Live an adventurous life of work + travel

How I get to travel more than anyone I know

You may be aware that I’m more than a little travel-crazy.

When people ask what I’ve been up to lately, I usually start gushing about my most recent trip and excitedly detail my upcoming plans to zip across one of Earth’s many oceans to somewhere I’ve never been before.

I don’t mean to make anyone jealous – I just can’t help but be a tad (ok, more than a tad) excited about it. Travel is what I live for and it’s what I like to talk about.

As a response, I often get “You’re quite a jet-setter!” or “You travel a lot, don’t you!”. It’s true, I like to spend every spare second I have and every last cent in my bank account on travel. Since 2006, I’ve left my home country of Australia 12 times and spent an average of about 3-5 weeks abroad every year.

But the question I get asked most often is how do I get to travel so much? Did I win the lottery? Do I have a job that pays for me travel? How do I go about pissing off overseas multiple times a year, travelling for longer than most people get on annual leave, even when I’m earning a reasonably low salary?


My Wardrobe

I own very little

My apartment is not filled with many things.

I don’t have much furniture and I don’t even have a full wardrobe (above is my entire clothing collection minus what I’m currently wearing, which leaves only 27 clothing items).

Having not much stuff means I can pick up and go at any time without worrying about what I’ll do with my possessions. Everything that I need to live and work (my laptop, camera, and entire wardrobe) can be bundled into my backpack at any time.

It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ people can accumulate over a few years. The thought of giving it all away might sound scary, but could you imagine how freeing it could be if you had no possessions to worry about?

How I get to live a life of travel

I don’t have a house

I’m not saying buying a house is a bad idea, I’m fully aware that property investment can be very beneficial long-term. But as far as living a life of travel goes, having a house isn’t always going to be the best option.

I don’t have to pay a mortgage, so I can use all that money I would have spent on repayments and interest on travel. Instead of paying for kitchen renovations or repairing leaky ceilings, I can go to Europe for three months and have some pretty rad life experiences.

I don’t know if I’ll get a house sometime in the future, but if I do it sure as hell isn’t going to be anytime soon. I want to take full advantage of being young and reasonably good-looking to have the time of my life.

Paris

I save as much as I can

Aside from a daily coffee, I spend barely any money. I only eat out only once or twice a week, and I limit how much I spend on new clothes. I even save money by not owning a car.

I budget all my income and expenses and find where I could spend a little less, then put aside anything extra for my next trip.

It may not sound like fun, but it works. I know exactly how much money I can save, and if I feel like purchasing something that’s not accounted for in my budget, I have to think twice about it.

To me, giving up a few luxuries to save extra money for travel is totally worth it. I’ll be glad I didn’t buy a new pair of shoes or upgrade my smartphone when I’m sitting in a café in a foreign city, mapping out which area I’ll explore next.

Me

I travel cheaply

It’s amazing how far your money can go when you’re actively trying to make it last. There’s a common misconception that travel has to be expensive, but that’s not the case. Travel can actually be cheaper than staying at home if you’re smart about it.

My travels do not involve any luxury 5 star hotels, expensive private tours, or fancy restaurant dinners. Most of the time you’ll find me staying in hostels or budget accommodation, walking or taking public transport wherever possible, making my own meals in hostel kitchens, and finding travel hacks to save money.

I stretch my dollars as far as possible, which means I can travel for longer.

Why settling down isn't for me

I make my own rules

Life seems to be full of rules. As I mentioned in the concept of settling down and why it’s not for me, I’ve noticed that we get taught from a very early age to stay in line, go to school, go to college, get a job, work hard, be happy with your sucky life, and don’t get in anyone’s way.

Well, to hell with that. I guess I’m comparable to one of those annoying kids who constantly asks “Why?” when you tell them they should do something. I live an unconventional lifestyle by following only the rules I want to, and I think that’s totally ok.

Sure, there are some rules that should be followed, but there are some pretty stupid ones too. Why should we have to give up doing something we’re passionate about, just because it’s not a ‘steady job’? Why should we only get a limited number of weeks of annual leave per year? For what reason are we expected to settle down with a ridiculous mortgage, pump out a few kids, send them to fancy schools, and spend our lives complaining of how little money we have left over?

We don’t have to live life the way other people expect us to. Once I stopped abiding by the rules, my whole world opened up. I could travel as much as I wanted, and no one was going to stop me!

6 things you should know about becoming an entrepreneur

I now work (mostly) for myself

Now that I’ve quit the 9-5, I don’t have to stay in one place. Making money online means I can move around while I work. I don’t have to save up annual leave for months until I have enough to travel. That’s right, I can actually spend as much time away as I want.

Of course this lifestyle has it’s downsides. I’m working more than I used to, I’m not making much money, and I’ve had to give up many luxuries to be able to work for myself, but having the ability to pick up and leave at any time makes it worth it.

Existential Krill

(Image source)

I’m willing to face my fears

Recently I was lazing around at home with Happy Feet 2 playing (I’ll admit, I’m a fan of the occasional animated movie), and a couple of existential krill were on the screen discussing their venture into the unknown.

“I fear the worst!” says Will to Bill.

“I fear the worst too Will, because fearing the best is a complete waste of time.”

We’re all scared of things, and travel can often seem like a bad idea. I’m a nervous flyer, sometimes I worry about my safety, or hear stories of people getting sick or injured while travelling. There are always going to be ‘what ifs’ going through my head.

What Bill the Krill has so fantastically said above is that it’s fine to be scared or nervous about something, but what’s not fine is letting fear of the unknown get the better of you and stop you having a great experience. How will you ever live a life of travel if you’re not willing to try something different and see what happens?


Ljubljana 14Checking out the view of Ljubljaba, Slovenia, from the city’s castle.

I’ve been slowly moving towards this lifestyle over the past few years. This year it’s going to finally get me to the point where I can travel full-time, which excites me beyond words!

I honestly believe that most of you can do this too. It takes hard work and preparation, but it’s not out of reach. All you have to do is go about making it happen, instead of waiting for the opportunity to fall into your lap (which it probably never will).


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

53 Responses to “How I get to travel more than anyone I know”

  1. pein

    Honestly, this article is amazing.You have great way of thinking. It almost same like my view on life. It was funny, that i have found it only randomly because you used picture from my site.

    It is sad how many people are ok with this planned life. Go to school, go to work, get married, get children,….
    But i am not saying that this way can not be great, but they are not doing it because themselfs but because of society.

    Good luck with your future travels. And that little animal from happy feet is one of the most fresh and deep, funny characters from last 20 years of animated movies.

    Greets 😉

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thank you Pein! I think so many of us that have this mindset, but this way of thinking often comes across as different or unusual and most people fear the things that are unknown to them.

      My aim is to show people that it’s ok to live our lives in a way that’s different to how society wants us to. In fact, we should actively try and live our life in a way that makes us happy instead of doing what others think we should do. You’re absolutely right that some people might enjoy the standard lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stray from it!

      Reply
  2. Hannah @ Traveling Banana

    I really love this article. I feel like there are so many posts about “how to travel” that just sound pretentious or not helpful. THIS is NOT one of those posts. I am currently living overseas as well and get a lot of similar questions and this just rang so true for me. Inspiring too, I’d love to follow these steps even better! When I got to Madrid after getting rid of so much STUFF back in LA, my first impulse was to start getting so much STUFF here. After I started traveling Europe though it made me realize that those new shoes could be a plane ticket to a new city, a bed in a hostel and some delicious street food. Now it is MUCH easier for me to make travel my number one money priority 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m so glad you think the same way Hannah! I totally agree that there are many pretentious travel posts out there so I really wrote this one from the heart, detailing the mindset behind my travels as well as the practical aspects.

      Getting rid of your stuff is scary at first and I did the same thing as you when I moved between states a few years ago, buying new things to replace my old stuff. But I think we come to realise after a while that ‘stuff’ is just temporary, experiences are permanent, and much more valuable than buying items we don’t necessarily need!

      Reply
  3. Andrea @ GreenAndTurquoise

    I love this article. Like true love.
    It does bug me when people say they “wish” they could travel lots. Wishing is no good. If you want something to happen – you have to make it happen.
    And I totally agree, we don’t have to live life the way other people expect us to.

    Happy Travels!
    Green and Turquoise

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s one of my pet peeves too Andrea! Hearing ‘I wish I could travel like you do. I wish I could see this place. I wish I could afford to travel.’ is such crap… 90% of the time it’s just because they’ve prioritised something else over travel. All you’ve gotta do is make travel the #1 priority!

      Reply
  4. Susanne

    Amen! It’s all about your attitude – you either want to travel and will find ways to save money or not. It’s the same with everything – people are crying about not having money for *item A* while spending tons of money on *item B*. It’s either A>B or B>A for you.

    This was not meant to be a math comment.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Tell me about it Susanne! I actually had a colleague say exactly that to me the other day, he’d just purchased an $1800 tv (why would anyone need an $1800 tv? I don’t know) and then he goes on to complain about how travelling to Bali at $600 each is too expensive… ummm, please! Where are your priorities!

      Reply
  5. Cess

    I just discovered your blog and I really liked reading your article. Even if I don’t understand why you want to leave Australia, which is one of my favorite country, the one and only I would like to settle one day… Just kidding. I’m half French half Norwegian but I spent all my childhood in France. I know that many people would dream to live in France but me, I could’t wait to leave the country! My parents gave me the travel bug when I was very little as the first time I went abroad I was only 3 weeks old. I now live in London since March 2013 but before that I lived in Norway, Australia, Seychelles and Switzerland. I also visited many countries such as Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Canada, US…To answer to your question, I know that I travel more than most people (and I’m aware of my luck) but I would like to travel even more. As you said, I don’t want the same life than everybody: working from 9-5, going out the weekends, having only 5 weeks of holiday…I just want to travel. At the moment, I don’t work. I’m hesitating going to travel because of my boyfriend. We have been together for 10 years, it counts! He’s very understanding about my passion and we already lived a long-distance relationship when I worked in Switzerland and he went back to Australia for one year. So I’m not really afraid about losing him but I feel a bit guilty. At the same time, I know that most persons wouldn’t understand my decision. I don’t care and at the same time I care if you know what I mean… And you, how did your relatives take your decision?

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your comment Cess! Australia is a wonderful country and it’s not really about me wanting to leave, it’s more about wanting to experience more than just my home country!

      The boyfriend situation sounds a little difficult but I suppose it just depends on what you feel is more important, spending time with him or fulfilling your travel dreams. It’s a tough choice and not one that anyone else can make for you! You’re absolutely right that most people won’t understand your decision, but the people that love you should respect it even if they don’t understand. My family may not want me to move away, but I’m lucky enough to have a family that allows me to make my own decisions and understand that I’m doing what I feel I need to do.

      Reply
  6. Jasmine Eclipse

    This is an incredible article! I just love your wild spirit, too! I’ve been all over the world, but I always traveled with my family or a small group. I always thought I had a wild, nomadic spirit and I always saw myself living abroad. After I graduated from college, I made the leap and moved to China. Two weeks later, I was back in America. I couldn’t handle being abroad by myself. It was nerve-wracking, I hated being away from my family and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I find so much inspiration in your blog, and I hope that one day in the future, I’ll be able to be comfortable enough to travel and/or live abroad again (for longer than two weeks haha)

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Jasmine! I am a little bit wild haha. It’s one thing I’ve learnt to embrace over the past few years and is now a definitive part of who I am.

      I really enjoyed your story. I would count your two weeks living abroad as a success, because unlike many others – you tried. Trying and failing is absolutely ok. In fact, it’s a good thing. Because now you’re not going to be living your life wishing you’d done something. You now know that living abroad is not as easy as you thought it might have been, and are more prepared for your next attempt!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Travel definitely isn’t as unachievable as some people think! A few changes here and there, and all of a sudden it becomes possible 😀 Thanks Tessa!

      Reply
  7. Renuka

    Ah! I just loved reading it as most of it was my thoughts! 🙂 I can do anything to be able to travel. Although I am a typical woman who loves to wear snazzy dresses and shoes, I can sacrifice all of that (for a while) to be able to travel more. Yes, travel is possible for everyone who wishes to travel. Not thinking conventionally and not allowing the pressures of society to weigh you down can take you a long way. And you really don’t need to save a lot. As you travel, you learn the tactics to save money along the way! 😉

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Renuka! We all have luxuries we like to splash out on, but I think the difference between people who travel and people who don’t is that the ones that do have a better ability to prioritise what they spend their money on!

      You’re absolutely right about learning tactics to save money as you travel. I’ve noticed myself become better and better at being a frugal traveller every time I head off on a new trip 😉

      Reply
  8. Lizzie

    I love this! My friends are always asking how I can afford to travel so much and I always say “it’s easy”! I spend very little and only buy things I need to (I remind myself that I’d much rather by a flight than a pair of shoes) and I put away a bit of money at the end of every month – however small that amount may be. Even when I was working a 9-5 for minimum wage I was still saving money (no, I didn’t live with my parents!) because I prioritised my spending. People always complain that they don’t have the money to travel, yet they have the latest iPhone, a new computer every year, and can’t wait to buy a bigger television! My mind boggles sometimes 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It really is easy once you know what it takes to travel more! I’m right on board with you on choosing a flight over a new pair of shoes. And I agree, travel experiences are way more important than a new iPhone or television. Thanks for your comment Lizzie!

      Reply
  9. Shanley

    Hello There!

    I found your article so awe-inspiring, you seem to have the same mindset as me and one of my dreams is to be able to travel as much as you seem to do. It really got me thinking about how to start my transition into saving more and being able to travel more.
    Thank you so much for your words, your thoughts, your photographs and most of all for the inspiration 🙂 Take care!

    Reply
  10. Meg @ Adventures in Verdance

    We do paid photography gigs when we travel. Usually we decide on a place to go, then check around to see if there are any gigs to pick up. A lot of the time we end up breaking even. Definitely worth a shot to ply your skills in new places.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hey that’s a really great way to go about travelling without spending too much money, can I ask how you go about searching for photography gigs in your destinations?

      Reply
  11. Bibiana

    I travel more by finding overseas work conferences to attend. I spend about 4 weeks abroad each year, sometimes more, sometimes less. I get the “aren’t you a jet setter?”, “so where’s your next holiday?” thing a lot too, so I guess I do pretty well, but it never feels like enough! I’m counting down until I get long service leave, which is in 2 years. Hopefully there’ll be more people following my blog by then – I’m hoping to head to South America including Antarctica, Galapagos and Easter Island. And yes, I’m saving up for it now!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Us travel addicts can never have enough! No matter how much time we spend away, we could always do with more 😛 Conferences are a great reason to travel more often. Well done on planning ahead to save for your next trip Bibiana, it looks like a big one!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Great point Rachel! It would be especially easy in Europe when everything is so close together, and it’s so easy to country hop without going through immigration and border security every time.

      Reply
  12. Judi Abbott

    20 years ago I decided it was time to spread my wings and travel. Spent 6 weeks going around the world–Fiji, Sydney–Tasmania (fell in love and have been back many, many times), Bangkok, etc. My friends thought I was crazy and said they could never do it–well, I could.

    I save my money and as soon as I have enough for another trip off I go. Am 80 now with many more places I want to see and people I can’t wait to meet. Wasn’t easy to find healthy meals back then, much easier now.

    I wish I had started earlier in my life, but. . .good onya for your priorities.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I love that feeling of achievement, especially after someone might have told you that you couldn’t do something.

      Well done on following your dreams and showing the world who you really are Judi! It’s wonderful to hear from someone who has successfully grabbed a hold of what they wanted in life, and it just shows that it’s never too late to start!

      Reply
  13. Hannah

    Thank you for writing this! I absolutely love to travel and I’m thinking of ways of how I can do so more often. It’s awesome to hear some insight from someone who travels constantly.
    Thank you!
    xo
    Hannah

    Reply
  14. Marg Byrne

    Travel is so much more rewarding than owning a lot of stuff. I am a single mum and didn’t get to travel much until I retired, but I would much rather see astounding places and meet new people than I would renovate the kitchen. My house is the worst of any of my friends but I feel rich in experiences. I may not get to travel much in the future because of family responsibilities, but it will always be my passion. Good luck to all of you young people broadening your minds and opening your hearts. You can’t help but do so when you make travel a priority.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Marg! I have the utmost respect for you being able to spend your money in a way that your friends don’t, so that you can have more meaningful life experiences. I hope your future includes more travel! 🙂

      Reply
  15. Sabina

    Fascinating read – even as a fellow traveller I always love learning how others afford it. Thanks for the honesty! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Sabina! Everyone has their different ways of affording travel so it’s always fascinating to find out how others go about it 🙂

      Reply
  16. Lonie

    Annnnd… you don’t have kids. 😀 They are a journey in themselves, here or overseas. I chose that, and love it. I love the blogs and will share this with my older kids. xxxx

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That is true Lonie, I don’t have kids and I’m sure that saves me a lot of money for travel! Though I do know of many people who travel as a family, so it certainly doesn’t mean stop travelling altogether 🙂

      Reply
  17. Ashley

    Thank you for this. I feel like today has just been full of signs, pushing me to finally do what I want and travel. Unfortunately I have a bit of debt that needs to be worked on first, but once that’s caught up I’m set on putting all of my money towards traveling.

    I’m glad I found your blog, I’m looking forward to reading all about your travels! 🙂

    http://www.ashbam.com

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m really glad I could inspire you Ashley! I’m currently in the process of writing a post on travelling even when you’re broke, so maybe this will help your pursuit of travel? 🙂

      Reply
  18. Monika

    Wow that´s incredible – I just started writing a similar post, but you have described it so well that I can´t imagine using better words. That´s exactly what I do except for earning online (though I take a few freelance jobs every now and again). I decided to quit my full time job and take a seasonal job abroad – that allows me to enjoy an expat life and travel more afterwards. Money really isn´t a problem if travelling is your priority 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I couldn’t agree more Monika! Making travel a priority is the number one way to travel more. I’m so glad you’ve been able to do it too, it’s great to hear that you’re able to live your dreams 😀

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Robin! It’s hard to explain how travel is really about your mindset, rather than external influences like money and time. I’m so glad you can relate!

      Reply
  19. Marlyn

    I like this article so much and made me smile as I could relate to most of what you have shared.
    I love traveling so much…and I am happy to be finding a lot of people also do.

    Reply
  20. Marc

    Great article and I know how you feel. These kind of travel is great when you travel alone or with. Partner but. Not obvious if you have babies or kids so it’s really limited who can do these type of travel. I get that not only we do the same thing. But with 2 babies and we have been doing that since they are two weeks old and it’s tough . We don’t own anything but. A car to travel around . We won’t give that up for anything in he world . We get bored of we stay more than 3 months at a time.

    Reply
  21. Colleen

    So glad I found this site. Loved this article. We have been traveling for about 4 months out of the year with our two kids (now teenagers) for the past 8 years. Now we are taking it to the next level and moving to Paris for awhile so that will be our new base! Same story, we are able to work on line from different locations.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s amazing, Colleen! There’s a common misconception that it’s not possible to travel with kids, and I’m so glad that you’ve proven that to be false! It’s great that you’re choosing to use Paris as your base for more travel – that’s exactly what I did by moving to New York, and it has worked perfectly (more posts on that coming up in the next few weeks!). Kudos to you for giving your kids that life experience!

      Reply

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