This Ex-Teacher is Loving Her New Career As A Full-Time Traveler & Digital Nomad
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GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

GAFFL
25th May | 7 min read

At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we are featuring Ashlyn.

Ashlyn is an enthusiastic outdoor, adventure travel writer from Saskatoon, Canada. She has spent a decade traveling the world and writing about it as well as sharing it on her blog and social media channels. You can find her online at The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World and @thelostgirlsguide.  


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Inspiration To Start Solo Traveling

I had a philosophy that if I could spend 5 years learning in university, I could devote 5 years to learning while traveling the world.

I also wanted to chase the sun for an entire year (as a Canadian we get 5 months of winter.) I discovered how incredible travel is and the adventure, excitement, and unknown of exploring new destinations keeps me coming back.

How I Choose Where I Want To Travel Next

Sometimes it’s wherever the cheapest flight or best flight deal will take me, other times it’s at the suggestion or recommendations from friends and family.

Often, I see photos online and in books of places I haven’t been that inspire me to travel there next. I love outdoor adventures and unique landscapes so I’m always looking for a destination that provides access to nature.

How Often I Travel

I used to travel for 6 months at a time, and now it can be a week or a couple of months. I always struggle with what to pack and tend to be an over-packer. The hardest part for me is deciding what to take! 

When I choose a location, I try not to over-research as I like to be surprised when I arrive. But I do make sure to note what type of clothing is appropriate where I’m traveling (hot, cold, rainy, modest, etc.) and do make sure to have some basic language skills and know the currency conversion before going. I also like to have one-night accommodation booked in advance, then I usually plan on the fly. 

Things I Pack For My Trips

Packing is my nemesis – I am such an indecisive person! If it’s a work trip, I usually pack in a rolling suitcase but if it’s more adventure-based, I take my backpack with me. Packing cubes help me keep things sorted and organized inside each bag.

As for specific items, I always like to carry a scarf with me as it doubles as a blanket or dresses up a casual outfit for a night out.

Depending on how long I’m in a country, I still like to carry a guidebook with me. I like to read on buses or trains versus always looking for WiFi or purchasing a sim-card to depend on connectivity. And a small packet of laundry detergent makes it easy to wash socks and underwear on the go without doing a whole load.

Memories Of Meeting Locals And Exploring With Them

One of the best parts of traveling solo is the people you meet along the way. I always meet more people when traveling solo than when traveling with others.

I’ve spent weeks and months traveling with new friends from around the world and they’ll always be my favorite memories.

From road tripping with an American across South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho, to hiking the Inca Trail with two sisters I met in Peru, sharing the experiences with them made my travels so much richer.

What Encouraged Me to Create My Own Blog

I had so many people asking me questions about traveling and where to travel that I decided to start a little corner of the internet to share tips and tricks as well as some of the stories from my adventures.

It was an easy way to share the information I was learning as I was traveling. I never intended it to be a full-time business, it was originally started as a passion project but it’s been incredible to see it grow over the years! 

My Bucket List and the Number of Countries I've Visited

My bucket list always seems to get longer, not shorter! The more I see, the more I want to see.

I’ve been to more than 60 countries and traveled across all 7 continents. I’d love to spend more time in Asia and visit the Middle East for the first time.

There are several countries there that are on my bucket list. I would also like to travel to the Maldives.

One of my favorite trips was spending 19 days heading to Antarctica and getting to stop in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. It was a dream come true to step foot on my final continent.

I also spent 6 weeks in the Galapagos Islands. I spent my time obtaining my PADI divemaster course and got to dive with some of the most unique and incredible animals in the world including hammerhead sharks, mola mola, and manta rays. 

The Challenges I Faced & Compromises I Had To Make To Start Living A Digital Nomad Lifestyle

I was lucky that I didn’t get a teaching job I interviewed for. That was the catalyst to encourage me to travel rather than take a full-time teaching job. It was a moment in life when my path diverged and I’m so glad it worked out this way. 

As for compromising in order to pursue my travel career – I’ve definitely had to limit my spending and say no to lots of nights out and experiences with friends and family to focus on saving every penny I could for travel. 

The first few years were the hardest, especially when I wasn’t making any (or very much) money. But it’s been worth the struggle both in terms of growing to be who I am today and building a business to what it is now.

What Digital Nomads Need To Have To Sustain Their Full-Time Travels

I think people should have an open mind but also realize that it’s not motivation that keeps you going, it’s plain, old stubbornness. I joke that the only reason I am where I am today is because I was too stubborn to give up. Consistency pays off in the long run.

While tech gear is important, you don’t need the best or most expensive. Start with affordable items and build your tech kit as your business grows.

How I Manage Costs

I joke that if I wasn’t a travel writer, I would be a finance writer. I love budgeting and making my money go further. I saved up a set amount to travel each abroad, roughly $2000 CAD a month. Then I tracked it in an app on my phone to make sure I wasn’t spending more than that. It isn’t always easy but it helps me keep my trip on a budget. 

How I Think GAFFL Can Be Helpful For Travellers

Sharing travel expenses with other travelers is a huge benefit. Whether it’s splitting a room when traveling or renting a car together, it’s so much more affordable when you can share the cost of it with someone.

It’s also nice to have companionship on the road as it can get lonely. You don’t have to do everything together, but it’s nice to have someone to depend on or simply watch your bag while you go to the washroom. 

Whether it’s a local or another traveler, it’s always reassuring to have someone you can connect with on the ground in a destination. You might be thousands of miles away from home but people are so welcoming all around the world. 

My favorite app when traveling is Google Translate (you can download it offline). It helps you connect with locals and shows that you're trying to immerse yourself in a country and not expecting them to speak English. A little effort goes a long way to building a connection

My Advice To Readers Who Want To Travel Full-Time As A Digital Nomad

Have a bit of a plan in place before you go but also be open to the experiences that come as you work and travel. It’s a 50/50 split of flexibility and focus. Be creative in your approach and try to be different than others – that’s what will make you stand out. 

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Traveling

I’ve learned so much from traveling, I even wrote a blog about 50 things I’ve learned when I stepped foot in my 50th country. It sounds like a cliché, but travel truly changed who I am. It allowed me to be more open-minded, confident, and curious about the world around me.

People may be different from me, but if I approach their differences with curiosity, there’s always room to grow and learn from one another.

Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
Try GAFFL

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