Megan and I hit it off online easily since she is a fellow Australian. She has an exciting new blog, Mapping Megan, just in time for her truly amazing Living The Dream travels.
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
I first visited Japan in 2003. It was a school trip with my Japanese class when I was 15, so I was incredibly excited to be heading overseas with 30 of my friends (I give HUGE credit to the teachers who chaperoned 30 girls to Japan for two weeks!). It was going to be one huge two week slumber party!
At 15 I didn't have a huge appreciation for global culture, and honestly the highlights of the trip were Tokyo Disneyland and my homestay. We visited a sister high school in Tokyo and each of us were paired up with a Japanese student who we stayed with for 3 days. This was an amazing experience which not only improved our language skills, but also planted the travel bug within me.
I was intrigued and amazed at this completely different family, in this completely new country nothing like that of my own. They spoke a different language, they dressed differently, they ate differently (I had to request a fork from my host mother after repeatedly failing at chopsticks!) and they had different customs. But the one thing which really struck home was that despite all of these differences, we were still the same. Despite the language barrier my host sister and I liked the same musicians, watched the same teenage girl movies and had the same plush toys; and the family's hospitality was amazing. Ever since all I have wanted to do is travel the world and experience how other people live - it fascinates me!
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
I started really traveling in 2007 after I graduated high school. Not content with starting university straight away I took a Gap Year and worked in a UK boarding school as a teaching assistant. With 17 weeks holiday this was the perfect set-up to explore all of Europe! When I returned to Australia and started University I wasn't happy accepting that reality mean't I couldn't continue to travel. I knew the life I wanted to live involved traveling and experiencing as much of the world as possible, and so I used absolutely every excuse and opportunity you can think of to travel!
I saw out my 5 year commitment to university, however during that time I studied and volunteered abroad as much as I possibly could, often flying out of the country a week before semester break technically finished, and returning two weeks after it began!! It was never too hard to catch up! Having recently graduated I'm now living in the United States, where myself and husband are dedicating the next few years to travel. We don't see any reason why we shouldn't live the life of our dreams, so "settling down" may have to take a seat on the back burner for a while!
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
I have always had a base; mainly because for the last 5 years I have had a commitment to my studies. I also find comfort in the knowledge that there's a home somewhere waiting for me. Traveling is my way of life, and I couldn't live without it, however as with anything it does get tiring sometimes after being on the road for long periods of time. I love the fact that I have a familiar pillow waiting for me to collapse into after an epic trip!
Traveling continuously honestly scares me a little, however we are hoping to sell our house and dive into full time travel next year. Having now met so many people within the travel community who do travel full time I'm less apprehensive about the concept, and realize that it's not as intimidating as it sounds. You just need to be willing to cut your ties!
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
Both myself and my husband are savers. For the 5 years I spent traveling while at university I also worked 3-5 jobs; two of them fulltime!! During the time I spent in Australia I would end up working 6 16 hour days per week, completing university assessment on overnight shifts at McDonalds or Hotel Reception, and then spending an hour or so catching up with friends on my way home to spend time with my family. Sounds insane right! I honestly didn't think it was insane at the time; I had established a routine which I was used to; and I was doing what I had to do in order to fund the lifestyle I wanted. I was incredibly motivated and never wanted to have to turn down an opportunity to travel because of money.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
Try absolutely everything at least once! What I have come to realize is that you only ever really regret the things you didn't do - fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life!
What does 'Living The Dream' mean to you?
Living the dream means being happy. I studied law for 5 years because that's what society told me I needed to do - to go to university, become educated, get a great job, buy a house, start a family. While this makes the majority of society happy, not me. My extreme wanderlust means I'll never be able to sit behind an office chair for the rest of my life. I'm currently cocktail waitressing in Florida inbetween travels; and honestly I couldn't be happier. People often ask me what I'm doing now after having graduated, and are always shocked when I say "cocktail waitressing" or "blogging", as if they expected something more high powered. I love my life, and the lifestyle I'm currently living is my dream. That's my advice: do what makes you happy!