Stories Beyond the 9-to-5: How These Women Travel More While Maintaining Their Jobs (Episode 6)

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Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6

Not everybody quits their job to travel the world.

Not everybody works endless, miserable days in a cubicle.

This isn’t black and white. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. The only thing you should be asking yourself is: am I satisfied? Or is there something missing?

We’re all still caught in the middle of a very strange time. The global pandemic we’re experiencing has been as much an emotional challenge as it has been a strain on pretty much every aspect of everyday life. To me, it’s been more refreshing now than ever to read other women’s stories and connect with people online – to know we’re not alone, to know we’re not going through this by ourselves, and to know that there is always another possibility, even when we feel stuck or unsure.

This month’s SB95 features 3 women with really great stories (which I know we could all really use right about now!). Each of these women has not only found a job they enjoy, but they have specifically chosen hustles that are ultra-flexible, allowing them to travel extensively multiple times a year.

I know many of us are home these days, so read on for 3 interviews that will inspire your wanderlust and keep you motivated! Perhaps they’ll even challenge you to use this time at home to find out: were you satisfied with the life you were living pre-pandemic? Or was there something missing?

RELATED: If you’re new to Stories Beyond the 9-to-5, catch up by checking out Episode One.

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 a 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 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, 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. 

Related: 18 Careers That Allow You to Work Remote

But don’t just take it from me. Take it from everyone else – keep reading!


How These Women Travel More While Maintaining Their Careers


Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6 - Kim Wilkin
Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6 - Monica Ortega
Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6 - Escalante

1. Where are you based, OR if you’re nomadic, where are you currently?

Kim: I live full time in Austin, Texas.

Monica: I’m based out of Los Angeles, California.

Tuliyani: I am based in San Diego, CA. It’s a city I always return to.

2. 9-to-5 hustle, self-made business grind, or somewhere in between?

Kim: I am a full-time residential realtor in Austin, Texas, and I’m currently in the top 5% of all realtors in our city. I chose this career so I could build an incredible business, choose the type of client I serve, customize my hours of operation, and be in charge of the amount of time I am able to take off. I’m a lifestyle entrepreneur and my goal has always been how can I build my business around the life I want to lead?

Monica: Self-made business grind.

Tuliyani: Somewhere in between for sure! I bartend at night so that during the day I create my YouTube videos and blog posts and dream of my next destination. 

3. What compelled you to make travel a priority?

Kim: I have always been a traveler.  When I finished college, it was not accepted to “pack my bags” and leave for exotic locations. But at 22, I moved to Europe with a one-way plane ticket and $300 in my pocket. I have now traveled to more than 60 countries and lived in 5. Travel makes my heart sing, and I cannot imagine life without it.

Monica: I was pursuing a hosting career and my coach told me to create my dream show as a way to get auditions. For me, my dream show was doing adventure travel and facing my fears.

Tuliyani: Two reasons:

  1. My ex told me I would never travel, so that drove me to prove him wrong.
  2. Life was getting repetitive. I realized that I had already spent my hard-earned money on Friday nights out, a car, utilities, new jewelry, or rent. What I hadn’t purchased before was a flight overseas. I hadn’t spent any money on seeing a new world, to seeing what else was out there. I was 25 years old so I thought, I could continue to spend my money on the same things society tells me to spend my money on, or I can use that same money and put it toward something more exciting. And I chose exciting.

4. On a monthly or yearly basis, how often do you travel? How do you navigate taking time off from work to travel? 

Kim: In 2019, I traveled to 14 countries and flew over 43,000 long haul miles. Gratefully, my business is my own, and there is a slower season in the real estate market. Typically, during the 3rd quarter, when the market is slow, I can travel for extended periods of time, and it’s a perfect time to travel because it’s the shoulder season (around fall). That being said, I have to stay close to home January-July, then late October-mid-December, due to the real estate market.

Monica: I travel 1-2 weeks out of the month. I’m fortunate to get paid for my travels as well as work on the side as a brand and social media manager where I can manage my clients remotely. 

Tuliyani: Lately I’ve been doing a couple of month-long trips internationally and about two to three 10 day trips domestically. I base my travels depending on the season at work. Slow seasons are September-October and January-March, so I inform my job about two months beforehand so they can prepare schedules. My bosses have always been very lenient about it because hours are usually cut during those times anyway.

5. How do you finance and save for your travels?

Kim: I am a firm believer in travel credit card hacking, and most of my flights and hotels are covered by miles. I also expense travel through my travel business, The Abundant Traveler. I started The Abundant Traveler to inspire women to travel the world; dispel their fears of not enough money, not enough time or lack of courage to travel, and one of the benefits is the tax write off through my business LLC.

Monica: I need to get better at for sure! I mostly work with tourism boards and get paid for my travel but for other destinations, I have a side hustle delivering groceries for Instacart. 

Tuliyani: I work a lot of hours. People always think that I have some secret to paying for travel, but all of my travels have been paid by me from the long hours I work and reducing my money spent on other things. Every two weeks I also have money automatically transferred from my main checking account into my designated travel account because if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist and therefore I won’t spend it. Also, credit cards.

Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6 - Monica O.
Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6 - Kim W.

6. What’s your biggest tip for balancing work and travel?

Kim: Finding a career that has “high” and “low” selling seasons have been a significant advantage in my ability to balance work and travel. Additionally, it’s key to have someone back home that can help maintain your business while you are away.

Monica: To me, it’s balancing all of the different jobs and wearing different hats, from managing my clients, to running my own business, and trying to have some sort of a personal life in between. 

Tuliyani: Communication. Whatever job you are in, always communicate with your boss (or whoever is in charge of your schedule) your desire to be gone for a month, two months, etc. If you give your boss enough notice, they will most likely allow it or you would have the opportunity to negotiate a deal where you could check into work via Zoom or Skype.

7. What’s your biggest tip for working while on the road (if you do)? 

Kim: No limitations on time off is one of the advantages of being my own boss; however, I almost always have to take my work with me when I travel.  The good news is, my work day is usually limited to an hour in the morning or an hour in the evening while I’m traveling. I don’t love working while traveling, but the ability to travel 70-80 days a year outweighs the minor inconvenience of getting a little work done on the road.

Monica: Plan ahead! Get things in order before you go and create a schedule to stay on track while you’re gone. I try to do as much of my client work ahead of time so that I can enjoy my travel more. And then I give myself plenty of time in the morning to get any daily work done before diving into my travel days. 

Tuliyani: The only time I work on the road is when I’m bartending at a hostel in exchange for room & board. Other than that I work on my blog and YouTube channel while on the road. I can spend hours editing after everyone else has gone to sleep or I’ll do a task while in transit (on the bus, or train, or plane) that way I don’t miss out on what’s going on during the day. If I can’t do either of those, I’ll designate a full day to just catching up on things I need to do so that it’s out of the way and I can focus on traveling.

8. Do you ever get any negative reactions to your travels from friends, coworkers, or loved ones? How do you navigate that?

Kim: Yes, absolutely. I’ve had several clients over the years say they wouldn’t use me as a realtor because I travel too much. It’s funny, if you look at a typical 9 to 5 job in America with time off every weekend and a 2-week vacation policy, that’s 114 days a year…. I don’t travel that much. Also, some of my friends think I’m crazy wanting to travel to all these exotic locations, but the travel is what makes me happy.

Monica: A little bit. I’ve lost friends over the years who couldn’t relate to my life choices but I’m a big believer that people come into your life for a reason and sometimes it’s not forever and that’s ok. Over the years people have become more and more supportive of my travel and my lifestyle.

Tuliyani: At first I did. Half the people I knew thought I was crazy, my parents were skeptical, and even people I didn’t know assured me that it was dangerous. I ignored them all. I had to let their opinions and advice wash over me because it was my hard-earned money and that’s how I wanted to spend it. No one else had control over that. Now that everybody has calmed down (for the most part), it’s been easier to navigate because no one is surprised by my travel announcements anymore. I’m also very stubborn. 

9. Do you have a go-to travel partner, or do you prefer solo or group travel? 

Kim: I like to travel with girlfriends, and I like to travel solo, so most of my trips are a combination of both. I love traveling with guys, but that’s typically with a significant other, which I don’t have at the moment. Rarely do I travel on an organized group trip, as I like the freedom to wander and set my own schedule and itinerary. I do, however, love to hire private guides for a day or even an afternoon; I learn so much and I get a local’s perspective on a city, which is great.

Monica: When I can afford to bring my best friend/producer Kristin, I do. Everything is WAY more fun and better quality of filming when she’s there. But sometimes it’s solo travel for sure. 

Tuliyani: I AM my go-to travel partner. I really enjoy solo travel, and for the most part, I prefer it, but it only became that way because I was tired of waiting for a travel partner. If I kept waiting for someone to go with me I never would have left in the first place. Group travel is fun though because I can depend on others using the map, making decisions, and planning. It’s like a relaxed form of travel for me.

Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9-to-5 – Episode 6 - Tuliyani E.

10. Social media creates a world of ‘perfect travel moments’ online. What do you wish more people would know about what goes on in your life and work behind the scenes?

Kim: I do wish Instagram didn’t portray everyone as a supermodel. Travel is often grungy and messy (which I love!), and we don’t always look perfect or have the perfect flowy dress. It’s so funny building my business, The Abundant Traveler, as an online travel influencer brand. I have to remember to take the Instagram photo vertically, to do an Instagram Story capture, to film footage for the YouTube video, and take a horizontal photo for the thumbnail…. oh wait, what are you going to post on Facebook, too? I mean, it’s hysterical trying to get all these things done while in one location.

Monica: The schedule when you’re working and traveling. Even after 5 years of hosting my travel show people still think I’m on “vacation”. If they had any idea that most days on the road I’m up at 5 or 6 to get my other work done, film all day, and edit late into the night, they’d be shocked. 

Tuliyani: That I work really hard and give up a lot in order to go to these places. I don’t buy coffee every day, I don’t have all the newest gadgets, I’ve even slept on couches for months in order to afford traveling. I wasn’t just “lucky”, I worked for it. Also, a photo may look nice online but while that photo was being taken I’m probably either sweating my boobies off or freezing my bum-bum off while trying to look like a natural goddess in front of all the people watching me take said photo with my tripod and selfie-timer.    

11. Any can’t-put-down reads (or podcasts) about either travel, career, or personal development that more adventure-loving women should know about? 

Kim: One of my favorite Podcasts is The Globetrotter Lounge, and I love the tips from The Profitable Travel Blogger. I’m also a huge Tony Robbins fan, and I recommend seeing him in person at Unleash the Power Within and Date with Destiny. It will change your life!

Monica: I love Travel with Meaning and Travel Talk podcasts and then for work and life, I’m a big fan of Marie Forleo and Jenna Kutcher. 

Tuliyani: You have to listen to Jenna Kutcher on her podcast Goal Digger. Seriously, she’s my idol. She has so many good episodes for females whether it’s about business, personal development, or social media. Also, read What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman. I connected with her so much because she was very honest about her travels and her humor speaks to my soul. 

12. Where will you go first once we can travel again? 

 Kim: I am really missing Spain right now.  I want to swim in the Mediterranean, eat pinchos, sip cava, and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle in Spain.  My goal is to live part-time in Spain when I’m not in Austin for work.

Monica: Once this pandemic is over I’d like to try to redo some of the trips I had planned. Renting an Autobarn Campervan and heading up the west coast and down through Utah was the plan as well as speaking at Outdoor Media Summit in Colorado.

Tuliyani: Next won’t be for a while, but I’m leaning toward somewhere in Africa or the Philippines. I crave new beaches, but I also want adventure! 

13. How can others follow your adventures?




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Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6
Rachel Off Duty: Stories Beyond the 9 to 5 - Episode 6

Hey there! I’m Rachel, a travel writer and a full-time advertising / marketing expert. In 2019, I traveled more than 25 times while working 9 to 5, and since then I’ve committed myself to living a more adventurous life, even if it means bringing my laptop along for the ride.

Are you hungry to travel more, but overwhelmed with how to juggle work and play? You’ve come to the right place!

Recent Adventures:
Let's Go Places!

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