Hi! I’m Danielle
Many moons ago, I was a young would-be writer trying to make myself fit into a normal life.
I was working constantly, juggling multiple part-time jobs for not much money, looking anywhere I could for creative opportunities. It wasn’t all bad — I lived in a nice apartment, had a big support network of nearby family, and started seeing a guy I’m still with today. I got through the weeks on little, habitual things like going out for coffee every morning, going dancing with my friends and boyfriend once a week, and sipping my way through a monthly wine club.
But what I loved more than anything was travel, and counting down to one precious week of vacation a year didn’t feel like enough.
I knew that as a writer, I had what it took to work remotely. So when I got completely fed up with juggling all those different part-time jobs, I embraced the freelancer life and hit the road for an entire year.
What’s a RTW Trip?
In my early 20s, I was reeling from a bad breakup (cliche as that is) and frustrated after a 12-hour shift waiting tables to support an unpaid internship at an alt weekly newspaper. I was scrolling Facebook and stopped dead at the seeming clickbait title “How I Flew Around the World for Less Than $220” — a blog post on Spartan Traveler about how to use credit card frequent flyer miles and suddenly I had a new purpose in life. I had never realized there were people who made travel their entire lives, let alone believed I could be one of those people who quit their job to travel. I made it my mission to take a RTW trip.
RTW stands for round-the-world. In its most technical sense, it’s a trip that makes a complete circumnavigation of the globe and touches multiple continents. If you are one of those people who wants to go everywhere and has a miles-long bucket list, this is the ultimate dream trip for you! I traveled for a year, but some RTW trips last a few months and some people embrace the digital nomad lifestyle so well, they never stop traveling.
Isn’t That Expensive?
You might be surprised! While travel is absolutely leisure spending and I will never pretend my perspective can help someone struggling to get food on the table, a lot of middle class young professionals don’t realize how much their everyday spending adds up.
Brewing coffee at home, packing my lunch, walking to work… enough little adjustments to my budget freed up $500 a month for my savings account.
It can take a long time — my savings plan took over 2 years! — but if travel is your #1 priority, ruthlessly cutting your expenses at home and opting for more wallet-friendly options like hostels and buses can make travel on a shoestring budget a possibility.
I spent just over $20,000 on about a year of travel and I got tons of amazing experiences and memories out of that.
Do You Go By Yourself?
I certainly did!
While there are travelers who go on RTW trips with friends, significant others, or entire families with children, solo female travel is what makes my heart sing. I love my friends and family dearly, but none of them like to travel in quite the same way as I do. Solo female travel can feel daunting if you’re not used to it, but the payoff of seeing new places and getting to pursue whatever you find most enriching, fulfilling or just plain fun is worth the challenge! In fact, rising to the challenge itself is part of what makes solo travel so great. You get to know yourself and what you’re truly capable of in a way that few other experiences can match.
A few things I love
Where I Went on My RTW Trip
I passed through France into Italy, where I focused my time on Naples and the Amalfi Coast. On the way to Croatia, I made an unexpected stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia which quickly became one of my favorite places in the world.
I originally planned to spend October in Istanbul, but unstable politics at the time required a last minute change of plans. I returned to my beloved home away from home, the UK, for an extended autumn stay in London.
Out of the Comfort Zone
My RTW trip was the first time I traveled outside Europe. After a brief (riddled with misadventures) stay in New Delhi, my boyfriend met me in Nepal for a two-week trek around the Annapurna Sanctuary in the Himalayas.
My dad lived in Bangkok as a child, so it was a longtime dream come true to visit Thailand. After a few weeks in the Land of Smiles, I took the slow boat into Laos, where I spent Christmas learning how to weave on a traditional loom and New Year’s Eve river tubing.
Southeast Asia, Continued
Not knowing much about Vietnam prior to my trip, this was one of the most enriching countries I visited. I spent three weeks making my way from Hanoi to Saigon and continued on into Cambodia, where I finished the month at Angkor Wat.
Recovering from Burnout
After months of running around Southeast Asia, I spent an entire month recharging in Bali. I did little more than wander around Ubud, eat, catch up on work, and relax in a bungalow.
Not According to Plan
I expected to spend a full month in Buenos Aires and then move on to Mendoza wine country in Argentina. Unfortunately, two weeks into the month, my grandfather had a stroke and I had to put on the brakes to return home for a spell.
On the Road Again
After my grandfather’s funeral, I headed back out to put a long awaited capstone on my RTW trip: hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I ended the month with a super indulgent foodie day in Lima, Peru and a week of beach time in Tulum, Mexico.
I returned home for real in June. Even though the family emergency that spring meant I couldn’t complete a full 12-month RTW trip, I had an incredibly special year and it’s great fun to relive it here on my blog. Thanks for indulging this nerd!
Long-term travel brought so much special into my life — not just in terms of seeing a bunch of cool places, but in who I became. Traveling by myself made me more confident and decisive. Working remotely helped me get centered and focus on what I really wanted to do with my career.
In fact, when I returned from my grown-up gap year, those experiences helped me land a better paying full-time job in my field and later pivot into the weirdest (and best) job I’ve ever had. I also kept up strong relationships with many of my friend and family, and my boyfriend.
Long-term travel does not wreck your life! If you want to live a little differently and make the most of your travel experiences, this blog has all the inspiration and real-deal advice you’ll need.