I worked a number of jobs to fund my travels including working as a tour guide in a historic prison, volunteering on a farm in exchange for room and board, fundraising for Green Peace and working for a pub crawl. I met my significant other, Lee, when I was working at the prison and after traveling solo for a while we met up again in Christchurch. I struggled to find a job in Christchurch and I was unemployed for about a month. My travel savings quickly vanished. I realized that although taking jobs wherever you travel can be one way to see the world, it has a number of disadvantages. You always have to start from scratch whenever you arrive and there is a risk that you won’t find work. I wondered if there was a way to work and travel the world without this downside.

While I was broke in Christchurch, I started to look into doing some freelance writing online after my mom emailed me a link to a website looking for writers. I did a couple of gigs while I was there, but I didn’t know if it could be a full time thing. After living in Christchurch for about 4 months, Lee had to go back to the UK. Neither of us wanted our travel romance to end, so I decided to come with him. We lived in his hometown in Northern England for a year, which is when I really invested the time into building my writing career. Also, we started our travel blog, in order to chronicle our adventures and provide other travelers with helpful information. By the spring of 2011, we were able to live and travel from the income we were earning online, so we packed our bags and we have been location independent ever since.

Istanbul travel

Istanbul travel

3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the naysayers in your life? The benefits that we get from this lifestyle are incredible. I can’t believe how many breathtakingly beautiful places I have seen, from the sun setting over Lake Titicaca in Bolivia to the ruins of Machu Picchu to the temples of Angkor Wat at dawn. We have been whitewater rafting in New Zealand, ridden elephants through the jungle in Laos, given belly rubs to full grown tigers in Thailand, been whale watching in Sri Lanka and so much more. The world is an amazing place and our lifestyle gives us the freedom to see as much of it as possible. Also, another benefit of being a digital nomad writer is the flexibility. I can control when I work and can make my own schedule.

There aren’t too many nays-ayers in our life, most people think what we are doing is great. Some people do ask us, “so when are you going to stop traveling?” or “when will you settle down?” We tell them the honest truth – that we have absolutely no idea and that we will simply see what the future brings.

4.How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent life? It took us a year from when I did my first online writing gig to when we had a full time income online and we able to quit our jobs and go traveling. When we were living in the UK, we were both working full time jobs while building up our freelance location independent income on the side – so we were able to save up a lot of our income. We wanted to make sure that we had enough money to be able to get a flight home from anywhere if things went wrong.

5.How do you choose your destinations and for how long you’ll stay? What type of accommodations do you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? We usually choose a continent or a region, such as Southeast Asia or South America, and get the cheapest flight we can there. Then, we just move slowly across the continent enjoying one country at a time. We don’t ever have a schedule, we just stay in a place until we feel like we have seen it to our satisfaction. We have stayed in a range of different accommodations, from guesthouses to hotels to hostels and even short term apartment rentals. We go with whichever style of accommodation offers us the best value in that particular destination. We also used Couch-surfing during our road trip across Canada, which was a great resource because accommodation in North America can be very expensive.

Life in Penang, Malaysia

Life in Penang, Malaysia

6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? I make around £3,000 ($5,000USD) per month from my freelance writing career. However, this amount is not necessary to maintain our lifestyle, we usually travel on less than this. This amount means that we are also building up our savings as we travel.

7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? In most places where we travel, we spend less than we earn. This means that we have a constantly growing savings fund. We are not thinking too much about retirement, but I know that if we continue to spend less than we earn and we invest our money wisely, we’ll have plenty of money left over when we are older.

8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base? It can be a challenge to manage without a permanent address, but we work around it. Visas are pretty simple, as we apply for them at the border or in an adjacent country before we cross the border. Vaccinations have been pretty easy too. We got all of our vaccinations for Southeast Asia in Bangkok when we arrived and ended up saving an incredible amount of money compared to what it would have cost in Canada. When it comes to taxes, I still file my Canadian taxes on the freelance income that I make. We have a great accountant who understands our nomadic situation, so that’s very helpful. As for healthcare, we would be covered by our worldwide travel insurance if we ever were to get ill or injured. Also, if we need to receive any mail we usually just have it sent to Lee’s dad’s house in the UK.

9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? We really have no idea at this point! We could see ourselves traveling for at least a few years more, there are so many things to see and places to visit!

Enjoying the view in Virginia, USA

Enjoying the view in Virginia, USA

10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent lifestyle? One of the smartest financial decisions we made was not to “quit our day jobs” too early and jump into the freelance business. Instead, we built it up on the side until it was substantial enough to support us. This way, we could be secure in making the leap and we also had some savings behind us. Also, when you are on the road you will need to find a rhythm that works for you. Don’t try to travel too quickly and see everything, as you will find yourself exhausted and you won’t have time to focus on your work. Slow it down and stay in places for a while so that you can find the right work/life balance for you.


3 responses »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s