NO&YO blog series Roads Less Traveled introduces individuals who are living their lives outside of the “norm” and who are following their calling. Lauren lives a lifestyle of the 21st Century nomad – a digital nomad. She lives a lifestyle that many would envy her but also that many would not be able to, for whatever reason, realize. Let’s be honest it’s actually a pretty huge commitment to travel full-time. She created a career that made her location-independent, making her dream of traveling the world for living a reality. She overcame many things to get to where she is today and her efforts of many years paid off as she is able to take the Roads Less Travelled on a whim.
Get to know her a little more in the 10 questions and find out how she got to her dream job.
- How and when did you decide that travel is what you’re “good” at and wanted make living doing it?
I have a bit of an obsessive personality and one of my very first obsessions was travel. I used to spend all year counting down the days until my next vacation, and then much of it was spent feeling depressed at how soon I’d have to head home. I soon realized I was happiest when I was exploring new countries but never really considered I’d be able to travel beyond a yearly two-week trip.
It was when I started at college that I really started to explore the option of travelling after graduating. I discovered long-term travel, and then I discovered travel blogging, and immediately knew it was something I wanted to try. Four years later and I’m still going!
- How do you decide where you go next?
At the start of each year, my boyfriend and I sit down and come up with a rough idea of what region we want to spend the next 12 months in, and then we kind of make it up as we go along. I rarely book more than a month in advance and I’m always changing my mind. Last year, I planned on spending the entire year in Latin America, working my way down from Mexico to Argentina and celebrating with a cruise to Antarctica. Three months in and I was missing Southeast Asian food so much that I booked a flight and ended up spending the rest of the year in Thailand! This year, I’m planning on staying in Europe, but at the moment, I’m living in Spain, have no idea how long I’ll stay, have no onward travel booked, and no clue where I’ll head next. I expect that at some point over the next month, I’ll decide I want to move on and book flights and accommodation a few days in advance.
As for which places I head to, it could be somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, somewhere I found cheap flights to but don’t know anything about, one of my favorite places in the world, or somewhere with great food. It really does just become a spur of the moment type thing. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I are both open to heading pretty much anywhere so we rarely fight about destinations.
- What does the process of planning your trip look like?
I’m also pretty laid-back when it comes to planning. When I first started travelling, I meticulously planned out every single aspect of every day, and then stuck to none of it! I’ve found that plans frequently change when you’re travelling — especially when your trip doesn’t have an end date — so I don’t start researching until I actually arrive in a place. I think this helps keep my expectations in check, too. I don’t arrive expecting a place to be wonderful so there’s less opportunity for me to be disappointed.
Additionally, I work online as I travel, so I can’t plan too far in advance. I never know when a freelancing contract is going to come through, so I take each day as it comes and decide each morning whether to explore or work.
- Favorite places? Worst place? (meaning never returning there – ever)
I have so many favorite places! My top five are Cambodia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Taipei, and Mexico.
It’s funny but my least favorite place, China, is somewhere I’m really keen to return to. I had terrible bad luck while I was there (scammed, robbed, treated badly by locals) and hated every moment I spent in the country, but I can’t wait to head back to try and change my opinion of it! I’m less likely to return to places I left feeling ambivalent about — the UAE, Slovakia, Belize — they’re all countries I found to be unexciting and so I don’t feel much desire to return because of that.
- What keeps you excited living this lifestyle?
Getting to explore the places I’ve dreamed of for years, all while learning more about myself. Travel has been so transformative for me (it helped me conquer my anxiety, overcome an eating disorder, and gain life experience) and it makes me feel like I’m continually growing as a person.
Having the freedom to pack my bags and fly to a pretty beach I found on Pinterest within 24 hours isn’t bad either!
- Any advice to others who are thinking of traveling full-time?
Try not to plan too far in advance when it comes to any aspect of living on the road. Sometimes freelance articles pop up and you need to spend all day inside writing them; sometimes you’ll meet some really awesome people and want to change your plans to travel with them; and sometimes you’ll just want to get the hell out of a place you’re really not connecting with.
- I love how open you are with your Mishaps; some of them being borderline dangerous. Do you feel that it’s a disadvantage to traveling alone as a female? Why did you dedicate a whole page and do you agree that you’re an “accident magnet”?
I have worse luck when travelling solo than with my boyfriend, but I think that’s more due to my lack of common sense rather than being alone! There have definitely been situations where having someone else with me would have helped — especially when being scammed — but for the most part, bad things happen all over the world, and I was just as unlucky back home in the UK than I have been on the road.
I decided to write about the bad things that happen to me because I felt that travel blogging always glossed over the negatives and focused solely on the positives. It didn’t feel like an accurate portrayal of the travel experience. It was a way to set myself apart from the crowd and give an accurate depiction of my life on the road. If I only wrote about the wonderful experiences, I’d feel like I was keeping a part of my travels from my readers. And yep, I think I’m an accident magnet, but it has worked out well for me!
- Where do you feel at home?
I feel at home in places where I’ve based myself for a minimum of a month. London will always feel like home for me, but so does Chiang Mai, in Thailand, Granada, in Spain, and Portland, OR, in the US. If I rent an apartment, cook instead of eating out for every meal, and have a solid group of friends around me then I nearly always feel at home.
Sometimes, though, when I’m struggling with homesickness, I’ll feel as if I don’t have a home in the same sense that others do. I’d struggle to reintegrate into life back in London, I’ll never truly feel like a local in the places I didn’t grow up in, and my friends are scattered all across the world. If I did decide to settle down and find a base, I’d have no idea where it would be!
- What do you miss most on the road?
A few things: my family, having more possessions than what I can fit in my backpack, and food.
I have a very small and close-knit family so being away from them can be a real struggle. I Skype with various family members every few days so it never feels like I go months and months without chatting to them, but it’s not the same as being able to give them a hug! I usually try to make room in my itinerary for a trip home at least once a year, and last year, I managed to do so three times!
I do miss having possessions; even though I know as a traveller I should be all about collecting experiences over things! Everything I own in the world has to fit in my 70-litre backpack, and if I want to buy something new, I have to throw something else out to make room for it. I’d love to have more than two pairs of shoes, and to have access to both summer and winter clothes at the same time (I usually throw out all my warm clothes when I head somewhere sunny and vice versa).
Finally, I miss food when I travel, but it’s not always food from the UK. From England, I miss the strong cheddar cheeses, roast dinners, and my favorite chocolate bars and junk food. But I also miss foods from different parts of the world: a $1 bowl of steaming pho from Saigon; an incredible Turkish breakfast in Istanbul; everything I’ve ever ate in Portland, OR; the whitebait patties from New Zealand… the list goes on!
- What are your essentials to pack on every trip?
If there’s one thing that travel has taught me, it’s that I need very little to survive. As long as I have my passport, my debit card, some cash, my laptop, and a few changes of clothes, I can survive pretty much indefinitely. Additional luxuries include my DSLR, my hair straighteners, perfume, and makeup.
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