A travel addict overlooking a valley from above with karst limestone mountains in the distance

People ask me all the time about how I became a travel addict.  Why did you leave?  Was it because you had a broken heart?  How could you sell everything?   What will you do when you return?  What about your job?  Why would you travel alone?  Are you running away from something?  Those are just a few of the more common questions I’ve had fired at me.

Sometimes I simply don’t know how to respond, especially to my fellow Americans.  Americans are so ingrained with the notion that we must work, work, work and own a home and cars and have children.  Selling everything you own, quitting your job and traveling the world is not easily aligned with the typical American mindset.

I’ve never been your average American.  My values are severely different.  I’ve never been materialistic, I didn’t go to college, I have no desire to own a home, I’ve never had a fancy car and children are simply out of the question.

I don’t always have the answers, and I don’t try to either.  Honestly, I’m still figuring it all out.  However, everything starts somewhere and my past has shaped me into who I am today.  So let me take it way back and dust off the old memory bank and maybe I can shed some light into how this travel addict was born.

BEFORE I BECAME A TRAVEL ADDICT

My childhood was pretty average.  I had 2 loving parents, 3 very different siblings who kept me on my feet and a slew of connected family.  We didn’t grow up with money but we always had everything we needed.  In my early teens, my parents split and although things were hard for my mom she never failed to provide for us kids.   I was able to play sports and was involved in music and drama at school.  I don’t ever remember being denied anything I needed.  I was a happy kid.

As a teenager, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric nurse.  I love to care for others and I’m quite passionate about children.  In my younger years, I was influenced by my Auntie Jackie who worked as a nurse.  Later in my teens, I would spend time with my Aunt Michelle who worked for Seattle Children’s Hospital running events for sick and terminally ill children.

VOLUNTEERING AS A CANDY STRIPER

Seeing how rewarding nurses experiences were, I started volunteering as a candy striper at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  I would go twice a week and volunteer for two hours.  I built a relationship with a young girl who was 8 years old and had leukemia.  The staff sent me to hang out with her every session because of our bond.  She had the most infectious personality.  Her laugh would light up the room and could shatter any bad mood.  Inside her was a fire and tenacity for life that made me want to be more like her.

Her spirit changed the way I saw life and made me realize how important choosing happiness is.  She always smiled although she felt ill and never refused her treatments even though they made her sick.  I was 16 at the time, double her age, but she was far stronger and wiser than I ever will be.  She was my best friend and I loved her.  Sometimes at night, I would cry because she didn’t deserve her fate.  I would have taken her place if I could have.

When her father called me to tell me she had passed away I felt like I lost my light.  She had become such an important part of my life.  Her spirit had brought me so much joy.   I never returned to volunteer after that and I knew I wasn’t destined to be a nurse.  I become too attached to people.

GOOD OLD SENIOR PROJECTS

At age 17 I had no idea of what I wanted to be.  Inevitably, senior projects came along and I had to choose something to research and focus on.  I had no other ideas so I just stuck with nursing and it turned out to be a great project.

Truthfully, I enjoyed my senior project, especially the job shadowing where I followed a good friend of my moms in a neonatal facility.  This experience was amazing, however, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the loss in a position like this.  Nurses are very emotionally strong people and I don’t know how they do it.  Although I got an A on the project, I still knew it wasn’t for me.

HALFWAY TO TRAVEL ADDICTION

I always knew I wasn’t the kind of person who could follow the conventional American dream of college, marriage, home, and kids.  Those were just things I never wanted.  Although I love to learn, school never interested me.  I couldn’t justify going thousands of dollars in debt to do something I didn’t enjoy.  That didn’t make sense to me.   At the time of leaving High School, I wasn’t at all sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  Honestly, I hadn’t found a passion for anything.

Working has always been something I enjoy.  What a weirdo, I know!  I love to be productive and appreciate the responsibility it brings.   Right after high school, I started working full time.  Countrywide Home Loans introduced me to the mortgage world by hiring me on as a temp.  After a year at Countrywide, I took a job in California as a loan officer selling mortgages.

MOVING TO THE GOLDEN STATE

I’ll never forget the day I moved to Cali (actually this was the second time).  My best friend Rachele made the journey with me and at the time, we were only 19.  We drove a giant Uhaul full of my belongings with a trailer carrying my Honda Civic on the back.

My 2 cats came along for the ride and we drove the entire way hardly stopping.  Fueled by Red Bull, Pringle’s and cigarettes.  For music, we had an old ghetto blaster from the eighties with a 12 pack of batteries so we wouldn’t run out of tunes.  Within the journey, we made it through a large chunk of my extensive collection of home burnt CDs.

Whoever gave me the keys to that Uhaul, at that age, was seriously insane.  However, we made it safely to Temecula where I moved in with my Dad.  I lived with him for a few months while I got my feet on the ground in the mortgage world.

SELLING MORTGAGES LIKE A SCHMUCK

At first, I loved selling mortgages and I was pretty good at it!  However, after about a year, I started to lose my passion for it.  The mortgages I was selling were severely taking advantage of people and I was making way too much money off of people’s lack of knowledge.  Who I was becoming started to disgust me and I couldn’t live my life under those terms.

Shortly after my 21st bday, I decided it was time to make a change and I applied for jobs in the restaurant industry.  When I was younger I had worked as a barista, as well as at a Papa Murphy’s pizza shop.  I loved the thought of being a part of the service industry.  Food and beverage have always excited me and I wanted to try my hand in the restaurant world.

FINDING PASSION IN THE RESTAURANT WORLD

My first ever restaurant gig was at a Mexican restaurant called On The Border where I started out as a host.  Working there made me very happy and I quickly moved up the chain of command from a host to a server.  I was great at moving fast, multi-tasking, building relationships and working together in a team.

The manager started training me as a bartender after about a year of working on the floor.   I was jazzed about the opportunity and fell in love with the new position.  Bartending and being a part of the restaurant industry was the first thing I really ever felt passionate about.   I’m still passionate about it to this day.

Soon after, I took on a second job, working as a bartender at an Olive Garden in the same shopping complex as my current gig.   During that time, I was working six days a week with several double shifts.  It was a lot of work, but I seemed to never tire of it.  I was happy, I loved what I was doing and I was making a lot of money.

THAT FIRST TASTE OF LOVE

At the time, I lived with a few co-workers, one of which I became very close with.  Coincidentally, her name was Julie too.  We lived, worked, shopped, cooked and went out together.  We were inseparable.  Her family lived out in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

On Thanksgiving one year I decided to join her to visit her family.  I’ll never forget the ride out to meet her family, where she told me that her friends always seemed to fall for her brother and how much she hated that.  I, of course, reassured her that it wouldn’t be the case with me.  I’m sure you can see where this part of my story is going.

SPECIAL NOTE: I’m going to call the man in the next story Tom.  His name was not Tom.

Tom and I fell so quickly in love that I had no choice but to act upon it.  I had never felt the way I did with him.  It was love at first sight.  Although Julie was a bit salty about my hooking up with her brother she soon warmed to the idea of our relationship as she noticed it wasn’t going to stop. We did the long distance thing for some time and then I eventually moved out to Havasu to be with him.

Truthfully, Tom and I had the best relationship.  We were deeply in love, best friends, hardly ever fought or disagreed and were always together.  Tom was a really great guy.  He made me laugh, bought me flowers, did the laundry, cooked me meals and was an amazing lover.  It was honestly perfect.  Until he asked me to marry him.

I was 25 at the time we got engaged.  In no way was I ready for marriage nor did I think that was what I wanted for my life.  Ultimately, getting engaged ruined our relationship.  I know you’re confused right now, so let me explain.

REALIZING WHAT I REALLY WANTED

Tom was an amazing boyfriend.  He was tender-hearted, loving, gentle and sincere.   The only things he lacked were the motivation to work hard, have goals for the future and strive to do more.  These are very important qualities to me.

I’m a very hard worker.  Every day I’m making plans or goals and will do everything I can to accomplish them.  I’ve always been relentless in all my pursuits.  In a sense, Tom was a bit lazy.   He didn’t work that much and I couldn’t look at him as someone who would match me in these areas of personal growth.  I didn’t want a lazy husband.  Instead, I wanted someone with ambition and drive.

Once we were engaged I had to start looking at him as the person I would spend the rest of my life with and that drastically changed the way I felt.  I’m the kind of person that when I decide something for myself, there’s no going back. I can’t help this quality.

In my head, I made the decision that I couldn’t marry Tom without confronting him.   I never expressed my reservations and I never gave him a chance to make changes.  I just left.

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES I MADE

Now before you write me off as a horrible person, please understand that this is not something I am proud of.   It’s even hard to write it down here.  This has single-handedly been the hardest life lesson I have ever had to learn.

I deeply regret not voicing how I felt and even more remorseful about not giving him the chance to make changes.  Honestly, I will forever regret that decision because I loved him very much and since have never truly loved another.  But I was young and I didn’t know how to properly deal with my emotions.

Multi colored map of the world

REALIZING I WAS ADDICTED TO TRAVEL

About the same time my mind was set to leave Tom, my younger sister became pregnant with my nephew.  Seeing as the father wasn’t in the picture, she would need help raising my nephew while she finished college.  I took this as my opportunity to leave and thus moved to Bellingham, WA.  As soon as I arrived, I got a job in town and started bartending at night while helping care for my nephew during the day.

Throughout this time I started to ask myself those big questions of what do I want for my life?  What’s important to me?  What makes me happy?   This was the first time that I started to really notice my passion for travel.  Thus began the making of a travel addict.

The answer to all those hard questions was travel.  I started to dig into any travel book, story or guide I could get my hands on.  While building my extensive list of Pinterest boards of all the places I needed to go.  Every day I would binge watch any Anthony Bourdain show I could find online.

I soon realized my love for people needed to go international.  The more I read about travel, the more I knew that I had to see these places with my own eyes, eat the different foods, sit with locals and learn about their lives and traditions.

FEELING IN LIMBO AND NEEDING TO GO

When my sister graduated from college, she and my nephew moved in with my mom a few hours from where we had been living.  I stayed back because I had nowhere to go, my mom didn’t have enough space for all of us and I really enjoyed my current bartending job.

However, not long after they left, I decided it was time for me to go as well.  I didn’t see a long-term future where I was and I had the itch to travel.  Now that I didn’t feel the responsibility of caring for my nephew anymore, I felt a new freedom and knew it was time to spread my wings.

TRAVEL ADDICTS ON THE RUN

A great friend of mine was due to move to Hawaii and I couldn’t fathom the idea of being left behind.  I didn’t have much money saved, but I didn’t care.  We planned to do a road trip for a few weeks before heading to Hawaii together.  I would stay with her in Hawaii until she got settled.  So, I quit my job, moved my things into storage and we hit the road.

We drove from WA to AZ pitching a tent in camp sights every night.  Making stops in the Redwood forest, Lake Tahoe, Zion National Park, Vegas, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon before ending in Lake Havasu.  In Havasu, I left my car with a friend and we flew to Hawaii from there.   I stayed in Hawaii with her for 3 weeks, being a beach bum and making jewelry.

This was my first real taste of travel.  I loved the freedom, spontaneity, and exhilaration of being on the road.  No reservations, responsibilities or things to tie me down.  The interactions I had and the many new people we met along the way truly inspired me.  At that moment, I still didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, however, I knew I was destined to travel long and far.  This was when I truly realized I was a travel addict.

BECOMING AN ABSOLUTE TRAVEL ADDICT

When I came home from my 2 months of wandering, I moved in with my mom as my sister and nephew were moving out.  I got a swanky job in a high-end bar and started working my ass off.  Saving as much money as I could.

During this time I would give my mom chunks of money and tell her to stash it for me.  Out of sight, out of mind because I knew I had to go farther for longer next time.  I kept saving in this way for many years, having my mom stash my money.  Not knowing how much was there and not being able to touch it was somehow thrilling to me.  Sometimes I would hand her a $1,000 or more at a time.

TESTING MY WINGS AS A SOLO TRAVELER

I knew I wanted to test my abilities to solo travel in the comfort of the US before heading overseas.  My favorite band, Above and Beyond, was doing a North American acoustic tour and I decided to follow them to a few destinations.  This would be my first solo trip, as well as my first experience staying in a dorm-style hostel.

I flew to San Francisco, Hollywood, and then to Hawaii to see them 3 times in 10 days.   This trip proved to me that I was ready for solo travel and that it was definitely what I wanted. It was an amazing adventure where I challenged myself with public transport, made friends with bunkmates and mastered the art of eating alone.

I already knew I was ready but I challenged myself with one more solo trip.  Not all that surprisingly, I was flying to Denver to see Above and Beyond again.  This time they were performing at a 3-day music festival held at the awe-inspiring Red Rock Amphitheater.  Yes, I went to a weekender music festival by myself and it was the most amazing time of my life.  I danced alone with no inhibitions and made friends when I wanted company.  That final trip sealed the deal for me.

I knew I was ready, I knew what I wanted and nothing could stop me from getting more.

Framed picture with three different fancy arrows with the quote "Not all who wander are lost"
Quote that says "decide what it is you want.  Write that shit down.  Make a fucking plan and work on it.  Every single day.

ASIA VS. SOUTH AMERICA

Originally, I was torn between Asia and Central and South America.  I decided on Asia simply because it felt easier to navigate on my own and safer for a solo female.  After making that decision, I began researching like crazy and reading endless articles and blogs.

My Pinterest game was growing strong as I started making plans, budgets, and lists.  I bought things I knew I would need and started telling people about my plans to travel.  Taking on a second job, I started working double shifts and some weeks never had a day off.

Initially, my plan was to do 6 months in Asia.  Even though I had plenty of money to make this happen, I still made excuses for years.  Some of my normal excuses were, “I don’t want to leave my job, I don’t want to get rid of my cats and I don’t want to lose my apartment.”  My personal favorite being, “I don’t want to go alone.”

For a while there, I dreamt I would meet someone who had the same love for travel and we would travel the world together.  Who was I kidding?  Because the truth is, Americans don’t travel, at least not the majority.  If I was going to wait to meet someone who wanted to travel with me then I would die waiting.

SELLING EVERYTHING I OWNED

By the time I bought my one-way ticket to Asia, I had saved A LOT of money.  Enough to keep me going for a year on the budget I had decided was right for me.  I then sold my car for $4,000 and added that to my pot.  Lastly, I sold everything I owned and I mean EVERYTHING!

To sell my things, I used an app on my phone called Offer Up.  I took pictures of everything, wrote descriptions for each item, then posted each photo with a price.   Then I asked my friends and family to come over and take anything they wanted or needed.  In the end, a lot of things went to the goodwill to be donated.  The few belongings I saved and the clothes I hadn’t donated were put in boxes and moved into my mom’s attic.

At one point all I had was a spoon, a fork, a pot, and one plate to eat with.  It was bare bones.  My loving children (my two cats) were adopted by my best friends mom.   I couldn’t have been luckier that she was looking for some fur babies just around the time I started trying to find them a new home.

A black cat and a tabby cat snuggling together
A black cat and a tabby cat snuggling together

THAT FIRST ONE WAY TICKET

I purchased my one-way ticket about 6 months before I left.  During those six months, I continued to save, sell and prepare.  Never stopping my research because I was always hungry for more information.  As the weeks ticked by, my anticipation and excitement grew with every passing day.  I knew my life was going to change and that I was about to take a leap off the highest mountain.  Where I would finally find my wings and fly into the great unknown.

Honestly, I either never felt scared or I never allowed myself to.  Something inside me knew that I was going to be fine.  This is what I was born to do and it was the exact course my life was meant to take.  For the first time in my life, I felt in control.  I didn’t feel different or unattached.   It was actually the most connected I have ever been with myself and others.

Five days after my 33rd bday I boarded that plane due East and for the first time in my life, I was free.  Finally, I was doing something selfish with no one else in mind.  I had set a goal and I achieved it.   It left me feeling powerful, strong, independent and nothing will ever feel better than that.

With a burning fire inside to learn, grow, taste and experience the lives and cultures of SE Asia I never once looked back.  I knew I would never be the same, I was leaving a version of myself behind and carving my new path in unknown soil.

Girl with one large backpack on her back and one medium backpack on her front side
A quote about going after your dreams

THE FUTURE OF MY TRAVEL ADDICTION

So what lies ahead for this travel addict you ask?  Well, a lot actually because the rest of the world lies ahead.  My forever growing list of places I must see before I die never seems to get shorter.  I have found along the way that my love of travel is ignited with my love for writing and sharing my stories.

As I traveled and started writing, I decided that I wanted to pursue this as my career.   I am happily dedicating everything to this blog, in hopes of inspiring others to follow my lead and get out into the world.   My ultimate goal is to have the blog fund my travels so I can continue to travel indefinitely.

LEARNING HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE

Now that I am back from my 14 months in SE Asia, I have been pushing myself to monetize my blog and start finding ways to grow and make money from it.  I have spent countless hours learning about email marketing, social media influencing, affiliate marketing, network marketing and so much more.

I’m sure you have noticed my adds at the bottom of my posts.  If you click on them and purchase something then I get a small percentage of your purchase at no additional cost to you.   Also, I have signed up to be an ambassador for a few different brands and will be promoting them through my blog and social media in the future.

Lastly, I have dove right into the vast world of network marketing and am just starting to get my feet wet.  I’m excited about the future in this growing and successful industry, as well as the products I will be marketing.

READ MORE: Check out this article about my journey into the world of Network Marketing.

I genuinely hope you have enjoyed learning more about me and my journey of becoming a travel addict.  Hearing from you makes me happy and I would love to learn more about you.  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them!  Just shoot me a message in the box below.  Lastly, before you go, if you would like to get updates when I publish new blogs, as well as a bi-monthly personalized newsletter of my movements, then I would love for you to sign up to join my tribe!

With Love,

Julie

SHARING IS CARING