I have always been a dreamer. I never wasted my dreams on small stuff either, I always shot for the moon. I would annoy my family and friends every day with my new big ideas. To me they were hard, but eventually attainable goals. To my friends, they were pipe dreams.
First of all, let me tell you exactly what my life goal or dream was, and then I will tell you how I finally achieved just that.
I come from a small town in rural Colorado, where basically, nothing ever changes. From generation to generation, the main ambition was the same: School, marriage, career, kids, house. Heck, it’s not just my little town, it’s the American dream! Shitty job = Stability. Stability = happiness contentment. Didn’t matter if you hated your job, your life, or where you were living, as long as you could support yourself, you were a normal part of society.
Some people are happy with this life, and I envy them.. Things are so simple that way. Others had higher ambitions/dreams/goals, and hit the road. I was the later. MY dream, NOT the American dream, was to travel. I would read blogs and books about far away places, and realized how insignificant my little life/town/existence was to the rest of the massive world.Bali
Do you think that in Myanmar, where they have major problems, they think my life of sitting around and doing nothing, even with every advantage in life, is interesting? No. The biggest problem we would have, was getting to the liquor store before closing time, or getting a flat tire in our expensive cars that took us no where far. The whole ordeal felt completely materialistic, insignificant, and like I was living in a bubble.
So all I wanted to do was see the world. But not only did I want to see the world, I wanted to see it in a different way than the average American. I didn’t want to find a good paying job that I hate, just so I could look forward to the two-week vacation to the inclusive resort of my choice. I wanted to shed ALL responsibilities, and expectations on me by society, and live like, and be mistaken for a local. Locals didn’t stay at giant resorts that you never had to leave. They knew a place as it really was. THAT was my goal.
The problem was money. I guess everyone has to work, unless you inherited a fortune. So I knew I wanted a job that paid me to travel. There are a couple of problems with that though: one Those jobs are a lot harder to come by, without a high education. And 2- I HATE having a boss. I mean, I REALLY hate having a boss. I hate having a dead-line; hate having someone tell me what to do all day; hate making money for someone else; hate having expectations to try to live up to, when it’s not what I want to do anyways!
I had no idea how I was going to travel the world long-term while making enough money to sustain it all, all while having no boss, but it didn’t matter. I knew what I wanted.
One day, I got my start into the world. Through my university, I got an opportunity to go on a trip to South Africa. Any one that knows me, knows that that trip changed everything (mostly because they haven’t seen me since!). While on that trip, I felt the kind of happiness that you don’t just toss away. So by the end of the trip I had made up my mind to stay. So I did. On the last week before my classmates left Africa, my friend Mark convinced me to start a travel blog, just to keep my friends and family up to date. So I did.
For two years I tramped around the world, working odd jobs at hostels and bars just to continue my journey. I didn’t know where I was going, and I didn’t care; i was just so happy being able to travel the world. The only down-side was money, and having to stop for extended amounts of time to work- 6 months in Australia, 3 months in Brazil, 9 months in Estonia. The list went on.
I was happy enough traveling between jobs, but I felt like it was time to get to the next level. All the travel bloggers that I followed online were doing it. Ones like Everything-Everywhere, Nomadic Matt, Art of Non-conformity. They were making lots of money on their blogs, and traveling full-time. They even get free trips and accommodation! Even though it took them a long time to build their websites, I knew I had to try. My new goal was born: To have an online blog or business that could sustain my life of constant, and permanent travel.
True Nomads was born.
When I bought the domain name and started building the site and Social Media following, I was also working nights at a hostel in Estonia. These long, boring nights gave me many hours a week to work on the blog. And it started to grow: The traffic, the following, the subscribers. I would study SEO, link building, Google key phrases, and social media for HOURS a day, and then spend the night practicing them on my blog. I worked hard, non stop, for 6 months.
Being a traveler first, before a blogger, the road was calling. So before the blog was making any money, I hit the road again. I did, however start getting a lot of sponsors in the way of free hostels and tours. That just fueled the fire and made me work harder. So For a few months I traveled hard all over Europe, while blogging every second that I could find WIFI. When the money ran out I found myself working at a hostel in Bucharest. But this time, not for long. Something clicked (pun intended) online, or in my life, and everything started flooding in all at once.
For a website to get on top search results, Google ranks each site of its importance. Since I had started my site, Google had been having issues getting out its latest Page Rake update, so I was still a 0/10. So all the sponsors I had been emailing either ignored me or simply said no. Then out of the blue, they updates and I was a 3/10! (for reference, the top travel bloggers in the world have a 5). I had went from a 0 to a 3 in nine months. I didn’t even realize there was an update until sponsor emails and offers started flooding in. in one week I made what would take me two months to make at that hostel in Romania.
Finally. I hit the road that same week, and haven’t stopped yet. If I was happy before, and feeling free, then it’s intensified about 10 fold now. I had put in my time backpacking around the world in the hardest ways, learning so much along the way, and now it would pay off. I must have become a budget travel authority somewhere in that time, as I get tons of emails asking how I can travel for so long without being rich. This post is for all those people with that question. I am not gifted, or rich or have rich benefactors. I just knew what I wanted, as hard as it seemed, and I went after it.
If you think I’m just lucky and that you can’t do the same, then you’re probably right. It takes a certain mindset, and willingness to ignore all “good” advice, and do what you want.