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minimalism travel

How I started travelling full-time

I’ve always been on the move. Growing up I moved around frequently in the US and briefly abroad with a year or so in Japan because my father was in the military. The second I turned 18, I left home on my own.

I’ve been moving around ever since, some moves were driven by my career at the time, other moves were my choice. I can’t count how many times I’ve moved in the US, or how many places I’ve visited, as all the road trips and flights have melted together into one long adventure-filled journey.

My first trip abroad (as an adult).

In the summer of 2013, I moved to California (for the 2nd time) for work. I lived and worked in Napa for a year, then moved down south near Santa Barbara. A few months after moving down south, in mid-October of 2014, I travelled to Spain with my friend Christina. This was my first vacation as an adult. (I visited Italy and Greece while in high school.)

Prior to this trip to Spain, certain things became known to me that would prime for the biggest decision of my life. I believe these moments came to me for a reason:

  1. I listened to a podcast about happiness studies from the 90s. The main point was that those who spent money on experiences (like vacations or trips) were happier than those who spent money on material objects. The novelty of material objects wears off after 3 months or so (unless it’s an object that you use daily, like a guitar…). The study wasn’t too scientific considering the sample size and demographics of the sample, but the main point stuck with me. I had also grown tired of owning superfluous stuff. I’ve always been an anti-hoarder, meaning I love getting rid of stuff, especially re-homing items with friends or someone who needs them.
  2. I read an article about some celebrity who only owns enough stuff to fit inside one suitcase. I couldn’t remember the name of the celebrity but that concept struck me and I wanted to follow suit. What a freeing experience it must be to ONLY own a few items.
  3. Then I read an article about the top 10 regrets of people on their deathbed (morbid, I know, but also insightful). The only regret I remembered was that people said they wish they hadn’t worked so much. I thought about this every single day at work. I would go over the pros and cons of my current career choice every morning. I couldn’t bear to get sucked into a career only because of the money and stability. The cons were too much. Cons: working at least 12 hours a day on my feet, spending 2 hours a day in the car commuting, being so exhausted from work that I couldn’t do anything else in my free time except shower and sleep, only doing errands on my weekends, not being out in the sun for 5 days straight…all of this trouble for what? So I can accumulate money? To what end? Sure, I have a nice apartment and nice things, but am I really experiencing life? There are so many places and people I want to experience before I die; I just couldn’t bear to think about waiting until I ‘retire’ to start travelling and living life.

So then came my trip to Spain. Oh man, what a life-changing experience!! Absolutely mind-blowing. I know this sounds cheesy, but I learned so much about myself on that trip. I learned that I didn’t need all my stuff back home (how much of it do I actually use, anyway?), I didn’t need or want stability in a job, I didn’t want to be tied down. That was the happiest I had ever been.

I learned that the only way to satisfy this NEED that I have, this need to constantly be changing, constantly planning my next move, constantly experiencing new things…is to DO just that. I’ve moved around and changed jobs so much in the past few years and I didn’t really know why until now. So I made a decision. I decided that I’d rather spend time exploring the world.

So how could I make this happen? I’d have to give up renting a flat in the US. I’d have to quit my job and sell everything I own. I’d have to cut out all unnecessary luxuries from my life and seriously save money. I’d have to simplify my life.

With great risk comes great reward—it’s true!!

So the second I returned to the states, to the dismay of my current employer, I quit my job and decided to sell and rehome ALL of my belongings. This decision scared me a little at first. What would I do for money? Could I really live without all of my stuff? I had an apartment FULL of everything I could ever want. As a Pastry Chef, I accumulated all the cooking and baking tools needed to have a baking operation out of my home. But I wanted to be free so badly, as badly as I need air to breathe. There was absolutely no way I could fail because I knew I would do whatever it takes to make it happen.

It took me almost a full year to sell all of my belongings. It was difficult at first, but soon I found de-cluttering my life addicting. I realized I didn’t need any of my stuff to be happy. When you de-clutter your life, you de-clutter your mind. I’m convinced that one of the secrets to happiness is owning less. Now I am down to two bags worth of things, and that is plenty! Once you commit to carrying all of your belongings, you suddenly realize you don’t need any of it. And once you stop spending money on things you don’t need, you suddenly have money for doing other things, like travelling. I don’t have many clothes, I don’t spend money on make-up, or anything extra. I don’t need to go shopping to be happy. I’m happy regardless of the money I have. I’m happy that I exist in this time and that I have the freedom to travel as I please.

In addition to travelling full-time, I decided I would devote all my time and energy to promote veganism. At that time, I wasn’t sure how I would do that, but now it’s turned into my full-time job and I am so glad I took that risk!

From the time I quit my job mid-October 2014 until my last day in the US in December 2015, I went on countless trips all over California, visited Portland a handful of times, returned to Spain and visited London and Edinburgh for the first time, and most importantly travelled around the US for an entire month on the most epic road trip ever. I visited family and friends, some of which I had not seen since 2002!! I sold my car shortly after that road trip, so it was the perfect end to that chapter of my life.

So how did I end up in Scotland?

The decision to move to Glasgow was also fairly random. I knew I wanted to move somewhere in Europe, so one night I investigated one-way flight prices to Berlin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London. Berlin and Glasgow were my top choices since I had not visited them before, but I wasn’t picky. Also, I heard about VegFest taking place in Glasgow, and I really wanted to attend. I would let the prices of flights determine where I would travel to first. The first night, flights to Berlin were the cheapest. I decided to wait a few days just to see if the price would fall even more. When I re-checked the prices, the flight to London was way cheaper (by a few hundred dollars for some reason) so I made the decision right then and there to purchase that flight.

I was still undecided about where I’d live in the UK, so I asked for help locating a room to rent. I joined the VEG Edinburgh + Glasgow Facebook page back in March 2015 when I visited Scotland for the first time, so I figured someone in that group might have a place for me to rent. I posted in the group, briefly explaining my situation, that I was a nomad looking for a place to rent, and that I wasn’t sure how long I’d be staying. My current flatmate was the only person to get back to me, and I’m so glad she did! Everything worked out, and I planned to move to Glasgow in the first week of December 2015. Then I happened to win tickets to VegFest through Juice Warrior’s Facebook page…everything was pointing me in the direction of Glasgow I guess!

And now I’m in Dundee. I’ve only been in Scotland for about 4 months, but it feels like I’ve been here much longer. I am so fortunate to be a part of the vegan community here in Scotland. I’m so glad I feel like I belong somewhere because I’ve never felt that before.

Sorry for the novel…

So the moral of the story is to take risks. If you really want to do something, do it! Once you set a goal, EVERYTHING you do from that point on should be pushing you in the direction of achieving your goal. If it isn’t, stop doing it and change courses so you ARE moving in the direction of your goal. If you really want something, you have to be willing to give up everything. Life is too short to wonder “what if?” so go change your life if you are unhappy! You are the only person holding you back.

Were you ever compelled to completely change your life?

What motivated you to change? 

By Lisa

In Oct. 2014, I quit my job and started downsizing my life by selling and rehoming all my belongings. Even though I’ve moved around all my life, I officially left the States in Dec. 2015 and have been travelling abroad ever since. I hope to inspire you to simplify your life so you live with intention. I’m an avid writer, videography enthusiast, and a major foodie with a passion for sustainable living.

14 replies on “How I started travelling full-time”

Currently, I make some money through e-book sales. I saved money previously and I receive a modest stipend from a former job. My total income isn’t much but I planned for this and changed my spending habits to make this work. What’s more important is that I’ve eliminated all additional expenses or bills besides things like food and housing. I don’t always need to pay for housing, it just depends where I’m travelling to. There are other ways to make money promoting veganism but it ultimately comes down to you and what skills you have to offer.

[…] Quitting my job and traveling full-time was the best decision I ever made. I’ve learned so much from breaking out of my routine in the States. Now I work on my own schedule, my life is incredibly uncomplicated, and I have time to enjoy the simple things in life. When I realised traveling the world was my top priority, I made the choice to completely change my life to make this my reality. […]

LOVE IT!!! so amazing and inspiring. 😀 (sorry for the blatant blog-creeping) 😛
May i ask, did you need a visa/citizenship to rent an apt abroad?

Haha thanks so much for reading! 🙂 Nope, you don’t need a visa/citizenship to rent an apartment, it’s just up to the person renting the flat. I could imagine some people wouldn’t want to rent to a tourist, but as long as you can guarantee payments it shouldn’t be a problem. Airbnb has plenty of flats available for longer-term stays, though these tend to be more pricey.

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