Dear Ladies: This Can Be Your Life, Too.

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Every now and then, I receive an email or a Facebook comment from one of my girlfriends that contains the following phrase:

“You’re so lucky, Kate.”

I appreciate their words, but I disagree wholeheartedly.

I’m not lucky at all.

I’m in the same boat as all of you — I just made travel a priority in my life.

What’s your priority?  Creating a beautiful home?  Moving upward in your career?  Living the VIP life around town?

Think about it. Where does your money go?  Where does your spare time go?

The results may surprise you.

I know that not every woman wants to travel the way I do.  And that’s fine!

That said, many of you email me saying that you dream of traveling the world — but have no idea if you can.

Here’s the truth:

You can keep waiting for your life to change, or you can choose to do something about it.

You can choose to travel solo, instead of waiting for friends who may never be ready.

You can choose to save your money instead of living barely within your means.

You can choose to dump the boyfriend who doesn’t want you to travel.  Or to tell him that it’s great that he has an opinion, and you’ll see him when you get back.

Yes, ladies.  You can do this, too. But only if you choose.

Only a year ago, I was in a completely different place.  I worked 8-5 in an office job — the pay was good, the field was great, and I was so miserable that I would tally every thirty-minute interval that passed.

It was more than just the job. I was tired of living in the cold for eight months of the year.  I was sick of punctuating the drudgery with amazingly fun but brief and expensive trips to Las Vegas.

I never thought I’d be 25 years old and still living in Boston, a mere 20 minutes from where I grew up.  I always thought I’d be doing something artistic for a living — writing, music, some kind of design.  Any kind of design.

This was not the life of which I had dreamed.

So I rearranged my priorities. I gave up my downtown Boston apartment.  I took on mountains of freelance work.  I stopped going out for drinks all the time.  I lived on very little, saving every spare penny for travel.

After just a few months of saving, I had enough money for seven months in exotic, fun, and super-cheap Southeast Asia.

You know how it’s been — you’ve been reading the site!  This trip has changed my life, and I’ve never been so happy.

And this can be your life, too.

You can find the island paradise you never expected.

You can make amazing friends while travelingmore than once.

You can have stories that bring the house down at every future party you attend.

And, as cliche as it sounds, you can find true love — or people whom you love dearly.

But it won’t happen unless you make travel a priority in your life — beyond the designer sample sales, beyond the concerts and sports games, beyond the nice restaurants and nights out.

You could buy that 70% off Dior bag…or spend three days learning to kitesurf in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

You could have the jumbo sea scallops with saffron and a lemon drop martini…or an overnight trek in northern Laos.

You could have a blowout weekend in Vegas…or a blowout month on Thailand’s Andaman Coast.

How important is it to have a life of adventure?

I created this site to encourage women to go after their dreams of traveling the world — and to show that solo female travel is easier than you think, cheaper than you think, and incredibly rewarding.

Don’t call me lucky.  Anyone can do this.

Now…what’s stopping you from getting out there?

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112 thoughts on “Dear Ladies: This Can Be Your Life, Too.”

  1. Did someone say jumbo sea scallops? Yum.

    Couldn’t agree more, that most people reading your blog can have the same travel opportunities as you, but it requires a willingness to make travel in the future a priority over buying more stuff in the present. I’ve yet to meet someone traveling who has regretted their decision.

  2. Kate,
    I love this post! I have actually had many people say to me “You travel so much! I’m so jealous!” While I am nowhere near your level of travel, I feel that I have seen and done extraordinary things all while staying the states. The sad thing is, travel isn’t that hard to save for. Right now we are saving for the adoption, but after that it will be back to about two trips a year.

    I think travel is much more important to me than having a flat screen or a super nice couch or shopping at a boutique or having expensive wine.

    Life only happens once, and I feel that I should take every opportunity to see this amazing world God created!!!!

    And yes, even when we have a child, we will be traveling.

    1. Colleen, I love reading about your travels, and I love how you don’t overlook places within the country! I’ve learned a lot about new destinations from you — especially about Washington State.

      And I absolutely agree about possessions. With the exception of “light” technology (I NEED my iPhone, and I’ll probably be buying a Mac when I get home and save some money), everything goes to travel, and that’s exactly how I like it!

  3. I get this ALL THE TIME. To which I always respond, “really? Luck had to do with my career? I think it had something to do with starting to work for newspapers at 14, interning at magazines all throughout college, starting as a minion at Newsweek the day after graduating, working three magazine jobs the whole time I lived in NYC, then continue to work my ASS off for years until I could go freelance as a travel writer. It’s a daily struggle. I’m still looking for where luck plays into that whole equation…”

    Bottom line: You make your own fate. Whereas other girls maybe prioritize designer bags and Manolo Blahniks, you and I put our funds to plane tickets. It’s all about priorities, NOT luck.

    Well said!

  4. I love this post and couldn’t agree more on it. Anyone who WANTS it can GET it. It may take longer to save with a simple job than when working 12 hours in banking – but as long as you keep in mind what you’re saving for (or why you’re dumping that boyfriend!)… it’s totally possible.

    I’m not like you, though. At least not now. I do like my job, a lot. And the company I work at. In my position, I’ve traveled to Cuba, Uruguay, Hong Kong, Paris and London – which is pretty awesome (I think). I focus on my career first, and second – travel. Which means: any cash possible will be saved for the next trip. This kind of life is also possible. But just as you said, it’s all a matter of priorities!

  5. Fantastic post, Kate! I completely agree with you!

    I’ve struggled a lot over the past few months since I announced, and completely committed to, my plans to travel – But in doing so, a lot of my family and friends just haven’t been able to understand that I can’t go out every night, I don’t want to go shopping, that I want to stay in or work extra hours.

    I’ve also had the boyfriend who wouldn’t allow me to go travelling solo, and instead told me he was going to come with me! Wait, NO! I want to do this alone! MY trip! Maybe that was selfish, but I wanted to do it my way, and if he came along, I’d have to go to places that I didn’t want to visit! He wasn’t having any of it… Well, we’ve broken up now, and I have my travel dreams, and a year of exciting adventures coming up in a few months!

    I absolutely cannot wait, and if my friends then start messaging me telling me how lucky I am, I’ll remind them of all the times they complained at me for not being able to go out! 😀

    1. Lauren, GOOD ON YOU for dumping the guy! If he wouldn’t let you travel solo, imagine the other things he wouldn’t let you do years down the road…

      Good luck with your savings and getting the journey started!

  6. Absolutely agree. It’s all about priorities and attitude–and being willing to take a risk. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

  7. Well said, Kate! It IS all about priorities — and being honest with yourself about those priorities. Not everyone will want to have a life of travel. But, for those who do, you’re living proof that it’s possible.

    I’m not nearly as well-traveled as you, but I still get comments from people about how “lucky” I am to have seen so much of the world. Many of them assume this “luck” comes in the form of a fat bank account or trust fund. Which isn’t true AT ALL.

    I AM lucky to have discovered my passion for travel. And I’ve been lucky to have great opportunities to travel. But the travel itself? I’ve made it happen on my own. It means saving up for months and month before a trip. It means setting a goal and working towards it. It means making some sacrifices.

    But, in the end, it’s worth it. And I plan to continue making travel a priority in my life!

  8. The counting down thirty minute intervals reminded me being at my old job. It was something I hated but I stuck with it for five years. I was talking with a coworker today, and we both said it’s really easy for people to get stuck in a rut, and not be able to see other options that are out there. A lot of people don’t think they could quit their job and find something better, or take a break and travel. But if you do a little prep work most people could. Right now I’m making school a priority, but I’m learning to fit in travel as well. For me a life without travel isn’t a life.

  9. I get the same thing, but in the form of: “You’re so brave!”

    I suppose when compared to people who wouldn’t even think of driving to the next town by themselves – never mind another province or country – I guess I kind of am brave.

    1. Hahaha! Lesley, that reminds me of my friend’s traditional Italian cousins — they live in Massachusetts, but they won’t drive outside their hometown! It’s always the husbands that have to do it.

  10. Hey Kate! Awesomely inspirational post! I could not agree with you more, priorities are extremely important in our daily lives. If you have a urge, desire, passion, etc about doing “that” one thing, then you are on the right path! I tend to get that occasional statement, “You are so lucky to have the lifestyle that you have.” Like everyone else, including yourself, has emphasized this is not simply luck; however, this is having the drive to push yourself to a level that you had never experienced or imagined. Kate, you really are a great role model for a lot of us who want to long-term travel and/or backpack all over the world. You have shown that you took a simple idea you created and made it into a life-changing experience. I should not need to tell you that you are a very inspirational person, but sometimes it is nice to be reminded 😉 It is important that we reach our goals and dreams – in the end, it is that burning desire that we feel in our hearts and soul that pushes us to exceed our own expectations. You have certainly motivated a lot of your readers; we should have more people like you in this world. Kudos to you for dumping the “non-supportive” boyfriend and striving for your independence. My husband knows that I adore traveling (even before I met him) and he is the one who is super supportive and tells me that he will be at home waiting for me. My family and friends do not seem to understand why I love to travel without my husband so much, but I think you would understand 😉 Sometimes I find it hard to explain my lifestyle, but when I look at a vivid sunset over the Caribbean Sea, the sparkling Eiffel Tower at night in Paris, or a breaching Humpback whale off the coast of West Africa, I know this is right where I belong. Thanks for a great post! 😀


  11. I need to share this with all of my friends!!
    It’s so true that anyone can do this!!
    and there will be no regrets (at least there never will be for me 🙂 )

  12. I totally agree about being called “lucky”. I always hated it when people would say I was lucky to be successful or doing what I am doing. Luck has nothing to do with it, it’s all about drive. I respect you for making the choice that lead to all your happiness!

  13. You’re absolutely correct. “You’re so lucky” is the number one thing I hear about our travels. But it is not luck, it is priorities. Anyone could travel. Not everyone wants to do the things it takes to get there.

  14. Thanks for posting this. I just graduated university and didn’t really prioritize my career throughout. I always prioritized travel on my time off. It technically was relevant to my “career” or what I envisioned my career to be, but my travel experiences were scattered. I volunteered in Guyana in first year with an NGO, I went on exchange in Copenhagen in media studies, I did an internship in Vietnam for an education company, all through and because of my university and my program (international development). Now I am at a crossroads – I don’t have much professional experience, but I also don’t wanna stick around in my hometown (Toronto). Now, after reading this post, I don’t feel so bad that I didn’t focus on professional development only, or Toronto-based career stuff.

    1. Erin, it sounds like you’ve had an amazing time — and also, a valuable career background.

      Take it from me, a twenty-something who started out post-uni in “general marketing” — even if you have a crazy degree/skills, you won’t get into an actual career path until you fall into a specific niche. For me, it was search engine marketing, and I’m lucky The Missus (see the top comment!) got me into that.

      Keep in mind that you’re not alone! Also, 99% of finding a job is NETWORKING, so do a lot of that!!

  15. While I do agree and have thought the same many times myself I often find myself hesitating to say it out loud. While I have absolutely worked hard and prioritized my time and savings to emphasize travel, I would hesitate to say SOME luck didn’t play into it.

    I am lucky to go through college debt free
    I am lucky to be in good health and not have my income and energy going to toward health issues
    I am lucky to have skills that can earn me income abroad
    I am lucky to have a partner with the same priorities and preferences that I do when it comes to travel

    Not that someone couldn’t travel without any of those things, but I do feel I am very fortunate to live the lifestyle I lead. Of course, most people who comment on how they wish they could travel more are buying purses, not battling cancer. So perhaps I just spent far too long on a comment 🙂

  16. LOVE this post Kate. Regardless of what our priorities are, we all have the power to make sacrifices and save for the things we want the most. Its posts like this that give me the motivation to go back to Ohio after my study abroad ends this month and stay focused enough to save money to get back on the road next winter. Its so easy for people to sit at home and complain that you’re somewhere amazing while they’re trudging through the snow…if they want it so bad, they could do it too. When it comes down to it, people just choose not to. So now I’m interested to know…what are your plans after your trip ends?

    1. Alex, I have no idea where the trip is even going to end! Um, I have to be in a wedding in June, and after that, I’m free. I definitely want to live abroad. I’ll probably have to get a job for a bit, though. Maybe just for the summer. We’ll see.

      Good luck with your plan!!! I know you can do it!

  17. Great post. I think you are “lucky”. Lucky you realized at a young age what was important to you. Then you had the guts to actually do something about it! You realized that we all create our own “luck” by being willing to understand ourselves and then go after our dreams. Bravo to you. Bravo for being willing to share this with others.

  18. “Lucky” is a term that people most often use when they’re too lazy to take control of their own lives. They’re the same people that also say, “When I win the lottery, I’ll … [insert dream here]. Guess what? Your chances of “getting lucky” by making s*&@ happen is a lot more likely that getting lucky in the lottery.

    You’re not lucky, you’re wise.

  19. Kate,

    I’m sure you’ll have noticed that there are loads of English travellers around SE Asia, such as the guys you’re travelling with, but relatively few North Americans. Why is that the case, in your opinion? Perhaps for some of the English, this is their second or third trip, whilst what Americans there are are on their first visit? Why are young Americans relatively rare on the travelling circuit?

  20. I completely agree with you! I get the “must be nice” when I travel, but it’s a priority for me – so it IS nice!

    Great, great post!

  21. I agree whole heartedly about priorities. One of my pet peeves is people who accuse others of wasting money. My view is that as long as you are paying your bills yourself (not relying on parents or the government to foot thebbill) then it’s your money to spend. Whether that’s travel or gadgets or a designer lifestyle. I would say that you are lucky though (just as your jealous friends are). I’m sure in your travels you have met people who travel is not a possibility for, and every day is a struggle for survival for them and their families. I’ve spent just over half of my life in Africa, but live in Australia now & get really angry at how much people take for granted. Maybe next time someone tells you how lucky you are you can agree & point out that anyone who has money left over after buying staple foods & had the opportunity to get an education past primary school is lucky really.

  22. You go girl. But remember to come back because we miss you. Living your dream and traveling the world. Can’t wait to hear all the wonderful stories and friends you’ve met. Yes, she’s my niece.

  23. I looking your blog and Its my dream to travel around the world alone! All my family and friends find me crazy and when I read your blog I discover that Its possible. Thanks a lot to shear this with us.

    Have a good trip. Be safe and Enjoy Life!
    Peace : )


  24. I can’t remember how many times I heard that sentence “You are so lucky!” myself. And my reply is always the same: I’m not “lucky”, I make it happen. It’s not easy being an expat, and it’s not easy to change country every two years, but it’s what I want so I don’t complain (ok, maybe I do a little, but that’s part of the experience :P).
    Maybe mre people should stop dreaming other people’s lives and start living it…

  25. Great post Kate! I’m gonna do the same now what you did a year ago – I quit my well paid job (even though much better than 8-5) and moving to Mexico for 3 months to travel all over the country! And the continue somewhere else. So yes, anyone can do it, you just need guts to follow your dreams 🙂

  26. Wow – what an amazing post. This is a must read. It’s all about priorities. I have a single friend whose 50 and about to pay off her house. How?  It’s her priority. She made the exact same decisions you described. To meet her goals. I am balancing between travel and paying off my house. 🙂

  27. Wow. Well stated! I completely agree!!! I think I’ve said many of the same things to my friends back home as well. I live in Germany with my husband whom I met from being a traveler, and all my friends at home say “I would looooovvveeee to come visit you, if I won the lottery.”…really?

    I think I will forward your post to each and everyone of them and get them inspired 🙂 Great words of wisdom!!!

  28. ha! so agree with you Kate!
    although my travel life isn’t as “extreme” as yours, I get the similar comment from my friends, saying that my life is fun and they envy me. They don’t realize that it’s about priority, about choice. I don’t go out wearing designer jeans or purchasing every latest cool gadget and prefer to jog in parks rather than paying for membership in the hip fitness center, but I travel perhaps 5-10 times they do in a year and then happy to share my stories with anyone.
    But I believe that life is also about balance. You gain something, you lose something else, and vise versa. So there’s really nothing we should envy of others about..

    and funny thing is, only a couple days ago I posted this ( ), and some of the points are really related to this topic 😀

  29. Awesome blog! I stumbled upon it, as I was originaly looking for some info on Cinque Terre. I’m just ready to take my first month long sabbatical, trying to figure out where to go. Your words are very inspiring.

    Well said and thank you!

  30. This is a beautifully written post, Kate! I think it’s the best one you’ve written so far. Sometimes a person will enviously ask me how I manage to travel so much, and I’ll tell them that my secret (while I was still in the states) is working overtime, only eating out twice a month, never going to a movie theater or buying a book, just using the library instead — but they never want to hear that! Sorry, folks, that’s the magic behind Oz.

  31. Hi Kate,

    About 16 months ago I told my husband I was going to travel the world, and that he had a choice. He could either stay home and wait for me to return from one trip or another… or he could take my hand and come along for the ride. He gave me all the reasons why he couldn’t go… work, money, time, and so on. So, I decided to give up my portion of Christmas in exchange for a trip to Belize, and I went without him. I had three glorious weeks with one of my best friends, who happens to live there, and when I came home my husband had a new attitude. He couldn’t believe I really went without him, but I did. I moved to a foreign country – by myself – when I was 18, so what was the big deal about traveling to another one? LOL. So, now we’re planning a joint trip to Australia this coming winter. We aren’t rich. Far from it… with an annual income in the $25,000 range… but travel is do-able if you want it bad enough…. and I want it all!

  32. Omg I have never read a truer word. I get mail all the time like wow I wish I was in Australia. Well why aren’t you? Travelling is definitely my priority I’ve been travelling constantly for about 13 months now but soon I have to go back to uni (2 weeks) for my final year. After that I am off again. Everyone is talking about getting boyfriends, moving into their flat, getting a career and I couldn’t think of anything worse. I can’t even commit to a phone contract!! I love your cause I hope I never lose my love of travel.

  33. I love this post too! I run into this all the time, I tell peoplpe I am traveling to here or there and they say how jealous they are and how lucky I am. Ummm… no excuse me its not lucky and you’re wasting your jealousy. I found what I loved most in this world (traveling) and made it a priority, there are sacrifices you have to make for a dream. If you don’t live the sacrifice you can’t live the dream. Love you’re blog!

  34. I know I’m late to the party on this post, but I totally agree! I quit my job and moved from Southwest Ohio to Chicago to pursue 1. An urban lifestyle and 2. Entrepreneurship and everyone said the same thing to me: “You’re so lucky!” or “I wish I could do that!” And I’d basically say the same thing: I didn’t decide to do this overnight. I planned. I saved. I prioritized. If you really wanted to, you would make it a priority too.

    Another friend of mine just recently posted on her blog about the same thing, too, explaining that “This is what we do.” Her and her husband travel, and they budget for it, and everyone wonders “How do you do that?” Like they’ve been gifted by the travel fairy or something.

    It’s strange…I think people want the reward without the tradeoff and somehow either it doesn’t even occur to them that it’s possible or just want to believe that the world is somehow unfair that they can’t have it all.

    I say the life of your dreams is within your grasp, and I think most people would be amazed at what they can do without to live a unique life!

    Best of luck in all your travels!

  35. hey Kate!!
    i’m racquel…from jamaica.
    currently in med school…so obvi i’m on a tight budget!!!
    on avg….how much TOTAL $ would i need for say a 6mth stint in SE Asia 🙂

    i’m dyin to go tubing in laos 🙂

    LOVE the blog…you should come to jamaica…not the travel channel/spring break version…the real Ja 🙂


  36. I love this Kate! People say the same thing to us – “You’re so lucky!”, but just like you, we’ve made travel a priority in our lives, and cut out anything that kept us from doing it (and we’ve made it happen, even with five kids!) We’ve taken them driving through Central America, lived in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, India, and Alaska, now we’re in Mexico again, this time driving from Alaska to Argentina.

    It’s absolutely possible to live a life like this – despite all obstacles – if it’s what you really want to do!

  37. Great post! Those are the same things we tell the people we run into also. If you want travel to be a priority in your life, you have to make it one! It doesn’t just magically happen, but if you put effort into it, you can go anywhere! We sailed across the South Pacific on other people’s boats and visited islands we never in a million years would have seen had we done it the “normal” way of buying an insanely expensive plane ticket to Tahiti. We were able to really see and live in different cultures instead of doing the American tourist version of spending 2 hours in any given location. It’s given us a completely different perspective on what and who is out here!

  38. Great post! I was just thinking about this exact same thing the other day.
    It drives me nuts when other people say “you’re so lucky” or “must be nice” when I mention somewhere I’ve been or am going because it makes me feel like they think I’m living some kind of decadent life that is outside the average person’s reach. In reality, like you said, I live a very frugal life and don’t waste money on drinking or buying expensive shoes.
    I decided years ago that what I wanted to do was travel and live in different countries around the world so I organized my life around doing just that! I worked hard and got accepted into a university exchange program and spent a year living and working in Australia. I now live in England and take every opportunity I have to travel around Europe.
    In the end, life is what you make it, so you may as well make it something you like! 🙂

  39. Love this post, so very true!
    I put off traveling for 2 years as my friend had said they would love to travel SE Asia as well, months went past along with fresh excuses. In two months time I will be off traveling SE Asia on my own and could not be more excited to make my very own adventure. Luckily my Boyfriend is very supportive so no need to dump him hah!

  40. Hi Kate,

    I’ve just spent my afternoon at my boring desk job reading your blog, i’m planning a big south east asia trip and was nervous about doing it myself but not so much anymore. Now i’m just super excited and wish it was sooner!!


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