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Globetrottergirls is Turning Eight

Globetrottergirls just turned eight (!) and I have to admit that this milestone would’ve come and gone completely unnoticed had Twitter not reminded me that I signed up for the social media platform eight years ago.

Eight years ago! In 2010, when I started this little blog, I sure did not think that I was still going to be writing – or traveling! – nearly 3,000 days later; 2,920 days, to be precise. I figured that this milestone would be a good excuse to grab a pencil and piece of paper (read: my iPhone) and break the silence, because I am sure you’ve noticed that it’s been awfully quiet here on the blog and on my social media channels.And this date couldn’t be more perfect to share a little update on how my travel and blogging life has been evolving, because as I am typing this, I am waiting for a furniture delivery, to finally make the place I signed a lease for last month, a little more homey. Yes, after eight years of homelessness, i.e. not having a permanent address, I have decided to finally put down roots.

I still remember the spring day back in 2010 when my task for the day was to open Facebook and Twitter accounts for the blog my then-girlfriend and I had just launched, and to find some travel blogs to follow. Back then, this was an easy task, because the number of travel blogs was still pretty small.

What Globetrottergirls looked like in 2010

I have to admit that I had never even heard of travel blogs until my partner suggested we should start one to chronicle the round-the-world trip we were about to set off on. But a quick Google search revealed that what I had done – quit my job to travel the world – was not as extraordinary as I thought it was. There were plenty of people out there who’d done the same thing, having already started their own trips or who were about to set out on a similar journey.

Some of the blogs I found back then are still around today, blogs I still regularly read like Uncornered Market, yTravelBlog, Bacon is Magic and NomadicMatt, but most of the blogs I discovered back in 2010 have long disappeared. Most people seem to go travel for a year or two and then return to their regular lives, and I didn’t expect to travel for longer than a year.

When I started Globetrottergirls, I had no idea where this blogging journey would lead me, and I never imagined that it would change my entire life. Without Globetrottergirls, I would have never become location-independent, saving me from having to go back to my desk job in London which had made me miserable. I doubt that I would still be working in the soul-sucking financial sector, but I’d probably still be working in an office, had I not started this website eight years ago.

Fun fact: The first 1.5 years on the road I worked on a tiny Netbook, I only got a proper laptop in late 2011. That’s me working on it in 2011 on a beach in Goa, India.

I would probably have never gone after my dream of living in New York, a dream that I wanted to make a reality ever since visiting the Big Apple for the first time in 2009, but had quickly disregarded after some research revealed that getting a sponsorship for a work visa was anything but easy.

Globetrottergirls did so much more for me than to just help me change careers  though. It showed me that there was a different, unconventional way to live my life – I didn’t have to work a 9-to-5 job!

I could make a living being my own boss, making my own hours, deciding what kind of work I wanted to do. And I could do it from a hammock in Nicaragua or from a beach in Thailand. I met people who felt the same way about the corporate world, who had also left their careers behind to set off on a journey into the unknown. I doubt that without my round-the-world trip and the world that blogging and working online opened up for me, I’d have had the courage to quit my job and try living a life less ordinary. But crossing paths with so many people both online and on my travels that were living a similar lifestyle made me believe that it wasn’t as crazy to pursue this dream of turning a 1-year trip into an indefinite journey as many friends and colleagues back home made it seem.

Dani with her Asus Netbook
My hammock office in Nicaragua – much better than my desk in an open-plan office in London

Over the years, I was lucky enough to meet many of the bloggers I started following when I set off on my round-the-world trip, plus a bunch of other like-minded people who were earning their money online or had remote jobs, and it was thanks to these people that I found the courage to turn down the job offer I had waiting for me back in England, and to stay on the road instead. Because even though traveling the world forever (or at least for a few years) was what I was secretly hoping to do, in reality I always thought I would have to go back to the corporate world after roaming the globe for twelve months.

Turning down a safe job with a steady paycheck and paid vacation days was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And I’m not going to lie: Those first few years trying to make a living on the road were not easy. Travel blogging as a career was not a thing yet, and I remember accepting some really low-paying jobs, like a social media account manager position for £7 an hour, or blog writing / copy writing for as little as $10 per hour. But living frugally enabled me to stretch my savings until I was finally able to ask for better rates and started making some money through the blog as well.

housesitting pool
During the first couple of years of bootstrapping, long housesits in fancy apartments helped a lot to make up for the cheap accommodation we were able to afford at the time.

I tried to go back to more conventional jobs a couple of times over the years when money was tight, but I quickly realized that I am one of these people who are simply not made to work for somebody else – I enjoy being my own boss and don’t have a problem working seven days a week, as long as it is for myself.

Another thing I could have never foreseen when I started Globetrottergirls is how many lives I would influence. I am not sure how many people have emailed me over the years, telling me how Globetrottergirls had inspired them to travel to a certain place, go on their first solo trip, or visit a destination that hadn’t been on their radar until they read about it on this very site.

During Year 1 on the road I was obsessed with Central America’s colorful houses 🙂

These emails were my main motivators in keeping the site going whenever I was in a slump, or was suffering through a strong case of writer’s block. Inspiring others to go see the world and helping people plan their dream trip has always been my number one goal with Globetrottergirls, and it is why I will continue writing the website, even though I am not traveling full-time at the moment.

Having a base now does not mean that I have stopped traveling, on the contrary, I am already planning several trips for later this year, including a backpacking trip just like the one I set off on in 2010. The only difference is that this time, I’ll have a set end date and a home to go back to.

After nearly a decade on the road I was more than ready to have a home again, and to be honest, I was already ready to have a home base when I wrote The Evolution of a Nomad in early 2016.

dani palomino beach
Burned out in Colombia

I was tired and burned out back then, after six years of vagabonding, but somehow it took me another two years after writing about my struggles to stick with my nomadic life and my longing for a home base to finally sign a lease. Back then, I still wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to settle down – New York was the only city in the world that was calling me, but I was getting tired of having to leave every six months because of visa restrictions.

When I found out a few months after writing that post that I had won a Green Card,  i.e. the right to live and work in the U.S., living in New York permanently suddenly became a viable option. I am not sure where I’d be now had that not happened. Waiting for my Green Card to be processed meant I had to stay on the road for another year, even though I was more than ready for a break from traveling, but at least now the end was in sight, and I had something to work towards.

And then I was finally holding my permanent residency in my hands, and I got a mix of both cold and itchy feet.

dani camino de santiago
About 25 days into walking the Camino De Santiago

There were a few things I wanted to tick off my bucket list before putting down roots, such as walking the Camino de Santiago. The five-week pilgrimage was not only one of the highlights of my 2017 travels, but of all my travels, and it allowed me to not only wander across Spain and get to know the country in a completely different way, but to also do some much-needed soul searching; giving myself the chance to focus on nothing but myself.

Spending the first few months of 2017 in Latin America was also something I don’t regret at all, but when I finally returned to New York last November after a summer in Europe and a quick stint in Asia, with no plans to leave again anytime soon, it felt like it was just the right time to finally make New York my home base, and to stay put for a while.

Of course ‘putting down roots’, i.e. finding a home, turned out to be anything but easy, and I began to wonder if I was really supposed to be here. But no place feels like home to me like New York does, and so I fought to overcome a number of hurdles in early 2018 which caused me tears and sleepless nights (I might write about all of these obstacles at some point, when I can finally laugh them off) to finally become who I am now: someone who owns a set of keys, someone who has a place to call home.

Staying put, but not standing still – I am constantly exploring NYC

Because of my visa restrictions, I was never able to take on work other than my blogging and freelance writing gigs, even though I’ve been spending most of my time in New York since 2014, using it as a base between longer trips. The money I was making as a freelancer was oftentimes not enough for this pricey city, and I repeatedly found myself struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why what I was most excited about when I got my permanent residency was the fact that I could pursue opportunities outside of writing. I haven’t done anything but writing in such a long time – in fact, I’ve never done anything else for as long as I have been writing for a living, and as a typical Sagittarius, I am not only looking for new adventures all the time, but I am also someone who craves change and hates routine.

I am certainly no introvert, and the solitude that comes with writing has always made me miss having colleagues – that aspect of the corporate world, along with things like company parties, lunches with colleagues and after-work-drinks are some things I’ve been missing over the past few years.

I love working with people again – blogging can be quite lonely!

And quite frankly: Having the blog as my main source of income has been stressing me out for a while now. The income can vary drastically, it’s never guaranteed, and the hustling part of running a blog as a business started taking over and detracting from my creativity. Instead of spending time writing and creating content, I found myself spending more and more time on admin, running the back-end of the blog, and trying to keep on top of my emails.

The break I took from blogging was much needed, allowing myself to not blog for a while, instead of forcing myself to publish x amounts of posts every month – this helped to recharge my batteries and to get from a ‘I have to blog’ mindset to a ‘I want to blog!’ state of mind again. Globetrottergirls started as a passion project after all, and was never supposed to feel like work.

Do What You Love

After eight years without a steady paycheck having a more stable income again feels glorious, and being able to turn down some blogging opportunities I don’t feel 100% happy about but which I would’ve accepted before just for the money, is a big relief.

This does not mean the end for Globetrottergirls, and certainly not the end of me traveling. In fact, I just booked a flight for a summer trip, and I am in the process of mapping out my first proper backpacking trip in over a year to escape New York as soon as the weather gets colder. I am also looking forward to TravelCon, a travel conference in Austin where I’ll be speaking on a panel about LGBT travel with my friend Adam, which will bring me back to one of my favorite cities in the U.S. in September.

I still have plenty of travel stories to share, and writing has always been a part of my life, and now that I am fully settled in my place and even have a desk, I will get back to a more regular writing routine.

And to be completely honest – while I appreciate the break from full-time traveling right now, I sometimes find myself fantasizing about another around-the-world-trip. Will New York be my base forever? I doubt it.

The last time I went on a supposedly one year round-the-world-trip, I ended up traveling the world for eight years.

I guess we will just have to see how long the next one will be, and where it’ll lead me to.

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Eight Years of Globetrotter Girls
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