+ How can you afford to travel all the time?
It’s cheaper than it would be to live in New York City, the last place I had an officially registered residence! The real answer is: I keep my expenses very low and I earn enough money online to cover them. There is no rich boyfriend, trust fund, or international drug cartel secretly funding Wanderland.
+ How do you make money?
Generally 25-50% of my income comes from freelance writing and graphic design. I write for companies like Men’s Fitness, E How, Eagle Creek, The Gift, Southeast Asia Backpacker magazine and a few other minor outlets. 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 super fun projects! The other 50-75% of my income comes from blogging — sponsored content, sidebar advertising, affiliate sales, and brand ambassadorships with companies like Viator.
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, and I worked like crazy to save up in preparation. 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!
+ How much does all this travel cost?
In 2013 I spent $19,000, including everything from flights to web hosting to mojitos on the streets of Bangkok to a birthday gift for my best friend back home. That averages to a little over $50 a day. You can find more details in the budget section of my monthly roundups!
+ Do you travel hack?
I dabble, mostly with credit cards and frequent flyer mile building. Sometimes it’s a smashing success – like when I scored $1,500 in free hotels thanks to a great credit card bonus! Other times, it’s a frustrating failure, like when Citibank didn’t honor the promotion I signed up for.
+ Do you pay for all your trips?
Very occasionally I take press trips where the majority of my expenses are covered. You will always know when this is happening because I’ll disclose it in the post. Typically though, even these trips end up costing me something! I accept these opportunities when my schedule allows and when it’s a destination I’m genuinely excited about and think you will be too. I keep them few and far between, however – mostly because I’m a control freak and like to be in the driver’s seat of my travels.
+ When did you start this blog and why?
I started blogging in 2009 and launched Alex in Wanderland in June of 2011. I wanted to create and share with like-minded souls and when I first started this blog my universe didn’t have a lot of travel-obsessed people in it. So I set out to expand my universe.
+ Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
I once vowed I would never blog about blogging. I broke that vow once. I’d like to think there are a few words of wisdom in there!
+ Can we be friends on Facebook?
I get a lot of friend requests on my personal Facebook page, and I used to feel really guilty about denying them. But after a few incidents almost scared me offline entirely, I remembered I have to draw the line somewhere. My personal Facebook account is for close friends and family – I hope you understand. The good news is that I have an Alex in Wanderland Facebook page where I’m super excited to hang out with you!
+ Who do you travel with?
It’s a mix! Sometimes I travel with my family, sometimes with friends, sometimes with guys I’m various levels of serious with. Sometimes I go to conferences or press trips and then I hang out with fellow bloggers and travel writers. But most frequently, I travel by myself, something I have come to love and cherish.
+ Where have you been?
I’ve been to 26 countries. You can find a full list here.
+ Why haven’t you been to [insert destination here] yet?
There are so many places I’m dying to go — Cuba, Saba, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, just to name the ones currently south of me. I’ll get to them all eventually, I like to think.
But more often than not, I book a ticket somewhere because an event is happening, an opportunity arises, a friend is there, or because I’ve already been and loved it so much I have to go back. My domestic travels are based almost exclusively around visiting friends and family (and occasionally attending conferences or work trips). My international travels are a little different. My five month Latin America adventure was sparked by a desire to hike the Inca Trail, while a summer trip to Europe was built entirely around attending the Tomorrowland music festival. Usually there’s one small catalyst, and then a larger trip builds up around it.
+ What kind of camera gear do you use?
You can find a full list of my camera equipment (and other gear) here.
+ What travel insurance do you use?
I don’t have a travel-specific insurance. As I am under 26, I am still covered under my parents’ health insurance and my plan reimburses for overseas medical care. I am unsure what I will do when I’m no longer eligible for that plan.
I have generally found that travel insurance is not a good option for insuring expensive electronics. Instead, I have added them to my mother’s homeowner’s insurance policy, which also covers them for theft or damage abroad. It’s a really affordable and simple solution.
+ How do you manage your money abroad?
I happen to have written a full post on the subject!
+ Do you take malaria pills when you travel?
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 before heading to South America due to the amount of time I’d be spending in the jungles there, and the fact that the disease is incurable.
+ How do you stay fit while traveling?
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 eating healthy, especially when I’m in parts of the world that feature a carb-heavy diet (I’m looking at you, South America). I try to follow the 80/20 philosophy- eating clean 80% of the time and guilt-free indulging the other 20%.
+ Where should I stay on Koh Tao?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive! Unfortunately though I have spent extensive time in Koh Tao, I have only ever rented long-term apartments or bungalows. So I really have no insight on the hotel scene and can’t in good conscience recommend anywhere. My best advice is, if you are diving, to ask your dive shop for a good, current recommendation! And watch this space: a comprehensive Koh Tao guide is coming at the end of 2014!
+ I’m panicking because I read the weather in [insert Southeast Asian country here] is bad/rainy/whatever during [insert months here]. What do you think?
The thing about Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries is the weather changes massively depending on your specific region – November in Koh Tao looks totally different than November in Phuket or November in Pai. Your best bet is to look at the very detailed weather maps on Travelfish, and plan accordingly.