My Travel Story

My travel story

My birthday just passed, which has me reflecting on the last few years of travel, and how I got here. So I thought, why not share my travel story? What led me to my current lifestyle of working remotely and traveling the world? I’m actually writing this on an airplane, which seems fitting. 

I honestly think it all started with sleep away summer camp. In third grade, one of my best friends at the time wanted to go to a summer camp in North Carolina. Her parents talked to mine, and before I knew it, the owner of the camp was visiting our house and showing us video tapes of what to expect. My family traveled to North Carolina every summer to visit family anyway. So I went to camp. My friend was horribly homesick the whole time, crying every night. I, on the other hand, was having the time of my life. I learned to canoe and kayak, ride horses, archery, and so much more. Being away from my family for 6 weeks as a 9 year old really instilled a sense of independence in me. I continued to go to that camp for the next 4 summers.

Fast forward to high school. My best friend Aline asked me if I wanted to go with her to Brazil for the summer to visit her family there. I asked my parents, and they told me that if I could pay for it, I could go. I was 15 at the time, so there were not very many jobs available to me. But fate delivered, and I was given a job at a bead store that my mom and I visited often. I saved up, and spent two months in Brazil that summer.

My travel story
Visiting Paris in 2007

My next international trip would be my first solo. After my freshman year of college, my parents let me spend a summer studying in Paris. I went with a program, and stayed with a really nice older woman in the 16th arrondissement. While many of the other students took weekends to visit other cities or countries (one even went to London for the release of one of the Harry Potter books), I could not bring myself to leave Paris. There was so much to do, how could I possibly take any time from my 2 months to go elsewhere? And thus, a slow traveler was born. I didn’t want to (nor did I have the money to) visit as many countries as possible on the weekends just to say I had. I wanted to live in Paris. And I did just that. It’s still my favorite city in the world.

As I neared the end of college and started looking for jobs, I tried so hard to find a position in the UK, France, or Germany. Little did I know at the time how unlikely it was for an inexperienced software developer to get a full-time job abroad. Instead, I went for a company that had offices around the world and a position that required almost 100% travel. I became a software consultant in a field I’d never heard of, business intelligence. And it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

I started the ultra glamorous life of traveling for work every week. That’s kind of a joke, but also not. Many people think constant travel for work is horrible, but I loved it. My clients were great, and I was racking up status and points. All my flights were first class. All my hotel rooms were upgraded. I got to drive fun muscle cars every week. After less than a year, I was able to take my mom on her first international trip to London and Paris for 10 days, paid for entirely with points.

My travel story
Rowing my mom around at Versailles

After about 4 years, I was ready to go to a new company. But this time, they had me working at home. After a while, I was antsy. My friend Becca told me about a program called Remote Year, where you took your remote job and traveled the world with a group. I applied, and ended up getting to the point where I needed to pay or not go. I made the decision that I was not interested in being in a group situation for an entire year without knowing the people first. Instead, I thought, why not follow the itinerary on my own? 

So I emailed my company and told them I would be working from Europe for the next 4 months, and headed to Istanbul. They were cool with it, so that summer I spent a month each in Turkey, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia. It was amazing. I met so many people living this lifestyle, and learned about the term digital nomad. It turned out, I had become one! 

My travel story
Exploring Istanbul

For the past 3 years, I’ve spent about 6 months of the year out of the country. In August 2017, my company downsized and I was let go. It took me about 5 minutes to decide I was not going to get another job. It seemed less difficult to freelance and build my own company than to find a job that was going to allow me the freedom to live abroad while working. And here I am, a year and a half later. I’m making plans to give up my apartment in the US in 2020 and fully live on the road.

Many people ask how I can travel so much. To me it’s just about priorities. I would rather travel than buy new clothes every month, or any number of things I used to spend my money on. And it’s really not that expensive to travel these days. A round-trip flight to Europe can be as low as $500.

I also get asked about whether I get lonely. I enjoy my own company, and friends and family are always a phone call away. I’m also not afraid to start conversations with strangers, and have made many friends during my travels. There are definitely times that I want to hang out with someone, and if I haven’t made friends yet, I’ll hop into a Facebook group and ask if anyone is in the same city. I’m actually building an application to solve this problem, since more often than not those posts on Facebook aren’t seen until it’s too late.

I don’t foresee slowing down anytime soon. In fact, with the resolve to go full-nomad, I expect to be traveling more. What’s your travel story? Join Companach’s Facebook group and tell us about it!