When I was a teenager, I’d never been on a plane. I would constantly beg my mom send me to England, because I had a friend who lived there. My mom consistently said no. Until one day she said to me in a rush of annoyance, “You know what, Hannah? If you want to go to England so badly you can get off your ass and go get a job.” She didn’t genuinely mean, “Go alone to a different continent as someone who’s practically still a child.” She didn’t want her baby girl to travel alone when she herself had never left North America.
I went off and I got myself a job at McDonald’s at 15. I was working full time while going to high school. The lack of sleep started to catch up to me and my entire quality of life suffered. Still, I kept going because I desperately wanted to go to England. I made the decision to take two weeks off work while I finished up my last three years of high school online in just two weeks. I was nearly sleepless during that whole time, but that was nothing new. In between cramming my brain with chemistry equations, algebraic formulas, stupid English poems and history texts, I would consider just giving up, but then I would remind myself why I was even doing this. I was doing this because I knew I was the only one who could make my dreams come true.
After the two weeks I graduated. I eventually saved up $12k while working a minimum wage job. Then I finally bought a ticket to London. I was seventeen and finally going to England. With my mom’s uneasy blessing, I ventured off and boarded a plane for the first time. Unfortunately the job market was so shitty in the UK at the time that my hopes of getting a job were unrealistic. After about half a year or so, I “lent” (gave) what was left of my money to my roommate who was then unemployed and risked being homeless. The job market was that bad.
When I got home, I started working at McDonald’s again and saved up some more and then ventured back off. I managed to visit Thailand for nearly 3 months, then came back home. Still having the travel bug, within 8 days, I was aboard another plane and heading to Iceland. I went to Iceland, Norway and Denmark during that trip, but Iceland had my heart and I spent 5 weeks there. I wasn’t rich. I didn’t have much money saved up. A meal there is well over $20 CAD and in Norway & Denmark it’s even more expensive. A cheap meal, that is.
People always ask me how I managed to travel for so long during that point in my life. I hadn’t even started my career in sales, yet. I was simply working the only minimum wage I could get. The answer to that question is simple: travel doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be free, actually. Psst… here’s a secret: you can work abroad and make real money in the local currency without having a work visa. If you don’t want to do anything illegal, you can also trade your skills and efforts for a place to sleep and food.
People think flying is expensive. It’s not. You have to know how to look for flights properly and with resources like Google Flights, Skyscanner, etc… I’m surprised anyone would have to pay more than $900 to get to China. Or $600 to get to Europe. Heck, I’ve flown to Ireland for far less than that.
Since quitting McDonald’s, I enjoyed six fantastic weeks exploring Mexico and the US. I’ve spent two months discovering Egypt. I’ve been to China, all over Europe, Central & South America and more! I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a vast array of places. I didn’t have a coach or travel agent. I didn’t even have a role model. Just my own two feet and a backpack.
I’m now a travel agent and get to spend all day talking about travel and helping other people’s dreams come true. I get to show people how to explore Asia for the price of a 4 day trip to Las Vegas. I get to encourage worried people to step outside their comfort zone and truly make the most of their lives. I truly am an expert in all things related to travel, but more importantly I’m passionate about helping people’s dreams come true.