How We’re Still Traveling: Our 1 Year Update

October 16, 2017

A tunnel to a secret beach in Sayulita, MexicoIt’s been a little over a year since my last life update about our travels after leaving Los Angeles last year, to travel and move to Europe. And I’ll be honest — there’s been some changes!

We’ve had more and more people reach out to us lately about how we did it and how we can afford to keep traveling. Ironically, one of the reasons I was inspired to write this post (and how I can afford to write this post rather than be in an office!) is because I started a travel Instagram account and it helped me learn about being a digital nomad, travel blogging and starting my own company.

Take for instance the show Discovering Routes. The team behind the show reached out to Jacob and I because they found us on Instagram (more on this later). Our story spoke to them: the show is about Garrett Gee — an adventurous guy who also started an Instagram account after leaving to travel — exploring the country his parents grew up in, the Philippines.

The show immediately got my attention. I don’t think I’d be living abroad right now if it weren’t for my love for travel from an early age, visiting the country where my dad grew up (The Netherlands) and where my mom spent her summers (Cyprus). I am a traveler now because I was hooked early on.

Our santorini engagement shoot

Our engagement shoot in Santorini last year. Jacob proposed to me the day after we left to travel. More photos.

Snow from our Amsterdam apartment balcony

Watching snow from our Amsterdam apartment this past winter. I’ve wanted to live in The Netherlands ever since visiting at the age of 5.

Fast forward to our decision to move to Amsterdam, after fantasizing about the idea for a long time beforehand. The original plan was to give ourselves one year. We weren’t sure if we’d like living in Amsterdam — spending a week or two in Europe every few years is pretty different from moving there. But true to the way I felt every time I traveled there growing up, I fell in love with it even more after we moved into our apartment. It feels like an adventure daily, and I can’t help but enjoy it because I followed my gut to do something crazy enough to uproot both of our lives and live there. So, I love it.

But the best part that I could never have predicted, that’s kept us on this crazy journey even longer: I turned what I was passionate about into a way to sustain our travels and create a new career for myself.

Road trip in Palm Desert, California

On a drive through Palm Desert during a video shoot for Hard Rock Hotels this month.

Floating in the Hoyo Azul, Dominican Republic

Floating in the ‘Hoyo Azul’. We shot a campaign with Barceló Stories in the Dominican Republic in May.

After a couple months our Instagram started getting attention: we were hearing from other people who left to travel like we did, and people who were also considering moving abroad or traveling full time. We received messages from old friends and colleagues who were interested in what we were doing. We heard from new friends who wanted to meet up with us. And we started getting reached out to from hotels and companies who wanted us to visit them, or work with them, or share them because what we were doing inspired them and spoke to the audience they were trying to reach.

So what did we do? We became even more inspired. With Jacob’s help I launched our blog last June, so we could share more photos and stories and travel guides for some incredible places we’ve been. We started talking to more people. We started taking more photos. And we started working together on projects and photo shoots and videos, mostly with the companies finding us on Instagram.

We learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses by working together (if you’ve read some of our Instagram posts, for example, you know Jacob is colorblind — he shoots, I edit.) We created a second website to show off our professional work. We started growing a business together.

Side note: if you really want to test if you’re right for each other: try moving to another country and starting a business together in the same year, right after getting engaged and while simultaneously planning a wedding. You’ll know pretty fast.

When we got married last month my dad referenced an old piece of advice he gave me for my career during his speech: “Find out what you love, and become the best at it. That’s the key to success.” He joked that as it turns out, I figured out what I love the most – travel. And then he joked that his advice backfired a bit because now I’m never home…so he’ll hold off on the marriage advice. 😉

Backyard wedding in Kauai, Hawaii

A snap from our wedding day in September from one of my friends – I’m eagerly waiting for the photos from our photographer!

He’s right though. I did find out what I love the most and I intend to keep getting better at it. Just as the other travelers I’ve met have, as my dad has, as Garrett from Discovering Routes has. If you’re that passionate about something, you can always find success if you’re willing to work for it.

So thank you all for inspiring me, and for kicking off this crazy ride I’m on. And thanks to ABS-CBN Global Studios for turning me on to Garrett’s story, letting me share it in the hopes you’ll find inspiration like I did, and for helping me continue to grow my blog. It’s changed my life.

I’ll happily say it again — thanks ABS-CBN Global Studios for sponsoring this post. 

Questions about Instagram, traveling full-time, or working remotely? Comment below and I’ll answer.

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  • Reply Jess October 16, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Selena! This is incredible. Love hearing about people doing what they love and making a living out of it. You certainly are doing it best too. Have followed your account from the very start and loved watching you guys’ journey.
    I’m a flight attendant and started flying four years ago at age 24. It took me 24 years to realise what I loved doing in life and I’ve never looked back. It also gives me an opportunity to travel on a daily basis which is obviously also a major passion 🙂

    Keep up the magnificent work <3


    • Reply - Selena October 16, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Jess! Thank you so much – that really means the world to me! I couldn’t agree more, as soon as you realize what you love and find a way to accomplish it, it changes everything. Thanks for following along since the beginning..hope we cross paths in person one day somewhere around the world 😉 xx

  • Reply Anna October 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Loved reading this post! Thanks for sharing, Selena 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree that with a lot of hard work and patience, you can find success in the things your passionate about! Can’t wait to follow along and see where this next year takes you guys. Xo

    • Reply - Selena October 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks Anna! Yes so true, and it makes everything worthwhile when it’s truly your passion. Appreciate the love, stay in touch 🙂 xx

  • Reply Emma October 18, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Hi Selena, loved this post! Your photos always stir up some wanderlust! Do you have any advice for finding an apartment in Amsterdam? My fiance and I are planning to move there after our wedding next summer (his dad grew up there and we’ve visited together) and we are not too sure how to go about it.
    Thank you!
    Emma 🙂

    • Reply - Selena October 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      H Emma! Thank you 🙂 Yes — we booked an Airbnb for 1 month when we first went to Amsterdam because everyone told us that it would take some time to find a place. It actually only took us a week and a half, and we visited around 15 apartments during that time. I’d recommend checking out funda.nl and pararius.com to get an overall feel for what’s available. For more curated (and beautiful!) apartments, DSTRCT.nl is a good one to check as well, though their selection is usually pricier. Good luck and shoot us a message when you finally make the big move!

      • Reply Emma October 31, 2017 at 7:38 am

        Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful!! 🙂

        • Reply - Selena November 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

          You’re so welcome. 🙂

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