Rachel Elizabeth’s interest in other countries and cultures was sparked by her love of reading – in particular, the Harry Potter series. Later, during her first solo trip to Scotland at the age of 26, she set a goal to see as much of the world as possible. Today, as a high school English teacher, she makes the most of her breaks by going on at least one international trip each year. You can read about her journeys at The Blond Wayfarer.
NAME: Rachel Elizabeth
RESIDENCE: New Jersey
OCCUPATION: English Teacher
How have you made your life a “traveling life” and why?
I work as a high school teacher. So my job isn’t flexible. I need to be present in the classroom for the educational sake of my students. No questions asked.
However, I can travel on my designated breaks in winter, spring and summer. Airfare and accommodation are usually more expensive, since school holidays fall smack in the middle of “peak ” travel periods, but I plan ahead to secure the best deals. Plus I don’t ever have to ask my employer for time off! Teaching also allows me to receive my paychecks for 12 months rather than 10. Sure, this arrangement means smaller checks, but I feel like I’m being paid to travel the world in the summer.
Why is travel important to you?
Travel forces me to expand my comfort zone. I feel like I didn’t take enough risks in my teens and early twenties. I followed the “normal path” aka going to college/graduate school and finding a job. After my “normal path” was disrupted in a bad economy, I realized that I needed to take risks to feel fulfilled in life.
In addition, travel exposes me to a variety of people and places, which has made me a stronger and more compassionate citizen of this planet. I’ll never forget the many lessons I’ve learned on the road.
What are some of your first travel memories? How did you first get the travel bug?
My first travel memories are of family trips to Marco Island, Florida. I loved exploring the beach, swimming in the pool, and devouring fresh seafood. I looked forward to our bi-yearly trips to Florida, and I definitely think these childhood experiences had an impact on my current wanderlust.
As for the travel bug, I was infected on a 2009 trip to Bermuda. It was my first time outside the United States. I was in awe of the cultural differences between Bermuda and the States, not to mention the pink beaches! A realization hit me on this trip: the world was a big place and I needed to make it a priority to see all the beauty.
What is your most significant travel memory and why?
My most significant travel memory took place on my first solo trip: a two-week adventure around Scotland. A few days into my journey, I went to Dunnet Head, the most northern point of Britain, and gazed off the cliffs at the blue sea. I took this trip to Scotland to heal after a rough year. While enjoying the sunshine at Dunnet Head, I promised myself that I’d take as many trips as possible and live for the moment. I kept true to my word. Since that day, I’ve been abroad every summer vacation!
What are some misconceptions friends & family have about your travels?
My family thinks I’m an insanely brave person for traveling alone. But personally I don’t think you need courage to travel, just determination to live on your own terms! As for my friends, sometimes I get the impression they think I’m rolling in money. I’m lucky in many ways, but I’m not rich (teacher, remember?) and my parents don’t fund any of my travels. Instead I budget for travel and seek out the best deals possible to transform my adventures into realities. There’s also the misconception that solo female travel is risky. I take precautions, but find travel no more dangerous than living my daily life in New Jersey.
What advice do you have for others who want to incorporate more travel into their lives?
Don’t overthink or psyche yourself out. Simply plan a trip and budget toward said-trip. It may take a month to save. It may take two years. Don’t be discouraged and follow your plan.
If you’re an American, like myself, then be sure to save your limited vacation time. I understand if you don’t believe you can travel. In my opinion, Americans are totally shafted compared to the rest of the developed world. We’re taught to work hard for no reward. Fight it. Try to save those days and pair them with company holidays to bank the most time possible for your adventures.
And don’t listen to the naysayers! It’s your life. Live it.
Where are you headed next?
Spain during spring break in March
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Don’t believe you can only travel if you’re a digital nomad. Plenty of people have a permanent address and career, and they are still able to make travel a big part of their lives!