You Can Live a “Normal” Life and Travel, Too

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I'm not a professional traveler. I do not make a living from taking trips around the world. For a long time, I was not location-independent, either — I was just your average recent-college-graduate, trying to figure out how to balance a small paycheck with my desire to travel as much as possible.

And yet, people often tell me how jealous they are of all my travels. They tell me how “lucky” I am. They say they wish they could travel like I do.

But you know what?

They absolutely can. YOU can, too.

Solo travel in New Zealand

So many of those out there who are writing about travel are professional nomads. Many of them lack a home address, and can fit most of their worldly possessions into a backpack. They flit from London to Bangkok to Sydney and back again, and we “ordinary” people think this is all so terribly romantic and awesome that we convince ourselves that we can't possibly do the same.

We psyche ourselves out and buy into a lot of misconceptions about living a life full of travel. We begin to believe things like:

  • You must be rich to travel.
  • You must be single to travel.
  • You must be brave and outgoing to travel.
  • You must be free from responsibility to travel.

We convince ourselves that we can never be one of “those people” because we have a job and debt and a family, and we enjoy having a stable address that people can send Christmas cards to.

But guess what? These misconceptions are just that — misconceptions. You can travel without being rich and single. You can travel without being particularly adventurous. And, most of all, you can travel without completely setting aside responsibility.

Yes, I'm here to tell you that  you can, in fact, travel and live a “normal” life, too!

Lupin field in New Zealand

Travel does not have to be a lifestyle for everyone. You can be a businessman or career woman and still be passionate about travel. You can work a 9-5 and still see the world if that's what you're passionate about.

The key is what YOU want.

If you want to quit your job to travel the world, great. Go for it.

But if you like owning a car and your own bed and having a permanent place to call “home,” that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your travel dream. It doesn't have to be an either-or scenario. Believe it or not, you CAN have both!

Cherokee Trading Post

I'm not going to lie and say it's easy, though. Because it's not. If you have a strict work schedule or a young family or a lot of debt to pay off, it may be challenging to live your “ordinary” life and still manage to fit in travel. But just because something is challenging doesn't mean it's impossible.

Here are some tips for how you, too, can fit travel into your ordinary life:

  • Start saving now. It's never too early to start saving for a trip. Even just setting aside $20 per week can go a long way quickly.
  • Plan your dream vacation. Even if you won't be able to take it right away, planning a vacation can keep you upbeat about traveling and give you something to look forward to. I start planning some of my big trips up to a year ahead of time.
  • Keep an eye on travel deals. Especially if you start planning and saving for a big trip early, you can keep an eye on things like airline and hotel deals. You never know when the perfect one will come along! Signing up for mailing lists from specific airlines, or from travel aggregators like TravelZoo, is a great idea, too, and can alert you to big savings opportunities.
  • Make the most of vacation time and holidays. We Americans get a raw deal in my opinion when it comes to vacation time. If your employer isn't cool about letting you work overtime or giving you unpaid days off, you'll have to get creative in order to make the most of the vacation time you have. You can stretch your 2 weeks much further if you plan travel around paid holidays, or if you can elect to work your holidays and save them up for later.
  • Don't wait for someone to travel with. Especially if you're working full-time and have friends and family members who are also working full-time, it might be difficult to coordinate a vacation. But that doesn't mean you should forego travel. It just means you may need to consider adding “solo travel” to your vocabulary.
  • Pick up new hobbies. For me, starting a travel blog has opened many doors in terms of travel. I've made a lot of contacts, and even picked up some freelance gigs here and there that have helped feed my travel addiction (and my travel fund). But if starting a blog isn't right for you, consider other hobbies that might allow you to get closer to your travel goals. Perhaps volunteering or joining a club could be an option for you.
  • Take advantage of all opportunities. Right along with picking up new hobbies, be sure to take advantage of any travel opportunities that those hobbies might afford you. For example, I traveled a lot during college because I joined the marching band. We went to places like Italy and China on performance tours at prices that a college student could afford.

And, at the end of the day…

  • Don't make excuses. Any excuse you can make about why you can't/don't travel can be overcome. If you truly want to travel more without giving up your current lifestyle, the first step is setting aside the misconceptions and excuses and going after what you want in any way that you can.
Hanauma Bay
Excuses won't get you here.

And, who am I to preach all this to you, you ask? Well, currently I'm a freelancer who works from a fixed address in Ohio. Before that, I was a graduate student working my butt off to get my Master's degree. And before that, I was a copy editor working 40 hours per week at a small newspaper. I probably don't have to tell you that I have most certainly NOT been rolling in cash since graduating college. I have to work hard to save up money and make time to travel just like everybody else. But, in the past four years, I've traveled to more than 30 countries.

And I'm doing it all while still living a “normal” life.

If I can do it, so can you.

Are you also a person who lives a “normal” life but still manages to travel? Tell me about it in the comments!


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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193 Comments on “You Can Live a “Normal” Life and Travel, Too

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  1. Great article! I love to to travel (US only so far) extended weekend trips exploring america are my thing. People are always saying where are you off to now, or how do you do that, or must be nice but they all make more money than me! My kids are grown and I am off to see what I can while I can. I joined a great meet up group with a travel expert as the lead and I travel solo too. I scour flight sights -airfarewatchdog and travelzoo for sure -and save my extra money for it~ I got $158 to Billings in June and $89 to FLL in Jan makes me so happy! Its good to know there are people out there like me 🙂

      I love that you say you’re off to see what you can while you can. That’s a great attitude! And, you don’t have to travel far or for long lengths of time to consider yourself a traveler. There are definitely people out there like you!

    So true! I also work fulltime and travel – partly because I live so far from my family and that’s just what you have to do if you want to stay in touch as an expat. Yes, it means that I am constantly putting money away and getting creative with scheduling of trips around times I am off anyways. Yes, it means that I am not driving a new car and that the house we rent is way old. It’s all about priorities. Nobody can afford everything (well, very few people can). I get almost angry when people tell me about how jealous they are of my travels and how they could never afford my trips. BS! First I was kind of put off by that because a statement like that assumes that I am somehow independly wealthy (not the case). Now I just reply by comparing their lifestyle choices to mine (cars, apartment/house, superexpensive 4-day trips on a cruise instead of my cheapo week in Asia, etc.

      You are absolutely right that it is all about priorities. Once you make the decision to make travel a priority in your life, it’s amazing how much you’re actually able to do!

    I can relate perfectly Amanda. I think it’s a matter of life choice – we all define travel differently! I, like you, can’t currently imagine quitting the job I’ve worked hard to get, my family, my friends, having a big closet and a weekly routine. Still, I travel quite a lot – for both work and vacation. And I do work full time, 45 hours a week (at least)! So there’s not really a valid excuse anymore for not traveling if you really want to.

      It definitely is a matter of choice, Katherina. If you choose to make travel a priority, then you will find a way to make it happen! I know that’s certainly been the case for me.

    i love, love, love that last part, “Don’t make excuses”!! I constantly hear people making excuses for why they can’t/don’t travel. Ultimately, it’s all about what your priorities are and what you’re willing [or not] to sacrifice so that you can travel! Great article! I’m sending people to this when I hear them complaining about not being able to travel! 😉

      Thanks!! I’m glad this resonated with you, and that you agree that people make too many excuses about why they don’t travel! That really bugs me, too. Instead of making excuses, go out there and do something about it!

    Even though the US limits vacation time to 2-3 weeks in general. I was able to take advantage of many of my business trips and squeeze out a couple extra days over the weekend. You just need to plan ahead for it. I’ve been able to see almost the entire country this way not having to pay for airfare and lodging was taken care of too (partially at least).

      And that’s exactly what I’m talking about! If you really want to travel and are smart about it, you’ll find ways to make it happen, even if you do work full-time!

    First, my PPP – people are *envious* of your travel, not *jealous*. Your boyfriend’s ex might be jealous of you, but possibly not envious, but can only be envious of your travel 🙂

    Another thing you can factor into your “saving for travel” is frequent flyer miles. For all the complaining I hear about how hard they are to use, I don’t have any trouble. And since you need to buy stuff to live, a mileage card is a great investment.

    For example, United airlines has a new “Explorer” card. Sign up for that an it’s an instant 25000 miles once you have used it. If you get a business card, any money you spend on gas, dining, airfare with the card gets you double miles. I pay for everything with mine that I can pay with with a credit card, and rack up a few thousand miles a month. Of course, those miles are worthless if you’re not paying off the card every month.

    Watching for flight deals is also key. I’m flying cheaply ($900) Denver to Istanbul return on Lufthansa in March because they partner with United and since Lufthansa had a sale United needed/wanted to match or beat it. But you need to be ready to buy when the sale is on, and have an assortment of places you want to go. And since I used my Explorer card to buy those tickets I got 1800 miles on top of the actual travel miles.

    I can’t agree more, BTW, about the clever use of time off without pay and working holidays to accumulate useful blocks of time later. For example, I am not a fan of xmas/new years since time off when it’s cold and wintry is useless to me. So I always work those days (if possible) and take them later. Sometimes you even get paid more to work them (good for the travel fund) or get better than 1 for 1 time off.

    And with that I’ll shut up. A real life (I have a car, house and “home” life) definitely doesn’t have to negatively impact your travel life. I’ll be traveling 8-11 weeks next year, and working my behind off the other weeks to pay for it!

      Thanks for the great comment, Rob! Good tips on using miles to help, too. I really need to find a good miles card to start using…

      (And, whether “jealous” is correct or not, that’s the word people use!! 😉 )

    I already started making progress. On 8th of November I planned a 4-5 days trip with my girlfriend in “masivul bucegi” in Romania (search about it, you may like it if you want to visit Romania next year).
    Anyways this will be my first vacation in years and I virtually can’t wait!

      That looks like an awesome place to go hiking. Will you stay at Inns/hostels/hotels or camp?

    I’ve got to say, I am SO IMPRESSED that you manage to run an incredible travel blog (and find time to travel) while you’re working on your master’s degree. When I was in graduate school I don’t think I did anything other than read articles, write papers, intern, and teach (rinse and repeat). I might have taken my pup to dog beach every now and then, but even that was a stretch! =P

      Haha, it certainly hasn’t been easy! This first semester has been pretty brutal. But, somehow, I’ve been able to make it work. And I fully intend to keep it up!


    Well said! I like how you first listed the misconceptions – all of which I’ve encountered after announcing my plans a few months ago to travel RTW next year – and how you’ve provided reasonable tips and ways to fulfill the purpose, and indeed, the very title of your post. Great timing! 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the post, Henry! Hopefully it can prove to a few people that there’s nothing particularly special or “lucky” about me or what I’m doing. I’m just very dedicated!

    I love this post. I think it can get disheartening, at least for me, when I hear that someone’s just jetting off to Asia again. But I remind myself life is about choices. Right now I’m choosing not to travel, to focus on school. But in a few months I will travel. That’s the nice thing about being a traveler, you don’t have to travel all the time to be a traveler.

      I hear ya on feeling a bit down when so many people seem to be constantly jetting off to amazing-sounding places. But I’m with you — I’m focusing on school right now, in hopes that it will help me travel more later on! And you’re absolutely right when you say that you don’t have to travel all the time to be a traveler. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Great post Amanda! I definitely learned recently that long term nomadic travel isn’t for me, but it doesn’t mean I’m not a traveler. I’m totally addicted, and travel is an important part of my life. But you’re so right, it doesn’t have to be expensive and it isn’t just for rich people. It’s all about priorities, if traveling is important enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

      I don’t know if I’m cut out to be completely nomadic either. But hey, at least you gave it a shot, right? Now you know. 🙂

        I think I WISH I was cut out to be completely nomadic, but I’m just not. I love travel and will always be addicted to it, but I’m also addicted to, you know, having a home 🙂

          I totally agree!! I’ve never actually tried the nomadic life yet, but I know how much I enjoy having a place to come home to… so I’m not sure it’d be for me!

    Thank you for the inspiring post! I always find ways to travel even though I don’t get paid to do it either. My friend said I am “the travelingest broke person” he knows lol. These are great tips.

      Thank YOU, Marnie! I’m glad you enjoyed this post, and that you’re already out there traveling in any way that you can!

    I love that, amidst the several hundred posts I read a week, these uplifting and inspiring ones are always around. They’re all individually good and hit on different points, but it’s great to not have a week go by without some kind of reminder that I can get to where I want to go.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Aww, thanks, Chris! I, too, like reading a good uplifting post every now and then, so I try to write them myself from time to time. 🙂

    This was a great article! Very inspiring. I have always wanted to travel, but I was one of those people who thought I had to be rich. Once my debts are paid off I am going to Paris!

      Thanks, Maria! I hope this helped you realize that you absolutely CAN travel! And, if you work really hard towards it, finally making it to Paris will make it that much sweeter.

    While going home to a “normal” life terrifies me a bit, I know that even when I do have a more permanent home than my current expat here, expat there life–travel will still be a big part of that life. It’s all about making travel a priority–in time, effort and finances 🙂

      Once a traveler, always a traveler as far as I’m concerned! Travel is obviously a really important part of your life, so I’m sure that wherever that life takes you — even if it’s into a rather “ordinary” situation — you’ll still travel plenty! It is absolutely about making it a priority.

    I really liked your article, and I think it should be useful to many many people! I think its especially important to get into the ‘Solo Travel’ mindset. Also because your writing is so smooth, I think this post may inspire many to plan their dream vacation soon, solo or otherwise 🙂

      Thanks so much for the kind words! If this post inspires even just one person to start planning their dream vacation, I’ll consider it a success!

    Great message. What you say is absolutely true. If you want to travel, you can make it happen.

    I often have people tell me the same thing they tell you: “You’re so lucky.” It’s true, I am. I travel as much as I can. But part of my luck is luck I have made. I chose a profession (Training & Development) that requires business travel. And then I maximize any trip I take, tacking on vacation time and exploring the surrounding regions.

    I also find travel opportunities through volunteering and naturally – vacations! Those are the best trips of all. I look for opportunities to travel anytime, anywhere. Even if it’s only to a town in Ohio that I haven’t been to. A new experience? Sights to see? Count me in!

      Thanks for reading, Juliann! I feel the same way you do — that I am indeed very lucky, but that I’ve worked very hard for that luck. I’ve made travel a priority, and have grabbed at every opportunity that’s come by. Yes, I’m “lucky” to be able to travel so much, but it’s not like all those experiences just fall into my lap!

    Good article. I recently came to the realization that when I say something is impossible for me what I really meant was it was inconvenient or scary so I was choosing to do something else. That realization has changed my life. Some people say I have just gone crazy. 🙂

    I’m almost 64 years old and always wanted to be a nomad traveler so I just recently sold my house and everything else I own. What wouldn’t sell I gave away or threw away. All except what will fit in one 46 liter backpack. I leave next week on my perpetual, around the world trip. Naturally, I’ll be blogging all the way.

      Wow! Good for you, Gar! It certainly takes guts to choose a life of permanent travel. But if it’s what you truly want to do, then you can’t go wrong!

    Amen sister! Preach it =) I’m a 9-5 40 hour a week girl which is probably why I can’t dedicate too much time to making money from my blog but I save like crazy, prioritise my spending and try and sell a few bits here and there to make the money.
    In the past two years I’ve taken 3 months off to travel around Asia solo and did 6 weeks around Africa this year, not having to quit my job – I guess they realised that I was ‘too’ valuable to lose. There are ways around it and actually, my employer says that I’m a better employee now that I’ve returned because I can ‘handle anything’. However, I think they realise now that they’re eventually going to lose me to the open road =D

      You obviously have an awesome employer!! I wish more employers were willing to do that! My former employer let me take 2 weeks of unpaid time off to go to New Zealand earlier this year, which was awesome of them. But I’m not sure they would have been okay with 3 months!

      And you definitely don’t have to make a ton of money to be able to save if you can also spend wisely. I have a “travel fund” that I constantly put money into, and I don’t let myself spend any of it unless it’s on something travel-related!

    You are right, it’s about priorities. It’s easy to make excuses for not traveling, but that just means that traveling really isn’t a priority for you, even if you are saying it is. I’ve made traveling a priority for me, I took a sabatical from my work just to travel for a year. And it really isn’t as expensive as people think it is. But even when I am working, I do travel extensively, it really is just a matter of prioritizing and deciding what you want.

      Yup, it’s all a matter of whether you’re willing to make travel a priority or not. If you are, then you’ll find ways to travel. If you aren’t, then you’ll just be left with those excuses.

    Great article! I’m in the early throes of planning a RTW trip with my partner – he’s worried about the lack of “normality” that would come with travelling, so we’ve agreed a compromise: travel for 5 to 6 months, then go and do a working holiday visa somewhere (we’re thinking Germany – he can do it as a Korean, and as an EU citizen I don’t need to go through any visa formalities), with the idea that the working holiday visa will give a sense of “normality” whilst travelling, due to having a home base for a little while.

    I’ve been working for a year in South Korea solely to pay off my debt so that I can up and travel in 2013 (next year will be all about saving money for the trip!) I haven’t been rolling in cash since university either – a call centre job, and a teaching job in S Korea so I can pay off my debt – so I agree totally when you say that you don’t need to be super rich in order to pursue your travel dreams.

      Well it’s great that you two have worked out a compromise that sounds like it might work for both of you. I think half of year of travel and half a year of a working holiday would be great! Good for you for pursuing your travel dreams!

    I guess I would be what you term as “abnormal” 🙂
    I work on a cruise ship and although I get to travel, I’m not always traveling. I guess in a way, I’m the complete opposite to your scenario!

      Well I don’t think I’d call you “abnormal,” Roy! But yes, your situation is quite different than the average 9-5’er. Though I’m sure people just assume that you’re traveling and having fun all the time in your job, when I’m sure the reality is much different sometimes!

    I always tell people it’s like anything in life- If you want to do it there will be sacrifices involved. I’ve always found those to be worth it, but it’s a personal decision.

    I love how you tell people- If I can do it, so can you. I try that, and I’m surprised at how many perplexed looks I get.

      You’re right that almost everything we want in life comes with sacrifices attached. But, like you, the sacrifices I make in order to travel often are totally worth it in my opinion!

      And, if you’re getting perplexed looks by telling people they can do it, too, perhaps they’re just not cut out for traveling! Lol.

    Wonderful post! You are exactly right – if someone really really wants to get out there and see the world, they can do it. It’s not always handed to you on a plate and can take some belt-tightening in one area to be able to go the extra week/destination/wonder. A great inspiration to those on the cusp of planning their first or next adventure.

      Thanks for the kind words, Sherry! I feel like a lot of people these days are so full of excuses about everything that they hardly ever actually go after the things that they really want. They stick to the “safe” path and end up miserable. Who wants to live like that??

    Great Post! I get so tired of people telling me how fortunate I am to be seeing the world. It’s a personal choice to travel, and one that can be made easily if it’s what you really (and actually) want.

    People hide behind excuses far too much.

      People definitely do hide behind the excuses a lot. Which is sad, really, because they’re missing out on so much!

    I guess I live a “normal” life and still travel in the process. I have an apartment I call home and just travel when I can as freelance travel writing is my source of income. If I am not traveling, I have nothing to write about and thus can’t make a living. Obviously this is not everyone’s “normal” career but in order to make travel happen I do have to sacrifice paying rent on an apartment when I’m not home half the month and all of those expenses. I think the important thing is not to put off travel too long.

      I agree with you that it’s important to not put travel off for too long. Many of those excuses people make for not traveling hinder them so much that they’re never able to see/do the things they really want to.

      Your career is definitely a unique one, but, like you said, you have to make sacrifices to make it work, too!

    LOVE this post. So much of what we see online is from single people who travel full time, and you’re right – people get discouraged because that seems SO far from reality. The travel industry, especially the travel WRITING industry, thrives on promoting aspirational travel, and the result is often actually DISCOURAGING travel, I think.

      Really good point. The travel writing industry (what you see in magazines and newspapers) does indeed tend to focus on “dream trip”-type travel that isn’t really feasible for the Average Joe. Sure, people like to read about that fancy resort in the Maldives, but most of them stop there. But I think bloggers fill a great niche, writing about travel that’s actually within the realm of reality for most “normal” people!

      Thanks so much for reading!

    Great post. I think I a lot of people get intimidated by travel, or think that they have to go all in if they’re going to go at all.

      I think you’re absolutely right. Especially if you’re confronted with traveling solo, it can be a really daunting thing to take on if you’ve never done it before.

    I love this post! When I had an office job, I was a master at hoarding my vacation time and convincing my employer to let me work for a few days at our office on the other side of the country. It definitely made travel affordable and realistic for me.

      Thanks, Scott! Glad you liked it. And good for you for being able to get creative with those vacation days! I tell people it’s not that difficult… but they very rarely believe me!

    “Stop making excuses” can be applied to every facet of life, not just travel.

    Also, isn’t illegal to put holes in currency? 😛

      Yup, the “stop making excuses” tip is definitely not travel-specific!

      And as for the currency thing… no idea. Maybe it doesn’t count if it’s not my currency? Lol.

    Great stuff…I’m one of those with the house and 9-5, but travel is and has always been my passion. As time passes, that passion only grows stronger, as does my desire to travel for a living. I’m not in a postion to do so now, but I’m happy with the direction life has me going and the amount of this world I’m able to see…

      Sounds like you and I are a lot alike! Good luck with your travel goals.

    Like I’ve always said… travel agent will come knocking on your door. If you want to travel, you have to make it happen. Great article!

      Very true, Renee! In order to travel, you definitely have to be proactive about it!

    […] A Dangerous Business: You can live a “normal” life and travel too Here’s a great post for anyone who has ever wished they could travel as often as travel bloggers. Amanda points out that even if you have a 9-to-5 job, you can save money and save up vacation time to make your travel dreams come true. That’s how I got started! […]

    great post! I’m just like you! I was actually asked today how I fund all of my travels and the person was shocked when I said out of my own pocket. Its all about the choices you make in life and if you want to travel just do it! 🙂

      It is TOTALLY all about choices. Sure, I may get something for free here and there thanks to this blog, but the vast majority of my travels is paid for straight out of my own pocket! If I can do it on such a small salary, I KNOW other people can, too.

    Great tips! I’ve done both — lived a “normal” life and lived a “travel” life. You are very lucky you are able to do travel and have a normal life! I am going back out for some long-term travel in the next year … but I think it is great that you can stay put and travel t the same time!!

      I would love to someday be able to take more long trips than I do now. But I feel like I’ll always want a home base to come back to. Now, where that “home base” is may eventually change, but I’m not sure I’ll ever take up a true “travel life” like some people do.

    Interesting, I would think that “being single” would be an excuse not to travel – I personally was more hesitant to set out on my own versus my friends who had significant others to travel with. Neither should hold you back though- as is your point! Great article!

      There are so many excuses people make not to travel… but I agree – neither being single nor having a family should hold you back!

    We sometimes get jealous of our blogger friends who CAN travel anytime, anyplace they want. But I have a 10-year-old daughter, and there’s only so much time I’m willing to spend away from home. Still, Mary and I find plenty of time to get away, breaking up big 7-10 day adventures with little weekend jaunts, and we take trips as a family several times a year as well. It’s all about making it a priority, and sometimes making sacrifices to make it work. Great blog!

      There’s always going to be a bit of envy in regards to others out there who CAN travel full-time, like you said. But, deep down, I know I enjoy having roots somewhere and a “home” to come back to after a trip. Plus, traveling more slowly or less frequently means that I have more time to focus on composing good posts about it all!

    Great post, I think many people struggle with the ‘ability’ to travel. especially when you know others who do travel constantly. There is an inherent jealousy to travel, which doesn’t need to exist. It really doesn’t cost that much if you plan ahead…as you mention in your list of tips!

      Yes, there will always be someone going someplace cooler or more remote or more beautiful than you, and, in that sense, I agree that there’s a measure of envy and jealousy that goes hand-in-hand with travel. But the people who sit at home and just envy EVERYONE who travels… well they’re just being silly!

    I agree, you don’t have to be location independent to be a traveler. I have managed to have a job, an address, and travel 5 months out of the year for the past ten. I’m also an expat. There are lots of ways to get beyond your own front back door, and still live a (kind of) normal lifestyle…as I pack to flit off to Bangkok on Saturday to start my winter travel!

      You’re a great example of what I was writing about, Nancie! People assume they have to give up “everything” in order to travel. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way at all!

    Great post! That’s actually how the name of our blog came to be. We wanted to prove that you can be an “ordinary” person and still fulfill all of your travel dreams. We do it while working full time (actually more with our blog and side projects). So if we can do it, anybody can!

      And I love that you guys have worked that into your blogging model! I find it really inspiring to read about travelers who also have “normal” lives on top of blogging and flitting around the world. I know from experience that it’s not easy — but so worth it.

    You are so inspiring, Amanda. Your blog is amazing!! I’m from Buenos Aires, and here, we are all used to blame our inflation and expensive (very expensive) flights, etc, for not travelling, but the truth is that if you set priorities, you can perfectly do it. I work 45 hours a week and I also go to college. However, this year I’m crossing out of my bucket-list Salvador de Bahia, Brazil; where Brazilian culture was born. There they have the best Brazilian music, typical dishes, amazing beaches, colonial architecture, etc. This will be my first “big” trip 🙂 My next trip will be Argentinean Northwestern territory, Bolivia (las salinas), and Peru (Machu Picchu); thanks to all this inspiration, I’m already trying to figure out how I can save up more money and cut out on unnecessary spendings to affor my next trip.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us! =)

      Good for you, Priscilla!!! That’s great that you’re going to cross something off your bucket list this year, and that you’re already planning some of your future travels. If you make travel a priority in your life, you will absolutely find a way to make it happen. Good luck! And thanks for reading.

    You are totally right chica! When we were working at our video game company, we would travel our 3 weeks of vacation away every year and some people were baffled at how we did it. Save save save!

      And you know, when you love travel as much as we do, the saving comes almost naturally! I wish we could get more people to believe it!

    “Don’t make excuses.” This definitely sums it up. It is so easy to make excuses, ‘i just need to save more money,’ ‘I just need to get that promotion,’ ‘I just need to find that one person to travel with,’ etc.

    Great inspiration for those living normal lives who want to travel but just don’t know where to get started.

      It IS so easy to make excuses — and that’s definitely the reason more people don’t travel, even though they say they want to.

      I’m through making excuses, and I’ve made it my mission to travel whenever and wherever I possibly can!

    Too true! I found myself nodding along to everything whilst reading this! I’m still a student but have used the (very much extended!) summer breaks to indulge my travel bug. Working hard alongside uni work to earn the money has been hard but definitely worth it! Thanks for this post – a lot of people think ‘travellers’ are people who are constantly on the move, or people who go away for extended amounts of time. Whilst these are obviously travellers, I think people who find time here and there to travel should definitely be given more credit!

      If anything, travelers like you and I have to work twice as hard to make travel a reality! When all you do is travel, it’s easy to just pick up and move on to a new place. But when you’re in school or have a job, it takes a lot more work! But I’ll keep at it if you will!

    I completely agree with everything you have said. I’m also a “normal life” traveler. I’d miss my dogs terribly if I lived as a nomad. Maybe some day, but not now. To fill in the gaps of international travel, I started what I call “Adventure of the Month”. Sometimes they are just being a tourist close to home, but it’s still an adventure. Blogging has helped me keep travel a top priority. I’ve already been to Belize this year and have a road trip through Canada and Alaska in May, Galapagos in August, and the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu in September. I don’t have firm plans yet, but am hoping to go to New Zealand, Australia and Fiji over Christmas and through January (using my holidays).

    So as you can see…I live by your advice and I’m with you…it works!!! Great information and motiviation.

      I love your “Adventure of the Month” idea! I’ve actually tasked myself with something similar — to try and go SOMEwhere at least once every 5 or 6 weeks, even if it’s just somewhere close by. It’s difficult to do some months (grad school is more work than a full-time job sometimes!), but I’m going to have a lot of amazing adventures this year — all without quitting a job or sacrificing my “normal” state of living. 🙂

      Sounds like you are going to have some amazing travels this year, too!

    Thanks for the great tips, especially the one about being open to travel solo! Many people I know complain that despite having time off or a flexible employer, their friend/partner/spouse can’t schedule time off. I think they are missing out by not venturing out alone–you can move at your own pace, no need to compromise!

    I also love Pamela’s ‘Adventure of the Month’ tip, and that’s something I try to do too, even if not always planned out as such. I just get itchy feet if I don’t make the time to see or do something novel every few weeks!

      I feel like a lot of people just assume that they can’t travel solo – that’s it’s too scary or daunting or something. But there are ways to do it that make it easy, such as joining a tour group of other solo travelers if you’re worried about going it alone.

    Excellent post and excellent site!
    I have been thinking to start a travel blog & have been following a couple of travel blogs… Most of them of full-time travelers, people who leave their day job for traveling…
    Though the blogs are awesome & full of wonderful photos, travel tips; they scare me… because I get a feeling that the only way to quench my wanderlust, is to leave a job and go onto full time traveling.. that I can’t maintain a balance between travel, family & work.. that the only people who can successfully travel are people who are single with no debts, no responsibilities…
    But today, while reading other blogs I came across your site.. and must say that it’s awesome.. in this post you have listed all my fears & how to overcome them… Thanks for a wonderful post….

    I have a question.. how can you earn with your travel blog.. didn’t understand that…

      Hi there! Welcome to the site, and I’m so glad to hear that this post has helped assuage some of your travel fears.

      As for your question about how you can earn money from a blog, it’s usually done through advertising, or selling e-books or other products on the site. It’s hard work, though, and very few people make enough to live off of!

        very true, its an uphill battle to earn a real wage off a travel blog, but it can be done. many bloggers also run affiliate sites on the side to make the real cash! but again, it takes time…

          Yup, it takes a lot of time! I do make money off this blog now, but not really enough to live off of. And that’s fine with me! I don’t think I’m cut out to be a permanent nomad, anyway.

    Wow, what a well-written article! Everything you say is so true…if you make travel a goal in life, you’ll find ways to travel. I am similar to you in that I have a full-time job (and actually a 2 year old too) but have always managed to travel!

    Love this post, and many others on your blog!

      And this goes for anything in life, not just travel. If you want something and you make getting it a priority in your life, chances are you will make it happen!

        That is so very true. Have you ever seen the You Tube video (actually there is a book now too) called “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch? Not travel related….but he talks about goals. Similar theme to your post here….and both very well-written 🙂

          Nope, have not heard of that video (or book), but perhaps I should check it out! I’m a very goal-oriented person (if you couldn’t tell already), and I think more people should be!

            I’d highly recommend it. Here is the link to Carnegie Mellon’s You Tube page with the video:


            And the site for the book:


            “Almost all of us have childhood dreams; for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. Sadly, most people don’t achieve theirs, and I think that’s a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I’ve actually achieved most of them.”

    Nice post, I agree with what you have to say. The only thing that anyone needs in order to travel is a genuine desire to do so.

    I just found your blog and I wanted to say I love it! I am also not a professional traveler, but I love to travel! People say the same thing to me and how jealous they am of my trips. I am definitely not rich, but I feel that is what I want to spend my money on! I save and I am not staying in 5 star hotels.

      I’m glad you found my little corner of the Internet, Virginia! Welcome! It’s great to hear of another passionate traveler who lives a “normal” life! 🙂

    Inspiring post and thank you for sharing.. I drool reading the tales of those full time travelers but sadly there are priorities in life that need to be consider. That’s why thumbs up to your post! Indeed we can still quench our travel thirst even we keep our 9-5 job!


    Good article! Like you, I have seriously itchy feet – travel is a passion and I’m not happy unless I have somewhere I’m planning to go to (Up next: Thailand, Norway and Sweden in the next 6 months).

    I haven’t made up my mind yet if I want to be one of those romantic and awesome people who “lack a home address, and can fit most of their worldly possessions into a backpack, flitting from London to Bangkok to Sydney and back again,” or if I like the idea of not living out of a suitcase (it gets tiring) and having a place to really call home, but whichever way I swing it – I will always be looking for ways and opportunities to travel.

    There’s always a way – it just comes down to the choices you make.

    Happy trails!

      You are so right, Peggy – there’s always a way. And it sounds like you’ve figured your way out for now! Happy travels!

    I really like your approach to travel! I actually set off about two years ago on an adventure where I was determined to live abroad. But after a year, I realized that I wanted those comforts of home as well. It’s true that there seems to be a gap between either just staying home or giving up everything you own and living life out of a backpack. You’re doing the in-between and I like that. I definitely want to start finding a way to find that balance… of home and exploration. Thanks for starting this site and I’m definitely going to check out more! 🙂

      Thanks so much, Erika! I’m glad you can relate to my in-between style of travel. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance! Here’s hoping we both can strike one. 🙂

    […] often people tell me that they wish they could do what I’m doing. Well guess what? They can. So can you. If you want to travel but currently aren’t, it’s probably because you’re hiding […]

    […] often people tell me that they wish they could do what I’m doing. Well guess what? They can. So can you. If you want to travel but currently aren’t, it’s probably because you’re hiding […]

    I have been thinking all of this for quite some time now. I love it when these synchronicities happen.
    I have a job, freelance so I don’t work full time but that’s not always by choice. I do manage to travel even though no paid vacations. It’s as you said, not easy, the mortgage payments still go on, but I live for it.

      If you love travel a lot, you find a way to make it happen! At least, that’s what I always tell people who tell me they wish they could travel as much as I do. I’m sure you completely understand!

    My significant other and I are planning some extended travels for next year but up until now we’ve just been maximizing opportunities and holding down regular jobs. I like that not all travel blogs are run by location independent people. 🙂

      You’d be surprised at the number of travel bloggers who don’t travel full-time. Though, the majority do, I think. Good luck with your extended travels!

    Since graduating college in 2005, I have found myself working in health care. I choose to work PRN (as needed) so that I can take chunks of time off. I am averaging taking one month off every nine months or so. I work a lot when I am home because 1. I love my job, and 2. It allows me to save money to go somewhere new. There is some risk to working this way ie I am always the person called to not come in if it is slow so that the full-time-ers get their full hours, but for me, the risk outweighs the rewards. I can have my ‘normal life’ where I have a job, a stable place to live, a cat, ect, AND I can have my travel life too….I am leaving 26Dec for Eastern Europe for three weeks. For me, it seems like such a short time; for my co-workers, it’s ‘how can you be gone THAT long?’

      Good for you, Michelle! That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about here – leading a “normal” life, but still finding a way to fit travel into it.

      Have a great time in Eastern Europe! I just spent quite a bit of time there this summer and really really loved it.

    wow just found your site and you and your words are so inspiring! I am currently figuring out how to incorporate more travel into my already super busy life (9-5 job, well more like 7-5, married, have debts to pay off, pay rent, etc). So thank you for your tips!!!

    I just started a travel blog. Am still figuring out how to get more traffic to my new blog- so any words on that would be very helpful as well!

    Thanks in advance! And again, thank you so much for your inspiring words! I will sure be back to read more about your adventures!

      Good luck with the blog, and figuring out how to fit more travel into your life! If you want it badly enough, you’ll be able to make it work. 🙂

    So true! There is a big misconception that being able to travel means that your either rich or a vagabonding bum. In other western countries (Europe, Australia, New Zealand) travel is a much bigger part of life. I wish travel was encouraged more in American culture and hopefully blogs like this will inspire others to step out there door!

    Even though I have a full time job with limited vacation time (another thing I’d like to see change in our society), with some planning and saving up I’m able to go on those trips I’ve dreamed about doing. I just discovered your blog when I was searching for travel advice about New Zealand (my next trip)! I just started a blog to post about my travels.

    Thanks for your excellent blog. I will also be back to read more about your adventures!

      I really wish traveling (and enough vacation time to allow traveling!) was a bigger part of American culture, too. It’s a real shame that it isn’t!

    Another great post! Two years ago,after saving money through a little account, I went on my dream trip to Paris. Even though I went with a tour, I went by myself not knowing anyone except for my 86 year old roomate(whom I had no connection to either). I would never have imagined myself dong this 10 years ago, but I had no one that would go with me. My husband has no interest in traveling. It was the best thng I have ever done. I met people that I now consider great friends. I am a small town Wisconsin girl who loves to go places. I work fulltime, have a family, and am not rich money wise anyway. It just takes some planning and patience. I fell in love with Paris on that trip and am diligently saving to go back even if it is by myself! I am proof positive that you can go anywhere.

      That’s awesome, Lori! And good for you for just going for it!!


    I instantly connected with everything you’ve said above. My husband and I have full time careers (that we actually like!), yet travel locally and internationally as much as possible! You’ve given solid advice! I’m SO happy to meet another woman with the same heart for travel. Connect with me at and/or Facebook (

    Cheers! 🙂

      That’s awesome that you both love your jobs AND find time to travel. Definitely what I hope to do in the future!

    Great Article. In the end it is, what you make of a destination – I am see my dentist at the border between Switzerland and Austria (from an old working address of mine) and haven’t changed it for years- we love the lake of constance and love to have lunch at it beaches, enjoying the different little towns along it, we get together with one or another friend or also have driven to the next town in Austria and enjoy ourselves. In fact next Thursday off to another trip to Eastern Switzerland and this time, I will be visiting the UNESCO heritage site in St. Gallen :)! Yes, I work full time, I travel with and without my husband, but some sort of camera always goes with me 🙂

    Very inspiring article! I’m currently in a job that is unfortunately not a career (very boring….only doing it to save $$$$ for travel) and am planning to travel the U.S next year as well as do a working visa in the UK for 2 years and travel though Europe. I have no idea what I want to do career wise (want to do something in travel but not sure what) and actually want to put off thinking about it and just travel for as long as I can!

    I have a question for you, do you have to be an exceptional computer wiz to make a blog like yours? As I’m planning to travel extensively next year I would love to start a blog but have no idea where to even start!

      You sound just like me! I often joke that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… haha. Sounds like you’ve got some exciting things planned!

      As for your question, no, you don’t have to be a computer whiz at all! I knew very little about websites before I started my own. Plus, it’s so easy to Google things these days and figure things out!

        Haha glad I’m not the only one…all I know if life is that I want to travel and never stop, hopefully during my adventure I find a way to keep funding my travels continuously.

        Thanks for the reply about making a blog. I’m really excited to make one eeeek!

        Happy travels!

    I agree so much with you ! People say “oh you are lucky to travel” I always say that’s about choices !

    I work in business, 40h a week, only have 2 weeks vacation paid by year. I traveled 3 times a year (1 or 2 weeks trip) for the last 4 years ! I have an old car, a cheap appartment, I don’t buy that much stuff because I don’t need much to be happy :P. I take unpaid vacation. I even had a boyfriend (who didn’t have money to travel) and I was still traveling. I understood my passion, so he didn’t stop me to do what I love ! Money, job, boyfriend… no excuses 🙂

    I like to push people to do what they want and give them advices how to make it work. I love your post, your tips are great !!!

      I love your “no excuses” attitude – I totally agree!

    Great article – especially “Take advantage of all opportunities.” – When I can, I add on a couple days to my business trips and take them as personal days to explore new places.

      That’s a great approach, Shannon! You just have to get a bit creative with your time off.

    “and at the end of the day…don’t make excuses.”

    …that’s it. If you want something, go get it.

    Relevant post, even two years later. Keep up the good work!!

      Exactly, Wade! You have to go after the things you want in life.

    This is an eye-opening article, I love it when you said that traveling does not have to be expensive. However, in my case (having three young kids) might be too difficult to just decide to travel without considering the budget and all. Once a year, though, our family plans a roadtrip (usually it is during a summer vacation or December). Recently we went to a beach resort in Batangas, here in the Philippines. not a fancy vacation, but it has been a precious time with the whole family. 🙂

      Traveling closer to home is still traveling, though! And definitely doesn’t have to break the bank every time.

    Thanks for writing this!
    So many bloggers are location independent and are so far away from normal (not that it’s a bad thing) so it’s quite intimidating. I love travelling but would like to live a normal life with an actual home and circle of friends.

      I’ve done some longer trips (a couple of months sometimes), but by the end I’m usually ready to go home. I don’t think I could ever hack it as a permanent nomad!

    You make such a great point – why do people assume the travel lifestyle is “all or nothing?” The whole point of traveling is living the life you want to live, which certainly doesn’t mean you have to become a permanent nomad. You can still enjoy travel and have a career (or family or kids or insert your version of normalcy here.) Thanks for a great post!

      Thank you! I really try to prove this point through my own travels. I may not have a conventional job at the moment, but I still do have a life back “home” that I don’t like to leave for long periods of time.

    So true, I would like to share 3 trick to travel while having a normal life: 1. Save your vacation days!! They will be useful. 2. Expand your vacation days: I used to work for a financial firm and they gave us 16 days of vacation every year. Here’s what I did: If you want to travel for an entire week, make sure you use it during a week with a holiday. This way you can use only 4 days of vacation. These 16 days used wisely can be expanded to 20 days (4 weeks of travel). 3. Take vacations in large chunks – the most expensive part are usually the flights. Fly to Shanghai and use ground transportation to move around. And lastly (I know I said 3), make sure you take advantage of time between jobs. When you get a new job, ask to extend your start date. This can give you 1-3 free months that you can use to go backpacking anywhere!!

    I really liked this article, it’s inspiring for me! I live a normal life too, following all the travel blogs and wondering, how to involve more travel into my life. My personal goals for this year and the years to follow is to get more out, doing weekend trips in my country and hopefully see all the nice tropical beaches and destinations.

      Well good luck with that goal, Melanie! If you really want to do it, I have no doubt that you’ll figure out a way to make it happen!

    Very true! I wrote about something similar here, but I love all your extra tips! Basically, it comes down to if you truly want to travel, nothing can stop you. I hope more people realize this!

      So true! I tell people all the time that if you decide to make travel a priority in your life, then you WILL find a way to make it happen.

    I really enjoyed your article. Travel is one of the greatest experience in life because it stays with you for the rest of your life. I love traveling but since my kids were born has been kind of difficult and expensive as well. As you say nothing is impossible, maybe more difficult with kids though but if we really want to travel we should set it as one of our priorities in life. Your article has inspired me to travel more even with kids and maybe would be more fun.

      That’s great to hear, Laura! And yes, travel is definitely trickier when you have kids – but it’s definitely not impossible!

    I definitely agree that travel is very possible for a lot of Americans, as long as you make it a priority. My family used to travel for two weeks internationally almost every summer. We didn’t have a lot of money, we were just really good about saving it. Some families want a nice new tv, others want a beach house, some people really like to go shopping, my family traveled. Luckily my parents are self-employed, but it’s still really hard to step away from a business and find someone to run it for you while you’re gone. I’ve found the easiest way to fund my travel addiction is to just live and work abroad, but I know that lifestyle isn’t for everyone and won’t always be for me. But I’m hoping to make travel an important part of my life even after I settle down.

      Your comment just goes to show that people in all sorts of professions can fit travel into their lifestyle if they make it a priority! I certainly don’t make a lot of money, but I always find ways to travel.

    I recently came across your blog and find it fascinating. I think about travelling all the time but always wondered how I can fit it in alongside my “normal” life. Well, you have definately inspired me! Morrocco for New Year (2014) and Barcelona end of January (2015).
    Keep up the great blog and if you are ever in my neck of the woods (Manchester / Liverpool) you would always be welcome to stay.

      Hey Pete! That’s so awesome to hear! You definitely CAN fit travel into a more “normal” lifestyle – it certainly doesn’t have to be either/or! I hope you enjoy your adventures!

    Hi Amanda,

    That was a fabulous and very inspiring article for someone like me who always had plans and wished to travel to so many places. You put travelling, planning and related issues in a very practical prospective. And, yes, you made travelling quite achievable. Thanks a ton. 🙂

    Kshitij Thakur

    Great topic! I love the security and reliability of a 9-5 corporate job with benefits, so I’m not likely to “go nomad” any time soon. I’m fortunate enough to get 4 weeks paid vacation each year. My biggest dilemma is choosing between a couple of big trips a year vs lots of extended weekends. I hate staying home for months on end, but I really enjoy taking two weeks off at a time and totally escaping everything. I still haven’t found the right balance yet.

      Yes, you’re definitely lucky getting that much paid vacation time! I’m sure you’ll figure out the balance – I totally understand the dilemma though!

    […] written before about the fact that you CAN, in fact, have your cake and eat it, too. You CAN fit travel into a more “normal” lifestyle — one that includes a job and a fixed […]

    Thanks for the push, Amanda. It truly inspires me to do and decide things that I thought is impossible. Let’s say I’m one of those who have a beginner family and a lot of things are in hurdles to travel right now. But just like you said, “Do not make excuses”. If you want it then do it!

      Exactly! If you want to travel, I’m sure there are ways to make it happen!

    I just found your blog and love it! I love that you still work and live a ”normal” life and still manage to travel. My husband and I moved to Germany just over a year ago for work, and we made the conscious decision to travel as much, and as often, as we can. The 6 weeks of paid vacation definitely helps, as well as being so much closer to a lot of things, but we still manage to run out of vacation time! So, we have been focusing a lot on weekend trips – leaving on Friday after work and returning Sunday evening so we can still make Monday morning meetings. Traveling in this way can be tiring, but we have gotten to see so much of Europe that way!

    It sounds romantic to live out of a suitcase and flit from one corner of the world to another, but in reality, I like my bed. And washing machine. And home cooked food.
    Thanks for sharing how normal people can still be travelers and see the world!

    And if you want to check out what two American expats are doing living in Germany, check us out!

      I don’t think it would matter how much vacation time I got – I would still run out of it! 😉

      Great to hear that you guys are making the most of both your time off AND living in the center of Europe!

    In sort, Excellent, Tremendous, Classical & Inspiration.

    “Even just setting aside $20 per week can go a long way quickly.” Yes!

    I’m on to budget my vacations with just this inspiration. Thank you so much!

      It doesn’t seem like much when you’re setting it aside, but all those $20s really do add up over time!

    I think travelling with children must require a very special set of skills, that is one thing I personally would not attempt

      It definitely does, but there are plenty of families out there that do it and make it work!

      My husband and I have been traveling with our daughter for almost a year now. Yes, it’s more challenging, but we think it’s worth it! If kids are used to something from the get go, I think it’s much easier on them than springing it on them down the road. Plus, she flies free right now!

    Not waiting for someone else is the best thing! I tend to live a “normal” life and travel quite a lot as well. I think it’s about priorities.

    I decided long ago that I’d rather go somewhere alone than never go at all and that really was the catalyst.

      Yup, it definitely is all about those priorities!


    We just recently starting reading some of your posts. And we have to say, we absolutely love this one. We are just about to start a blog of our own focusing on US professionals who want to travel but have trouble figuring out how to do it (as you noted, with all those excuses) This is just so true, and people tell us a lot of the same things “How do you do it?” and “You must have so much disposable income for traveling”. But it really is about choices and decision making, rather than just money or days off. We love reading and will keep up with you in the future!

      Thanks so much, guys! I’m a firm believer that you really can have both a “normal” lifestyle AND lots of travel. I work full-time for myself now, but I drag my corporate-job-working fiance on quite a few trips per year! It can be done – you just have to make travel a priority if that’s what you want.

    […] A Dangerous Business: You can live a “normal” life and travel too Here’s a great post for anyone who has ever wished they could travel as often as travel bloggers. Amanda points out that even if you have a 9-to-5 job, you can save money and save up vacation time to make your travel dreams come true. That’s how I got started! […]

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