Friday, July 25th, 2014

A Year in the Life of a Full-Time Traveler

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All my life, I’ve dreamed of traveling the world.  And in 2011, I achieved what I once thought was impossible without winning the lottery: I became a full-time traveler.

And it wasn’t how I pictured.  You DON’T need to be insanely rich to travel the world.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have built myself a life rich in time and location independence with enough money to get by.  That’s all I need.

So I may not be able to jet anywhere I want at a moment’s notice.  But I get to live my life the way I choose: seeing the world.  And that makes me SO happy!

Here is what a year in the life of a full-time traveler looks like!

January: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam

I rang in 2011 on Khao San Road in Bangkok.  Two days later, it was off to Vang Vieng, Laos (via Thai party train) with a great group I’ll never forget (Chris, Jon, Mona and Anthony), where I stayed for 15 days and enjoyed a debauchery-filled existence the likes of which I’ll never see again.  I’m glad to have gone out with a bang.

There was a two-day interlude in overrated Luang Prabang, and then I entered Vietnam (not without almost getting refused to the border).  After arriving in Hanoi, I got sick almost immediately and was confined to my bed for days with strep.

After recovering, I got to know Hanoi betterdrinking snake blood was one way — and then experienced Halong Bay on the greatest party cruise of all time!

February: Vietnam, Cambodia

After returning to Hanoi, I hopped on an overnight bus to the imperial capital of Hue.  On that bus ride, I met the five boys who would become my travel companions throughout Vietnam and beyond — Ste, Darren, Sander, Mike — and yes, Dave.

Since Dave and Mike only had four weeks to work through Vietnam, we moved quickly.  After a day in Hue, we designed new clothing and celebrated Tet in the beautiful city of Hoi An for three days, then to the wild party beach resort of Nha Trang.  Next up was the low-key hippie beach enclave of Mui Ne, where I learned to drive like a Vietnamese madwoman, then the great city of Saigon, a city that “got” me.

Saigon was our gateway to the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi, where we fired guns.  And then, sadly, our perfect little group had to split up.

On a whim, I went back to Phnom Penh with Ste and Darren, where we got invited to a party in the countryside and experienced the Cambodian Merry-Go-Round of Death, then back to Sihanoukville.  After the boys left for Laos, I stayed in Sihanoukville to take a break from the manic travel and get some work done.

March: Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia

After a few more days in Sihanoukville, I practiced the fine art of beach bummery on the enclave of Lonely Beach on the fantastic island of Koh Chang, Thailand, then took a few more days in Bangkok before moving on to a new country: Singapore!

After a few days of reveling in modernity and food stalls, I flew to Bali.  My not-so-welcome arrival in Kuta was quickly fixed with surfing lessons and attending my first white party with my new Balinese friends, then I moved on to Ubud for a dose of culture.

I took a ferry to the island of Lombok and shacked up on a nearly empty beach in Senggigi.

And then in the event that changed my life and defined my year, I was shipwrecked on a Perama cruise to Komodo Island.

Post-shipwreck, I recovered in the town of Labuan Bajo, Flores, before flying back to Bali.


April: Indonesia, Thailand, UK

After hearing about the shipwreck, the Alam Sari Resort in Keliki, Bali, invited me to stay with them and recover.  What kindness they showed me, and I finished my final eight days in Bali in their wonderful resort, wandering the Balinese artists’ villages.

Then it was back to Bangkok for the greatest festival I’ve ever experienced: SONGKRAN!  I reunited with my Vietnam buds Ste and Darren and brought them to meet my blogging friends, Adam, Rob, Poi and Kirsty for three days of throwing water on each other.

And then it was time to say a bittersweet goodbye to Southeast Asia, my home for the past six months, and fly to England, where I soon met up with Dave, whom I had met in Vietnam and who had invited me to visit him in his hometown, Chester.

England was the perfect transition in between Asia and America.  Dave and I celebrated the Royal Wedding, did pub quizzes, visited North Wales and surprisingly stylish Liverpool.

May: UK, USA, Mexico

I continued my time in Chester with Dave, using it as a base to visit York in northeast England.  Soon, my time in Chester came to an end, and I headed to London for a few days, checking out colorful Camden and Shoreditch with my party bud Chris from Vang Vieng.

I then flew home to America for the first time in seven months, dropping into New York City to visit my sister (experiencing some reverse culture shock) before taking the bus home to Boston.

I was home.  But not for long.

I soon flew off to Sayulita, Mexico for a week of yoga, beach workouts, surfing and fantastic food with Nourish Retreats!

June: Mexico, USA

My Nourish Retreat in chilled out Sayulita continued, and I learned that even out-of-shape girls can do well at fitness retreats.  The next big event, the event for which I had come home, was helping my friend Alexa get ready for her wedding!

Once again, I didn’t get much downtime.  At the end of June, Dave arrived in Boston to visit me for two weeks.  In the first few days, I took him down the Freedom Trail in Boston and to the tiny fishing/artist town of Rockport, and fed him the best food in Boston nonstop.  (If there’s anything I know, it’s the best food in Boston!)

July: USA

I began July by taking Dave up to White Lake in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, to Maine for some seafood chowda at the Maine Diner, and to Fenway Park on the fourth of July!  We wrapped up his visit with a Cape Cod road trip.  I’d say that’s a damn good introduction to New England!

And then I finally had a break longer than a few days.  The rest of July was spent relaxing at home.  A wise decision, as it was my favorite time of year in Boston.

August: USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein

I turned 27 at home — I still have yet to celebrate my birthday abroad! — but the next day went off to San Antonio with my mom and sister to participate in the Race to the Alamo, one of the most unique adventures of my life.  My sister and I competed as a team against two other blogger teams and ran around the city, got splashed by Shamu, speed trimmed bonsai trees and even won a helicopter trip above the city!

In mid-August I flew back to England — spending my two-hour London layover having a few beers with blogger friends Dylan and Ayngelina — then after a few days back in Chester with Dave, flew to Munich for TBU Innsbruck.

I spent two days exploring Munich (and Germany) for the first time, then moved on to Innsbruck.  Both the conference and the location were a fantastic experience on so many levels and one of the highlights of my year.

After the post-conference tour of mountain climbing and rafting in Tirol, I decided to check out the tiny, strange and beautiful principality of Liechtenstein for a few days.

September: Austria, UK

After meeting with Tourism Austria at TBU, I decided to extend my time in Austria, starting with a night at the Interalpen Hotel in Seefeld, a prize I won at TBU.  I visited Salzburg and Vienna, then returned to Salzburg to experience a Mozart dinner concert in the world’s oldest restaurant.  Right after, I hopped back to England and back to Chester.

I dropped down briefly to London for the first-ever MEARCATS meetup, but the rest of the month was spent in lovely Chester, working hard and getting to know this city better — and yes, that included dressing up and betting on the horses at the Chester Races!

At the end of the month, I got my first taste of Scotland, visiting Edinburgh for a few days and having a blast with Kash, Anthony and the Haggis Hostel guys, Chris and Al.

October: UK, Italy

October was also primarily spent enjoying Chester.  I visited Manchester a few times and Dave and I climbed Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.  It was this month when I began to feel more at home than ever in the UK, especially once we had a mini-Vietnam reunion: me, Dave, Mike and Ste!

After that was the Delicious Emilia-Romagna blog trip with Wilde & Partner PR and Emilia-Romagna Tourism — a fantastic food-filled trip through Italy’s best food region, as we gathered fresh chestnuts, hunted for truffles with dogs, gorged on raw seafood, and I found a new favorite city in Italy.

And the month ended with a bang — with a great Halloween party!  Who says Halloween is only in America?  In Britain, you can actually buy Amy Winehouse’s exact tattoos!

November: UK, Jordan, Turkey

November was WILD.  In early November I returned to London for the World Travel Market conference — which I rocked harder than I thought possible.

Immediately after, it was off to Jordan for an amazing week with the Jordan Tourism Board.  From floating in the Dead Sea to camping with Bedouins in Wadi Rum, from cooking Jordanian food in Amman to looking incredibly awkward while riding a donkey in Petra, these memories cement Jordan as one of my favorite destinations of the year.

Immediately after, I flew to incredible Istanbul to start my two weeks in Turkey, and also visited creepy Cappadocia and chilled-out Fethiye.  The posts from these destinations are on their way.

December: Turkey, UK, USA

I was aching to get back to England, so I spent a few more days in Istanbul before grabbing an earlier flight back to the UK.  I got a full week in Chester and also a visit to the Birmingham Christmas Market, the UK’s largest Christmas Market.

Then it was back home to Massachusetts for the holidays.  I’m here now and I will probably remain here through the end of the year, but I’ll be visiting New York before I head back to the UK on January 9.

The Overall Takeaway

I visited 15 countries total, 8 of them new.  I had more adventures than I ever could imagine.  I survived a life-threatening event and met some fantastic people who changed my life.

I officially went full-time as a travel blogger.  I grew my web income from paltry to livable.  I became a press trip veteran.

I became a somebody in the travel blogging world, with the resulting income, recognition, and opportunities — and that’s what I wanted most of all.

It was a good year.

Stay tuned — I have a lot of plans for 2012, and I’ll be announcing them soon!

Comments

74 Responses to “A Year in the Life of a Full-Time Traveler”
  1. bex says:

    *SO* happy for you, Kate! You are really an inspiration to figure out what you truly want out of life and GO FOR IT! I can’t wait to see where 2012 takes you!

  2. Elle Croft says:

    What an incredible year! There are not too many people who can say they live to travel and travel to live! Glad you’re making the most of it…here’s to 2012!

  3. Wow, you’ve achieved so much with your travels and in keeping your blog updated successfully. Enjoy your break and looking forward to your upcoming posts on Turkey. Sorry we didn’t get to meet in Fethiye – typical that we would be away at the same time. :)
    Julia

  4. Holy effin cow what a year!. Not sure how 2012 will match up, but I’m sure you’ll find a way.! Q & I may have something similar lined up next year, RTW/Career Break in Asia. Then hopefully opportunities will allow us to see more in the world. Maybe allow us to land in Europe which is something Q has always wanted. We’ll just have to see where the wind takes us.

  5. Amanda says:

    Wow, I know I’ve been following along with all of your adventures this year, but I had no idea you did so much!

    I’m so happy that you are finally living the life you’ve always dreamed of, and loving it! You are definitely an inspiration, and proof positive that this CAN become a lifestyle!

    Can’t wait to see what you get up to in 2012. But try to stick around the UK in early August, so I can come visit, okay? ;)

  6. Congrats Kate! You made a huge impression on me at WTM with your professional take on blogging and we definitely hope to follow in your giant footsteps. Keep it up for 2012 and beyond.

  7. Kim says:

    Pretty damn good year! You are blessed. I hope 2012 is just as fabulous.

  8. Wow! You have really had an exciting year! All the best in the next year as well!

  9. Nasstaja says:

    Congrats Kate! I wish you even More awesome adventures for the year 2012!

  10. You say you had a good year? I say you had a G R E A T year!! So happy for you that becoming location-independent worked out so well for you & that so many opportunities came your way… I am sure there will be many more in the years to come :) Enjoy the Holidays & I am sure our paths will cross again somewhere in the New Year.

    • Thank you, Dani! I’m still a bit in disbelief that I’m actually location independent…almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. :-/ But very happy. And I’m sure our paths will cross again soon.

  11. Wow Kate – what an amazing year!! I can’t wait to see where your travels take you next. There’s always a place to stay in Christchurch, New Zealand if you ever make it over this way. Have a great Christmas and New Year.

  12. For inspiring posts like this and for the way you find joy and peace in what you do, you’re absolutely one of my favorite travel bloggers. I don’t get a chance to comment often, but I read just about every post. I think my first introduction to your blog was when you attended your first white party in Bali.
    You’ve had an amazing, dream year and I think it is great of you to remark how fortunate you are. You show people that it doesn’t take a lot of money to do it.

    Thank you for the many positive footprints you left in 2011!

    Happy New Year!

  13. Great update, way to make some waves in Bali and in the Travo Blogosphere.

    #indude

  14. vira says:

    looks like a very fun year , I have to admit I envy you a little bit, but also I’m inspired to pursuit my dream of traveling the world :D

    Have a great 2012 , Kate!

  15. George says:

    OMG you were in B’ham Christmas markets! I live right next to there. I wish I had known I would have shown you around (not that there is too much to see outside of the markets) next time you are in the area (if you ever are) let me know yea :). This post just shows why everyone should be traveling xx

  16. Absolutely awesome, Kate. You are an inspiration! Would love to meet up when I am back in England late Feb? Take care, have a fab Christmas <:-)

  17. Susan says:

    Wow, Kate. This is such a great post. Way to go! I hope that you enjoy your holidays at home, and that 2012 is even better!!

  18. You are fantastic and this is so inspirational! When I have time I want to go through and read each of the entries you have referenced. I love the things you chose to show Dave in Boston/New England– they are right in line with what I showed my husband Alejandro these past two summers. Today we fly back in to Boston for his first ever American winter experience (although I hear it is unusually warm!) Anyway, I think you’ve become a great travel blogger– I envy everything you’ve seen this year and as I get more into the blogging world I appreciate all of your hard work to bring readers amazing quality posts and pics. Besos from Spain!!! -Lauren

  19. Alouise says:

    Looks like 2011 was a pretty life changing year for you. I can’t wait to hear about your plans for 2012. I’m sure it will be another great year.

  20. You GO GIRL! I hope to meet you in London at some point. Maybe at one of the next MEARCAT meetups!!

  21. Kristin M says:

    It was great getting to re-live these adventures with you! You are an incredibly inspiring person and I can’t wait to see all the adventures you’ll have in 2012!

  22. Heather says:

    Congratulations on all your amazing accomlishments and hard work that paid off. I can only imagine the rollercoaster of experiences and emotions that you’ve been through but I appreciate you sharing it with me and its been so encouraging seeing you accomplish your dreams, it helps me believe I can do it too! Happy Holidays!

  23. Alison says:

    You’re a true inspiration. I started reading your blog this summer and have been hooked ever since. Keep up the good work!

  24. What an extraordinary year!!! I can only imagine how fabulous 2012 will be! :)

  25. Congrats! Looks like it’s been a pretty fabulous year for you, and I hope 2012 is just as good or even better.

  26. Andre says:

    You had a great year, it’s a shame you had that terrible experience in Indo. It’s easily the best country in se asia. I’m sure you would’ve enjoyed the gili’s, parties and good snorkeling right off the beach. Or if you wanted a bit of culture, sulawesi would’ve fit the bill with funerals and buffalo sacrificing.

  27. Anthony says:

    What a fantastic photo’writing update, my friend. I’m so happy that I played a part in your year of travel :) Congratulations on making your dream a reality :)

  28. Cam says:

    What a fantastic year of adventure!
    Happy Holidays and best wishes for another adeventure filled 2012!

  29. ashley says:

    i don’t know if this would be too personal, but could you make a year post about spending? I know i’d be interested in seeing the break down – kind of similar to what wandering earl did – how much money he got from a job, how much he spent traveling to certain places, etc? I’d love to read it =)

  30. Mina Sameh says:

    Wow what a year!! hopefully 2012 will be even better ;)
    merry christmas and happy holidays

  31. Amazing, amazing progress. If I have anywhere near the success you have had this year I’ll be a very happy travel blogger. Great to see you keep rising up the ranks. I remember an interview I did with you way back in July for Gap Daemon. Good times!

  32. Annie says:

    What an amazing year Kate!! Here’s to making 2012 even more amazing!

  33. Amazing stuff for only one year. Congratulations on going fulltime with your travel blog! pretty inspirational Kate.

    You must be exhausted? So much travel…

  34. Hiye Kate!…I just randomly found your blog while researching things to do in Cambodia and Vietnam. I am glad I found it I really love it and your are very inspirational to a newbie travel blogger like me:) Happy Holidays!

  35. Rebecca says:

    What an AWESOME year! I’ve been a bit slack on my blog reading so this has been a great way to catch up on your 2011 adventures – thanks! :-) All the best for 2012!

  36. Hasan says:

    Hi Kate,
    I enjoy your blog.
    can you give me idea about tour in turkey?
    thanks in advance.

    hasan

  37. Kyle says:

    I know I’m late buit what an incredible year. I’m so happy that you were finally able to make travel blogging into a viable income (which is my ultimate dream!) My blog is relatively new and was just wondering, how long did it take you to make this a reality?

    Hopefully, I can run into you some day in some far away place. You seem like a blast!

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