Mythbusting Angie’s Mysterious Travel Lifestyle

I’ve been traveling full time almost two whole years now, and not a day goes by that someone doesn’t try to crack the code of how I afford my mysterious lifestyle. It’s come to a point where I’ll fib about what I do when I meet new people (my go-to fake occupation: Disney princess at the Magic Kingdom), because it’s just so complicated to describe every facet of my current career in a way that makes sense.

Some typical questions I get: When are you going to get a real job? When are you going to settle down? How do you pay for all this? How much money do you make? How can you afford this lifestyle?

I’m sure no one means any disrespect, but I don’t ask, “Hey, how do you afford that gaz guzzling SUV, multiple flat screen TVs, cashmere sweaters for your dogs and Hot Pockets for your clones?” 

I’ve been accused of all sorts of tomfoolery – prostitution, drug smuggling, coming from a wealthy family (gasp – anything but that!) – but no one ever really suspects the truth.

Read on to find out…

Lucky in Laos? Not really. I got super sick a couple days after this photo was taken.

Myth 1: Angie is lucky.

I don’t believe in luck. I believe in making good choices. “Luck” is what happens when you’ve made good decisions & kept your priorities straight… it’s also often known as the Golden Rule and “planning ahead.”

So when folks say to me, “Oh, wow, I wish I could be as lucky as you,” it feels like they’re saying, “You have it all and it fell into your lap with minimal effort on your part. You’re a jerk.”

Often I hear, tinged with resentment and dismissive snootery, “Hmmph, it must be nice to travel the world all the time.”  You can bet your butt it’s nice. I worked for it, too! I watched my parents struggle with jobs they hate for their whole lives, then went and earned my degree, moved to cities where I knew no one, suffered through some pretty rotten colleagues and clients, and sacrificed being near to my family to gain valuable experience to get me to this moment, right now, where I’m furiously typing away at a Starbucks on my favorite Hawaiian island.

None of that was easy; none of that was lucky.

Those were decisions I made early in life that lead me to where I am now, which I consider to be the fruit of many years of focused priorities. I chose to go to a good college, even if I had to go into debt. I chose to study abroad, even though I was terrified to go by myself. I chose to minor in two foreign languages, even though it meant I didn’t get to take any fun electives in college. I chose not to get married and not to have kids at an early age like many of my friends.

What the “Angie is lucky” myth implies is that I got here by accident, by chance, by some random series of events, and while I have been immeasurably blessed… I most certainly didn’t “luck” into the situation I’m in.

Teaching in Kenya – worth far more than $$ in a bank account

Myth 2: Angie is rich.

The only thing I’m rich in is experience! My Mom taught me me how to live on very little money, so with that skill and the cash I saved working for seven years in PR, I was able to quit my job and travel the world in 2011. (Don’t be fooled – that money I saved wasn’t a result of a huge NYC salary and an overflow of Benjamins. It was a result of not buying frivolous stuff I didn’t need. Plain & simple. I have no other secret to saving money to travel other than not spending it on bags, shoes and designer duds.)

As I traveled, I worked to build up with funny stories and helpful travel tips and pretty photos, and I wrote freelance travel articles here and there about my adventures. The funds I earned were enough to travel a little longer and a little better than I’d originally budgeted, but I still wasn’t flush.

After about a year, I’d spent my entire life savings to finance my dream RTW trip and I had to make a decision. I could stop as planned and get back to the working world, or continue the uncharted path using my varied skills and nomadic desires to make money on my own. I began to monetize my web site, consult for tourism boards and manage public relations/social media campaigns for hotels & destinations around the world.

None of that has made me rich, but I have food and usually I find somewhere comfy to stay, and my office almost always comes with a breathtaking view… so I’d take that over a fat bank account any day.

And I’d say to all the people who ask me, “How do you pay for all that?” to keep in mind how much cheaper it is to have no rent, no car and few bills. I still have student loans that I pay and I still have a child that I support through Compassion in Bolivia. I still pay my 10% tithe to my church on any income I make from my various projects. And I have plenty of money to support the lifestyle I want to live. Again, it’s all about priorities. Those are all choices I’ve made to live the lifestyle I have.

Forget cash! I’m rich in good genes and that’s enough for me

Myth 3: Angie must have rich parents.

My parents are two of the most hardworking people I know, but they are not rich and thankyouverymuch, they’re certainly not financing my world travels. If I needed it, they would help me if they could (as would my awesome grandparents), but it’s not their job to ensure all my dreams come true – it’s mine.

A fellow blogger was recently eviscerated on Twitter for the possibility that her wealthy parents were funding her lifestyle, and that speaks to a cultural perception that I find incredibly disturbing. Just because someone is successful doesn’t mean their success (or $$$) was handed to them by their parents or anyone else. Suddenly it seems that anyone who’s earned a living or become successful is suspected of playing with a stacked deck… but no one ever seems to suspect that one’s success comes from endless hours pounding the pavement or typing away at a computer.

No one is entitled to happiness or success, but everyone is entitled to go out and get it for themselves.

You give me way too much credit if you think I could be a drug smuggler

Myth 4: Well, if Angie’s not rich and she doesn’t have rich parents, she must be a prostitute, drug mule or CIA agent.

I’m a rule follower – always have been. The CIA would probably be a great fit for me, though if I was a covert agent, I sure wouldn’t tell you.

But I’m not a high-priced international call girl and I definitely don’t transport drugs from border to border. I thought crack came from crack dealerships… that’s how much I know about drugs.

I’m the girl next door, much too straight laced for such shenanigans.

Mmmm free lobster!

Myth 5: Angie gets everything for free.

With my experience as a travel publicist, journalist and blogger, now and then I do come into my share of freebies. Those freebies usually result from hours upon hours of research and pitching, and from those hours, maybe 10% of my emails are ever answered.

In almost two years of traveling, I’ve had exactly 2 flights paid for out of 75, and have been on just 3-4 sponsored trips. Having now spent more than $35,000+ of my own self-earned cash supporting my travels, I can honestly say I don’t break even most of the time. It surely costs me more to do this than I can make in measly freelance writing paychecks.

Myth 6: Angie is always on vacation.

While it’s true I may spend much of my time in vacation destinations, and I do seem to have a heckuva lot of fun, I’m definitely NOT on vacation 24/7. A day in the life with me, as any of my friends who’ve traveled with me can confirm, consists of 6-15 hours in front of the computer. Fortunately I make my own schedule, so if I want to go spelunking during the day, it’s my prerogative to do so as long as I can stay up all night to work.

I realize that my Facebook albums and blog posts certainly look like I’m always on vacation, but that’s the job I’ve created for myself. I doubt you’d read past the first post if I wrote about what I did every single day… work, work, work, work, work!

I know it might seem like I get paid to sit by the pool drinking Mai Tais all day. I wish! I usually need to schedule pool time if I am in a tropical destination, otherwise I will surely stay inside working on my computer, only looking up long enough to see the sun setting and another day gone.

Most days on the road I feel like this.

Myth 7: Angie’s life is perfect.

Oh, this is one of my favorites. I recall having a rotten day on the road last year and posting (something I rarely do) about it on Facebook. I had multiple comments saying, “Oh get over it, you’re in Greece!”

Guess what? Regardless of GPS coordinates, people get sick and die, tragedies happen and life goes on. I may not be sitting at a boring desk job in my hometown, but you can bet drama and 4 a.m. bad news text messages follow me to the ends of the earth.

And did I mention the tsunamis, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, riots, grenades, plane crashes, mystery parasitic illnesses, snakes-on-the-toilet, protests, government overthrows, heartbreaks and frightening middle-of-the-night gropings? It’s not all Champagne and roses, even if I Instagram a lot of Champagne & roses.

My insides were melted with fear.

Myth 8: Angie is really brave.

This one blows my mind more than any other, because I would never, ever, ever consider myself brave. I do a lot of crazy stuff now and then to get a good story, but I’m always scared to death. My knees knock, I feel lightheaded, I sweat profusely… and that’s just for karaoke! I can’t tell you how many times in the past two years I’ve questioned my own sanity.

I think all of you who are raising kids and working on marriages are brave. I’ve always thought of myself as taking the easy way out of adulthood… skipping bills and mortgages and oil changes and pest control appointments in favor of an on-the-go, extended adolescence. Hats off to the real brave grown-ups out there.


So now you know all my secrets! I feel so naked! (And now I’ve said naked, call girl and hooker in the same post. Should get me some very interesting Google traffic…)

I’m glad we cleared the air. Now you know I’m not lucky or a hooker, or a lucky hooker. I’m not rich and neither are my parents, and as far as you know, I’m not in the CIA. I work really hard for this lifestyle and it is my job, whether I make it look easy or not. I have no idea how long I’ll proceed in this semi-unorthodox way, but I hope you’ll stick with me for the ride!


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106 thoughts on “Mythbusting Angie’s Mysterious Travel Lifestyle”

  1. What an amazing post, I am definitely working towards extended travel (a year, two, however many I can get!) and it was great to hear that hard work can get your there and not only miracle, fluke circumstances (though I know most people achieve their goals with hard work!).

    I would love to meet someone with such an incredible background so if you ever find yourself in the Alberta area and want a tour guide for snowboarding, couch surfing or anything, don’t hesitate to reach out 🙂

  2. Awesome post! I’m nowhere near where you are with blogging and location independence, but with the amount of travel I do and just having a travel blog, I still get a lot people thinking I make big bucks from blogging and that I’m “lucky.” It’s not about luck, it’s about a ton of effort and really wanting something. And I’m with you, having kids and working in an office job (again) sounds like it takes a lot more bravery than traveling!

  3. Happy Birthday, Angie! Keep living your dream and most of us will keep living vicariously through your travels! Blessings and prayers.

  4. Great, great post Angie! There are a lot of disillusions out there about the people who live a lifestyle similar to yours. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? Luck plays very little into it. Congrats on creating the life you want! I look forward to following along and seeing where your adventures take you in the future.

  5. Well said, Angie! I really couldn’t love this post more if I tried. When people find out about my travels or that I live in NYC (well, Brooklyn, if we’re going to be really honest here) they throw the same assumptions in my face that you’ve listed here. As if! Keep up the great (and well deserved) work:)

  6. First, you are brave for saying all the things I would love to say in a post but have a fear of my readers thinking I’m a jerk for saying.

    Second, I know just how hard it is that your work and kudos to you for leaving the job that didn’t make you happy! I am in a job I hate and I continue to do it to finance our love of travel while I work an additional 40+ hours a week on our own blog.

    Love your blog, Angie! You just keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. I have been ruminating on this post for YEARS trying not to come off as a jerk or a complainer. Finally I just had to push play and hope for the best. Hopefully no one hates me now =)

      Hang in there with your job… I used to blog & work concurrently and that was TOUGH!

  7. HOO HOO!!! Boy, can I relate. I’ve been doing it for six years now and I’ve started heading off those conversations by immediately saying “It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks.” Tonight I’m in a hostel in Marseille, France, with three other girls. Two of them roll in around 3 a.m. each morning, half drunk, with little regard for their roommates’ need to sleep. You HAVE to love to travel and write or you just couldn’t take this lifestyle. Great article!

    1. Oh yes! I think hostels really level the playing field and I’ve spent more than one night in a dorm cursing my decision to leave the PR world =) Thank you for weighing in!

  8. What a truly lovely article. So well written and great lessons to be learned. I hope this gets a lot of hits because it was really touching.

    You’re a hard working inspiration Angie!

    God bless you,

  9. Even though I don’t travel half as much as you. I get some of the same reaction from my peers. I must either get money from my parents or be doing something illegal. When actually I’ve worked my butt off to get to a place in life where I have some extra cash and a flexible work schedule!

  10. Bloody well said, woman. And you ARE brave. It takes balls to know you’ll be scared, sometimes, and uncertain and lonely, (sometimes), and do it anyway. You blaze your own path and that’s one of the most courageous things anyone can do.

    Big love and respect as always. Keep dreaming big and living bigger.


  11. Great post!!! I get annoyed when people thing I get stuff for free and don’t do any work for it! Even when I am not travelling, I spend most of my time working on the website ON TOP of working a full time desk job

  12. You continue to inspire me daily, and I live vicariously through your many blogs and posts. I talk about the possibilities of traveling around the world with my students all of the time. I enjoy reading about your adventures and incredible energy. God Bless, Angie!!!! You make me proud.

  13. You tell ’em girl! I think you put it wondrously, it’s hard work doing what you do and nobody but you got you here. Keep up the great content, energy and smile – you’re an example!!

    I just left my “home” of three years for a 3 month journey through SE Asia. Can’t wait to see what’s around the corner – hopefully parasite free : )

  14. Ugh, THANK YOU! I totally relate and especially hate the “You’re so lucky” line. (Yes, it was by pure luck that I saved up for years, purchased a plane ticket, meticulously planned, etc., just like you’re “so lucky” that you got into a great law school…)

    The other line I hate is when people say, “Well, some of us have to have real jobs and we can’t all travel the world.” You would never say to a lawyer, “Well, we can’t all be lawyers, some of us have to be doctors and teachers…” Well, duh, not everyone can or should do the same thing.

    I just have to remember that for many people this comes from a deep sense of insecurity and concern that they are not living their life to the fullest. It is helpful to gently remind people that I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and trade-offs to do what I do, and it’s a lot of hard work. And I still have concerns that I’m not living life to the fullest either. 😉

    1. That’s such a good point – I hear that all the time, “Well, not ALL of us can do what you do.” Well, you probably can… it’s just a matter of choices. Thank you for reading!

  15. Great post and one that I could really relate to. Being called “lucky” all the time, drives me crazy, like you I believe we create our own luck and I work much longer hours (as I’m sure you do as well) than most of my friends with so called “real” jobs do.

  16. Good for you for being transparent. I’m always amazed at the number of people who seem to think bloggers get everything for free or that their parents gave them the money to travel. I also think it’s important for bloggers to share about just how hard work blogging is, and how it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes you can be in these amazing places, but you have to work instead of being able to explore the whole time.

    One thing I would like to see more bloggers discuss, though, is how they actually save money, both in terms of accumulating emergency savings and also saving for retirement. Usually they discuss how blogging (after much hard work) has finally started to pay their bills, but are they able to save as well? Or, they talk about how they saved up the money to take their RTW trip, but for those who choose blogging and location-independent lifestyles, how do they save for the future? Or, are they just prolonging saving for now while they travel? I think that would be a really good topic to cover because if more people (myself included) could be convinced that you can not only pay the bills, but earn enough to save significant amounts, they might be more likely to take the plunge and start traveling full-time. I know I would be more open to considering it if that was the case. I would be interested in your thoughts.

    Oh, and as always, I appreciate that you disclose that you tithe. It’s not being boastful, it’s being honest. It’s not our money anyway 🙂

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment! To be honest, I’m not saving much or thinking about the future… I don’t know many travel bloggers who make enough to get past a very hand-to-mouth existence. Honestly, I’m just praying and hoping for the best, haha.

      And the tithe – I credit all my money success to being a faithful giver. Definitely not bragging on MY skills, but always on God’s provision. =)

  17. I read quite a number of blogs from people in a similar situation as yourself as I wonder if I’ll ever find the courage to do what you’ve done, but this is an outstanding piece of writing.

    It’s patently obvious that the comments are from the heart and because of that, the words are more powerful.

    All the power to you and best of luck on your continued travels & adventures.

  18. Ok so I’m going to attempt to post again despite the internet’s personal mission not to ever have my long, well written responses posted. I’m taking this time because I think it is pretty cool that we are vague childhood friends, yet totally different adults, who have reconnected via the internet and I feel like we could have an awesome time hanging out. Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee the awesomeness of my first post.

    I love this post. It resonates with me and I am sad our culture has come to the point that people assume nothing you do is ever earned or deserved. You are “lucky” or “spoiled”. We live in different worlds, yet I feel the same way. When someone attributes some aspect of my life to luck, I get offended. My entire life has been carefully planned and frankly, I’ve busted my ass. So when someone discredits this, it hurts. A few of my favorites:

    “You are so lucky to have that schedule as nurse.” (Ignoring the fact that after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree I have worked full time while earning a Master’s and then working towards my PhD).
    “Your marriage is so good because you’ve only dated each other.” (Thank you for your input, but falling for someone at 15 ain’t easy. We’ve each made sacrifices for our relationship over the last 16 years; staying together through so many life changes isn’t luck; it is commitment. Of course, I wouldn’t change a thing. My relationship with Kenny is my proudest accomplishment.)
    “You’ve got it easy—not having kids and all. Must be nice to be selfish.” (First, I still maintain a household, a marriage, a full time job, and my never-ending educational journey, and don’t forget the two dogs! Second, we have thought more about not having children than most people think about having them. It has nothing to do with being selfish; we just already feel fulfilled. As a side note—I don’t hate kids. In fact, I’ve devoted my life to improving their health.)
    Finally, something you can relate to “I wish we could afford to travel as much as you do.” (Ignore the fact that while I’ve driven two cars into the ground, you’ve had seven. Also forget that we eat 90% of meals from home. We also bought the smallest house the two of us would be comfortable in. Oh and I actually spent hours and hours, probably weeks, applying for grants and scholarships throughout my educational career so I did not have student loans. Ultimately, we make travel a priority; we make choices that fund our travel.)

    It is sad to me that we can’t just be happy for others and acknowledge that their success might just be because they worked for it. So, more power to you Angie!

    P.S.—Sometimes it is easier to tell a little fib…Avoid the confrontation with strangers who aren’t worth your time.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. I think it’s important to remember that it’s not just a misconception travel bloggers face — anyone who is successful and manages to have a put together life can be the target of those snide remarks that completely discount hard work and planning.

      Side note: we need to hang out when I get back to Fla. I need to meet this Kenny I’ve read so much about and we should probably catch up on the last 20 years…

  19. You go girl! I think it’s fantastic that you’ve chosen to chart your own path and do something that you enjoy. Of course you have to work for it – but doesn’t that make it so much sweeter in the end? I really appreciate your comments about sometimes there can be bad days (weeks?) when you’re traveling. My family and I have been abroad and doing a bunch of traveling for the last few years and no one seems to understand just how HARD it can be. Yes it’s wonderful and yes we enjoy it, but just because you’re somewhere exotic or cool doesn’t mean things can’t be rough.

    Personally, though, I’m just super impressed you have gone at it alone! I’d like to *think* I would be brave enough to do that, but truth be told I’m just thankful I have a husband who loves to go and do with me!

    1. Thank you for your comment! I think having moved to NYC and navigated a life there for 5 years as a single gal helped me a lot in prepping to travel the world in a similar way. Had I been in a relationship at any point in those 5 years, I think it may have been tougher.

      Now if I can just find a guy who wants the same nomadic life I do… THAT’s the tough part!

  20. Hahaha….Luv this post!
    Thank you so much for your honesty! My husband and I have been traveling for just about exactly a year now. And just like you much of that time has been spent in front of laptops. Looking at our pictures our friends and family think we just enjoy the good life slacking away…oh my and it sure does look that way in the pics. But there is so much more to it.
    Btw…Laos made us REALLY sick too 🙁

      1. We never actually made it Vang Vieng. Got sick in Luang Prabang, when we were healthy enough to travel just went to Vientiane to get a Thai Visa. Couldn’t wait to get out of there.

  21. I believe in you, girl. I too am often speculated about in much the same way you are. Except most of my adventures are right here on my little farm that owns me. It’s all about choices, right? And yes, I enjoy your posts from around the world. You’re an awesome photo journalist (if I may label you as such). You go, girl!!!! Keep on doing what you believe in. Pomaika’i a me ke aloha (blessings and love) “Auntie” Liz

  22. Way to bust those myths and give us a little glimpse into how you have so many awesome adventures!

    It is true, though, that when you make a conscious decision to make travel a major part of your life and work hard at it, it’s SO worth it in the end!

  23. Angie, I loved this post and I love my girl from Salt Pond, Long Island, Bahamas. Only an island girl can tell it like it is!!! I enjoy your travels, since I’m the ultimate chicken 🙁 but thanks to you, your fellow island girl gets to travel the world over!!! God’s grace and blessings always doll, you’re doing an amazing job. Be safe always and enjoy your job…. so few of us do 🙂

      1. Sharmain Deveaux

        That hug will be waiting with some conch salad and a kalik 🙂 2013 is right around the corner….. see you soon!

      1. Sharmain Deveaux

        OMG!!! I love and miss you too! I have never forgotten you guys 🙂 Now I’m really in trouble because I have fallen in love with your website…. so I won’t get any work done because I’m traveling all over the globe with you and Angie:)Help… lol. So when will you be coming back for a visit? Hmm… I want to see Exuma on that travel blog :)Have fun honey, I’ll be following you. The pictures are great.

  24. Hey Angie, I came across your story while searching for homes in Lake Asbury/Middleburg area. I was checking out the flood damage from Debby and your blog came up. I’m originally from Long Island and have come the love my home here in GCS. Thanks for sharing your pictures and adventures in travel and congratulations on following your dreams. I wish you much luck and safe travels and look forward to living vicariously through your blog!

  25. Melissa - The Mellyboo Project

    OMG! Thank you so much for writing this! I have wanted to write a very similar post for so long stating pretty much everything you did.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  26. Great insight Angie! I have worked as an Expat in some developing countries and my travel is the money I would spend on a therapist. LOL
    Yes, your world back home does follow you to all ends of the earth for sure. When my Skype rings in the middle of the night, or I hear the ping from a Skype message, all I can think of is ‘now what’. All of your travel is due to your choices and sacrifices; nothing magic and people who question your lifestyle are probably the people of wants, not needs. 🙂
    Safe and happy travels to you. Your experiences are priceless and no one can take the away from you; all except maybe “Mr. Dementia’ in your later years… LOL But thats supposed to affect short term memory, but people won’t believe you anyway when you share your adventures diagnosed with that sad ailment anyway… 😉

  27. Super stuff here, it all resonates so well. It’s hard working travelling so much, and we all have to make sacrifices. To the many people who say ‘I wish I could do what you do’ … well, they CAN, but also they don’t understand what making travel your ‘work’ really entails.
    Just enjoy it and keep living the life you want…happy continued travels!

  28. What a great article Angie! Thanks for summing this up – I may just have to direct people to this post the next time people start asking me about my worldly escapades, as the majority of this holds true to me as well (minus maybe the late night gropings… I’m still waiting for that one! 😛 )! Keep on keepin on, and see you on the road!

  29. I hear ya Angie. Recently had it out with my old boss on FB where she was chastising me for some stupid shit “all those people who give you free things’ blah blah. No one gives me anything for free. As if they would! I get tired of hearing it. I work hard, I MAKE things happen, no one gives me anything. Keep on being awesome!

  30. This is great! I am just starting out travel blogging but I get asked a lot of the same questions. People always tell me they wish they could travel like I do and I always tell them I can. All it takes is heart, hard work, and patience.

  31. Great post. It actually doesn’t bother me when people tell me I’m lucky. I feel lucky every day to do something I love and make a living at it.

    I just think most people don’t understand that you don’t need a lot of money to survive. I’ve never made a ton of money because I have always refused to work 40 hours a week, so I never had the shock of getting used to living modestly. I still think you are a drug smuggler though. 😉

  32. Sweet post, but… you ARE really brave!! You’ve done many, many things I would never do. And for that, I will keep reading. Funny you did this post: I wrote often about being in debt and losing everything before I took off on the trip that started my blog. (Not that I hadn’t traveled a TON before that…) But I never, ever wrote about how I got OUT of debt. In fact, every blogger I meet: that is what they tell me. Loved this!!

  33. Great post Angie, I enjoyed your insights. It’s funny how some people don’t seem to realize it’s ok to have different priorities in life.

  34. loved this post, angie! i have wondered what your life must be like and i feel like i got a little taste of it through this post.

    if you’re ever in chicago, you always have a place to stay!