1. Jodi Ettenberg, Ex-Corporate Lawyer Now Traveling Food Blogger
After five-plus years of working as a corporate lawyer in New York, Montrealer Jodi Ettenberg decided to pack it up and eat her way around the world for a year. Next thing she knew, one year turned into another and another, and she’s now nearing six years of travel to faraway places. While she jokes that she “eats soup for a living”, she’s not too far off: Her site, Legal Nomads (which she started to keep her mother updated about her travels) houses photos of foods from around the world. Though Legal Nomads is unmonetized (she has turned down sponsored links or ads), Jodi supports herself with freelance writing, consulting work in social media, and, more recently, feeding her hungry eaters when they visit Saigon.
When asked if she plans to return to “real life” Ettenberg told BuzzFeed that she takes things one day at a time. “I am thankful for the ability to have built a business around the foods and places I love, and never quit my job to ‘be’ a travel writer. If this doesn’t work out, going back to being a lawyer isn’t the worst thing I can think of. But it’s far less fun than what I am doing now!” Feed your wanderlust by following Jodi’s adventures on her blog.
2. Liz Carlson, English Teacher Turned Travel Writer
After graduating and teaching English in Spain for a few years, Liz fell in love with travel. However, she ended up moving home to Washington, D.C., and working in a dead-end office job trying to follow the path that she felt as if she were supposed to be following. It didn’t take long for her to realize that button-ups and quarterly meeting weren’t for her. The nine-to-five scene was becoming suffocating and she could feel herself growing increasingly unhappy.
She knew she had to do something about it, so she did. After deciding to pursue writing, she saved up and quit her job to travel and has been on the road ever since From camping with the Bedouins in the desert in Jordan to paragliding in New Zealand, she’s fully embraced having both a life filled with travel, while also encouraging others who might want the same that it is possible. Carlson told BuzzFeed, “Anyone can do it.” Learn more about Liz and her ongoing adventure by visiting her website.
3. Ying Tey, Felt a Sense of Urgency to Start Living After Mother’s Death
When Ying was just 18 years old, her mother died. “Death,” she said, “is a great teacher. It reminds you, almost mockingly, that everyone is stamped with an expiration date.” She was left with grief, but a sense of urgency accompanied that grief. The sense of urgency to start living.
With this urgency in the back of her mind, it didn’t take her long to realize that her time spent in the corporate world would be short-lived. After just three months, she packed up for good. During this time, travel blogs were rare and Malaysian backpackers even more so. Sixty-six countries and two passports later, she’s holding down a copywriting stint at an advertising agency in Singapore but told BuzzFeed that the flames of wanderlust have yet to die down. “It lies dormant as I embrace stability for the next few months. As soon as my bank account starts getting healthy again, I will heed the call of the open road again. After all, I’m just an average girl from Malaysia yet I was able to wander. If I can, so can you.” Feed the flames of your wanderlust by visiting Ying’s blog.
4. Yasmine Mustafa, After 22 Years in the U.S., She Became a Citizen and Left on Her Own Terms
Yasmine Mustafa immigrated from Kuwait with her family during Operation Desert Storm when she was 8. She became entangled in the immigration system, worked numerous under the table jobs, started a tech company, and when she finally became a U.S. citizen at 31, she booked a six-month trip around South America to experience the freedom of traveling and to find out who she was without her laptop.
She traveled solo from May to November 2013 where she visited Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. Yasmine told BuzzFeed that her life’s path has long been restrictive due to circumstances beyond her control and for the first time in her life, she had the opportunity to steer away and do exactly what she wanted to do: travel.This is only just the beginning. You can learn more about Yasmine and her adventures by visiting her personal blog.
5. Robert Schrader, Once a Victim of the American Economic Apocalypse, Now Makes a Living Traveling the World
A few years ago, Robert faced a dilemma. “I wanted to travel the world,” he told BuzzFeed. “But I didn’t have the means to do so, financially or confidence-wise.” Robert Schrader’s journey began in 2009, when he fled the American economic apocalypse for China. Five years and more than 50 countries later, he makes his living via Leave Your Daily Hell, a travel blog he uses to inspire, inform, entertain, and empower other would-be escape artists. After leaving his real-life job over three years ago, he has made it his goal to inspire others to do the same.
No matter how many friends of family members expressed skepticism toward his grand plan — and nearly all of them did — he remained steadfast in my determination. Robert believes that the surest way to make more of your life is to become more aware of what’s out there- and to expand your definition of what’s possible. The surest way to do that? Travel.
Let Robert help you travel by visiting his website.
6. Katie Aune, Left Chicago to Travel All 15 Former Soviet Republics
Dissatisfied with her job and feeling restless after a decade in Chicago, Katie Aune told BuzzFeed that she decided to quit her job to travel in 2011. She spent 13 months traveling solo through all 15 former Soviet republics, a journey that included running a marathon in Estonia, traveling the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway, desert camping in Turkmenistan, and volunteering in Russia, Armenia and Tajikistan.
After enduring challenging border crossings, dozens of squat toilets, long overnight train rides, and occasional bouts of loneliness, she returned home a stronger, more confident woman with a new perspective and an appreciation for the little things in life. Now back in Chicago working full time again, Katie writes about travel on the side as she dreams of her next great adventure. Follow along with Katie’s future adventures here.
7. Megan Smith, Started Traveling Post-Breakup
For several years, Megan felt stuck in a career path and a life that she desperately wanted to be free of. After a breakup, she decided to hatch a plan. She would work hard and save money for the next year and then take off on a journey by herself. So, in August 2013, she did just that.
She packed her life into storage and took off on a journey that took her across the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and soon Central America. She told BuzzFeed, “It’s been an incredible experience so far — teaching me so much about myself, other cultures, the world, and how I fit into it.” Learn more about Megan and her incredible journey on her blog.
8. Kim Dinan, Sold All Of Her Possessions And Traveled The World With Her Husband
In 2009 Kim Dinan lived in a great city, owned a home, and had a good job. Life was nice. But she knew, deep down, that something was missing. She’d always dreamed of traveling the world. At one point, back in college, she’d wanted to write for a living. But somewhere along the way her dreams had ended up on the back burner. So she hatched a plan.
For the next three years Kim and her husband saved every penny and sold all of their stuff. In May 2012 they set out to travel the world with all of their remaining possessions strapped to their backs. “There was definitely a point where I wondered what we were doing, if we hadn’t both completely lost our minds,” said Kim. “My mom kept begging me to use the money we saved to buy a bigger house! But of course that wasn’t what we wanted.”
Today, Kim and her husband travel the world full time and Kim has turned her love of writing into a career. Since bucking the cubicle for a life of travel, they’ve trekked the tallest mountains in Nepal and descended into the world’s deepest canyon in Peru. Kim has walked solo across Spain and driven a rickshaw 3,000 kilometers through India. Today, she lives the life she used to only dream about. “Life is an adventure now,” she said. “I’ve truly come to believe that if we can find the courage to do the things that make us feel most alive, we do not only ourselves a favor but the world a favor too.”
Follow her story here.
9. Matt Kepnes, Normal Guy Turned Serial Traveler
In 2005, Matt Kepnes went to Thailand with a friend and, while in the city of Chiang Mai, he met five backpackers on a bus. Listening to them talk about extended travel inspired Matt to leave his job and travel more. As they all spoke about how insane only getting two weeks a year was, Matt began to think about making a change. Kepnes tells BuzzFeed that he realized they were living his dream and he thought to himself, Why not me too? When he came home, he quit his job.
In July 2006, he set off on a yearlong trip around the world. That was seven and a half years ago. He’s never looked back. Travel is what makes him happy and he finds a way to make this lifestyle work. He has now been to over 70 countries, worked various jobs to be able to fund this, and now he is able to help others learn that traveling isn’t as hard or expensive as they think. “I remember being scared and worried when I was planning my trip,” he said. “Every fear went through my head but being on the road taught me that the hardest part is getting the courage to walk out the door. The rest is a cakewalk. Everything on the road works itself out.” Learn more about Matt and his story by visiting his website.
10. Jill Inman, Made Her Dreams A Reality
A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. This very statement serves as inspiration at the heading of Jill Inman’s blog. She wanted to embark on an around-the-world trip because she had long dreamt of seeing the world in a way that many people only daydream about. So one day, she decided to make her dream a reality. She left, and never looked back.
She has since visited 64 countries. Inman told BuzzFeed, “While my passport stamps and screensavers from the 64 countries I’ve visited are the recognizable signs of my adventures; the lasting lessons learned from the challenging times and unforgettable memories from the amazing times are the real reasons I continue to travel.” She wants to encourage others to do the same. She believes that seeing the world allows her to be more adaptable to life’s curve balls. “I view the world with so much more curiosity,” she said. Read more about her adventures on her personal blog.
11. Kate Hall, Needed a Life Change
One moment Kate Hall was on the phone to her boyfriend telling him they had no money for dinner that evening and the next moment she found herself telling him that they had to leave the UK because her heart was telling her to do so. She thought to herself, Life shouldn’t be this hard.
Fast-forward two years and Kate has cured a 5-year-old depression, started her journey into self-employment, and has traveled the world. She roamed the Red Light District in Amsterdam, spent six months in Greece, partied under the Eiffel Tower, and will soon be getting married in Frankfurt, Germany.
When asked about her travels, Kate told BuzzFeed, “Sometimes, you need to take that leap of faith and follow your heart.” Follow Kate’s ongoing journey by visiting her blog.