“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -Saint Augustine
With the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure, “Mapping Megan” and husband Mike believe travel has the potential to inspire change in people, and in turn, inspire change in the world. They embraced travel as a lifestyle in 2007, and are dedicated to documenting their journey and observations through entertaining, candid articles and brilliant photography. Megan had a few minutes to sit down between her travels, and I had the opportunity to ask her some questions! Here is how it went:
-So you grew up in Australia and traveled to Japan in high school. What was that like?
Yes! Japan from Australia was my first ever trip abroad. I was 15, and highly excited to be on an overseas trip with my friends. I give HUGE credit to the teachers who chaperoned 30 teenage girls to Japan for two weeks! It was one huge two week slumber party full of sushi, Tokyo Disney and a lot of culture shock … the biggest shock being that we were expected to use squat toilets throughout our stay!
At 15 I didn’t have a huge appreciation for global culture, and honestly the highlights of the trip were Tokyo Disneyland and my home stay. We visited a sister high school in Tokyo and each of us were paired up with a Japanese student who we stayed with for 3 days. This was an amazing experience which not only improved our language skills, but also planted the beginnings of the travel bug within me.
-You caught the “travel bug” in 2007 in college, where did you want to travel to most at that point?
Pretty much anywhere I could. I didn’t necessarily have a “bucket list” at that point with a list of destinations I wanted to tick off my list, I was more in love with the feeling of adventure and exhilaration which comes with exploring new environments, discovering cultures different to my own, tasting new flavors, meeting new people and seeing new things.
I spent 2007 working as a boarding school assistant in London, a 12 month gap year in between high school and university, so I was in a perfect position to explore Europe in the 17 weeks holiday we had off from the school. Looking back this was more of an opportunity to get a taste/sampling of Europe. I went wherever the cheapest deals took me, and it was a chance to dip my toes in the world of international travel and simply be away from home.
-How many countries have you traveled to and which have been your favorites?
I’m sitting at around 38 countries now – I’m more interested in slower travel and fully immersing myself in a new destination as opposed to jumping across borders just for the sake of having a fuller passport.
Bolivia is a country which really surprised me and blew me away. It’s unlike any other country on earth. You have the breathtaking Andes, the daunting altitude, the lush rainforest, the too-small bowler hats worn by the indigenous women, the vast salt flat, the decorated llamas, the pink flamingos, and that famous harrowing mountain bike ride down the most dangerous road in the world (death road). I quickly realized that this land locked South American country should have been an obvious choice for me, being interested in adventure, culture and nature.
Other countries which make my list of favorites include Iceland (the nature is UNBELIEVABLE!), Italy (who wouldn’t love a country which doesn’t make you feel guilty about eating pizza, gelato and indulging in fine wine every day!), and Ecuador. While I haven’t spent time on mainland Ecuador we spent 2 weeks in the Galapagos Islands, and the wildlife experiences there were out of this world. It was everything we had imagined it to be – being in the Galapagos Islands and snorkeling with sea lions and sea turtles was like stepping into the cover of a National Geographic magazine.
When my website began the sole purpose was to chronicle my travels. 2007 was the first time I had spent a full year away from home, so my blog was a way to keep my friends and family up to date without having to send 20 million emails and spend ridiculous amounts of money on phone calls!
After that initial year abroad I kept traveling, and kept up my blog. Finally in 2012, I realized that people were doing the same thing I was doing, traveling and blogging about it, though they were making a living in doing so! So I dedicated myself to building an audience and optimizing the site as a business, and now I have turned travel writing via my blog into a career. My goal for the site is to still chronicle my travels, and share my adventures with the world, though now I also have specific business goals and social media strategies etc which have been added into the mix.
My main goal in having turned my site into a business was to have the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere, to be my own boss, manage my own schedule, and do something that I truly love. My goals are now about maintaining that lifestyle and career.
-Is traveling your only job, or do you have a “regular job” too?
I had a regular job for the first year and a half of blogging as a business, though now it is my full time career. Making money from a blog takes time – there’s usually an initial time investment of around a year or so, because you need to build an audience and publish a continual string of high quality content to prove yourself so that advertisers will want to work with you. And while it’s hard work juggling a full time regular job with full time blogging at the same time, it’s absolutely worth the commitment to get to the stage where you can leave 9-5 behind.
-Here is the million dollar question, how do you make money traveling?
There are many different ways to make money while traveling the world – I personally make money by running a blog, but if you’re willing to think outside the box, there are other alternatives too. Like teaching English abroad. English language skills are in high demand all around the world, and there are hundreds of wonderful jobs available. Thousands of travelers are earning cash teaching English abroad everyday, and often you don’t need to be certified. You just need to be a native speaker. Check out languagecorps.com or eslcafe.com, and choose a location!
Or becoming a day trader. Or bar tending. Or picking up resort jobs in each new destination you visit. Or working online as a freelance writer. Or selling your photography. There are so many different ways you can make money while traveling if you’re willing to think outside the box.
When it comes to blogging specifically, advertising income may come in many different forms. I personally make a lot of my money via Sponsored posts – where a company will pay to have their business, product, or hotel promoted on our site. Though other streams of income include Affiliate marketing (where you receive a percentage of a sale made from someone having clicked through from your site), direct advertising (selling advertising space, for instance on the sidebar of your site), and many bloggers also use their site as a platform to pitch for freelancing work with other companies.
-What do you like to do when you’re not traveling?
When I’m not traveling I’m blogging! The problem with having combined a passion with a career is that I’m generally spending every waking moment in front of the computer on my blog when we’re not out traveling somewhere. I do however enjoy spending time in the outdoors, so heading out on hikes, spending time at the beach – and I’m trying my best to learn the piano too!
-You met your husband Mike in Tanzania in 2010. Where have you traveled together and where did you get married?
Mike and I met in Africa after both having just summated Mt. Kilimanjaro. He’s from the United States and I’m from Australia, so after having spent 12 hours chatting and laughing together at the hotel bar, we had to part ways, though did stay in touch. Many hours of phone calls and letters back and forth later, and we decided to give a long distance relationship a go. We would meet up in the middle to be able to see each other, meeting in Paris, Scotland, London, Amsterdam, until Mike moved to Australia for a year in 2012.
I decided that planning a destination wedding in a location halfway between Australia and where his family was in Florida was only fair, so in 2013 we were married in Hawaii! You can view photos from our destination wedding here. We have traveled everywhere together since.
-Do you have a “home base” or do you just travel all of the time?
Since our wedding in 2013 we had been traveling full time, with occasional bases throughout the United States for a few months inbetween long travel stints. However after 2 years of full time travel we have now returned to Australia and are setting up a base again. We’re looking forward to having a home to travel back to after we’ve spent time abroad. There’s nothing better than the feel of a familiar pillow under your head!
-Your husband Mike is a wildlife photographer, has he done this on a freelance basis for anyone like National Geographic? His photos are stunning!
Yes, Mike’s main passion is wildlife photography, though he does this purely for the love of the craft. I take full advantage of all of his amazing photography for blog and social media purposes, though he hasn’t yet broken into freelancing or selling photography as his main focus has always been keeping it as a passion.
He is however in the process of setting up a wildlife travel website dedicated to displaying all of his amazing photos and wildlife tips. Watch out for this!
-I looked at your bucket list. It is impressive, with some of the scariest and craziest ideas I’ve ever heard. Tell our readers which ones you are most looking forward to!
I’m really looking forward to cage diving in South Africa with Great White Sharks. This is something I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do, though I’m absolutely dying to. And then an expedition to Antarctica is also at the very top of my list. Though I’ve always harbored a secret wish to be the first travel blogger to the moon! I’m sure if I can get 5 minutes with Richard Branson I can talk my way onto a Virgin Galactic flight once they’re ready to take off!
-When did you start to do more adventure travel as opposed to just sightseeing? Can you explain what adventure travel is?
Adventure travel can really mean anything; it doesn’t have to always include hazardous and strenuous adventures. For instance some might see adventure as leisure biking and hiking tours. For others, it might entail BASE jumping into an underground cave in Mexico. Or Skydiving over Sydney. Culinary and wine tours, bird watching, architectural tours and religious pilgrimages are activities that can be classed as adventurous too.
I’ve learned that adventure really depends on the person experiencing something. The excitement could come from stepping outside your comfort zone, or from culture shock, or from an experience which requires significant effort and some degree of risk (whether real or perceived). In my experience I see adventure as generally including physical activity, a cultural exchange or interaction and engagement with nature.
-What are your top tips for travelers looking for their next exciting destination?
Look for off the beaten path destinations, and plan to visit during shoulder season at off peak times. Traveling outside of peak season not only saves you a huge amount of money on your travel (there is less demand for flights and accommodation so providers cut their rates), but you also avoid mass crowds. And it is so much more enjoyable experiencing a location without mass tourism, and having the run of a place to yourself.
This means you won’t have to wait in hour long queues to enter your favorite museum, people won’t be out hassling you to buy tacky souvenirs on the streets, and you can experience a destination as the locals do. Locals are generally friendlier to travelers in off season too, so it can make for a much more immersive experience for you.
-What are your three most popular blog posts?
-I don’t see San Diego on your destination list, is there a reason for that? Maybe when you go see the Monarch Butterfly Migration in Santa Barbara, Ca you could stop here? We’ll treat you to lunch!
We have actually just been through San Diego! We’ve just returned home to Australia after having taken three months to roadtrip from the bottom of the States to the top – we drove from California right up to Alaska! I’m slowly going through and writing about all our adventures now, so hopefully we will have our time in San Diego published soon.
Our favorite stop while in San Diego was at La Jolla Cove – the opportunity to be that close to California’s seal and sea lion population was unbelievable!
We can’t wait for that one, we’ll keep our eyes out! Where can our followers find you online and what do you offer/promote on your social media sites?
Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer some of our questions today Megan! We look forward to talking again soon, and reading your San Diego blog!
(Readers, do you have any questions for Megan? Comment them below and we’ll see when she’s on solid ground again! Thanks for reading!)