It’s Monday morning, and I’m currently writing from my favorite coffee house in Amsterdam, Sweet Cup. I can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since we moved to Europe and found an apartment in Amsterdam to call home.
It’s hard for me to transport my life back to what it was in 2016 before we left to travel. If nothing had changed, I’d probably be sitting at my desk in Los Angeles right now and diving into the work week. My day would end around 6pm with a traffic-filled drive home.
Don’t get me wrong — I liked my job. What a lot of you might not know is that Jacob and I have been working at our old jobs while traveling this past year and a half. I stayed with the same company in Los Angeles, working part-time remotely for the marketing team and balancing some insane hours (I mainly matched U.S. hours, so was always working until midnight in Amsterdam).
Last month, this all changed. Though having a safety net was definitely something I haven’t taken for granted, I knew it was time to go all in on running Find Us Lost. So — I am proud to announce that I am officially a full-time travel blogger! It’s taken over a year to commit to making this decision, but I am so excited I finally did it.
Why am I sharing this? For those of you who found our blog from Instagram, or Pinterest, or through a friend — I’m so grateful you’re here. If you’re reading this, I have to imagine that you’re interested in visiting new places, creating a lifestyle around travel, and potentially…even designing a career around it.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. Everyone who starts on this path tends to have a unique story behind it. So, I wanted to share the best way I know how: with a breakdown of how our lives changed since we decided to move abroad, and how we got to where we are now.
Here’s the real timeline of how it all happened (ups and downs included!):
November 2015 — After years of throwing the idea around of moving abroad, I finally decide to choose a date and commit. I convince Jacob we should go for it, and we set a date 5 months out. Our plan is to try living in Amsterdam for 1 year.
January 2016 — We move out of our apartments in L.A. and sell a lot of our things. I keep my car because we’re still planning to move back. We move into Jacob’s parent’s house to save money, since we plan to road trip through Europe for a couple months before settling in Amsterdam. I give my notice at work.
March 2016 — I end up working out a part-time remote position with my job in L.A. We leave for Kauai this month, our first trip before heading to Europe. We start our Instagram account so we can share photos from our travels with friends and family. Jacob proposes to me the day after we arrive in Kauai. 🙂
April 2016 — We stop over in Los Angeles to say our final goodbyes to everyone, and then fly to Milan, Italy and pick up our rental car. We have everything we are moving to Amsterdam with in the trunk of our car (shockingly, I would not recommend this!). From there, we leave on our road trip:
Milan, Italy > Lake Como, Italy > Venice, Italy > Lake Bled, Slovenia > Ljubljana, Slovenia > Zagreb, Croatia > Plitvice Lakes, Croatia > Split, Croatia > Hvar Island, Croatia > Dubrovnik, Croatia > Kotor, Montenegro > Budva, Montenegro > Lake Ohrid, Macedonia > Meteora, Greece > Athens, Greece > Santorini, Greece > Galaxidi, Greece > Positano, Italy > Tuscany, Italy > Cinque Terre, Italy
Just a couple weeks into our trip, our photos start to get re-posted on Instagram. We start taking more photos and communicating with others through Instagram who are also traveling.
May 2016 — We start off this month in Hvar Island, Croatia, a little less than halfway through our road trip. Our Instagram has started getting attention and people are reaching out to us for travel recommendations and tips. I research how to start a blog, so I can share more of our photos and publish travel guides. Jacob and I fall in love with Santorini and get our engagement photos taken there.
Still one of my favorite photos ever, taken in Santorini by Melanie Nedelko.
June 2016 — We extend our trip. Instead of returning our rental car in Milan, we decide to drive it to Amsterdam. We add these destinations after Cinque Terre:
Annecy, France > Beckerich, Luxembourg > Antwerp, Belgium
Jacob and I arrive in Amsterdam and stay in an Airbnb while looking for an apartment. We find a place after two weeks and move in. After taking the past couple months off, I start my part-time position working remotely from Amsterdam. I launch our blog with my first travel guide to Slovenia and our story thus far.
July 2016 — After only being in our new apartment for a few days, we fly back to California for a friend’s wedding. Our family throws us an engagement party while we’re home, and we choose our wedding date: September 3rd, 2017.
August 2016 — Jacob helps get me set up on Adobe Lightroom, and I teach myself how to use the program so I can get better at editing photos.
September 2016 — We hit 10K followers on Instagram while in Morocco and start getting offered free products.
November 2016 — We get our first ‘sponsorship’ opportunities and stay for free in Budapest, Hungary. I start reaching out to other hotel properties to host us so that we can keep traveling from Amsterdam. We’re featured for the first time in Forbes.
January 2017 — We secure our first paid opportunity on Instagram — a sponsored Instagram post and blog post. Together we launch a professional website dedicated to content creation for travel, lifestyle and fashion brands and start working with more clients.
February 2017 — We put together our first travel video from our trip to Romania.
April 2017 — Our Instagram photo from the Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany goes viral, reaching tens of millions of people through re-postings across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
May 2017 — At this point we’ve been hosted for free at a number of hotels, and we go on our first press trip this month. We’ve been getting inquiries for paid work, including content creation (both photos and videos) for fashion brands and hotel companies. We turn down a lot of sponsorship opportunities because we don’t want our Instagram to be filled with ads.
June 2017 — Jacob and I travel to Kauai to meet with our wedding planner. Our wedding day is less than 3 months away!
July 2017 — We hit 100K followers on Instagram.
September 2017 — We tie the knot in Kauai. For the first time in over a year, we take a week off Instagram and our jobs while we honeymoon in Tahiti.
Right after saying ‘I Do’ in Kauai, taken by Logan Cole.
October 2017 — We go on back-to-back freelance jobs to shoot photo and video for a number of different companies. Our schedule is so crazy between our wedding and ongoing work that we don’t make it home to Amsterdam for 3 months. We register our business this month.
November 2017 — With so many inquiries coming in, I decide I want to develop our blog more but I barely have any time to focus on it. I’m working from the morning to mid-afternoon on Find Us Lost, and from then until midnight for my other job.
December 2017 — Jacob and I finally take the time to evaluate our schedule and the past year. Even though we’re traveling constantly, we love Amsterdam and want to make it our home base permanently. I launch a new look for our blog, with the promise of more content, more guides, and more personal writing. Since it doesn’t make sense for me to keep working remotely for another company, I make the decision to commit full-time to Find Us Lost and give notice to my other job.
January 2018 — My last day is January 19th. As of this month, I’m officially a full-time travel blogger!
That brings us to now. In terms of what’s to come — my ultimate goal is to create a blog that inspires you to travel and serve as a resource when you’re planning your next trip. I also want to encourage others to pursue the lifestyle they want, if that means following in similar footsteps and creating a career by building a travel brand.
If this past year and a half has taught me anything, it’s that anyone can create a lifestyle out of travel. However, no two paths to get there are the same. You have to accept that your plans will change, as will your focus, goals, and timelines. But if you’re passionate about it, there’s no better time to go for it.
Take it from someone who could just as easily be sitting at her old desk in Los Angeles right now.
I hope my story was useful if you’re considering a lifestyle change. If you made it all the way to the end of this post, what brought you here? What are your travel goals? Comment below… 😉