Inspiring Travel Stories

Ordinary People & Their Inspiring Travel Stories

Derek Everything Else, Work & Travel 28 Comments

Inspiring Travel Stories

Ever since I arrived back in Bucharest some ten days ago, my level of motivation has been at an all-time high, so much so that even the gray communist-style apartment blocks scattered all over this city seem inspiring these days.

Where does all of this motivation come from?

As I often state as my answer to many questions….it’s all about the people.

Lately, I have been meeting such inspirational people that I can barely sit still, leaving me with a constant need to brainstorm, to create, to work on new ideas. Everyone I’m coming across, whether in person or online, just seems to have such inspiring travel stories to share and it’s pumping me up as well.


These people are not only interested in also turning travel into an actual lifestyle, they are dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to making it a reality.

Some of those I’ve met have already succeeded, others are well on their way. A few more have just started, completely fired up about the adventure ahead and completely unwilling to accept anything but the achievement of their goals.

And talking with each of them has undoubtedly increased my own motivation. Now I want to pass that motivation on to you by showing exactly what these people that I’ve met are currently up to. It is my sincerest hope that these examples will help convince you that you could do the same. Let us see…

Cruise Ship Work – One of my Romanian friends has just returned from working on board a cruise ship in Tahiti for the past four months where she admittedly worked very hard but also enjoyed the experience immensely, not to mention the several thousand dollars she saved, all of the French Polynesian islands she had a chance to visit and the friends and contacts she made as well. Not a bad way to boost the bank account and now she’s ready for even more travel and adventure, knowing that she could return to ‘ship life‘ at any time.

Starting a Hostel & Tour Company – A very motivated young guy, and passionate traveler, has recently started a chain of hostels here in Romania, along with a tour company designed to offer one-of-a-kind trips all over this country that focus on giving people as unique an experience as possible. He wants this concept to work so much that you can see the determination in his eyes when he talks about it. This is one person who won’t accept anything but success and if you spend just five minutes with him you’ll certainly find all the motivation you need to tackle your own life goals!

Taking the First Step – Despite working in a decent computer programming job for the past few months, another guy I met has made the decision to travel for one year starting next January. The decision is final and he’s about to book his flight now that he has started getting some freelance clients, whose projects he can work on from the road. This guy has always wanted to travel and he won’t let anything stop him, knowing full well that he has what it takes to make his dreams a reality.

Photographs & Documentaries – They’re a couple and they’ve taken their passions – photography and film-making – and turned them into an actual lifestyle. She takes the photos, which are often used in television commercials and magazines, and he shoots the documentaries which are shown on television stations around Europe. They both love to travel as well, which meshes perfectly with their skills and knowledge, allowing them to create ‘work’ as they explore different countries. And they are even planning to travel to Yemen soon where I have no doubt they’ll capture some incredible, and very sellable footage.

Escorting Groups Around the World – This creative individual worked out a deal with a travel agency in which the agency would sell small group tours to destinations around the world and he would escort those trips. He’s not the guide, but he acts as the liaison between the travelers and the local guides, hotels, transportation companies, etc., earning a decent amount of money per person while traveling for free at the same time.

Earning Money as a Waitress or Chef – Working at a resort on the island of Cypress, one girl I met spent four months there, saving up money in the process, which she then used to travel around Southeast Asia for five months. Her boyfriend worked as a chef at the same resort, where he was paid 1000 Euros per month, with apartment and meals included for free. They are thinking of heading back to Cypress for another contract in order to save up again for another trip, perhaps to South America this time around.

Using Social Media Skills to Travel – Another female I ran into has traveled around the world offering her knowledge of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to various hostels in exchange for a free bed and even a weekly payment. She boosts the hostels’ online presence, gets more people excited about the properties, increases their audience and more, making it a win-win situation for everyone.

Staying Put in One Place as an Au Pair – Sometimes it’s as simple as applying for a job through an Au Pair agency and before you know it, you’re taking care of a child in a foreign country. Sure, you have to work hard but you get paid as well and don’t have to pay much in terms of living expenses. One female traveler I know has been doing this in Istanbul for 5 months, allowing her to not only live almost expense-free, but to experience an amazing city more deeply than most people who simply visit for a short period of time.

Freelance Design from Anywhere – The freelance designer that I just met two days ago certainly impressed me with his story. He used his web design skills to gain clients on Elance.com, Odesk.com and other similar platforms where freelancers can find work and now he has no boss and no office. He works whenever he wants, wherever he wants and his portfolio continues to grow. With the money he earns, he can travel the world without having to worry about how to pay for his next meal or where he’s going to sleep, and he’s as happy as can be about it. (On a side note, this designer is absolutely brilliant so if you need any design work, let me know and I can put you in touch with him.)

How are you feeling right about now? Just read these stories over a few times and you’ll realize that these are all ordinary people, just like you and me, who simply had a desire to travel and a ‘nothing is going to stop me’ attitude. Yes, they were all afraid at some point, afraid to follow a path that had no clear structure or guarantees of any kind, but they summoned the courage regardless and plunged into the unknown. For all of them, it has certainly paid off, something that is quite clear from the positive energy they give off and the brilliant smiles on their faces when they talk about their projects and travel-infused lifestyles.

And those smiles are addictive and motivating, and over the past ten days, they have caused me to get incredibly excited about working on more of the crazy ideas bouncing around the inside of my own head.

I know that some of the above stories might not have the ‘wow’ factor you were possibly expecting, but that’s the point. Inspiring travel stories don’t need a ‘wow’ factor. The most important thing is to see that ordinary people have found a way to get out there and travel, often by taking simple, yet determined, steps.

Forget about ‘wow’. Look straight ahead and go for it, just as those above have already done.

How about you? Are you feeling motivated these days or are you in a rut?


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Comments 28

  1. Pingback: Inspirational Travel in 2014 - uGuest Blog

  2. Kim

    Wonderful! I love meeting people like that- the ones that just shake you up so much you feel like you’ve stuck your finger in a socket. You’re meeting those people for a reason (and, likewise, there’s a reason they’ve met you)… take that energy and run with it!

  3. Amelia

    Fantastic post! The idea of boosting a hostel’s online presence in exchange for a free bed sounds like a fantastic way of seeing the world.

  4. Sara W

    I love how other people’s simple stories motivate you, and they certainly motivate me! All these jobs must be amazing. These people can travel while having a job that they are truly passionate about! I don’t know much about travelling, but wouldn’t you need a working visa to work as a waitress or cook? Hope I can travel when I get old enough!

  5. Drew

    Awesome ideas to keep traveling! I’m finally about to embark on my traveling life adventure by teaching English as a foreign language. I have quite a bit of social media experience too, though… Might be a nice idea to borrow. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Traveling Ted

    I agree with Andi, traveling is great because you constantly are bombarded with interesting people who have an interesting story to tell. Great idea compiling them in a post.

  7. Paul

    Thanks for all the motivation Earl. As someone who’s currently stuck in a rut, unsure of what to do, this article gives me a bit of comfort in knowing I’ll be happy as long as I’m traveling, no matter what I’m doing.

    I’m currently tackling a transition from English Teacher to full-time freelancer, and am trying to land my first client. Much easier said than done, but I believe it’ll be well worth it in the end.

  8. Forest Parks

    No story is mundane or pointless if the person it happened to improved themselves and increased their passion for life. I love these simple stories and can’t agree more that people who you meet make travel what it is. Views and places are amazing but we can see them in photos and videos and a little of the wow is taken away because of this. A real person can never be purveyed accurately and the only way to meet them is in person.

    I’m working hard saving cash right now and trying to develop my freelance web and design clients and online presence again…. Also in the early satges of learning app development and will hopefully make that part of my earning and traveling plan. It’s going pretty well and I have a few months before it’s time to head off again. Still, I am not “home” as such as I don’t have a home anymore!

  9. Jacqueline

    If I think about it, most of my fondest travel memories revolved around people. Some people weren’t that pleasant and could be complete prats. But they did make life less typical than usual. As for the rest? Not all of them had experiences that could inspire a Hollywood film but they all had an enthusiasm for life that was just infectious.

    For me, the purpose of backpacking is not really about sight-seeing. Or eating delicious food, hearing new languages or sometimes, doing (crazy) things we wouldn’t normally do back home. It’s about seeking out humanity at its best.

    I think I wrote this before, but I like coming to this blog because your stories reminds me of the reason why I want to go backpacking in the first place. After awhile, I do get tired of reading on how to pack for X, Y and Z or travel insurance options or which flight tickets to buy. Of course, it’s my fault for bothering to read that much.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jacqueline – It certainly seems as if we think alike as that is the exact same reason I travel as well.

  10. Erin

    “I have been meeting such inspirational people that I can barely sit still” – You are truly the biggest inspiration for travel that I currently know. Thanks for posting about all these great people. It’s definitely inspiring and also motivating me to keep on with my travel planning so I can be like them…SOOOOOOON!!

  11. Jo Fitzsimons

    Nice mood boosting article. After nearly 3 years of having made the jump to permanent travel, I’d agree that ordinary people can do this. The biggest worries usually come before you take the plunge but very few people who do it have regrets. Great article. PS will look out for some tips on Romania – I’m planning to go there later this year.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gigi – Just send me an email through the contact link at the top of the page and I’ll reply with the designer’s details!

  12. Jade

    This is so inspiring!
    Me and my boyfriend have always dreamed of owning our own hostel (and maybe even chain of hostels!), would you be able to put me in touch with this guy so I can pick his brains?
    I hope your motivation sticks!

  13. Raz

    I don’t what a rut is but I used to be the one that insipired other people till about a year ago and theese days I can’t even motivate myself to get out of the room.

    Reading this stories just make me feel pitty and shame about myself.

    I don’t know how to get out… 🙁

  14. Elzet

    I have been wanting to share the story of my year so far with you and the Wandering Earl readers for a while and this blog is the perfect lead-in to my story! I finished my studies last year (in South Africa we graduate in December) and spent the Xmas holidays (summer holiday in SA as well) with my parents in the beautiful coastal village of Plettenberg Bay trying to decide what to do. I considered teaching English abroad but couldn’t decide on a country.

    While I was being indecisive, I got a few freelance jobs doing translating and text editing, which is what I studied. It paid good money and that made me realise that I didn’t have to choose a country – I could freelance and use that money to travel to different places all over the world.

    I have been blessed with amazing parents who love to have me at home, so at first I enjoyed summer to the full in Plett, visiting the beach each day consecutively for 38 days and trying my hand at surfing, even though I am afraid of getting water up my nose.

    When it started getting cooler, I started to put out feelers with all my friends in different countries. I have also been blessed with many amazing friends in many different parts of the world and who have invited me to come visit them many times over. The first door that opened was to go to China. I have just returned from an absolutely amazing month-long visit to China in their spring – beautiful! I experienced touristy Hong Kong, lived in Shanghai with expats for almost 3 weeks, backpacked to Beijing with my navigation-challenged friend where we took the local bus to the Great Wall (my first World Wonder) and ate interesting street food, and, probably the highlight, visited Chinese friends at their 1000-year old university in inland China for a long weekend where I had a complete immersion experience staying in a local dormitory, not seeing ANY Westerners for four days straight and eating Chinese food three meals a day, which included interesting things like stinky (fermented) fish and stinky tofu – the former being delicious and the latter horrendous.

    When I arrived back in South Africa, I heard that my mother had signed the two of us up for a tour of 6 European countries in September (her life-long dream). My American friends – I have quite a few – have also started talking to each other and are planning a 6 week visiting tour to them which will include New York, Boston, Princeton, Washington DC, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and, hopefully, Seattle. They are hoping that one will coincide with Thanksgiving so that I will experience a true American holiday. My mom is financing Europe, which leaves me only having to freelance to save up for America (Rand-Dollar exchange rate not being in our favour) – and whatever other adventures may arise. Oh, and in a month’s time we are joining our extended family for a week-long safari in Kruger National Park! I made sure my international travelling wouldn’t interfere with that local experience!

    I just want to say thank you, Earl, for inspiring us with all your stories! A friend told me about your blog at the end of last year when he heard I contemplated a year of working travel. Your blogs certainly played a huge role in giving me the courage and making it seem possible to live a life of travel! I am naturally someone who plans and plays by the book. I never anticipated that I would live a traveling lifestyle, but I am and I am having the time of my life! So many of my friends are very jealous of me and tell me that I am very brave to live this way. I find myself giving out your advice often: it really isn’t that difficult and, if you really want to, you can do it too! Hopefully I will also be able to inspire someone the way you have inspired me.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Elzet – That is simply an awesome story and it certainly is inspirational! Thank you for sharing it! Like you said, a few things need to fall into place, you have to stay focused and just like that, you’ll discover more opportunities to achieve your goals than you ever thought possible. Keep it going and do let us know how your upcoming travels go as well!

  15. Anthony

    I have been sat here, pretty lythargic all afternoon (dull UK). Even though I have blasted the gym this morning, the sun wasn’t shining for me. But Mr Wandering Earl has brightened my day up. This is classic example of creativity, I am inspired. Well done Earl…

  16. Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap)

    Hey Earl!

    Once again we love this as it is right up our street. We gave up our jobs in London and travelled for 18 months. When we ended that trip we got back to London & refused to get jobs during the worst recession in living memory. We wanted keep that sense of freedom you get whilst travelling and we wanted to start something we are both passionate about. Hence http://www.globalhelpswap.com & http://www.the1bigthing.com! It was the best move we made!

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