I have been traveling and exploring new cultures on my own since I was 20 years old. After I left school, I worked in landscaping business, gaining certification at various experience levels with the International Society of Arboriculture. These optional certifications have increased my opportunities for advancement within the field and have opened up employment opportunities worldwide.
My travels were initially during my periods of annual leave from my full-time employment with a company whose impossible targets caused intense pressure so that I soon became stressed, exhausted, and unhappy. This was unsustainable, so I left this job, gave up my apartment, said goodbye to friends, and bought a train pass to travel around Europe. Some people thought I was brave. Others thought I was stupid (there is a fine line between the two!) Now, I work as a freelancer, and I am truly happy with where I am in my life. I pick and choose when and where I work, and I no longer have to ask anyone for permission to go on holiday.
This is the question I get asked most often. It is quite simple. I have been lucky to find a job that pays well. Being an arborist is not usually particularly well paid, but with the work put into gaining certification, I have been able to find work when I need to. I was also able to save money whilst working full-time while still spending more than enough to enjoy myself. So, when the time came around to travel, I had a savings account that looked quite healthy.
My travel blog brings in a small income, though not enough to live on. I also sell some of my photography online for a little bit of extra income. With a fair amount of traffic and social media attention I’ve been offered opportunities to visit places in exchange for write-ups, photographs, etc., which means that sometimes I can stay in beautiful places even though have to be staring at my laptop for some time. Having worked with some great companies, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with many more in the future.
When traveling solo, without anyone to split a room-rate with, I stay at a hostel offering dormitory accommodation. I stay in other people’s homes using Air BnB, which is perfect in high season when hotel costs are exorbitant. I’ve also stayed at someone’s home as a house-sitter, perfect for when I need to catch up with online work since the hours you need to be in their home are usually fixed. Personally, I don’t choose to couch-surf, but this is another option.
As you travel, you meet some amazing people. I have stayed in Ireland with friends I made when rock-climbing in Spain and have had a couple stay with me from Denmark. These possibilities to build relationships with people we like or care about are open to all of us if we are open to them when traveling.
Whilst I love traveling, I hold a strong sense of family and will return home to catch up with them. Sometimes it is good not to have anywhere to be other than with family and friends, which also gives me a chance to rest. Then, when I am ready to, I plan my next trip and work towards this. I am extremely fortunate that in Turkey, I do not have to pay for accommodation for a while, which helps the finances significantly.
There are cheap airlines in Europe and Asia that are convenient to get you to most places. However, I’ve become much more aware of the issues of climate change and am trying to travel by train or coach when these options exist. It takes a while longer, but the scenery can be spectacular. There are also a growing number of opportunities to carshare journeys, where you can contribute to costs.
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My family still share gifts for Christmas and birthday, and I ask for cash, or items I will need for traveling. It does sound a bit mercenary, but it really makes a big difference, and Christmas shopping is easier for everyone.