Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been traveling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home. Here she shares her story about how she got started, how she chooses to travel and how she chose to make her own ‘reality’.
1.When did you get started traveling? My first international trip was in 2003 – I joined a school language trip for two weeks to Japan, and it was a wonderful experience. However I didn’t really start traveling, and wasn’t truly bitten by the travel bug, until I arrived in the UK in 2007. Fresh out of high school, I spent 12 months working as a teacher’s assistant in a UK boarding school, exploring Europe during the 17 weeks of school break. Between spending St Patrick’s Day drunk in a pub in Dublin, to skydiving over the Swiss Alps; packing on the pounds in Italian pizzerias and spending the summer sailing across the sparkling waters of the Croatian coast – I fell in love with travel, and fell in love with discovering the world.
2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? It was a mixture of extreme wanderlust and extreme jealousy. Jealousy, I’ve learned, can be an incredible motivator, and one January back in 2012, catching a flight back to Australia from the US, I was seated next to a man who had not only been traveling the world for 5 years, but was managing to make a living while doing so. I then realized that people all over the world were doing this: establishing and monetizing travel blogs, allowing them to live a completely nomadic lifestyle, working for themselves, from absolutely anywhere in the world. I’m a fairly ambitious person, so by my reasoning, if other people could make it happen and live their dream, why couldn’t I?!
3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? I’m happy. It really all comes down to that. The ability to travel the world and discover new destinations is my dream, so to have created a career which allows me to do this every day is my definition of happiness. I don’t listen to negativity. There’s too much of it in our world. There will always be those who will attempt to pull you down, or those who don’t believe in your abilities to achieve a goal or push beyond your limits. If you listen to them and let their words affect you, you’ve already lost. Thank them for their opinion and continue living your life.
4.How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’/traveling often? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent/travel-based life? We cut costs and sacrificed unnecessary luxuries, however it was hard work and determination which saw me actually earn the money required to continue to travel. After my gap year in the UK in 2007 was over I wasn’t happy accepting that “reality” meant I couldn’t travel any more. I worked incredibly hard to make my dream of seeing the world MY reality. I did the “normal” thing to do and started University after my year away; however while studying full time I also juggled multiple full time jobs. Before I knew it, I was working two full time jobs while also studying full time. This meant that during University semesters I was working 16-20 hour days.
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 choose our destinations based on opportunities and cheap flights on offer at the time. Now that we travel as a couple we opt to stay in hotels and apartments; however, will be looking into house-sitting for our upcoming travels to cut our accommodation costs. A great resource for international house-sit opportunities is Trusted Housesitters.
6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? We haven’t yet hit a year of full time travel – this is our first year on the road. We have spent the last 6 months hitting fairly remote and expensive bucket list destinations (Easter Island, the Amazon, Galapagos, Iceland), and have spent $25,000. Though to sustain a lifestyle of travel it’s very possible to live on a lot less. Once we finish our “honeymoon period” of full time travel we will begin to line up house-sitting gigs instead of paying for hotels, and start spending more time in individual destinations as opposed to continuing on a whirlwind tour which ends up breaking the bank.
7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? By earning more than we spend and saving. We’ve saved fairly consistently for the last few years, and before we hit the road we had built up a fund specifically for setting up our lives once we decide to stop traveling/for retirement.
8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? Since we haven’t yet hit a year on the road, we haven’t come up against those dreaded taxes yet! We’ve also been incredibly lucky in that we have had no issues to date with healthcare or loss of legal documents. We always travel with the contacts for our local embassy, and keep copies of our passports and legal documents electronically as well as printed out in our luggage in case of any loss or damage. With no home base or address, we have our mail forwarded to my parents in Australia who keep us fairly up to date on any urgent issues which need attending to.
9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? Australia. While this lifestyle is a dream come true, we only plan on traveling full time for a few years before settling down in Australia. Ultimately, we will enjoy the comfort of having a home base, and Australia is a great country to settle in. There are great job opportunities, great quality of life, we have a large family base, and there’s great healthcare and education if we decide to start a family.
10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/ travel-heavy lifestyle? Make sure you’re prepared, and travel slowly. Do your research about how much money you need, and take more. You don’t realize how quickly the little expenses for day to day life can add up, and these are generally overlooked when you do a travel budget. Travel slowly because otherwise you will burn out. It’s ok to spend a few days relaxing and chilling out; you’re not wasting your time in a location in doing so. Yes, you’re in a completely new place and you might want to make the most of your opportunity to get out there and experience everything each destination has to offer, however you have to remember you’re traveling full time and you WILL get exhausted if you push yourself too hard.
Meg authors “Mapping Megan”, an adventure travel blog which aims to give you the best tips and advice on traveling, volunteering, living, working and holidaying abroad. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram also.