What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
My first overseas trip was to Scotland in 2004 for a 3-week study abroad trip with my college. My mom didn’t want me to go. I think she thought it was too expensive and irresponsible of me to go.
It was the first time I had ever really saved up and done anything completely on my own. I didn’t know anyone that was going on the trip, but it was an amazing experience and I don’t think I could be where I am today if I hadn’t gone.
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
My trip to Scotland gave me a strong desire to see as much of the world as possible. Initially I wanted to go back and study abroad for a year, but when I saw the price tag, I knew that was way more than I could afford. I couldn’t really even afford school in the States as it was!
It took me 8 years to graduate from university because I stopped several times along the way to work full time and I still graduated in debt. I thought about quitting many times, but it was the debt that kept me going. I had to pay back the loans anyway, might as well have something to show for them!
During my last semester of school I was going through the application process to teach English in South Korea through EPIK. It’s a great program and I highly recommend it for anyone that wants to have an international experience, but just can’t afford to do it without getting paid.
In the EPIK program, I taught English at a public elementary school in Korea. They paid me 2 million won a month (which is about $1,800, depending on the exchange rate). They also pay for your flights (though you do need to have the money upfront) and housing. I was able to send home half of my pay each month to pay down debt.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
When I was teaching, I met my boyfriend -- a handsome Australian that was also working in Korea, but he was working on an oil and gas construction project. I’ve finished teaching and now we are living together. Dave gets lots of vacation time so we travel internationally about once a month and try to explore as much of Korea as possible in the time in between. We just wish there was time to see more!
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
When I was teaching, I saved each month so I could afford to travel. I only had a limited amount of vacation time, but I was still able to see the Philippines, Japan and lots of places in Korea.
Korea has a really great pension program that I was obligated to pay into each month. My school matched my contribution and after I finished teaching, I was given a full refund (pension refund applies only to certain nationalities). I used that money towards travel.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
There are so many things that I look back on and wish that I would have done smarter or better or more efficiently, but ultimately, everything I did got me to where I am today and I’m so happy with how everything has turned out.
If I had one piece of advice to give someone who wants to start traveling, it would be DO IT! Find the way that works best for you and make it happen.
What does 'Living The Dream' mean to you?
To me, 'Living The Dream' simply means living a meaningful and fulfilling life. My dreams are constantly changing and adapting, but my ultimate goal is always happiness. I'm always reevaluating my dreams and trying to figure out new and exciting directions for my life. That's the fun part about being an adult!