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Living Life On The Road: An Interview With Shannon O’Donnell

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Would you to pack up and move your life to a completely different location? Many people travel for leisure and business, but there are those for whom travel is a way of life. These adventurous individuals must surely face many hurdles given the costs associated with such a style of living.

To dig deeper as to how a life built around travel can be sustainable, RewardExpert reached out to veteran traveler Shannon O’Donnell of the blog A Little Adrift. Having been recognized by such outlets as NPR, National Geographic, and CNN, we figured O’Donnell would be able to provide us with some valuable insight.

A Leap Of Faith Into A Brave New World

O’Donnell’s travel career started back in 2008 when she packed her bags and headed out on her first trip across the world. What went into her big decision?

“I was very fortunate to have online work. I worked on the Internet and always have.” O’Donnell says, “But I had moved to LA in 2006 to pursue a career in acting and eventually I was sick of it. I got into travel blogs and read about people who backpacked around the world. I just made the decision to book a one way ticket to Australia, then and there, before I could change my mind.”

travel blog

Despite the daunting trip ahead of her, the weight of the decision didn’t really hit her until a couple of days before the flight. She spent five months packing up the car and moving her things back to Florida from LA, and the process of making preparations for the trip kept her mind off of the trip itself.

“Once I had actually left and was on my own, things got better. I thought, ‘All right, you can figure this out as you go along.’ Over time it became more natural and the two month trip in Australia became two months exploring Southeast Asia, then two months each in India, Nepal, Italy and Ireland,” she said.

Traveling The World Without Living Like A Beggar

No matter how much travel hacking one does, traveling still costs money. Even if one works a remote job, how is one supposed to afford the constant travel? O’Donnell was able to provide some surprising insight into this topic, going against popular conceptions.

“Sure, owning less and spending less will help you have more money to travel, but it’s not about eliminating daily expenses. A lot of people get that wrong. Really you just need to budget a certain amount of money aside into a travel fund. You can still spend however much you like, but when buying something it can’t come out of your travel fund.”

travel blog

Additionally, O’Donnell recommended the use of credit cards, which had paid for one of her trips to Africa. She also spoke highly of travel-oriented smartphone apps.

“Back when I started, smartphones weren’t a big thing, nobody really used them. But now apps such as Airbnb and Uber have helped me out greatly while traveling. On my most recent trip to Vietnam I actually made use of a Vietnamese taxi app called ‘Grab’ which was even cheaper than Uber. Keep an eye on the sharing economy, that’s where you will save the most.”

Jetsetting for the Average Person

While it seems like the travel lifestyle might be out of reach, individuals such as Shannon O’Donnell provide examples of why it’s not as far out as one may think. With a little bit of smart planning, some patience, and a healthy dose of courage, a life of exploration and adventure can be balanced alongside one of stability and security.

If you need further inspiration to travel the world, keep an eye on her blog, A Little Adrift. The stories and tips there are definitely worth a look.

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