I’m leaving my job and planning epic travel this winter

It has taken me a loooooong time to write this blog post – a ridiculously long time in fact. One reason is that it feels epic and epic often needs time to simmer (gestate?) before being shared. Another reason is I just have a lot to say. I’ve already sketched out at least 4 posts worth of what? where? why? and how? – so look for those this winter.

But today what I want to share is all right up there in the headline: I’m leaving my job and planning epic travel this winter! Can I get a woohoo?!

These are 2 separate but related celebration-worthy nuggets of awesomeness!

First, I’m leaving my job. As promised in July’s Declaration of Freedom, I spoke with my boss, although it went down a little later than initially planned. I gave her the heads up in mid-October and put in my official notice about a week later. My last day is December 6 – I wanted to give a lot of notice so my team would have time to replace me before their next big project kicks off.

Leaving my good steady job was not a straightforward decision, but for me it’s the next right step. I’m craving more flexibility in my schedule and have long been interested in exploring other work paradigms. Also over the past 2 years, this job has opened up a world of strategic planning I had no idea would be so intriguing. And I finally paid off my hefty student loans (a third celebration-worthy nugget of awesomeness) which has allowed me to feel more comfortable taking some fiscal risks with my work-life. Can I get a hell yeah?!

{brief pause for student loan payoff happy dance}

My last day also happens to correspond to the date my other job is coming to an end. Yes, I’ve had two jobs since late August. I accepted an opportunity to teach a class at the local University this semester. Teaching is an experience I’ve been interested in trying and I definitely learned a lot this semester.

But while I’m sincerely glad I did it, let’s just say that I do not plan to work this much again for while. Between working, teaching, traveling, buying and selling houses, volunteering and socializing, I have had very little downtime the past 9 months.

(side note: while I would call bullshit on myself if I tried to say I was too busy to write this post because of my packed schedule, it is true that working 2 jobs, transitioning between houses and giving attention to my social and romantic lives has left me with very little available brain power for endeavors like this blog. The context switching alone has burned valuable creative energy. Working parents – you are super human.)

And so, after completing my current obligations, I’m taking several months off for a personal sabbatical. During this time, I will be focusing on both physical health and travel (not always synonymous). I also plan to develop an ebook and experiment with working from the road, however rest and rejuvenation are my primary goals.

There are a couple of big “themes” rolled up into the sabbatical

  1. a renewed commitment to my health: while I’m ready to explore new opportunities, and frankly quite excited to do so, I’m teetering on the verge of physical burn-out. Mentally and spiritually, I’m feeling in great shape — I could use more rest and quiet time for reflection, but mostly it’s my body that needs the love. My trusty body is overdue for an oil change and I need a break before diving deep into income generation mode. That type of work needs to come from an inspired and connected place. Right now I feel scattered and running on fumes.
  2. A desire to flex my adaptability and creativity muscles in the ways that travel does best: I’m ready to challenge myself with travel again. I’m ready to get on the road and see new faces, interact with people who don’t look like me, sound like me, live like me.

The transition to the next chapter begins in mid-December when Mr T and I take a mini-break to an undisclosed tropical location. We’ve both been over-extended and squeezing quality time in for months now. So I’m using the proceeds from my teaching position to take us to a swanky resort for a few days where we will do nothing more than decide whether our boat drinks should contain rum or tequila! Since he’s not going on this adventure with me (although he very much supports it), it is also important for us to spend some dedicated together time before I depart. We’ll return in time to enjoy the holidays with family – first his, then mine. Then…

…I’m off and the epic travel is on…!

I kick off my trip in the new year with a couple days with a friend in San Francisco. From there, I fly to Hawaii where I will spend an entire month in one place. ← this will be a travel first for me

I’m doing a yoga-focused personal sabbatical program at a retreat center called Kalani on the Big Island. I’ve never staying in one place for a month with so little that I must do, and I’m looking forward to the experience and what it reveals. While at Kalani, I intend to sleep enough every night, eat high-vibe food every meal, enjoy yoga or joyful movement classes at least once a day, meditate often … and that’s it!  I’ll have books and a journal, so if I’m inspired to consume or create – great! If not, I will thoroughly enjoy clearing my mind and body for a month. Essentially I’m giving myself permission to do “nothing” if that’s how it shakes out.

Independent travel is exhausting at times and it feels right to refill my reserves before embarking on the next leg of the trip.

After my retreat, I fly to Bangkok where I’ll spend roughly 2 months exploring Thailand and Southeast Asia. My itinerary is still in flux but it’s my first time in the region, and I expect it to involve lots of beaches, lots of temples, lots of massage and lots of thai food. Other experiences on the table include diving certification and a fasting detox program.

I’ll visit at least one other country – it would be great to visit more, however I want to travel slower than I did during my European sabbatical. Two months sounds like a long time and until I started planning, I actually thought I could squeeze Australia and New Zealand in this trip?! Ha ha ha ha ha – turns out I could spend 2 months in Thailand alone!

Countries I’m still considering include Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan and – most recently – the Philippines, where I would do both a volunteer and a tourist experience. One way we can help battered regions recover is by pumping our tourist dollars into their economies.

I have not yet procured a ticket home, but my intention is to return as spring blossoms.  An endless tan is the plan!

This epic trip will fulfill several deep and long-standing desires for me.

The desire to spend the cold north American winter in a tropical (or at least warmer) location. The desire to explore a new part of the world. The desire to spend an extended period of time (in this case a month) where I am obligated to do very little on a daily basis. The desire to test out how I like working while on the road. And the desire for an experience that leaves me tan, rested and ready for what’s next.

There are several juicy topics wrapped up in this and I plan to explore them (and more) over the next few months.

  • why – my motivations and motivators
  • how – a couple posts about some how I’m making this happen
  • who – I’m traveling solo without my partner but with his full support – why and how that’s happening
  • work – how does travel fit in with my future work … or how does work fit in with my future travel…

If you want to read all about it, sign up here to get on my mailing list and have future posts delivered to your inbox.

Onward and upward!

♥ Audrey

Ps I alluded to working while on the road – I am accepting a limited number of travel coaching clients this winter.

Learn about my special 5-session coaching package and other ways to work with me!

Become your own travel hero in the new year – or give someone you love the gift of travel preparation this holiday shopping season.  Thanks!

Do It In A Dress!

This October I’m joining a bunch of passionate and fun people around the world who are wearing school dresses and doing crazy shit so girls in Africa can go to school.  Why?  Read on, friend.

Me with Chantelle Baxter, co-founder of OneGirl.org, sporting our school dresses at the World Domination Summit in July 2012

It costs only $240 Australian to send a girl in Sierra Leone to school for an entire year. I plan to raise at least $240 by doing what I do – traveling – in a school dress!

I’ll be wearing my school dress on the plane from Asheville to Boston this evening to raise awareness and hopefully a few bucks.

You know I’m going to make a few new friends 🙂 Want pictures? Look for them on Twitter (@helloaud) and Facebook If you’d like to donate, I would honored to have your support ~ any amount is welcome. My campaign page is http://doitinadress.com/helloaud

Thank you for reading this post.  You can learn more information about this movement at http://doitinadress.com and http://www.onegirl.org.au  Or boogie your way over to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

And remember, the month is still young – why not start a campaign of your own? Be the change, y’all! ♥ Audrey


Humanity is at a crossroads.

Poverty. Inequality. Rape. Hunger. Violence. And that’s just the beginning. These issues affect women and girls the most. Out of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty, more than 70% are women and girls.

But why? We’re more educated than we’ve ever been. We’re more connected than at any time in history. There is more money and technology in the world today than there’s ever been before.

And yet, 60 MILLION GIRLS are UNABLE to access the ONE thing that will CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER.

Something simple. Something basic. Something that we take for granted. AN EDUCATION.

The time has come to create a movement that will shift the future of humanity. This movement will be led by a 12 year old girl.

A 12 year old girl born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. A girl who is more likely to be sexually assaulted than to attend high school. Without an education, she’s likely to be married before her 15th birthday, and pregnant before her body is ready. If she survives childbirth, she might have to sell her body to feed her family. This exposes her to HIV. She’s stuck in the cycle of poverty.

But it doesn’t have to look like this -

When a girl is educated, she’ll get married later and have a healthier family.

For every year she stays in school she’ll increase her income by at least 10%. With the money she earns, she’ll invest 90% of it back into her family. An educated girl becomes an educated woman. A woman who ensures her children go to school, just like she did.

When you educate a girl, she can change her world. And when 60 MILLION GIRLS around the world are educated? That, my friend, is a revolution.

But change doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because WE DEMAND IT. Because we stand for it. Because we DO something about it.

And this October, we’re doing something. We’re going to Do It In A Dress. The time has come for you to wear a school dress, so a girl in Africa can wear one too.

Grab two of your friends, create your team, pick a challenge and raise $240 – enough to give one girl access to education. Do your challenge in a school dress and send a girl to school.

Last year, Dave Dean ran 21km in a school dress. Deanna Hood wore a school dress everyday for a week. Chelsea Brice jumped off a building in a school dress. Roger Grant held a boxing class in a school dress.

This October, 1000 people from all over the world will wear a school dress, and together we’ll CHANGE THE LIVES of thousands of women and girls across Africa.

We know that when you educate a girl, she can change her world.

We’re doing it. WILL YOU?

2011 travel recap + gallery

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Woohoo!  I traveled quite a bit in 2011, despite AND because of being unemployed part of the year. Or rather – not traditionally employed 🙂  I will be sharing stories and pictures in trip reports, but below is a recap of my 2011 travel adventures.  I’ve included a small photo gallery at the bottom of … Continue reading

Gratitude ~ November 2011

During Thanksgiving, Americans typically express gratitude for the many blessings we’ve received.  I have much to be grateful for, including the whirlwind of positive changes in my life since last Thanksgiving.  My Word of the Year for 2011 was nimble and I think I embodied that one pretty well!  Here’s the recap for those following along:

In November 2010 (twelve short months ago), I was living in Austin, Texas.  I had put my house on the market, planning to downsize into a smaller living space.  After 2 pitiful showings in 2 weeks,  I learned my position as a Business Analyst at UT had been eliminated (read: I was laid off from my secure state job 2 days before Thanksgiving).   I assessed my options and decided to rent the house fully furnished.  In early January, I moved myself and my cat to Rockport, Texas, where I spent a wonderful winter living in my parent’s garage apartment and falling in love with the many birds who migrate to the Texas coast when it gets cold.

During this down time, I thought a lot about my priorities and the concept of lifestyle design.  I made a commitment to begin crafting a job for myself that better supports the lifestyle I desire.   I want to spend my time traveling and experiencing new things, building relationships with passionate people and solving interesting problems.  I want to be in control of my time.  And I want to generate a solid, steady income.  So I decided to become an entrepreneur.  There were a million ideas rolling around in my head and I had no clue what I was going to do (or when), just why.  I named my fledgling business Nimble Creatives, because that’s pretty much what we all need to be these days (nimble & creative).

In late March, I had the opportunity to return to Austin for a 4 month gig as a software developer.  By June, I was clear that I was ready to leave town.  I put an ad on Craigslist for a summer sublet, a tenant materialized and I was free to go.   I quickly put together a trip I dubbed my America the Beautiful tour, using the National Parks Pass I won in a photography contest as an “anchor activity”.  The idea was to see more of my country’s natural beauty while scoping out my next home. If you missed it completely, you can read about the tour here and here.

In late July, I kicked off the first leg of the trip, which primarily involved visiting friends & family in the southeast and midwest.   I spent a week house sitting for a friend in Asheville, NC  and instantly recognized that Asheville had everything I was looking for in a home base: a locally-oriented community with a progressive mindset, a strong music & art scene, an abundance of great restaurants, more craft beer than I should really drink, a moderate climate and easy access to hiking in stunning mountains. The only thing missing is the beach and happily Charleston SC is an easy 4 hours away!  (note: I just spent Thanksgiving in the Charleston area – trip report coming soon)

I was reluctant to commit to a place without finishing my tour of the country.  Plus I’d already lived in nearby Boone, NC for most of the 90’s and was pretty keen to explore a new part of the country.  Still I applied for a couple of jobs that stood out and pretty soon I had secured a full-time position as a Business Operations Analyst with a not-for-profit organization.  I took this as a sign, and, in the spirit of being nimble, I cut my America the Beautiful tour short, loaded up the wagon and moved myself to Asheville.  I flew from LA to Austin on October 5, arrived on Asheville on October 11 (just in time for peak leaf season) and started my new job on October 13!  Wow!

I’ve been back in the arms of the Appalachian mountains for 6 weeks now and  I am so happy to be here!

But wait – there’s more!  I’m thrilled to announce that I’m creating a Travel Coaching and Facilitation business.  My mission is to help people travel more!  I meet a lot of people who have taken epic trips (sabbaticals, round-the-world trips, living somewhere new for 6 months, etc).  I also meet a lot of people who say “I wish I could do that…” to which I find myself enthusiastically saying “You can!”  I know it can be very overwhelming to research, plan and prepare for a big trip on your own. So I’m creating a program called Be Your Own Travel Hero that helps people with their trip planning and preparation.  You can read all about it on the Travel Coaching page 🙂

I am _so_ excited for my new adventures!  Please tune in as Be Your Own Travel Hero evolves over the next few months.

Oh and remember that lay-off?  Although it was painful at the time, it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me.  I’m having so much fun redefining my life (again) and I have tremendous gratitude that the universe knew what I needed, even when I did not.

Wishing you all much love and abundance this winter!

♥ Audrey

ps I’ve moved all of the content from my personal blog over to this new site and will only be posting new content here.  You can use the widget in the sidebar to “subscribe” and receive posts by email (or just add it to your blog reader)

AtB reboot

reboot: to start anew with fresh ideas in a way that is consistent with the principals of the original, but not unnecessarily constrained by what has taken place before. – from Urban Dictionary

There are times while traveling – especially independently – when you’re faced with modifying your plans. Sometimes it’s for fun reasons, like you were headed over here but someone told you about a really cool place over there…or you click with some fellow travelers and decide to wander with them for a while. Occasionally it’s because of something more serious, like a natural disaster or a personal crisis. There are travelers who get sick or hit a wall they can’t get over and decided to just go home, travelers who fall for a place and decide they are home, travelers who completely change up their trip to travel with a new lover or friend, and travelers who start on a journey only to realize it’s not the right path for them.

I promised myself when I started planning my America the Beautiful tour, that I would respect my body (and my bank account).  After driving 4500+ miles in just over 5 weeks, I was challenged to do just that. Continue reading