How I Packed for 16 Weeks (and Two Seasons) in Europe in One Suitcase; Plus, My Monos Luggage Review

It's not sorcery... it's one great suitcase, some smart clothing choices, and a few packing hacks.

I’m One Year Into My Sabbatical — How It’s Going

December 10, 2021 was my last day of full-time employment, and if I were to sum up my first year of semi-retirement in one statement, it’s this: I am prioritizing myself like I’ve never done before. And while this could be a side effect of the fact that no employer owns my workday, this is also me making a conscious choice… I’ve chosen this. I’ve re-prioritized. I’ve identified what matters to me, decided how I’m going to live my life, and I’m doing it. And ever since then, this choice has shown up in my life in several ways.

You CAN Afford It: How to Travel When You Don’t Have Tons of Savings

Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. Trading and bartering has been around for centuries, and the internet has made it more possible than ever to exchange work, expertise, and camaraderie for lodging. So here are four actual, real-life, TACTICAL ways to travel without spending bucket loads of money... and all you need is a keyboard and a mouse to get started!

My Third Month in Europe: How Much I Spent & Where I’ve Been

My third month in Europe has rolled to an end, and I'm here to share another spending recap. But first, in the last month, I’ve been in five countries, I’ve taken buses or ferries in between 10 cities, I’ve spent 20 nights in hotels or Airbnbs, and I’ve dined out about once per day… What do you think I spent? Please, close your eyes and guess. (All will be revealed momentarily!)

7 Surprising Realizations I’ve Had Since Quitting My Job at 36

I was 15 years old when I got my first job working at Panera Bread for $5.25 an hour. Like most people, I’ve been working ever since, without so much as a few weeks off or a few months between jobs — until my “great resignation” at age 36. I’ve worked at coffee shops, restaurants, big box retailers, golf courses… and then post-college, in two TV newsrooms and a few big corporate organizations. Sometimes, I worked side gigs and temp jobs simultaneously with my salaried job, to the tune of 60-70 hours a week, just to pay the bills or get ahead. (Damn, those days were rough.) Then, I quit. I took a chance on myself and my future: to grow and monetize this blog, publish a memoir about my journey, and THOROUGHLY ENJOY MY LIFE. I call this Julie’s Financial Independence Recreational Employment (my take on FI/RE)! Hereby, these are 7 confessions of a corporate job escapee... who's never been happier (spoiler alert).

How Much This Full-Time Nomad Spent in Europe (Days 31-60)

I have another 30-day, full-time-traveler, nomad-in-Europe spending update for you! I spent most of my second month of my stint in Europe in the Balkans and Mediterranean, so you'd think my mini-retirement spending would be lower than western Europe, buuuuuuut... I had a couple bills come due and a few "splurges," like my 7-day sailing trip in Turkey. So, in days 31-60 in Europe, I spent (and please excuse me while I mentally cringe)...

Happy 2-Year Nomadiversary to Me, and a Message: Don’t Wait for Your Life to Start

Two years ago and some… my life was very different. I was living what had been dictated to me during the course of my childhood and young adulthood. Go to college, get a job, buy a house, find a partner, have a family, and go on a few vacations a year until you retire at 65 — and then enjoy yourself. (I was stuck at the house and few vacations a year part.) And so I decided to turn all of that on its head. Two years later, I am still going strong on the nomad life... and I feel so blessed.

Ask Me Anything: 2022 (International and Jobless) Edition!

If you're new here (or just catching up!), I'm Julie, I've been a full-time nomad for about 2 years, and in this blog, I'm answering 16 of YOUR most frequently asked questions... about money, my sleeping arrangements, making friends, and the challenges I've faced as a full-time nomad. P.S.: What else do you want to know?

I’m 36 and I’m Semi-Retired… What Does That Even Mean?!

I may WANT to work again, should my choices dictate. But probably, definitely, not in the way that a lot of people work — because they have to, because they're trapped in a debt cycle, because the lifestyle they've chosen comes with a never-ending financial responsibility, because they care about status and appearances and bigger and better and more. Not me.

My Secrets to Minimalist Fashion

Is it possible to be a fashionable minimalist? I really don’t know, but I think I look pretty put-together most days, and many of you seem to agree! So how do I look so “chic” without breaking the bank and without collecting too much stuff, especially since I’ve been living out of my SUV (one suitcase and three bins) for almost 2 years while traveling North America? Let's get into it.

Homeless, Jobless, and Happy: But I Still Feel ‘Successful’

Success isn’t linear. (Nor is financial gain an absolute indicator of success — or happiness.) Case in point: I won a National Emmy Award at age 20 and a Regional Emmy Award at age 21. (Best college newscast while I was news director, and best advanced media for content my team and I produced.) Then I was laid off from my newsroom job in Minneapolis at age 22 and had to move back in with my parents. There's more...

How Much I Spent in Month #3 in Mexico (Puerta Vallarta Edition)

Hola mis amigos, I am back with another spending recap for my THIRD month living in Mexico after quitting my job and taking an early (temporary) retirement to travel!! Damn, time flies!  My January spending was just a bit inflated since I had some immigration and vehicle import costs and a 6-month policy for Mexican [...]

The Three Mantras I Adopted That Inspired Me to Leave My Traditional Life Behind

Three-bedroom house and 2-car garage. Six-figure salary and company-sponsored health care. My family, friends, and country of origin. I had all the stability and security and comfort in the world, and I gave it all up. I wrestled with my decision for a really long time, and I ran through scenarios, numbers, and options. Sure, it didn't make logical sense. Who would throw away a money-making asset such as a house? Why leave a job that more than paid the bills, that allowed me to live nomadically and travel the U.S. while working remotely? Who would drive to Mexico and stay for 6 months, leaving her family, friends, language, and way of life behind? It didn't make sense, but I kept on dreaming. My longings for a life of adventure, of discovery, of escaping tradition and societal expectations — couldn't be silenced. And so I adopted these three mantras, which I hold dear to me and share with you now.

How Full-Time Travel Helped Cure My Eating Disorder

With all the beach, bikini, and food pics lately, it’s no surprise I’ve gotten quite a few derivatives of the question: “How do you not weigh 400 pounds?” or “How do you stay thin eating all that?” While well-meaning, these comments highlight an unhealthy (pun intended) way of thinking: that in order to look good and feel confident — one needs to eat restrictively. I used to buy into all into that. I developed anorexia, body dysmorphia, binge eating disorder. This is a tale of how the scale ruled my life, my self-image, and my emotional well-being... for half my life.

I Looked Before I Leapt: How I Spent The Last 4 1/2 Years Getting Ready to Quit My Job and Travel the World

Before you say, "I’m one of those people who will never get ahead, who will never be able to save, who will never be able to not work"... in 2017, I had no job, a car I owed on, a $1,350 house payment on a house full of stuff I never used, peanuts in my 401K, and only $1,500 in cash. That was my situation, and I made changes. You can too.

I Get By… With a Little Help From My Favorite Apps and Tools

Over the last few years, through much research, trial, and error, I've found my must-have apps and favorite things for nomads and frequent travelers/expats... including an international no-fee ATM card, my favorite travel points credit card, health insurance for expats, renter's insurance, and where I get free audiobooks, to name a few. Since you guys often ask me, "What do you use for _____?"... here you go!

Privilege, Luck, or Choice: How I’m Able to Do What I’m Doing

How am I able to do what I’m doing — quit my job at age 36 to travel the world? Critics call it privilege, and I’m not denying certain benefits I’ve had, but I want to get real for a second. There’s privilege, there’s luck, and there’s choice, and the differences are distinct.

My 3 Rules For Finding Balance while Traveling, From a Full-Time Nomad

"Uh oh, I better maximize my vacation and have all the fun because the clock is ticking!" "Uh oh, my free time on vacation is finite so I better choose all the best activities and nothing better go wrong!" "Uh oh, sleeping in or just taking it easy while on vacation means I'm wasting my precious time!" See how the scarcity mindset sets you up to fail? I have since learned to think of time in abundance to find balance while traveling, and you should too.

My Metamorphosis: From Past Consumerist to Current Minimalist

I call myself a minimalist a bit reluctantly.  Sure, from 2017 to 2019, I went on weeks-long backpacking trips with nothing but a carry-on... but back then, I had an entire house to come home to. Now, nomadic since 2020, I travel with a few bins of clothes, quite a few outfits and shoes to [...]