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When I invited you guys to ask me anything, you took me up on it — big time! Some of your questions were so thought-provoking and I’ve added a few new posts to my drafts folder in response to them — look out for an updated edition of How I Afford This, a post about saying goodbye in travel relationships, and an opinionfest about voluntourism coming up soon. There were so many questions specifically related to blogging that I’ve decided to save those for a separate post (ya’ll finally broke me down, I’m going back on my vow to never blog about blogging!)

Unfortunately, I could not answer every single question or this post would have been a novel. If I skipped yours feel free to shoot me an email or leave it in the comments section so I don’t leave you hanging!

Globe

Travel

How do you decide what destinations you want to travel to? — Barbara

My domestic travels are based almost exclusively around visiting friends and family (and occasionally attending conferences or work trips). For example, my six week trip to Hawaii last year? My friends from Cayman had just moved out there. My current trip to New Orleans? Visiting my sister. My upcoming jaunt to California? Friend’s wedding time!

My international travels are a little different. My recent five month Latin America adventure was sparked by a desire to hike the Inca Trail, while my in-the-works summer trip to Europe is built entirely around attending the Tomorrowland music festival. Usually there’s one small catalyst, and then a larger trip builds up around it. My big international trips are always scheduled around important can’t-miss moments at home, like weddings and graduations, as well as a general desire to spend the holidays and a good chunk of the summer stateside.

In your opinion, what is the single most important benefit of travel? Shaun

One word: Perspective.

How easily can you get Doxycycline malaria tablets over the counter in South America? Kiara

I get asked about malaria pills a lot. Unfortunately I can’t help — I’ve never taken them. Though I have traveled fairly extensively through areas where it was a risk, I have always made the decision to go without due to the side effects. Many in the expat community do the same over concerns about taking the drugs long term.

I did, however go ahead with the Yellow Fever vaccine when I realized I’d be spending almost three weeks in the jungles of Peru — that one’s incurable!

I know you’re a huge fan of travel guides I was wondering which brand was your favourite. — Fran

I’m a Lonely Planet girl through and through! However, I do have a few Fodor’s guidebooks that I really enjoy. In general, I use guidebooks to get excited about a destination, understand the basic history, get the gist of what my options are, and reference the maps. When it comes to choosing accommodation and restaurants, I usually turn to the interwebs.

South America Guidebooks

I’d like info on how you edit your photos, underwater ones too! Mine still never look as good, even after processing. — Kat

I have a pretty strong editing routine. After uploading, I do a cull to delete photos that are repetitive, boring, or beyond editing. This is actually the most important step — the more realistic I am, the less work I have later. Also, I try to remember that it is better to have ten great photos than one hundred mediocre ones.

Then I go through and do a basic batch edit using Adobe Bridge — cropping, color correcting, brightening, etc. If there is a really special photo or one I feel warrants more work, I’ll then open it in Adobe Photoshop and do more elaborate editing. One Photoshop plugin I couldn’t live without is NoiseNinja — it saves a lot of photos I otherwise would end up deleting!

Are you a beer drinker? — Chris

I’m not — in fact, I can’t stand it! It’s actually quite the hassle. Beer is generally the drink of choice for backpackers, and I sometimes cringe at how high-maintenance I look ordering a cocktail when everyone else has a can in hand, not to mention the awkward moment when someone generously offers to buy you a beer. The British affection for hard cider is one of the things I love most about the United Kingdom — I wish it was so popular everywhere in the world.

Rekorderlig Cider

I am curious where you see yourself in ten years. If you think you will settle down eventually, do you think it’ll be in the US or abroad? –– Amanda

I actually have a very clear picture of where I’d like to be in ten years — though I’m still working on how to get there. Ideally, I’ll spend about a third of the year in the US with family and friends, a third of the year in a home away from home elsewhere in the world, most likely Southeast Asia (maybe running another small business of some sort!), and the remaining third of the year traveling and exploring new places.

Your recent Instagram pic (which is so cute!) and comment about ticking something off your Bucket List got me wondering what else might be on your list!? — Caity

For all my bucket list talk, I’ve actually never sat down to write one down. I have things floating around in my brain that I want to do before I die (attend a big European music festival, learn to surf, etc.) but I really need to put pen to paper!

How do you cope with the long distance part of your relationship? How does it affect you and how far ahead to you guys plan in terms of meeting up around the world? — Caty

For the past five years, every relationship I’ve had has been long-distance at some point or another! They all have varied in level of commitment, and that has had a huge effect on how successful they are. As my business has grown, I find committing to anything other than my laptop to be a growing challenge. I handle stress very poorly, and when I am juggling my work commitments and my travel schedule, the pressure to squeeze in even an innocuous fifteen minute Skype session every night can leave me feeling overwhelmed.

In my most recent relationship, we had a tough choices to make when we left Indonesia. We were crazy about each other but our lives were taking us down different paths (and to opposite sides of the planet). We knew we wanted to keep seeing each other again but we had no idea how often or for how long it would happen. We made the mutual decision to give each other the gift of independence: we are together when we’re together and we are apart when we’re apart. By taking the pressure of a long-distance commitment off the table, we can truly enjoy our time together and be happy for each other when our paths take us in different directions. Luckily I already know when I’ll be seeing Anders again — I’ve already booked my tickets to visit him at his new dive gig in Malta in July!

travel love

How do you pick out where to stay? Do you book in advance or do you just show up and look around? Also do you have any particular criteria for selecting a place to stay? — Sarah

It depends. If I am traveling in high season or to a special event or with family I book ahead. When it comes to backpacking, I always try to book the first few nights in a new country — I don’t want to be stumbling around jetlagged and confused looking for a hostel after a fifteen hour plane ride! But when I’m traveling long-term most of the time I just show up.

Typically, my only requirement if wifi but if I’m being picky I prefer to stay in a room with windows, as I can get a bit depressed by lack of light.

I was wondering if any of your relatives questioned your decision to travel and if so, how did you handle that? — Rebecca

I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family. I know there are some people in my life who think travel is frivolous and self-employment is a joke, and they don’t totally respect what I’m doing — they don’t see the long nights on the laptop and only look at the blissful beach pics — but I’m lucky that those naysayers are few and far between. My close circle of friends and family are my biggest cheerleaders… and sometimes I even convince them to be my temporary travel buddies!

Family Visit to Thailand

What is your opinion on volunteering abroad? It can’t all be bad right? Do you know people who have had good experiences with it? –- Christine

Christine, I’ve had a “Voluntourism” post in my drafts folder for over a year. I have so many opinions on the topic (seriously, ask anyone who has ever gotten into a dinner table discussion with me about it) but struggle with putting them into a cohesive post. While I know there are positive opportunities out there, it is a minefield.

Before signing up for an international volunteer project, sit down and reflect honestly on your intentions, what you truly have to offer, and if your long-term impact on the community you’ll be entering will be positive or harmful. Because make no mistake — good intentions are not enough. For example, short-term volunteer projects in orphanages are incredibly popular in Southeast Asia. In my opinion, allowing a revolving door of travelers with no background in relevant fields unfettered access to vulnerable children with abandonment issues (in a country notorious for child sex tourism, no less) is beneficial only to the traveler who can now go home buoyed by their own generosity, and with a hundred likes on their new Facebook profile picture.

I have a feeling half of the sham “volunteer” programs around the world would shutter immediately if people would answer the following question honestly: Would I do this if no cameras were allowed?

What are some life lessons or core values that you have adopted since leaving on the great escape? How has sharing your perspective with others changed them? — Carolyn

My travels have given me so many gifts — compassion, confidence, and the knowledge that experiences are more important than things, and that people deserve my love more than stuff does. While I certainly don’t think I’m curing brain cancer over here, I hope that this blog gives others the information or inspiration they might need to get out and see the world, if that’s what they dream of doing.

How do you stay healthy and in shape while traveling? — Krista

Like most people, I struggle to make healthy eating and fitness a consistent part of my life. I get lazy, I get back on track, I get lost again. In general I enjoy being active but struggle with my diet. Right now, I’m on the downswing but am planning to use the summer to get back into a routine of running (free anywhere you go, and good for filling in the gaps when travel isn’t keeping me active enough) and doing the 80/20 plan (eating clean 80% of the time and guilt-free indulging the other 20%).

Surfing in Oahu

What do you usually do to break the funk of a location you find yourself not enjoying? — Shaun

Leave! But seriously, if I’m not loving a town or city I’ll check out what’s nearby that I think I might enjoy more. Otherwise, I try to ask the locals. The first time I went to London I was so unimpressed. When I returned and stayed with different friends for ten days, I saw so many different sides to the city!

Where would you recommend for a first trip out of the country from the East Coast? We are looking to spend about a month abroad on a pretty tight backpackers’ budget. — Sarah

Head to Central America! With just a month I’d recommend sticking to two countries, and with a truly tight budget I’d avoid Costa Rica, Belize, and Panama. I think Guatemala and Honduras are calling your name! Personally I’d start out in Guatemala, checking out Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and other highlights before heading to Honduras to admire the ruins of Copan, white-water raft in the jungles of La Ceiba and then finish off with some beach bliss on the Bay Islands!

Honduras

Packing

How heavy is all your luggage when you travel? — Chris

That is a question I’d probably be terrified to know the answer to. Honestly I’m not sure but even when I was traveling with all my dive gear, I didn’t pay a single overweight baggage fee! I plan to do packing posts like this one for all my major trips moving forward and I’ll be sure to include that info.

How can you look polished and well put-together without having to pack an arsenal of toiletries and hair tools? — Melanie

First of all, where can I send you a balloon bouquet as thanks for considering me to look well put together? Well, as this post shows, I actually do indeed travel with an arsenal of toiletries! For a traveler it is a lot but when I come home and see my friend’s bathrooms I am reminded that it’s actually not so bad. As for hair tools specifically, even when I’m home I don’t use a blowdryer, just a comb and some hair bands. My hair is pretty cooperative. So I guess you could say I’m lucky/lazy.

Shower Stuff

How big is your backpack and what you look for when buying a backpack? — Michaela

Currently I have an 85L backpack — it’s huge! For most people I would recommend something much smaller but I like to have the option to stuff my dive gear in there without having to tow a separate dive bag. My biggest recommendation when looking for a backpack is to get one that has front-panel access. I cannot fathom why, but top loading backpacks are by far the most common option — and in my opinion, the worst.

Show me how you fit a BCD in that backpack!!! Rika

While neither of my BCDs have been travel-specific, they are both size XS and very simple models. I usually stick them in a garbage bag and pack them against the back of my backpack, and then pile the rest in from there! (Also, magic.)

Packing

Diving

Do you always take your diving gear when you travel where there is the possibility of diving, or only if you have pre-planned to dive? — Chris

Traveling with my dive gear is basically a nightmare. I hauled it on my most recent five month Southeast Asia trip and cursed it basically the entire time. However on that trip it was a must — I was doing my divemaster. Typically if I’m going somewhere tropical I always bring my mask and snorkel and occasionally my wetsuit, but I won’t be traveling with my full set of dive gear again unless I’m going on a dive-specific or very brief trip.

Any tips for a first time diver? I’m planning on doing the PADI Open Water this summer and I’m both excited and a little bit nervous. — J in Beijing

First of all, congrats! My biggest advice is to find a school and instructor that you are comfortable with. It’s likely that some of the skills and concepts will feel a little uncomfortable or confusing at first, and you never want to feel rushed or flustered through those bits. In my opinion, compassion is the most important trait in a dive instructor — make sure you find one who has it in spades!

Diving

Work and Money

Where does a majority of your income come from and what tips would you give to those who have similar dreams as yours? – Jena

Generally 25-50% of my income comes from freelance writing and graphic design. I write for companies like Viator, Men’s Fitness, Eagle Creek, The Gift, Southeast Asia Backpacker magazine and a few other minor clients. Though I no longer actively seek out new graphic design clients, I still do work with a few bloggers and websites doing things like logo design, e-book updates, and other minor graphics (I used to do banners for Gadling — such a fun gig!). My favorite client, however, is a wedding designer from New York who sends me the most fun projects imaginable. The other 50-75% of my income comes from blogging — sponsored content, sidebar advertising and affiliate sales.

And then there are the occasional projects that come totally out of left field — consulting with a tourism board, producing videos for Tripfilms, etc. — I love those too! Before I earned the majority of my income online I worked all kinds of crazy jobs on the road, from underwater videography to bartending to babysitting. There are so many inspiring people out there making the dream of living and working abroad happen, I started a whole series to highlight them!

I know this will differ from place to place that you spend your time in, but what would you say would be your average yearly costs? Taking into account visas, flights, accommodation and extras. — Michaela

I guessed it would average from $18,000 to $24,000 per year, and just for fun I went back to 2013 and crunched the numbers — I spent just over $19,000. That figure includes every cent that comes out of my bank account — from flights to web hosting to mojitos on the streets of Bangkok to birthday dinner for my bestie back home. You can find more details in the budget section of my monthly roundups!

Peruvian Soles

Do you draw up a budget for each location/day and stick to it, or just kind of wing it based on looking at your finances from time to time? Amanda

In Southeast Asia and in South America, I’ve generally tried to stick to a budget of $50 a day. In some countries that meant living in abject luxury, in others it was almost impossible (I’m looking at you, Costa Rica!).

I use Trail Wallet to track my daily spending, and I check in with it every day not only to input my purchases but also to check in and see how I’m doing — do I need to spend a night in with a cup of Ramen or do I have some room to splurge on a nice dinner? On the first of the month I have an accounting day and go through all my bank accounts on Mint and update a spreadsheet that monitors my overall monthly income and spending. More info here!

How do you balance a full-time job writing about travel with the actual travel part? Do your travel companions ever get annoyed of your work schedule or do they just understand it comes as part of the package? — Amanda

Oh Amanda, this is my greatest struggle! Some weeks I’m just glued my laptop from sun up to sun down, and on those nights I fall asleep filled with guilt and FOMO and nostalgia for the carefree days when I just traveled! Some weeks I’m running around at a festival or off of a diving trip and on those nights I fall asleep filled with guilt and stress and obsessing about being behind on deadlines and drowning in my inbox. And don’t even get me started on the stress of feeling like you have to have a “blog-worthy” trip. Guilt is my constant companion.

The thing about being self-employed or running your own business is you never, ever clock out. One of my biggest goals is to find a way to say, okay, it’s 8:00pm and I’m going to close up shop for the day and enjoy dinner and Law and Order with my mom without checking emails on my iPhone all through the meal and editing photos on my laptop all through the show.

As for my travel companions, they are generally patient and understanding and know what they’ve signed up for. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty and stressed over it, and inevitably there will be that moment where they can’t hide their disappointment at going to a museum solo or their frustration at spending an afternoon watching YouTube videos while I write blog posts. I’ve been on trips with others where I wake up every morning at 4:00am so that I can cram a few hours of work in before they wake up! Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I’ve come to so cherish solo travel.

Working on the Road

Thanks for taking the time to grill me — I loved hearing what you’ve been curious about! Now it’s my turn to ask a question… did any of my answers surprise you? I’m tempted to make this a regular series where I take one question and give it a more thorough response. What do you think?

3-devide-lines
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92 Comments...
  • Przemek
    March 8 2014

    Hi there 🙂 i’ve just found your blog and this is actually first post I read. I’m really impressed how many details you share with us ( wow even your yearly expenses). Great job! Cheers 🙂

    • Alex
      March 8 2014

      Welcome to Wanderland! I’m an open book over here, Przemek 🙂 I actually do a ton of budget breakdowns… have a look through my archives!

  • Lucy
    March 8 2014

    This was such a fantastic read. I adore how honest and upfront you are – there are so many bloggers who only write the good days and leave the rest of the world feeling guilty for having a bad day of travel.

    I want to know more about the fun projects your friend with the Weddings does!

    Thank you so much for this post! x

    • Alex
      March 8 2014

      You are so welcome Lucy! I like to keep it real. As for the fun wedding projects, well, here’s a recent one I really loved 🙂

  • Steve
    March 8 2014

    I enjoyed reading this post. I have got a greater incite on how you balance everything. Also pleased that you’re meeting up again with Anders. Keep smling.
    Steve recently posted..Photo of the Week – Musicians in Traditional Dress, Zagreb

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Thanks Steve 🙂 We are really excited too. And hey — a new country to explore! That never hurts!

  • Ayngelina
    March 8 2014

    Really solid answers Alex, sometimes I forget so much goes into what we do.
    Ayngelina recently posted..That Time I Sucked At Snowboarding in Jasper

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      And this isn’t even the blogging edition of my answers, ha! I was amazed (but not really surprised) that when I asked for questions more than half were blogging related.

  • Emily
    March 8 2014

    Loved this!

  • Lauren
    March 8 2014

    I love the series idea!!

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Maybe I will get the ball rolling on that this summer when my travels are cooled down a bit and I’m wondering what to blog about!

  • I second the “Find a dive school and instructor you’re comfortable with.” I ended up paying an extra 50 bucks for my course and got a private instructor — one of the best decisions I ever made.
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..South Africa’s Gondwana Game Reserve

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      That’s a great idea for someone who’s a bit on edge about diving, Raymond! Some people are really looking for the social aspect but others need more reassurance.

  • Shaun
    March 8 2014

    Wow! Thank you for writing this up Alex. It’s a lot of work and great information.
    Shaun recently posted..Edinburgh – In on a whim out with a bang…literally.

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      No problem, Shaun! It was fun! (But you’re right, a lot of a work 🙂 )

  • AkwaabaGolden
    March 8 2014

    Another great post, always enjoyable to read your posts 🙂 And very good information here too. Thanks! I got a lot of ideas from you once again!
    AkwaabaGolden recently posted..Volunteering in Accra – Clean-Up Operation

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      You are so very welcome! Thanks for reading.

  • Sam
    March 8 2014

    Oh my god, this post…just where to begin! You got some great questions, one of which I can help with. My partner and I took doxycycline in Peru and Ecuador, which we bought over the counter in a pharmacy in Lima: super easy, not too expensive. I would imagine, given what other things I saw for sale in similar pharmacies, that they wouldn’t be too difficult to get in other Andean countries. Also, high-five for a fellow cider-lover! In my opinion, pear cider with ice on a hot summer’s day = heaven!
    Sam recently posted..Guide to Eating Vegan in Budapest

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Mmmmm yes! Pear definitely battles Strawberry-lime for my fave Rekorderlig flavor.

  • Lindsey
    March 8 2014

    I love how open you always are! You’ve had such amazing experiences – you’re the traveller I aim to be!

    I completely understand the work/travel struggle. I’m not even travelling full time at the moment and I still have trouble with it – balancing grad school, blogging, working and a relationship isn’t easy, so I have complete respect (and understanding!) that you have to get up early to fit it all in. Props to you for making it work!

    How long are you in Europe for this summer? Maybe I’ll see you on the road 🙂
    Lindsey recently posted..The Queen Charlotte Track In Photos

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      You are so sweet Lindsey — thank you! I’ll be in Europe for 5-6 weeks, starting in early July. What about you? And good luck with the balancing act!

  • We are issued Doxycycline for deployments to certain countries. Like yourself, many people do not take them because of the side effects. Yellow fever, on the other hand, is no joke. Not only are you pretty much screwed if you get it, but some countries will not let you back in if you’ve been to a country where it is a risk and you have not had the vaccination.
    Kyle (GratefulWanderer.net) recently posted..From The Archives: Southern France (January 2013)

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Very true, Kyle. I was shocked at the prices when I started calling around to travel clinics ($250ish!) but managed to find a decent compromise at my local county health clinic (just $130).

  • See, I knew it was magic!!

    I have divers this week using the Cressi travel BCDs (http://www.onlinescuba.com/Cressi-Lady-Air-Travel-Scuba-Diving-BCD-P11703.aspx) and they’re super badass – they fold down to like the size of a binder!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Review: Deliciosa Creamery

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Nice! I might check out a real travel BCD next time I’m in the market for one, but considering the way I wear down my stuff before I trade up that should be in like…. thirty years.

  • Great post! I love the tip about Trail Wallet.. just downloaded it. Normally I calculate my own daily budget and then write down in my iphone’s notes what I’ve spent but this is SO much easier.
    Anna – The Blonde Banana recently posted..The First Day of Spring Weather in Central Park

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      I used to do the same and YES Trail Wallet is a game changer! I downloaded like five budget apps and played around with them and this one was my fave. It’s the best!

  • Happy you are doing an updated “How I Afford This” Post! It’s always fun to read Q’s and A’s like this to get to know someone better. I also don’t take malaria meds, i mean I already got dengue, so malaria would be like a walk in the park (an Indian friend here has had it 11 times. they act like it’s the flu!) , and I have a pretty strong opinion about “vulutourism” as well… looking forward to that post. I actually have one half done, but mine is a little to harsh and opinionated to put online- I don’t think I could bear the hate mail!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..International Boho-Chic Designers: Tia & Tan // India

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      That is exactly where I’m at with my own post Rachel — also despite the fact that I think I’m pretty well informed and well read on the topic, I’m always afraid of someone coming down on me like “Who are you to talk about this topic, I’m an expert and you are so incredibly idiotically wrong and here’s why….”

      • Exactly! I’m way too new to this online world to get into discussions online- they scare me even when I KNOW I’m right. I’m very non-confrontational. But it’s definitely something that can be argued both ways, actually my brother does volunteer abroad! So that’s another perfect reason why I should make mine more open-minded. But that begs the question- what’s the point in a luke warm post that shows both sides??
        Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..I Wish I’d Had a Singapore Neighborhood Guide Like This One…

  • J in Beijing
    March 9 2014

    This is an awesome post Alex. So much great info! Thanks for answering my question- I’m so excited to learn to dive!
    I share your opinion on volunteer tourism as well. I could go on about this for ages but I won’t! But you should definitely post your blog post on this. Anyway, I’m glad you have plans to head over to Malta with Anders. And also, the link you posted to the cakes…Wow..! 🙂
    J in Beijing recently posted..Cultural Weekends in Beijing: Art, Literature and Trucks full of cups

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Haha, I loved that project! It was super fun. And I’m excited for you to dive too! Go get ’em girl!

  • Mindy & Ligeia
    March 9 2014

    Amazing post! One day, when we get a smartphone, we’ll look into the budget apps. Until then, we’ll just use the old-fashioned pen and paper to track our expenses 🙂 It’s interesting to see how you earn your income. We’re in the process of figuring out how to make money online so that we can continue to travel long-term. Thanks for your answers!
    Mindy & Ligeia recently posted..Chiang Mai Flower Festival: A Photo Essay

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      You are welcome! One thing I should have noted in that answer (I will when I do my full-blown “How I Afford This” update) is that it took my years to build up those contacts and contracts! Don’t lose heart if it seems to be moving slowly — and best of luck!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    March 9 2014

    I loved this post, Alex! And I would also love if this would become a regular series on your blog! 🙂 I don’t think that any of your questions have really surprised me, but that just goes to show how authentic and open you are on your blog! One (very specific) question: Do you remember which company you rented your car with in Iceland? I’m going in a couple of weeks and have been looking at different options.

    xx
    Melanie
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..A Morning in York

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Hey Melanie, Unfortunately I don’t and I’ve just looked through my email and don’t seem to have a record of it! However I know for a fact that we simply went with whatever was cheapest when we searched on Expedia or Travelocity or whatever. Best of luck!

  • This American Girl
    March 9 2014

    Thanks for sharing these personal responses. The part about juggling work with travel life really hit home for me. I’m currently in Southeast Asia living on the income I make daily from freelance writing while trying to have an amazing trip worth blogging about while trying to stay calm, relaxed and centered, keep up on exercise, and somehow eat healthy when everything seems to have white sugar and MSG in it. It’s nice to see that someone else understands and has been there.
    This American Girl recently posted..Life is Better in Koh Lanta

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Yes, I know that dance well! I find Southeast Asia is one of the best places in the world to maintain that balance, however. Which is why I can’t stop going back! Best of luck finding your balance 🙂

  • Mike of Mapless Mike
    March 9 2014

    Very insightful post, Alex! I found it very helpful as I begin my own travels, and it was also nice to be able to get to know you a little bit better. I feel more connected with your blog now. Thank you!
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted..Learning Spanish Before Going to Spain

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      I’m so happy to hear that Mike! Biggest compliment a blogger could receive 🙂

  • Teresa
    March 9 2014

    I really liked it, Alex! Especially the last one, I also have a couple of friends who work online, and imagine how hard can be making others understand that “blogging counts as serious work”.

    And I think that, to some extent, it also made me realize that actually I wouldn’t like to have your life :p

    I mean, it doesn’t look that bad, and I really enjoy reading your blog (please don’t ever stop!) and being on the road, but I wouldn’t want to make a living out of it.

    I guess it is a bit like directing movies – afterwards you stop watching movies and start analysing them. I guess you have started regarding travelling with a “professional” eye, actively looking for “blog-material”. It makes sense, but it made me realize I would hate to lose the naive look over things – either movies or travels! Sometimes a hobby of yours is meant to stay a hobby, sort of. So, for me, cinema and travelling will always be.

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      That’s so true, Teresa and I’m so happy to hear someone say it! I mean I love my job obviously but I KNOW it’s not for everyone (hell, some days it isn’t for me!) and so when every person I meet is all “I’m going to start a travel blog too!” I want to scream “NO! JUST ENJOY TRAVELING!” I truly reminisce about the days when I was just a carefree backpacker sometimes! That said, if I were ever to move on to a different career, it would have to be one with enough time off that I could still have time to be a carefree backpacker sometimes 🙂

  • tammyonthemove
    March 9 2014

    Sooo interesting to read all this Alex. I love the photo of you on the surfboard by the way. I am looking forward to your post on voluntourism. As you may imagine I have quite strong feelings about this as an aid worker. 🙂
    tammyonthemove recently posted..The day I hung off a 50m high building

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      Uh oh, that’s what makes me nervous Tammy 🙂 Hopefully I don’t make an ass of myself along the way!

      • tammyonthemove
        March 10 2014

        Ha ha, sorry I didn’t mean it that way. I just hate organizations that take advantage of poor people to make money through tourists. Orphanages for example. A lot of orphanages in Cambodia for example let tourists visit the children for a day and so the children are treated like animals in zoos. So I don’t like that kind of voluntourism at all, but there are some placements that are very good and responsible as well. 🙂
        tammyonthemove recently posted..The day I hung off a 50m high building

        • Alex
          March 11 2014

          Sounds like we are on the same page 🙂

          • tammyonthemove
            March 11 2014

            There is an interesting article on the British Telegraph’s website called “Expensive voluntourism trips ‘the least responsible'”. I couldn’t post the link here, but it is really worth reading for a bit of background info.
            tammyonthemove recently posted..The day I hung off a 50m high building

  • Chris
    March 9 2014

    Some great responses! I’ll start thinking of some more questions for the next round 😉
    Chris recently posted..2014 Melbourne Latin Summer Fiesta

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      I liked the beer one! Look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

      • Chris
        March 11 2014

        LOL, no problem.

        FYI, hard Ciders are incredibly popular (and available) all throughout Australia these days, so that should solve the drink dilemma if you get here!
        Chris recently posted..2014 Melbourne Latin Summer Fiesta

  • Kat
    March 10 2014

    If you love cider, you should go to the British West Country at some point! Somerset in particular is known for its cider; one of its cities (Bristol) has a really great laid-back hippie vibe and contains such wonders as a cider barge.

    • Alex
      March 10 2014

      That sounds like my kind of place! I will have to check it out for my UK trip this summer!

  • Catherine
    March 10 2014

    Always so interesting and honest. Big fan! Sometimes, it’s a little sad to read these posts while I’m next to a pile of papers and projects in a windowless corporate office, but it always gives me hope that big things are possible!

    • Alex
      March 11 2014

      I’m happy to hear that Catherine! When it’s time for you to take your own Great Escape, the world will be waiting 🙂

  • Kristen Noelle
    March 10 2014

    Very informative, as always. I learn so much from you! Not only about countries, cultures, and adventures, but the practical details and how you manage to bring it ALL together to make it a career are equally great reads. “Travel is frivolous and self-employment is a joke” — the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while!!

    • Alex
      March 11 2014

      Yeah, but a lot of people do believe it! Or just don’t get it. I have close friends who still, every time I see them, are like, “Soooo but where does the money come from….?”

  • becky hutner
    March 10 2014

    thoroughly enjoyed this alex! & couldn’t agree more on “perspective.” i only wish certain friends who make 6 figures & claim to have “no money” would get out there more & see what no money actually means (and how happy people can be with far less).

    even though i read your blog pretty religiously, i still learned a few things — a testament to how interesting you are. as a beer girl, i was surprised to discover your aversion to it but you didn’t judge me for my dislike of bananas so i extend the same respect. and i get why you don’t do the malaria tablets. i do but am not a long term traveler — would definitely give it a re-think if i was. & if i got horrendous side effects like my husband does, i’d probably avoid it altogether.

    can’t wait for the next round!
    becky hutner recently posted..Fashion ‘Round the World: What people wore in Jan ’14

    • Alex
      March 11 2014

      Becky your comments make me laugh out loud! (Re: banana judgement) And yikes to your husband’s malaria pill side effects. I’ve never even taken a single pill but my ex-boyfriend had horrific side effects that scared me off every trying.

  • Sasha
    March 12 2014

    Great post, Alex. The end. 🙂

  • Lisa - Wee Wanders
    March 12 2014

    Hi Alex, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this honest and informative post. It’s always nice for a newbie like me to read Q & A’s/interviews from more experienced travelers to get an idea of where the road ahead may lead!

    Your 10 year goal is the same as mine..I hope we both get there 🙂
    Lisa – Wee Wanders recently posted..Travelling to UAE Through the Eyes of Matthias Heiderich

    • Alex
      March 12 2014

      It’s a good goal! 🙂 I think we can do it…

  • Paula
    March 17 2014

    This may have been answered already, I am not sure-how do you find hostels? Are they posted outside their windows? Are they in the local paper?

    Thanks

    • Alex
      March 17 2014

      Hey Paula! I check on hostelworld.com, flip through my guidebook, or ask other travelers for recommendations. Happy travels!

  • anna@shenANNAgans
    September 26 2014

    Awesome read, loved your honesty on being self employed. Gotta say tho….. inspirational. Really looking forward to checking in with you regularly.
    anna@shenANNAgans recently posted..88 Days Until…..

    • Alex
      September 27 2014

      Thanks Anna! And I just gotta say though… amazing blog name 🙂

      • Martina
        September 30 2014

        Lol I scrolled down to the bottom of the comments and also have to say Anna you have an AMAZING blog name!!

        Alex, I hope you don’t mind me wandering through your old posts and commenting on outdated material haha but I find all this stuff really interesting. As others have said, your openness and honesty are really inspiring, and it’s great to be able to read and understand more fully what the full-time blogging-travelling lifestyle is really like.

        I have a question for you, or three, if you have time! From a pro to a beginner – when you started this lifestyle, what’s the one thing you didn’t know what you wish you had known? What’s the one thing that has changed most about how you travel and blog between when you got started and today? And if you don’t mind sharing, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in relation to travel blogging? It would be wonderful to hear your thoughts. 🙂

        Martina
        Martina recently posted..On top of the world! Climbing Mt Kinabalu

        • Alex
          October 1 2014

          Hey Martina, of course I don’t mind — that’s what it’s here for 🙂 I guess the thing I wish I had known is how much work it would be. I thought at some point it would get easier but actually more hours beget more hours, and I find myself on my laptop more than ever! I wish I had more appreciated the carefree days when I was broke but had all the time in the world! And that’s also the biggest thing that’s changed — my decisions are based on where the best wifi is and when my deadlines are rather than where the wind feels like blowing me. As you can probably tell, sometimes I’m a bit nostalgic for those carefree backpacking days, though there’s no way they could have sustained themselves. 🙂

  • Amy
    December 11 2014

    I also just found your blog and I’m still exploring it, but I love this post! You give such great advice here and I hope to put it to use someday :]

    • Alex
      December 14 2014

      Thank you so much Amy — comments like this make my day! Hope you’ll stick around and keep reading 🙂

  • Anna Nunes
    December 30 2014

    Hi Alex!
    Just found your blog while browsing around the internet and what a great surprise!
    Your writing style is so inspiring that I’ll keep coming back for all of your posts.
    I’ll start with the ones about London as I’m going there next May.
    Thank you for sharing with everyone your experiences and good luck in the upcoming year.
    Xoxo

    Anna (from Brasil)

    • Alex
      December 30 2014

      Thank you so much Anna! I’m so happy you found me 🙂 Enjoy the archives, enjoy London, and I hope to hear from ya again soon!

  • Mariana Silva
    January 12 2015

    Hi Alex! Your friend Matthew Kepnes gave me your blog and thank God he did. Congrats for the excellent blog you have here. I wonder if you could clarify me a bit as you know Thailand so well: me and hubby love travelling so every holiday we get from work we go somewhere. We’re going to Thailand for 3 weeks this February. Have bought the flights only. It’s gonna be 3 days in Bangkok, 3 days in Pukhet and the rest of the time we bought the flight for Ko-Samui but the plan is to travel by boat to other islands like Ko Tao and Ko Pagham. Our main aim is to do a diving course in Ko Tao but also visit other islands. Do you advise us to buy accommodation only in Ko Tao and then go for “a day trip” to the other islands? Is that enough? We are not sure about distances between them. The other thing is: do you advise us to book accommodation now before we go or is it better and cheaper to buy it when we get there? I like to have everything under control and have already accommodation when I get there but at the same time if it’s more expensive to buy it from here before we go, then we could buy it only there. Have you got any accommodations that you personally know and advise us? Also diving school?
    Thank you for your help and time.
    Mariana xxx

    • Alex
      January 12 2015

      Thanks Mariana! Your upcoming trip sounds fantastic. Transportation between Samui, Pha Ngan and Tao is slow and plodding and doesn’t really accommodate for day trips. If you are doing a diving course you will have free accommodation on Koh Tao, so that’s something worthwhile to book ahead — I highly recommend Roctopus, and you can use the search tool to check out my many posts on them. They even have their own hotel now though I haven’t stayed in it personally. You might want to do a few days in Bophut in Koh Samui before you head home for a little luxury at the end of your trip 🙂 Best of luck and hope that helps!

  • Krista
    February 14 2015

    Really appreciated all the detail!! Thanks a lot and good luck 🙂

    • Alex
      February 15 2015

      You are so welcome Krista! Maybe it’s time to do another round of these soon…

  • damaris
    March 10 2015

    Love your website! I was looking for inspiration since I have decided to start my own blog when I stumbled upon yours. Your blog has got me excited for starting my own. So many adventures to share with the world.

    • Alex
      March 10 2015

      So glad to hear that Damaris! Happy blogging, and safe travels!

  • Levi Sylvester
    August 18 2015

    I love your blog!I wish I could just unroot my life and travel the world, I’m only able to travel around twice a year though. I was wondering how you get around while your in other countries? Is it easier to do trains, or flights, or rent cares? Or does it depend on the country?
    Levi Sylvester recently posted..The Best Ice Cream in Denver, Colorado: Little Man’s Ice Cream

    • Alex
      August 19 2015

      Definitely depends on the country! I rarely rent cars as I don’t want to hassle with parking and driving and I love walking and taking public transit once I’m in my destination anyway. From getting from city to city I would say trains are my first choice but rarely available so I usually default to buses. I rarely take domestic flights but if I find a good deal and it is convenient I might consider that too. Hope that helps!

  • Rim
    December 27 2015

    Amazing. I’ve had a lot of pleasure reading all your responses. I was asking my self almost the same questions about budgeting, your income, etc.

    • Alex
      January 2 2016

      Glad this was helpful then. Thanks Rim!

  • Sandy
    February 1 2016

    Hi Alex I’ve only just stumbled across your blog, it’s great! You said that in order to create income online to fund your travels you work a lot (just like all the other digital nomads I read about) and it gets stressful. So my question to you is can you honestly say without heaitation that it is 100% worth it because of the travelling you do and the location independence (sounds like a dream right?) OR do you sometimes feel like it would be easier to just work at a job either back home or abroad for a few months, save money, then live in a cheap country that you love for the rest of the year (whilst still doing little online jobs here and there that don’t take up all your time) before going back to a job for a few months and doing it all again?

    • Alex
      February 5 2016

      No, I definitely don’t say it’s 100% worth it without any hesitation 🙂 I’m often wistful for my days on the road when I was just a carefree traveler! I do try to highlight alternative travel lifestyles other than what I’m doing, part of why I started my Earning Abroad series. At this point this is my career and I wouldn’t trade it, but there are many sacrifices and downsides, as there are to almost any choice in life.

  • michael
    May 18 2016

    Alex ! I just found this blog while I was looking into a divemaster career.I would love to be a dive instructor and free underwater photography. I have to say, you are an incredible person to do what you do… I’m moving to florida really soon to get all my certs. Have you ever spent any time in Florida ? If so, are there any dive shops i might be able to work at and get my PADI certs ? Thanks for your time. i know you’re super busy.

    • michael
      May 18 2016

      *Freelance underwater photographer i meant

    • Alex
      May 20 2016

      Hey Michael! I love Florida and travel there often to visit family. That said I haven’t done any diving there outside a tank dive at the Florida Aquarium so I don’t have much advice I can offer you. However, I can point you in the direction of my Florida blog posts. Good luck!

  • Victoria Palmeri
    July 20 2016

    Hi Alex,

    I love your blog all the awesome honest info and stories!

    We want to go to southeast asia for 2 weeks in November and we’re not sure where to start of how much we can see in that time period. Do you have any recommendations for us? Countries (1 or 2? 3 even? Which ones do you like the best?)

    We are thinking Thailand to start but open to off the beaten path recommendations! We are into beach/hikes/and getting our diving certs. in September.

    thanks!!

    Victoria

    • Alex
      July 25 2016

      With two weeks, I would stick to one country — two if you REALLY felt it was important to get more than one passport stamp 🙂 I’d do three days in Bangkok to work off jetlag, five days in Koh Tao to get your diving certificate, and five days in Railay to hike and rock climb, if you’re into that! Maybe throw in a day or two in Ayutthaya for bike riding around the ruins. Enjoy! You can find all the details on my destinations page!

  • DINH Phu Quoc
    October 16 2018

    Hi Alex,

    I love your beautiful blog with all the awesome infos!

    I really want to build one blog like yours but I’m stuck in creating the map. Can you tell me how you do it ? Thanks you very much anh have a nice day!

    Thanks!!
    Quoc

    • Alex
      October 24 2018

      Hey, it’s a special plugin my designer used called Interactive Maps. Good luck!

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