Katie Shares How She Overcame Her Fear Of Solo Travel & How Remote Work Helps Her Maintain Work-Life Balance
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Katie Chavez is a full-time traveler from New Zealand who currently spends most of her time in Colorado.
21st Jun | 7 min read

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    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 article, we are featuring Katie, a solo traveler & digital nomad from New Zealand.

    Katie Chavez is a full-time traveler from New Zealand who currently spends most of her time in Colorado. She freelances online as well as runs her website and works festivals and events with her husband all over the U.S. They travel in the U.S. throughout summer in their trusty RV - Brownie, and in pre-COVID times, they would spend their winters traveling internationally in warmer climates. Check out her tips on her blog  The World On My Necklace and you can follow along on her adventures on Instagram.

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    Why I Travel

    I have wanted to travel and experience the world for as long as I can remember. Both my parents had traveled in their youth (my Dad is still a traveler now), and it is something that is almost a rite of passage for New Zealanders as we definitely have a culture where travel is important.

    My Travel Frequency And Activities I Enjoy While On The Go

    I am pretty much continuously traveling whether in the U.S. or abroad as I have been nomadic for over six years now. My favorite travel activity is hiking, and I also love trying different cuisines, road tripping, city exploration, visiting historic sights, and swimming in lakes and oceans.

    How I Choose The Next Travel Destination And Prepare For It

    I usually just choose on a whim although I have a big list of all the places I want to visit which seems to just keep getting longer! It’s really important to return to places I love too so I do a mix of traveling to new places as well as old favorites.

    We are always traveling in some capacity but we spend between 6-8 months a year road tripping and working all over the US, then 4-6 months traveling internationally, mostly over the U.S. winter.

    I plan my trips to some extent, usually by researching the general route then I book accommodation/excursions/transport as we go. For U.S. road trips, we usually know a route we want to do but don’t usually book anything, as we mostly free camp. We may book activities a few days out.

    How I Pack For My TripsWe have a wardrobe and drawers in our RV so for U.S. travel it’s easy - we don’t have to pack anything! For international trips, I usually travel carry-on only, and depending on where I’m going, I pack my GRAYL water filter, my travel Aeropress so I can make good coffee wherever I am, and lots of dresses because they are lightweight and comfortable.

    How I Find Locals And Travel Companions While Traveling

    I still stay in hostels on some of my trips and that has been a great way to meet travel companions - especially if I am traveling alone and staying in dorm rooms. I have also used Couchsurfing and work exchanges to meet locals, as well as hitching and ridesharing.

    One Of My Most Memorable Travel Experiences

    One of my favorite experiences of exploring with a local is when I was on tiny Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada and I put my thumb out to hitch. Straight away I was picked up and it turned out to be the Mayor of the island, who then drove me all over the island, telling me local stories and about the history of the island.

    We ended up driving around for nearly three hours and I tried to give him something for his time but he wouldn’t accept anything - such a great experience and I learned so much more about Grand Manan Island than I would have otherwise.

    Challenges I Faced When I Started Traveling And Living Abroad

    I was scared to get started with traveling and living abroad so my first step was moving from New Zealand to Australia when I was 21 with a friend that I convinced to come with me. From there, my best friend and I moved to London and then my travels really began. I realized that travel wasn’t so scary after all and it got a lot easier.

    Really, the only thing that was holding me back was fear but I overcame it and did it anyway.

    Sacrifices I Made To Pursue Full Time Travel

    I don’t own a home, I don’t have a lot of money, I’ve lost friends (but gained many others) - all sacrifices I was willing to make and I have no regrets.

    Biggest Challenges To Manage A Digital Nomad Lifestyle

    The biggest challenge was to know how to get started and actually find remote work. I was lucky that I had a background as an Executive Assistant which translates to being a Virtual Assistant, and that I had been running my own travel blog for a couple of years so I had experience with everything related to running that too.

    I did some work with friends, to begin with, to get some remote work experience and since then I have done a variety of freelance jobs as well as making some money off my own site.

    Why I Started My Blog

    I had been wanting to start a travel blog for a while because I enjoy writing and I wanted to share my experiences and tips after years of traveling. I love helping people realize their own travel dreams.

    My Budget Travel Secrets

    Cook meals when you can rather than eating out all the time because it is usually cheaper, stay in hostels over hotels, do work exchanges through Work Away or Help X to get a more local experience without spending much money, travel carryon only to cut down on bag fees.

    Countries I Have Been To And My Bucket List

    I have been to 64 countries over 17 years of travel and living abroad. I always have new countries or new areas of countries that I am dying to go to - Nepal, Patagonia, and Japan are at the top of my list right now.

    Traveling overland through Mexico, Central and South America is still one of my biggest adventures and was some of the most challenging travel I have done but so rewarding too.

    How I Manage My Work, Family And Travel Simultaneously

    It can be hard to balance it all and I am always working on this. If I am feeling burnt out from traveling too fast and working on the road I try to stay somewhere a while to recharge. In regards to family, we visit Colorado frequently to see American family, and I try to get back to New Zealand once a year to visit family there.

    Advice For Those Who Aspire To Travel As A Full Time Digital Nomad

    Save money to have as a safety net first and try getting some remote work while still working in your regular job so you have a way of making money when you start out. Start out traveling slow to get the hang of traveling and working remotely and to avoid burnout.

    Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Traveling Solo

    Although I travel a lot with my husband these days too, solo travel is still so important to me. I wish I had started traveling solo earlier and had not let fear delay doing it.

    Lessons I Have Learned Over 16 Years Of Traveling

    I have learned that it rarely ever turns out to be as scary as you think it will be as our minds tend to always think up the worst-case scenarios with travel - and life in general.

    Other inspiring stories to read! 

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