When did you start traveling?
I left the country for the first time when I was 15, on a student trip to Ecuador. The trip was challenging — we did a four-day backpacking trip in the Andes and I had never been camping! But I came back head over heels in love with travel.
How old are you now?
At the time of writing this (Sept. 2019), I’m 29.
How many countries have you been to?
45 so far.
What’s your favorite country?
France, followed closely Japan, Vietnam, and the UK. You can read about everywhere I’ve traveled here, and my all-time favorite cities here.
What’s your least favorite place?
I’m not a huge fan of Brussels. And if I never visit Azerbaijan again, that’s probably fine.
How many countries have you lived in?
I lived in Paris for a year (2012-2013) and Uganda for a year (2017). I also studied abroad in Spain (2011) and Argentina (2009).
Do you always travel solo?
It’s a mix. Sometimes I travel solo or with a significant other, family, or friends. If I really want to go somewhere and have the money to do so, I go! I know I’ll meet people once I get there anyway.
When did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2012 when I had just graduated from college and had no idea what I was doing with my life. But I did have big dreams: I wanted to live in Paris, work as a writer, and speak fluent French. So I got a job as an au pair in Paris and started a blog, both of which were two of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
You can learn how to start a travel blog here.
What kind of camera do you use?
I have a mirrorless camera — the Fujifilm X-Pro 2. I’m obsessed with it. You can read more about my photography setup here.
Do you blog full-time?
No. I am a graduate student at the University of Michigan where I’m studying UX design. That being said, my blog is my passion project and side business. Though it does generate some income, I don’t do it full-time — yet!
How much do you spend on your blog?
Considering it’s my side gig, I spend a good amount! Here are my main expenses:
- I pay $180 a year to schedule pins on Pinterest using Tailwind.
- I pay $1370 a year to host my site with Performance Foundry. (I just upgraded to Performance Foundry and am kicking myself for not doing it sooner. It’s made my life so much easier, and I can breathe easy knowing my site is safe and cared for.)
- I pay $350 a year for email marketing with ConvertKit. (Note – I don’t recommend Convertkit, honestly! I think there are better email marketing options and soon hope to switch to ActiveCampaign.)
- I pay $200 a year for SEO strategy with Keysearch. (GAME-CHANGER.)
- I also employ a VA (virtual assistant) who handles my Pinterest account and pay her $1800 a year.
Why did you move to Uganda?
Even though I had a great life in Colorado, I knew there was something missing. I really missed being abroad and sometimes felt like I was in autopilot living in Boulder. So when I got the job opportunity in Uganda, I went for it — despite never having been to Africa.
Did you really walk the Camino de Santiago alone?
Yes! And I had a fantastic experience. I met my “Camino family” (a group of pilgrims who walk together) literally on the bus ride to the start of the pilgrimage. So, I really only walked alone when I felt like doing so.
If you want to walk the Camino, I have guides here.
How do you afford to travel so much?
The short answer? I’m pretty frugal. I usually stay with friends, stay in hostels, or split Airbnbs with friends. I very rarely stay in hotels.
The long answer? When I was in my teens and early twenties, I was an extreme budget traveler; I crashed on friend’s couches, Couchsurfed, and stayed in hostels (air-conditioned hostel dorms were a huge luxury, ha). I was obsessed with travel so was always saving up for it, and spent money on almost nothing else.
I also could afford to travel because I worked as an au pair. In college, I worked as an au pair in Paris every summer, and my host family paid for my ticket to France, as well as a small salary. After college, I worked as an au pair in Paris again.
When I was 23, I backpacked the world for a year. I could afford this because I mostly traveled to very cheap countries, like India, Thailand, and Cambodia. I also paid my way by working as a freelance writer (my main writing job paid me $1000-1500 a month). And I also sold text links on my blog, which is spammy and not a smart idea AT ALL. But I was young and dumb and wanted to keep traveling.
Now that I’m in my late twenties, I travel less but spend more (I’m kind of done with hostel dorms). That being said, I’m still frugal – I drive an old car with 150K miles, will always buy a plane ticket over a purse, and sometimes put way too much on my credit card in order to afford a trip (I don’t necessarily recommend this, ha).
Finally, I also collect religiously collect airline miles and credit card points — I once flew from the US to Uganda (and back) on points! For Americans, I highly recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred – you get double points on food and travel (my two biggest expense).
Also, it must be said – I’m extremely lucky. I’m a middle-class white American, so basically hit the global jackpot. My parents don’t pay for my travels (and never have), but they have always encouraged me to travel, which I think makes a big difference.
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