Stories Beyond the 9-to-5: How These Women Travel More While Maintaining Their Jobs (Episode 2)
I want to start out this post by first saying thank you to each and every one of you. The response to this new series has been incredible! I hope you get as much out of these stories as I do, and if you ever have a lingering question or some feedback to share so I can make this series even better for all of you, please let me know in the comments at the bottom of this article, or by contacting me here!
Welcome to episode 2 of Stories Beyond the 9-to-5 (SB95)! Each month(ish), I interview 3 women from all over the world who are maximizing their travel adventures, all while holding down a career that generates sustainable income. You’ll hear exactly how other real women prioritize their travels, how they save for trips, what their tips are for finding balance, and how they combat negative stigma for taking time off.
I hope that by sharing these stories, you will find possibilities and inspiration to incorporate into your own life, whether you’re looking to break free from the corporate climb or simply incorporate more freedom and adventure into your life without sacrificing your ambitions.
In Episode 2 of SB95, you’ll hear from 3 women based in Los Angeles, Scotland, and Amsterdam. This episode in particular is dedicated to the self-starters, entrepreneurs, and freelancers in the room (can I get a heyyyy hey if that’s you?), because each of these women has a unique and inspiring approach to structuring their lives and their careers to allow them the freedom to explore the world on their own terms.
Feel free to skip down to the good stuff (the interviews!) or read on for the backstory on how SB95 came to be.
Why Stories Beyond the 9-to-5? Don’t Most People Quit Their Jobs to Travel the World?
I get asked these questions all the time – how do you manage to travel? Don’t you have a job? How do you balance it all? If there’s one thing I became painfully aware of as I joined the working world after college, it’s the tenuous line between “work and play.” Most of us call this work-life-balance. And for many of us, the idea of work-life balance feels like an impossible one to achieve. There are several reasons for this that I’ve encountered personally:
1. Limited vacation days (the standard base vacation package in the US starts at just a mere 10 days per calendar year)
2. Money and/or financial obligations
3. Negative stigma surrounding taking time off
4. Lack of time in general
5. Stress of maintaining, and growing, a career and achieving success
If you’re reading this blog post, I’d like to guess it’s because you are the kind of go-getting woman that wants to travel the world but isn’t as convinced about halting your career goals or losing a salary.
Maybe you do already travel a decent amount but you’re hoping to go even further.
Maybe you work at an office that won’t budge when it comes to granting time off, and you’re feeling stuck.
Or maybe, you own your own hustle but have a hard time disconnecting from work and focusing on taking time for yourself.
If you’re any of these women I just described, I am incredibly excited. You’ve come to the right place!
Why? Because no matter who you are or what situation you might be in – whether you are a woman in a new job with no vacation time, or a freelance entrepreneur struggling to find balance, or a full-time traveler looking to start a career without stopping the adventure, I can tell you that you are not alone. And that navigating your career or personal ambitions while prioritizing travel is an achievable, 100% respectable pursuit.
But don’t just take it from me. Take it from everyone else – keep reading!
How These Women Travel More While Maintaining Their Careers
1. Where are you based, OR if you’re nomadic, where are you currently?
Amanda: I am currently based in Scotland, just outside of Edinburgh. This is a regular home base for us, since my husband grew up around here. In recent years, we’ve also lived in Spain, Malta, Ireland, and Honduras.
Lisa: Los Angeles, CA
2. 9-to-5 hustle, self-made business grind, or somewhere in between?
Amanda: Self-made and always hustling! I’m a full-time freelance writer and content marketer.
Kelsey: Somewhere in between! I work 9-5 most days with a new skincare brand, Bloomeffects. But for my visa I have a few other clients as what's called a "one man business"
Lisa: Lifestyle and travel blogger, photographer, and grad school student (all full-time)
3. What compelled you to make travel a priority?
Amanda: My 4th-grade teacher told us about her experiences backpacking in Europe. She was the first person in my life to talk about international travel and it immediately became a central goal for me. My high school Spanish teacher was another massive influence; she is multilingual and well-traveled, which blew my mind as a sheltered suburban American kid surrounded by people who looked and talked like me. I first visited Europe when I was 17 and haven’t stopped exploring since! I’ve now built a career for myself that enables full-time travel, which is the perfect combination for me.
Kelsey: Living in Europe! I would kick myself if I didn't make the most out of this experience.
Lisa: Travel provides new scenes, senses, and inspires me in ways that no other hobby can. Once you get a taste of this, it's hard to stop.
4. On a monthly or yearly basis, how often do you travel? How do you navigate taking time off from work to travel?
Amanda: I travel differently than most, in that I don’t really take “vacations” per se. I house and pet sit often, which allows me to visit a new place and explore while staying in a local home and enjoying having animals around. I also move a lot; I’ve lived in 7 countries thus far. While there, I explore locally. So while a tourist might visit Scotland and do a whirlwind trip around the country, I’ve been able to live in small towns and better understand local life. I get insider access in each of the countries I live in temporarily, which I absolutely love! Luckily - or unluckily haha - my work comes with me wherever I go.
Kelsey: I currently travel about once a month for work. And then I probably take about one trip per month personally too. Living in Europe, I try to travel as much as I possibly can.
Luckily a portion of my travel is for work, so I'm able to schedule in some personal time around that. I also work as a freelancer, which means I make my own schedule. The only thing that gets tough is that PTO doesn't exist for freelancers. If I take a day off, I don't get paid. But I've learned that personally, I find it too stressful to try and work while traveling for pleasure. So it's worth it to take the time off and really enjoy the trip.
Lisa: I'd say I travel about once a month, but that's within the U.S. only. For international travel, I'd say just a few times per year.
5. How do you finance and save for your travels?
Amanda: I don’t need to since I can work from anywhere and my travels often stem from a country move. If I’m house and pet sitting, then I have no accommodation costs and I can simply balance my time exploring with my time caring for the animals (dogs make for great tour guides!). When I move to a new country, I try to explore as much as I can locally for however long we’re there, which is dramatically cheaper than a whirlwind international visit. I’ve done those trips though, too!
Kelsey: I always keep a little padding in my budget for travel. Sometimes that means passing up on a new dress or night out. I also use Skyscanner and Jack's Flight Club (EU) religiously to find super cheap flights.
Lisa: Credit card points and always putting at least 10-20% away from our paychecks for traveling.
6. What’s your biggest tip for balancing work and travel?
Amanda: I write best in the evenings, so I can get out during the day to explore. Evenings are also when you tend to spend the most money if you’re out (dinners, drinks, more drinks…you know how it goes). So switching that up to enjoy daytime exploring and cheaper meals out definitely helps the wallet (and the hangovers).
Kelsey: If you're not required to work on the road (i.e. if you're taking PTO), DON'T WORK. Especially if you don't have a lot of days off, it's important to make the most of those days when you take them.
Lisa: Try to get all your work done in the first half of the trip so you can enjoy the second half.
7. What’s your biggest tip for working while on the road (if you do)?
Amanda: Balance. Don’t try to overdo the workload or you’ll miss out on this new place. But don’t ignore the work altogether, either! Find a balance and give yourself some space (and forgiveness!) to do both. It might mean staying inside for one full day to get work done so you can take a long day trip the next day. But find a balance that allows you to do it all without going overboard in either direction. You’ll just drive yourself crazy otherwise.
Kelsey: Be realistic about what working on the road means. While it might mean working from somewhere really cool, you're still plugged in and working. If you're looking to have a true vacation and pack your schedule with fun things, you need to recognize that you probably can't work too.
Lisa: Work on the plane, in the airport, and at night or early mornings so you can enjoy most of the trip.
8. Do you ever get any negative reactions to your travels from friends, coworkers, or loved ones? How do you navigate that?
Amanda: It’s hard to miss events and moments with friends or family. I am often in another country when birthday parties and baby showers and bachelorette parties happen. Those are things I’ve had to miss over the years as I’ve been far away. I’ve made every effort to be there for weddings and for family holidays, but I’ve missed a lot. My friends and family have been unfathomably generous and understanding with me though, for which I’m incredibly grateful!
Kelsey: If I had it my way I'd probably be traveling more than I'm home. My boyfriend can be a very good voice of reason who tells me to slow down and stop planning too many trips. It can get stressful if you're traveling all the time.
Lisa: I get sarcastic responses about how my life is so easy, hah. If they only knew how much more work I actually do when I travel! I laugh it off because people make judgments based on their own experiences versus trying to understand things from another viewpoint.
9. Do you have a go-to travel partner, or do you prefer solo or group travel?
Amanda: My husband! When he’s not able to join me due to his work, then I head off on my own. Both solo travel and traveling with him are wonderful in their own respects.
Kelsey: I usually travel with my boyfriend. Occasionally I take a trip with a girlfriend
Lisa: Yes, my boyfriend is usually with me 95% of the time.
10. Any can’t-put-down reads (or podcasts) about either travel, career, or personal development that more adventure-loving women should know about?
Amanda: I love to read books set in the places I'm visiting. I recently spent 3 weeks house and dog sitting in the Azores, so I read The Tenth Island by Diana Marcum. I also visited the Isle of Arran in Scotland earlier this year and read The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark. I love the added depth a story and characters can offer to a place I'm currently exploring!
Kelsey: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger, Influencer by Brittany Hennessy for fellow bloggers
Lisa: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and several others which you can find here.
11. Where in the world are you heading next?
Amanda: I am currently visiting my former home of Roatan, Honduras! I lived here for 3 years and have written extensively about the island, so this is a welcome chance to catch up with friends and update lots of content. I'll be spending the holidays with my family and friends around Boston before heading home to Scotland. We land just in time for Hogmanay! (That's Scots for New Year's Eve, and I highly recommend you all come celebrate with us!) I write about my own travels on my blog (link below), where you can see all the places I’ve lived and some of my freelance work, too.
Kelsey: I just finished up a work trip to New York. So it's back to Amsterdam for a few days before spending the holidays in Australia and Hong Kong.
Lisa: Maui for a very quick getaway!
Holiday Bonus Round!
12. What is the biggest lesson you learned in 2019?
Amanda: This year taught me to connect. I have made invaluable connections with fellow female creators and business owners by attending the Women in Travel Summit in Portland and also in Riga. Those two conferences revitalized my professional ambitions and, more importantly, reminded me of the power of female friendships. My best friends are scattered in various countries, so having those refreshing moments of in-person connection with other like-minded ladies really reinforced that need for me. I'll be leaning into those connections in 2020 as I pursue my business goals!
Kelsey: You can't do everything and that's ok. I'm a very busy person and usually pack a full schedule. This year, I learned that sometimes it's just not possible to do everything. I had to let go of a job that I loved but was a huge stressor in my life. In the end, I'm better served by having that stress removed from my life. I've learned there's nothing wrong with letting go of something that isn't serving you, whether that's a trip or something for work or even a friendship. It's a life lesson I'm looking to carry over into 2020.
Lisa: The lessons I've learned in 2019 so far could probably be summarized in a book. There were a lot of highs and lows, but regardless I'm still here, I survived the worst parts of this year and am hopeful for 2020. The key lessons I've learned were lessons I had to re-learn, such as valuing myself and making sure I don't lowball my work, learning to let go and be okay with not getting closure sometimes, and to understand that taking time off is needed and not an option.
13. The new year is right around the corner. What is your main goal, either professional or travel-related, for 2020?
Amanda: My main goal for 2020 is to build my business. I fell into freelancing accidentally, and that lack of intention has certainly impeded growth. I'm looking at 2020 with a business mindset and big goals for change!
Kelsey: Professionally, I'm looking to find more balance. I tend to be a bit of a workaholic. In 2020 I want to work towards finding balance between my professional and personal life (while still excelling and growing within my career!).
As far as travel goes, I have a few bucket-list places I'm planning to fit in during 2020. Namely, skiing the Alps and a trip to Poland, since that's where my family originates from.
Lisa: A professional goal for 2020 is to get through all my courses via grad school while also keeping up the pace I currently have with By Lisa Linh. A travel goal for 2020 is to just enjoy where I am, whether it's in San Diego or Spain, I want to try and stay as disconnected as possible.
14. How can others follow your adventures?