“How Travel Changed My Career” – 7 Stories of Women Working and Wandering

tall red-rock cliffs stand behind a deep blue lake. Megan - How Travel Changes Your Career

In May, I officially took the plunge and left for a round-the-world trip. I converted my full-time role to a part-time remote gig. I joined the group of “digital nomads” as they say. But as I reflected on how I ended up here, I realized my path was probably difficult to replicate. I’ve had a lot of unique experiences and opportunities that led me to my current job, a job that didn’t even exist until my boss created it for me.

But in talking with other women, I realized most ladies seemed to echo that sentiment! There was no straight path to working remotely, no undergraduate degree in becoming a digital nomad. Rather, most women had similar twists and turns, random doors that opened or closed, pushing them somehow into a job that let them travel too.

I know it’s many other women’s goals to wander while they work, but it’s sometimes scary to make it happen, or unclear how to even get started. To help provide some advice and inspiration, I teamed up with 7 ladies who were generous enough to share their experiences and insights on work and travel with you. Read on for their individual tales of how travel changed their careers and what they’re doing about it now!  

1. Transitioning to Travel Blogging: Ask and You Shall Receive  

Written By: Justine at Wanderer of the World

Justine with her bf at Cornwall - how travel changed my career

Justine at Cornwall in Tintagel with her partner. Connect with Justine on Instagram.

Although I’ve been travelling around the world any chance I get for the past five years, it’s only been in the last two years that travel has influenced my career.

It was a trip to Hawaii in 2016 that finally did it. My partner had been speaking with me about travel blogging for a few months prior to that, but I was originally convinced it wouldn’t be something I could do, or even enjoy. He knew better.

Then when we were travelling around two Hawaiian islands, I started thinking about it more and more. All I wanted to do when I got home was to write about Hawaii and describe how beautiful it is there.

So I started investigating whether travel blogging would be something I could try, and I leapt into it, feet first, within a few weeks.

Within a few months of writing about my travels, I was hooked. I loved it. I wanted this to become something I could do everyday, but I wasn’t sure how.

I’ve had the fortune of working for a software company that has looked after me fairly well over the years, and so I spoke with them about the fact that I wanted to write for a living.

They offered me the opportunity to write for their Marketing team, which I have now been doing for over a year. This allows me to write blogs, whitepapers, website copy and infographics on a daily basis, while travel blogging continues to be something I do along the side. They even let me work from home every day!

One day I hope I’ll be travel blogging as a full-time job. But until then, I feel blessed to have achieved second best to that. And I can certainly thank travel and my travel blog for this opportunity.

2. Traveling through Teacher Burnout: How Her Students Helped Regain the Spark

Written By: Carly at Flight of the Educator 

A picture of a canal in Paris at night when Carly visited on a work trip - How Travel Changed My Career

A long-exposure photo of a boat crossing at Notre Dame. Connect with Carly on Instagram.

I hate to say it, I really really do… but I almost left teaching.  Most people assume that teachers get into teaching because of the summer (HUGE perk, but not the only reason!), but I really got into it because I liked teaching children.  Over the years parents and ridiculous bureaucracy have sapped my passion and drive for Education, and I almost left.

Then one year, I decided to try something to combine my two passions!  I decided to take my students abroad! The first trip was very stressful since I usually travel alone and wondered who would even let me take their precious children!  But, I built my ethos with the families by telling them of my extensive travels. And off we went to Costa Rica!

Naturally it’s a great trip for me since I go free, but it was really exciting to be able to share a new experience with kids!  As a frequent traveler (I’m at 53 countries currently), I somehow lost the spark of “the new.” Well they hadn’t! They helped me experience travel in a whole new way, and also strengthened me and made me keep teaching.  

I almost quit. I almost stopped making a difference.  I almost let negativity win.

But then we travelled.

Now I’m in my 7th year of teaching, and my school takes 1-2 summer trips with students a year!  If you’re a teacher in need some revitalization, I highly recommend it. You can read about what it’s like to take students abroad on my blog.

3. Leaving the Land Down Under to Chase Her Dreams

Written By: Tracey at Ask Tee Travel

Tracey at Machu Picchu in Peru - how travel changed my career

Tracey at Machu Picchu in Peru. Connect with Tracey on Instagram.

My first international trip was in 2009. I went to Europe and the United Kingdom for five weeks. This trip was an absolute dream and set me up for a lifetime of being a world explorer. I felt it would be challenging though. Being an Australian and living there, it was always a stretch to explore the world. I often thought ‘how would I ever afford it’. You can’t go to America, Europe, Africa etc without paying at least $1,500 for me living in my seaside town in central Queensland.

But I didn’t let it stop me. I have worked hard and been able to save funds to travel the world on and off for years and a few years back travelled for eight months! No working, just exploring. But then time was up and I had to return to work again.

Ah, work. The means to an end. After all I have to keep up with two properties (both mortgaged) and then everyday life expenses. Then I had a thought this year and started to play it out in my head and knew it would be a dream, my dream!  I started thinking wouldn’t it be great to amalgamate work with my travels. If I could work online and be location independent I could live out my dream and be a full time world explorer.

Well, that just happened! In June 2018 I will be leaving Australia and have the opportunity of a lifetime to work from my laptop. All I need is wifi and I’m good to go. I’ve had experience of working remotely (from home) three years prior to this so I am aware of the pros and cons.

Focus is the key to the gate. Which I know I will nail as I don’t want to lose this wild card. Plus after my working week (and day), each weekend I will be exploring a new or familiar destination of this wonderful world! I will give it a red hot crack (Aussie slang) at making my dream come true by being a digital nomad and living on one way tickets! P.S. Dreams do come true.

Check out Tracey’s travel blog for more at Ask Tee Travel.

4. Travel and Health: Why Illness Can’t Stop This Traveling Woman

Written By: Sarah at Travel Breathe Repeat 

Sarah and her partner in New Zealand

Sarah and her husband, Justin, in New Zealand. Connect with Sarah on Instagram.

My husband and I took our first international trip together a couple years after we started dating. We immediately learned that we loved seeing the world together and couldn’t wait to see more. A couple years (and several trips) later, just six months after we got married, I was diagnosed with a rare, incurable lung disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). My prognosis was unknown, but at the time, Google said I had about eight years.

We were stunned and devastated. But we didn’t let it stop us from continuing to do what we loved. From that point on, we had two priorities: keeping me healthy and traveling. Exploring new places and eating new things and doing it all together helped us cope with my illness. We used every vacation day our full-time jobs allowed on travel.

And then one day, we decided to change our lives completely. We quit our jobs and set out to travel to places we’d only ever dreamed of visiting like New Zealand and the Faroe Islands and Vietnam. We spent 13 months living out of suitcases and were as happy as any two people could be. We returned home, but knew we didn’t want to go right back to what we had been doing before – sitting at desks 10 hours a day and only traveling once every few months.

We wanted to do something that would let us continue to see the world together and that would help others in similar situations do the same. So we packed up again, moved to the Netherlands, and started a business doing just that – helping people with disabilities and special needs travel. At Accessible Itineraries we plan unique vacations with a focus on accessibility issues and special needs. 

This year marks eight years since my diagnosis with LAM and I feel as healthy and happy as I ever have. I attribute much of that to my doctors and medication, but also know that living life on my own terms and being able to do what I love have played a significant role as well.

You can explore Sarah’s travel blog here.

5. When Taking Time off to Travel Actually Helps Your Career 

Written By: Danielle at World Smith 

Danielle at a weaving class standing over a loom in Laos - how travel changed my career

Danielle at a weaving class in Laos. Connect with Danielle on Instagram.

Fear of tanking a career is one of the biggest things that keeps people from traveling long term. When I quit my desk job to take a year-long RTW trip, I wasn’t sure where I’d end up. I was confident that freelance work and running my blog would help me develop professional skills, like web development, social media management and, of course, my writing. And that did help show on my resume how my time away from a traditional job didn’t go to waste. But travel itself also develops skills that can benefit you in the workplace.

Long term travel requires this really unique balance of super diligent planning and complete flexibility. Travel is practically just a long series of things going wrong. When you’re on the road for an extended period of time, you have to think on your feet, be decisive and roll with the punches. More than professional development, long term travel is true personal development and gave me things I couldn’t have gotten in a classroom or a cubicle.

When I began my RTW trip, I was leaving behind a cobbled together slate of part-time jobs, some relevant to my goals, others not so much. Since returning, I landed a full-time job in my field and am making twice my old annual income. If you use your time wisely and know how travel is benefitting you and making you a better prospective employee, your break can move you forward in your career, not behind.

Check out Danielle’s travel blog, World Smith, for more!

6. Fake It Till You Make It: Creating the Perfect Life from Imperfect Jobs

Written By: Jamie at Crashed Culture 

Jamie standing on a bridge showing off the views behind her of water and mountains - how travel changed my career

Jamie showing off the views behind her on her travels. Connect with Jamie on Facebook.

Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to do as a career. I mean, I knew what I wanted to do, but that job didn’t exist. I wanted to travel the world, see extraordinary things, learn new languages, and never get bored. Everybody else wanted to be firefighters and police officers and veterinarians but those always sounded so boring! What kind of job was there that allowed me to just…travel? It literally didn’t exist.

As I got older, I realized I could fake it. I read all sorts of blogs and books and guides talking about teaching English abroad; well, it’s not my dream job, but I happen to be very good at English and, you know, there’s that part about being abroad. Half the battle is actually getting out into the world; once I had an excuse to do that, I figured it would be easy!

Therefore, my first job after graduating college (studying anthropology because that was the only major that seemed even the slightest bit relevant to what I wanted) was teaching English abroad in Spain. I learned a couple things at that job: first, that I do not work well with people. I just don’t. But second, and more importantly, I cannot have a job that keeps me glued to one place forever.

While the job itself wasn’t necessarily a perfect fit, I was in bliss being able to travel around a foreign country every weekend. I knew immediately that that was what I needed to be happy in my life. I can do all sorts of things, as long as they allow me to travel.

Check out Jamie’s travel blog, Crashed Culture, to learn more about her journey.

7. When “Why Can’t I Do That?” Becomes “I’m DOING It!”

Written By: Megan at Red Around the World 

tall red-rock cliffs stand behind a deep blue lake. Megan - How Travel Changes Your Career

Views that made Megan fall in love with US National Parks. Connect with Megan on Facebook.

It all started on the Fourth of July in 2015.  I was sitting in my friends living room listening to fireworks explode and dogs bark as we planned out our road trip through the red rock southwest of the US.  We were booking hotels and Teepees for the next week, the second week still up for debate.  Our first stop was Moab, Utah and the rest is history.  I fell in love with the desert, but unfortunately, I had to go back home. 
Soon after, though, I remembered an old coworker working a summer at Yellowstone and I thought “Hey, why can’t I do that?”  So I applied everywhere I could out west from The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and everything in between, literally everything.  
After days holed up in Starbucks applying for jobs, I ended up with one as a front desk agent at Lake Powell in Utah and have been doing seasonal jobs in (or near) national parks ever since the summer of 2016.  I realized that I actually want to explore the US more, which I never had a desire to do before this, and now I’m able to spend my weekends hiking in nearby national parks. 
I still have moments where I’m just looking outside the hotel I work at and think this is where I live!  I can go to Capitol Reef and Arches any time I want, even after work.  I live here!  and I love when those moments happen.  If I had never gone on that road trip, who knows if I would have ended up doing seasonal work.  
Visit Megan’s blog at Red Around the World.

Thanks for reading this collaborative post on Work and Travel. 

I hope these stories have inspired you a bit! Perhaps now you’ve got a few more ideas on how your work can involve travel, or how your travels can influence your work life. From these ladies who’ve generously shared their stories, its clear that the path to blending work and travel isn’t always straight.

Sometimes its curvy, with lots of stops of doubt and fear and compromise along the way. Still, each of these women seem to have found their personal journey, creating the type of lifestyle they dreamt of, to be worth every struggle.

Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from giving it a shot! If you’re wandering how to make the leap, send me an email at suitcasesix@gmail.com and let’s have a chat about it.

Looking for more on work and travel? Try these next:

6 Non-Travel Careers to See the World

How Working in a Prison Helps Me Travel the World

“How Travel Changed My Career” – 7 Stories of Women Working and Wandering

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