Emma from Gotta Keep Movin finds real value in not checking countries off a list, but immersing herself in culture. When she describes Living The Dream it’s because she is fighting for her living, not wishing on a dream.

Living The Dream: It’s Not The Dream That Matters, It’s The Living

Living The Dream

Emma Higgins

What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?

Well technically the first country I ever visited was Portugal when I was a baby, and I had no choice in the matter whatsoever, but I’m guessing you were after a different answer!

I had been on family holidays during my childhood, mostly to France, but it was interrailing around Europe that was my first real travel experience, and I went with a close friend called Jenna. We chose Europe just because it was so cheap for us to get to from back home, the UK, and the best thing about Europe is that there are so many different places all so close together.

We spent two months whizzing around 10 countries in the summer of 2009, at the tender ages of 20 and 18. We had the time of our lives, and every time I look back on that trip I remember all the crazy stories, inside jokes, and lifelong memories that came from it.

When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?

When I got back home from that Europe trip, I decided that I wanted more. I hadn’t had my fill of adventure, not by a long shot. I had met so many women on the road who were traveling alone, and I decided that I was going to become one of them.

Seeing so many different things, cultures, ways of life, and making heaps of new friends just made me realise that there was so much more out there. Travel for me then turned into a way to educate myself. The world just fascinates me and I honestly don’t think that there is a better education than to immerse yourself in lands and cultures unknown, to see how other people deal with life.

I adore nature and wildlife, but it has always been humans and anthropology that have been my incentive to travel. Seeing the ways in which people live, under extreme conditions or otherwise, is what moves me to see the world.


Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?

I’ve been traveling for 4 years now and have had three bases in that time – England, Barcelona, and now Toronto. I have had periods when I’ve been backpacking constantly, just as going through South America for six months last year in between my time living in Barcelona and Toronto, so really my travel life is a bit of both.

I would now choose to have a base to travel from, just because I find slow travel much more valuable to me. Going around Europe in 2009 was extremely fun at the time, but now I feel a slight pang of regret that we crammed in so much in two months. Some countries I have ticked off my list consist of spending three days in the capital, and that just doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. What can you learn about a place from just its capital city in three days? Very little, I think.

I will have periods in the future where I travel around with my backpack, but I no longer feel the need to rush through a continent. Now I volunteer in a couple of places for weeks or months at a time, giving me a flavour of that place and an opportunity to really spend some time with locals.

How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?

Again, bit of both. In my early travel years I would go back to the UK, work my butt off, save up, then leave on another adventure. Nowadays my feet are far too itchy for that, so I decided to find ways to work on the road. I lived in Barcelona teaching English, and now I have freelance writing work that can top up my bank account a little.

I’m a serious saver and because I do a lot of free or low cost volunteering, I manage to make my money stretch extremely far, over long periods of time. It’s a skill that can take a long time to really nail down as a traveler, but it’s so ingrained in my personality now that it comes naturally to me to be on a budget.


If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?

Don’t ever try and tick countries off a list, just for the sake of saying you’ve been there. Yes, I want to see as much of our world as possible, but it’s very unlikely that I will ever see all of it. As much as that pains me to think about, and believe me I’m doing my best, when I’m old and grey and look back on my travel experiences I feel like I will value the time I spent really sinking myself into a culture over time, more than the fleeting moments which don’t hold many long lasting memories.

I’m so impatient, and I spend almost every minute of every day dreaming about all those far off places I could be seeing right now, but I remind myself to never wish away the experience that are happening before my eyes because your back yard could be the most interesting place on earth one day. Live in the moment, and savour it.  

What does 'Living The Dream' mean to you?

To me, 'Living the Dream' is a phrase often used with travelers because to people on the outside world it might seem like we're living in a complele fantasy world. However, I feel like it's often too restricted by that - someone who has always wanted to be an investment banker and is doing it is 'Living the Dream'. Someone who has always dreamed of being a parent and that's what their dedicating their lives to is 'Living the Dream'.

It's all personal really, and sometimes I feel like 'Living the Dream' could be changed to 'Living YOUR Dream' - there is no black or white as to what 'the Dream' is. If you've kept that dream in your head your entire life, never losing sight of it, never straying for it as your goal, and fighting through every single thing that gets in between you and your dream, that is Living the Dream, no matter what that dream is. It's not the dream that matters, it's the living it part that counts. 

You can find Emma Here -

Website: http://gottakeepmovin.com

Twitter: @GottaKeepMovin

The world is your playground, go out and explore it!

Reader Comments...

"I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" -

"I remind myself to never wish away the experience that are happening before my eyes" - loved this line. It's extremely applicable to the way I've been thinking lately. Great Post!

Dan Feb 9th, 2014

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