How to travel full time

HOW TO TRAVEL FULL TIME

Greetings from Paris!  I've been traveling non-stop all over Europe these past six weeks, and finally have some down time today, so I'm parked at my favorite cafe and writing a [long overdue] blog post. But rather than putting together one of the many travel guides I have coming, I wanted to touch on somewhat of a different topic. 

If you’re new around here, I've been traveling almost full time (over 250 days out of the year) for a while now. This nomadic lifestyle of mine seems to yield a lot of questions about how I do it-- and rightfully so! If you would have told me a few years ago I'd be traveling this much, I would have been asking the very same things. So for starters, let’s clear up a few of the misconceptions. 

I'm not a flight attendant.

I don't work for a travel agency. 

I didn’t win the lottery, inherit a small fortune or stumble upon a suitcase full of cash. 

So if none of those apply, how do I travel so much? It’s a bit of a complicated answer, but honestly, it’s likely something you can do too if you're up for being scrappy + getting creative. I've managed to make it work following these guidelines: 

 

1. RENT YOUR HOUSE OUT ON AIRBNB

This is how I first got my start in frequent travel. I was employed by a company in Colorado that flew me out there for a week every month. A friend suggested I rent my place out to make some money while I was gone since I wouldn’t be home anyway. I then realized I could also rent my place out to help pay for vacations I wanted to take as well (even if I didn’t make a profit once I booked flights, at least it would make trips I wanted to take more affordable). You can either rent out your entire house to guests while you’re gone, or you can even just rent out your guest room for people to stay while you’re still there (it’s a fun way to meet new people!) It's worth noting that I have a 1 BR house, so it’s treated more like a hotel room and less like a house party (something to consider if you can sleep more people). 

Lots of people ask me if I’m weary of letting strangers come in my house. Personally, I’ve only found people to be incredibly respectful and wonderful (they usually even leave nice notes or leftover alcohol they purchase!) I've even become friends with some of these fellow travelers who stay at my house and end up giving me recommendations for their cities or getting back in touch when they visit again. 

There are definitely some steps you need to take (I liked this article with some more details about those details). It’s not always the right fit for everyone, but I’d argue it’s a great solution for more of you than you think. Either way, I definitely couldn't be gone the way I am without being an Airbnb host. 

 

Interested in becoming an Airbnb host? It’s easy! Sign up here

 

 

2. NEGOTIATE DISCOUNTED RATES BY OFFERING YOUR SERVICES

I first had this lightbulb when a friend asked me what my blog (which I had just been doing for a fun creative outlet) monthly page views were and what I was doing to leverage them. As it turned out, some travel partners (hotels, restaurants, tours, etc.) saw my audience size as significant enough to give me a free stay/ meal/ tour in exchange for coverage of my experience. Keep in mind, I had already been blogging consistently (with no alternative agenda) for about a year to grow my audience. But regardless of your audience size, or if you even have a blog, you can likely find ways to at least negotiate a media rate. Are you a stellar photographer? Or maybe your graphic design skills are out of this world? Whatever your talents, find a way to pitch yourself clearly and concisely.

PRO TIP: Don’t be ambiguous. Get straight to the point when making this request and be clear + concise. “I’d like to offer my photography services in exchange for a media rate during my stay.” Clearly outline the deliverables you’re willing to provide and what you’re asking for in exchange. Put thoughtful consideration into your pitch and link to examples of your past work to show off your capabilities. 

 

 

3. STRATEGIZE YOUR ROUTE TO CUT COSTS

Everyone asks me how I can spend long amounts of time in Europe like the past 6 weeks or the 4+ months I did last summer/fall/winter. “Doesn’t that get expensive?” Clearly, it could. But I’m not charging a stay at Four Seasons to my credit card every night, people. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? I’m renting my house out while I’m gone to cover my expenses back home. I’m leveraging my skills to negotiate media trades at hotels, restaurants and tours to cover the majority of those costs while I’m abroad. So what costs does that leave? Largely, transportation. Overseas flights (while you can find at very competitive rates) get really expensive really quickly. For me to go all the places I went in Europe this fall/winter (quick refresh in case you forgot), it would have taken several trips had I not stayed abroad for a while. This means I would have spent significantly more money than I had to since I only did one long flight. Flights once you’re already abroad are actually very cheap (I never paid more than €145 and paid as low as €35 for some). Plus, you can easily take trains for a fraction of what domestic flights in the US cost. Regardless of whether or not 5 months is realistic for you, I’d argue if you have a flexible schedule it’s more affordable to go and stay for a while (even a few weeks) rather than booking multiple international flights. 

 

 

 

4. FIND TRAVEL COMPANIONS

By nature, travel is cheaper when you have someone to share costs with. Whether it’s splitting a cab to Charles De Gaulle or half-ing a pizza in Italy, there’s strength in numbers. This factor often is what causes me to build my itinerary a particular way. If I know one friend can come with me from Brussels to Stockholm, I’ll try to find someone else to meet me within a few days of that for a while (and the more you learn to negotiate media trades + get free hotels, the easier it is to get people to say yes to come meet you!) But even if your friends aren’t willing to spend the money or make the trek, you can easily find ways to connect with other travelers while abroad (in fact, I’d highly recommend doing that regardless.)  If you’re looking for ways to meet people abroad, I’ve honestly met so many people through blogging or on Bumble (went on some fun dates this way too!) Some of my favorite travel buddies today are people I met while being abroad and connecting with unfamiliar faces. It’s no longer deemed weird or desperate to meet people in some sort of digital format these days, so put your pride aside and get past that ancient mindset. I’m currently working on a partnership with a brand I really believe in that does this well, so stay tuned for more...

 

 

 

5. FIND OTHER WAYS TO PAY YOURSELF

All of this is all a really long-winded way of explaining how I break even when I travel. So how then do I make money? That’s a very loaded + complicated question that I’m frequently asked. My short answer is simply this: I get creative. Sometimes my livelihood comes from sponsored Instagram or blog posts or affiliate sales from a monetization program I’m a part of. Sometimes it’s consulting businesses on their social media + marketing strategy. Sometimes it’s contributing articles I write for third-party publications to run on their site.  Sometimes it’s people reaching out to me with opportunities and sometimes it’s me cold-calling someone with a pitch idea I have. Regardless of what it is that particular month, it’s honestly never the same. But it always comes with a lot of hard work + hustle (and it absolutely means that some months I still scrape pennies together). 

*Side note: sometimes “paying yourself” is simply finding ways to eliminate costs you normally have. For example, I participate in several mutually-beneficial trade partnerships- for example: promoting my hairdresser Lauren (who is a rock star). I truly believe in her skills and am happy to promote her work. She sees that as advertising, we trade our services and everyone wins. The same principle can be applied to products you'd normally need to purchase (I get lots of my travel gear this way). 

 

 

 

6. know YOUR LONG TERM GOALS

While this may all sound like a piece of cake and something I'd be crazy not to do for the rest of my life, let's be very clear: it isn't all glamorous and it certainly comes with a price tag in multiple areas of your life. 

 

From a financial perspective, I used to have a cushy job with a great paycheck, and some days I really (really) miss the comforts of that. Simple things like health insurance, a 401K match, and the consistency of a paycheck that you always know is coming is nothing to breeze over lightly. 

Aside from finances, I'd be lying if I said this lifestyle doesn't impact your relationships. Being gone means you miss birthdays and weddings and baby showers and everything in between for people that you love. When I am home, I have to choose between seeing lots of people a little bit, or a few people as much as I can (I'd advise the latter - quality > quantity). In addition to how it impacts my friendships, it also means I haven't been able to date anyone seriously- because how could I when I'm never in the same place more than a few days!? (With that said, I'd argue casual dating around the world is incredibly fun for a season if you can still do it...) 

There are other "prices to pay" that come with full time travel.  And because of these, I recognize that this likely won't be my long-term lifestyle if I'm being completely honest. While I will always be a traveler, I recognize some of the other goals I have for my life that I'll eventually want too: seeing more of my friends, starting a family- the list goes on. But this particular way of life I'm currently choosing (while grueling at times) has provided me with a once in a lifetime chance to see the world in a way I never imagined was possible. It’s hands down been the best thing I’ve ever done and I'd recommend it to anyone who is in a position to do the same. 

 

provence lavendar fields

 

 

If you’re in a position to rent out your house, to offer services like photography or consulting not only freelance on the side, but also negotiate media rates— you’re totally eligible to try on full-time travel for a while. And even if you’re not in any of the positions I mentioned above, that doesn’t mean you're not! You may just have to get a bit more creative than what I’ve detailed out. Whatever it looks like for you, I’m a big believer that anything is possible if you’re willing to really chase after it. 

 

My goal with Blonde Atlas first and foremost is to inspire you to live your best life- and I personally believe experiencing the world is one of the very best ways one can do that. But while my appetite for adventure comes with the best intentions, I realize it can look like a glamorized version of life and not my day-to-day reality. 

 

This means you’ll often see when I’m on a yacht in Santorini but not when I’m coming home from a long trip to clean my house up after Airbnb guests have left it. You’ll see when I get spa treatments and 5 course meals at a Four Seasons but not when I’m trying to squeeze a week’s worth of groceries out of Trader Joe’s for $50 while I’m home. 

 

I’m not trying to pretend to be someone I’m not or make myself appear more important than I am. The reality of this life that I’ve chosen is that I simultaneously have to live on a really tight budget, while also getting to do some of the most boujee things of anyone else that I know. It's certainly a life of highs and lows, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world because of the lifestyle I've been able to have. 

 

I’m an open book and more than willing to speak honestly about the reality of my world. To be completely candid, the only reason I don’t speak to it more is because it takes a fair bit of time + energy to detail out posts like these and I technically, I get nothing in return. I don’t write that to sound self-centered or greedy, just trying to give you some perspective into my world. When I put together travel guides, I feel lucky enough to have experienced amazing things in exchange for writing about them. When I put together luggage or packing guides, I have the potential to make commission from affiliate sales. But these kind of posts are really just me providing free information- again, which I’m happy to do! I just have to be a bit more strategic about how often I allocate my time and energy into doing so because there’s a lot more of this going on behind the scenes already. In addition to planning my trips or writing my blog posts or planning my content calendar, I get lots of emails asking for travel recommendations, or how I started my blog or people seeking advice about how to travel more or strategize their business. I try to reply and make an effort to always help people as much as I can (because I'd hope people would do the same for me!) but I have to be realistic about how much of my time + energy can go into information sharing vs. running my business. 

So in conclusion, the point of this long rant is simply to say this: I want to be honest with you about my travels in hopes that you can travel more too + live your best life. I’m happy to provide as much insight as I can to help from what I’ve learned, so if there’s more that you’re curious about, let me know in the comments below! I’ll do my best to answer, either directly or in a future blog post. 

 

Thank you (as always) for stopping by! You reading this is part of the reason I am able to do what I do, and for that I sincerely can't express enough gratitude. 

 

Stay tuned for a lot more travel talk that will be landing on the blog in the coming weeks!

xx

Whitney

FULL TIME TRAVELING
blonde atlas

Boulder, CO Restaurant Guide

boulder restaurant guide

Greetings from Berlin! I've been a bit MIA on the blog lately because I'm hopping around Europe to put together travel guides of some destinations I've been wanting to see for a while (stay tuned to read about my trips to Portugal, London, Scandinavia and more!) Until those travel guides are ready, let's rewind a bit to a trip I took this spring while traveling in the U.S. 

On my trip to Colorado this past March, I made a point to go back to Boulder. For those of you who don’t know, I used to spend roughly a week a month here for my old job, which means I know the town pretty well. This also means I ate my way through just about every restaurant imaginable (thanks to my former company’s generous per diem). Long story short, I know more about dining options in Boulder than just about any other city in the world. 

Boulder may be known for it's iconic Flatirons (rightfully so) but it also has a blossoming food scene that you could truly plan an entire trip around. It's been named "America's Foodiest Town" by Bon Appétit, one of "Five Secret Foodie Cities" by Forbes and boasts many other culinary accomplishments, including James Beard Awards. 

 

So where are the best spots to eat when you visit? Get your pen ready (and be prepared to stay a while). 

 

 

next door american eatery

the kitchen next door

As I mentioned in my previous Colorado Travel Guide, The Kitchen is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. But this restaurant family boasts more than just one eatery. It's sister restaurant Next Door was opened to ensure that everyone in the community had access to affordable, real food. Today, it's an urban casual eatery that serves affordable, real food that's sourced from American farmers and serves over 10,000 guests a week collectively at it's 4 locations. It's high energy atmosphere is a great spot to visit

 

I recommend the buffalo cauliflower to start (complete with blue cheese crumbles, chopped celery + parsley). 

the kitchen next door boulder co

For a main, I love the concept of their 50/50 burger: where the patty is comprised of 50% meat and 50% mushrooms. The goal here is to aim for balance. You don't have to be a full blown vegetarian to contribute to reducing meat consumption. If we cut back together as a community, we can still make an impact while enjoying ourselves. Regardless of your position on the topic, this burger is tasty and worth trying. 

the kitchen next door boulder co

Overall, Next Door offers a great ambiance and delicious food at an affordable price tag (plus you can feel good that you're supporting American farmers and real food. 

1035 Pearl St. Boulder, CO 80302

 

 

FRASCA

frasca boulder colorado

Frasca is someplace I always wanted to eat while I was working in Boulder, but for whatever reason I never made it there. So for this trip, I put it at the top of my list. From start to finish, the experience at Fresca is impeccable. The wine list alone is impressive (boasting over 200 varieties). 

Frasca is the creation of Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, and their inspiration for the restaurant is one of the coolest I've heard:

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a sub-alpine region in northeast Italy. Steeped in tradition, nestled at the foot of the Carnic and Julian Alps and bordered by Austria, Slovenia, and the Adriatic Sea, it is a region of immense cultural blending, geographical diversity, and idyllic beauty.

A huge part of Friulano food tradition is the neighborhood Frasca. Historically found throughout Friuli, Frascas were friendly and informal gathering places, a destination for farmers, friends, and families to share a meal and a bottle of wine. Identified by a tree branch hanging over a doorway portal, they were a symbol of local farm cuisine, wine, and warm hospitality. As the harvest came to a close, the branch would wither and change colors to indicate the end of the season. The Frascas would then close their doors until the next year.

frasca boulder colorado
frasca boulder colorado

Our meal at Frasca was one of the best I've ever had. Every taste, sip + bite was a treat for my tastebuds. Every person we came in contact with was warm and hospitable. The ambiance couldn't have been more dreamy. If you're looking for a fine dining experience while visiting Boulder, you'll absolutely find it (and likely more) at Frasca. 

frasca boulder
frasca boulder colorado
frasca boulder colorado
frasca boulder colorado

1738 Pearl St, Boulder CO 80302

 

 

THE KITCHEN

THE KITCHEN BOULDER COLORADO
THE KITCHEN BOULDER COLORADO

I know I’ve already mentioned it and linked to my former statements, but I can’t have a restaurant guide  about Boulder that doesn’t properly outline why this place is amazing. The Kitchen is actually a family of restaurants across Colorado (and now Chicago too) but the original location is along Pearl Street in Boulder. The Kitchen restaurants are built by a community of craftsman, serving food & drink from local farmers, ranchers and purveyors for the sustainable enjoyment of the whole community. They are committed to environmentally friendly practices, including composting, wind power, eco-friendly packaging and recycling. But above all, they believe in the power of good food and good drink to connect people as family, friends and a community. They're my favorite place to eat in the state of Colorado, and I promise you won't be disappointed with whatever location you visit. 

1039 Pearl St. Boulder, CO 80302

 

BLACKBELLY

BLACKBELLY COLORADO

Blackbelly started as catering, and soon thereafter became Blackbelly Farm. The idea was to create food from the source to the plate without a middleman, and embrace the food of the seasons. It's now their mission to not only know where the food comes from, but to serve their customers with the very best product they can find. The menu items are inventive, fresh, but most importantly- delicious. Be sure to order a cocktail with your meal, because every single one I've had has been incredible. 

1606 Conestoga St. Boulder, CO 80301

 

 

RIO GRANDE

 

RIO GRANDE COLORADO

 

If the weather is nice and you're craving a delicious margarita from scratch, head to the rooftop of Rio Grande as fast as you possibly can. While they have seven Colorado locations, I'm biased to the one in Boulder (you just can't beat the view of the foothills). Their mission is simple: treat people well and deliver wholesome food. I think they do a pretty incredible job at both. 

1101 Walnut Street Boulder, CO 80302

 

BLACK CAT

 

BLACK CAT BOULDER

 

Black Cat is unique because every single menu item comes directly from their very own 130 acre, Certified Organic farm located just outside the city. They also supply a bounty of restaurants, CSA's and booths at both the Boulder and Denver Union Station Farmer's Markets. Not only do all the ingredients come from the farm, but they are harvested every single day.  Because of this, the menu changes daily and always has a sense of discovery and delight (and as you can imagine, everything has a freshness you can truly taste). 

1964 13th Street Boulder, CO 80302

 

Some other favorites I'd recommend trying if you have time? 

Snooze

Bramble & Hare

Salt

Pizzeria Locale

OAK

 

Have you eaten anywhere else in Boulder that I failed to include? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Thanks for stopping by, friends! Stay tuned for more travel tips coming to the blog shortly. 

xx,

Whitney

Santa Barbara Travel Guide

santa barbara travel guide
santa barbara california

Happy Monday, friends. I'm in a particularly good mood as I'm writing this because I'm back in Europe! I bought a one-way ticket over here and am so excited to re-visit some of my favorite places in the world- as well as explore some new ones! The past few days I've been in London, and it's been so good for my soul to jump right back into life here. I've got a pretty full calendar these next few weeks (and I still don't know when I'm coming home) so chances are, I'll be a little MIA here on the blog for a while until things settle down at bit. So until then, be sure to follow along my adventures in real-time on Snapchat and Instagram (@blonde_atlas). 

 

But before I get too pre-occupied with this set of European adventures, I still have a few more posts to share from my recent US road-trip. So today, let's rewind to my time in Santa Barbara.

santa barbara califoria

Located on the central California coast, Santa Barbara is known for perfect weather, excellent local wine + restaurants and for being rich in Spanish colonial heritage (which is evident from the Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings and red-tiled roofs). You could easily spend all your time just enjoying the beautiful beaches-- except there is way more Santa Barbara has to offer that you simply can't miss. While we were only there for a couple short days (in hindsight I wish we had given ourselves a few more) I saw so many wonderful things that I'd recommend to everyone-regardless of how long your visit is. 

santa barbara califormia
santa barbara california
hotel santa barbara california

Let's start with accommodations. We stayed at Hotel Santa Barbara, which is a fantastic place to stay if you want something that's central and airs upscale, while still being competitively priced. It's conveniently located on State Street- which is right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and walking distance to more than I can even begin to list. It's main stairwell in the lobby boasts beautiful mosaic tiles, which are a common trait of the Mediterranean architecture this town is known for (I couldn't stop taking pictures at ever one that I came across). 

hotel santa barbara
IMG_9598.JPG

Rooms are bright, airy + spacious. Parking is available on-site. The staff is most hospitable and welcoming (they provided us with most of the recommendations on my itinerary - which was so helpful!) Essentially, Hotel Santa Barbara has everything you need and more to ensure a comfortable stay and I would truly recommend it to anyone visiting.

four seasons santa barbara

 

 

 

EAT + DRINK

While Santa Barbara is bursting at the scenes with excellent food and wine, a gal can only consume so much in a few short days! Here are a few places I'd recommend from my time there: 

STATE STREET COFFEE

Along State Street just before you get to the pier, we popped into State Street Coffee, which is a quaint local spot, to get our caffeine fix in the morning. 

 

WILDWOOD KITCHEN

Head to Wildwood Kitchen for some yummy BBQ in a cute new complex called the Mill (and be sure to get a glass of wine at Potek before). 

 

SHELLFISH CO.

On the end of the pier, you’ll find Shellfish Co. which offers great views and service (try the the cioppino). 

santa barbara california

 

MONY’S MEXICAN FOOD

Mony’s Mexican Food is a hole in the wall taqueria (just across from Santa Barbara Winery in the Funk Zone) that has one of the most epic salsa bars I've ever seen- including pistachio + peanut!

 

LOQUITA

Loquita is a hot new tapas restaurant with super hip décor. Their sangria and churros are awesome.

 

BELLA VISTA AT FOUR SEASONS SANTA BARBARA

four seasons santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara

We went to Bella Vista at Four Seasons Santa Barbara for dinner (which I'll get to in a minute) but ended up spending several hours on site to take in all this gorgeous property has to offer. Even if the price tag to stay here is a bit out of your budget (rooms start around $600 USD), you definitely still want to come by for dinner or a drink to enjoy the views. 

four seasons santa barbara
fs santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara
four seasons santa barbara

Bella Vista, where we had dinner, is Santa Barbara's most premier al fresco oceanfront dining experience and offers panoramic ocean views across from Montecito's Butterfly Beach. Perfect for sunset dining, the outdoor patio has outdoor fire pits, heat lamps and blankets to keep you warm even after the sun goes down. The menu is contemporary Italian and showcases fresh California ingredients. Bella Vista is also the only restaurant in Santa Barbara (and one of the only 12 in California) licensed to cure its own meats- which means you don't want to leave without trying the charcuterie! 

four seasons santa barbara

Regardless of what brings you to Four Seasons- be it luxury accommodations, a meal or simply some cocktails- it's most definitely worth a trip during your time in Santa Barbara.  

bella vista cocktails four seasons santa barbara
santa barbara california
four seasons santa barbara

 

DO

TAKE THE TROLLEY TO SANTA BARBARA MISSION

Arguably the most popular attraction, the Santa Barbara mission is truly beautiful and worth seeing during your trip. But rather than simply driving or taking a cab, hop on the trolley (which boards by the pier). It’s a great way to see lots of Santa Barbara’s top attractions + architectural charm, and you can hop on and off as you please. 

santa barbara mission

 

WALK + SHOP ALONG STATE STREET

To get a proper feel for the downtown Santa Barbara area, do a little shopping and scope out some fun restaurants along State Street. I would recommend walking no further than Arlington Theater (corner of State and Sola Street). Be sure to pop into some of the hidden plazas along the way, like El Paseo (California’s first shopping center) and La Arcada Plaza (a spanish paseo and courtyard with exotic trees + tiled fountains). Also, make sure to stop in Lovebird, the little store located right next to Hotel Santa Barbara, which is locally owned + operated and offers handmade jewelry + clothes. 

santa barbara california

 

FUNK ZONE

The Funk Zone is the newest + coolest neighborhood in town (so I was told) with boutique wine tasting rooms and little shops tucked into interested funky buildings. Grab a glass of wine at the patio of Municipal Winemakers and take in the ambiance. 

 

VISIT LOCAL WINERIES

I know I’ve already touched on wine a few times, but be sure to go a step beyond trying the local wine and actually visit one of thewineries in person. We opted for Santa Barbara Winery, which offers several tasting options and a fun ambiance. 

santa barbara winery
santa barbara winery
santa barbara winery
santa barbara califoria

Whether you’re looking for idyllic weather and beaches, art and culture, outdoor recreation or an unbeatable food and wine scene Santa Barbara has you covered. It’s only a couple hours away from LA, and about an hour and a half from Ojai (on the way to LA) which makes it a great addition to tack onto your southern California travel itinerary. I always love my time in California, but Santa Barbara truly stole a little piece of my heart and I have no doubt that I'll be back again soon. 

 

Anything else you want to know to plan your own trip? Tell me in the comments below! 

I'm off to do some exploring but thanks as always for stopping by + stay tuned for more adventures to come! 

xx, 

Whitney

 

 

sb travel guide