Monday Mavericks | Discovery

monday mavericks

Happy Monday, all of you mavericks! Hope you had a fantastic weekend and that you're ready to take on the week ahead. As I mentioned last week, I started this weekly series every Monday in hopes that by kick-starting our week with some optimism, we’ll all be able to spread more positivity in today’s world and do our part to make it a better place for everyone around us. 

I spent a good bit of time this week working on some trips I have coming up-- the first being this weekend (follow along on Instagram stories to see where!) You may remember from my post a few weeks ago that while I came to Chicago because I was ready for a change, I also love what an easy hub this city is for travel (I’m a 30 minute train ride to O’Hare, which is a flight away from just about anywhere in the world!) So as I was working on these said travel plans, a line from Lord Huron’s “End of the Earth" (which I just added to the Monday Mavericks playlist) seemed to scream at me: 



The lyrics continue and pose the question: "What good is living the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?"

You likely don't need me to elaborate to why I couldn't agree with these words more. Traveling and exploring places around the world has been hands-down the most positive influence in my life and I highly encourage everyone do as much of it as they possibly can (I mean, I kind of have an entire blog that's based around this mindset...) But while it's easy for me to jump straight to the importance of travel, I also realized that this idea of "seeing the world" can be applicable to the everyday areas our life- no matter where we are. 

Even in the 3 weeks I’ve been here in Chicago, I’ve already found it’s so easy to settle into a routine. I know the schedule at CorePower (a yoga studio I love) and have a handful of classes I go to every week. I know how to get to the nearest Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and Target. I’ve found several great restaurants, coffee shops and juice bars that I already want to go back to. It would be pretty easy to let myself stick to this list day in and day out, because I know I like all of these spots already (and as the proverbial adage says: "If it ain't broke...) But the reason I came to this city was to pursue discovery and get outside of my norm, so sticking to what I already know would not only completely contradict that intention, it would also cause me to miss out on a lot of the great stuff that's out there still waiting to be discovered. 

Keeping an open mind like this has lead me to some of my favorite life experiences. Sure, going back to countries I've already visited would make my life way easier because it'd be a breeze to plan, but visiting destinations like Granada or Madeira, where I knew absolutely nothing about (or that they even existed in the first place), turned out to be some of the most incredible adventures that I wouldn't trade for anything. And the only way I got those experiences was because I had a willingness to abandon what I already know and to try something new.

I believe this same practice can be woven into our life day in and day out- even if it's not as grand of an action as booking a trip to Europe. This week, what if you mix up your workout routine and go for a run in a park you've never visited in your city? Or if you try cooking a new meal you've never had before and don't know how to make? Even if you're busy and "have enough friends"- what could happen if you set aside time to actually get coffee with those distant acquaintances like you so often suggest, but never make the time for?

I know it's a lot easier to cook the dish you could make with your eyes closed or to show up to the workout class that fits perfectly into your schedule like clockwork. But:


Unless we're willing to complicate our lives and try things we've never done, we'll continue to get the same things we've always gotten- and while that may work fine, I believe there's a lot more sweetness we can get out of life that's waiting for us just beyond what's comfortable. 

This week, let's be conscious and mindful to partake in all the simple opportunities to see the world from a fresh perspective and appreciate it in all its glory as it unfolds around us. Whether it's in nature or yummy food, in Europe or your own backyard, or whatever else that may look for you. 

Today I'm headed to coffee in a neighborhood I haven't explored with a person I've never met. What are some ways you're planning to experience discovery and seeing the world with fresh eyes? Tell me in the comments below!

Thanks for reading and for opening your mind to what's possible alongside me! I hope you have a week that's bursting with new, wonderful experiences that make your life a little richer. Until next time...





Making Monday Great: Monday Mavericks


Lately I've found myself really discouraged by all the negativity that exists in the world. Obviously there's the big news headlines like last week's incident on the tube in London or hate crimes like the recent events in Charlottesville. But even the simplistic banter that occurs with the people all around us day in and day out is pretty disheartening. I can think of countless examples of snide remarks I've recently heard about the "annoying girl on Instagram" or even the wasted energy spent hating on celebrities. What's productive about any of it? When did cynicism become so acceptable? Not even that-- it almost feels like some sick new form of millennial humor. It's really been bumming me out. 

I could go into a lot more detail as to why I think we should eliminate things like cynicism and hatred, but pretty soon I start to sound like a cynical hater myself just talking about it (which kinda defeats the point, right?)

So after several failed attempts to do something positive about it all, I decided to shift my perspective + instead, simply focus on optimism. Sure, it may sound corny. But while attempting to completely squash negativity with some happy thoughts may sound a bit audacious, I do think we’re capable of doing a lot more good than we give ourselves credit for. So let's just start with a small, yet chronic case of negativity: Monday. 

Just about every person I know dreads the hangover effect this dismal day has after a glorious weekend of freedom (Sunday Scaries, anyone?) And I get it-- Mondays mean starting over at a daunting beginning and staring at all that’s ahead of us (you may remember this blog I wrote about Monday a few years ago). But as sweet as a perpetual weekend may sound, isn’t it a terribly sad thought to let one-seventh of your life always be dreadful? What if it didn’t have to be? 

As I've said recently, I started Blonde Atlas with the intention of inspiring you to live your best life. And while travel will always be a key player in that, I also believe there's a lot more all of us can be doing to make life more amazing-- even if it's as simple as re-framing Monday. 


I've decided to start Monday Mavericks: a weekly newsletter with the simple purpose of empowering an army of optimists. Because I believe the world needs more of that right now.


Let me start by caveating that I hate emails and am the first to unsubscribe when there are too many or if even one feels sales-y. I pinky promise not to spam you or sell your info to some guy in Zanzibar. Instead, it's my hope to give you something that's quick + digestible enough to read in the elevator or with your morning coffee, but powerful enough to make you excited about the week ahead. You can expect things like:

Poppin' playlists with music that’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood. 

iPhone wallpaper with encouraging words. 

Quotes that make you feel warm + fuzzy and remind you the world doesn't suck. 

Lot's more... I don't live inside a box. 


My simple hope of Monday Mavericks is to equip you with encouragement to bring a little more positivity + optimism into your week so you can live a better life. Because when you’re a better version of yourself, it’s contagious to the people around you.  


Still not drinking the Kool-Aid? Consider the following to be a free sample of what's to come. Let's start with some jams, shall we?

These are my go-to tunes when I need a pick-me-up or help feeling like I can conquer the world (go ahead and hit play now- it'll make the rest of this sound more inspirational, thus making my job easier). Some songs are chalk full of juicy, encouraging lyrics. Some just have an epic beat and make you feel like the protagonist in an inspirational film. Some have both, and if you're not careful, you'll find yourself getting all teary-eyed because life is so damn beautiful (skip to 1:58 of "Surprise Yourself", imagine walking through Paris all by yourself and try telling me you don't feel a little emotional). 

Each week I'll add more songs to the same playlist (think of it like a fine wine that'll get better with age). If you think you have exquisite taste in music, feel free to send me recos: theblondeatlas@gmail.com.



In addition to some feel-good music, I also plan to share lots of encouraging words. This phone wallpaper (which I'll update each week) features one of my favorite sayings: "Life is tough, my darling, but so are you."

If your life isn't tough in some form or fashion right now, you're doing something wrong. Let me gently remind you: it's good to be in positions that are uncomfortable, difficult or tough. Sure, they're not always fun at first. But those are the places where you learn and grow and become far more interesting of a human being. If you strive for live a life that's always easy it's bound to be terribly boring and overrated.

So whether today presents you with small challenges like coffee spilled on your shirt or something much more difficult- don't curse it. Let this simple little phrase remind you that your life should be tough in order to become more beautiful, but you're tough too. Hang in there. 





I want to wrap up each Monday with a simple challenge you can apply to your week ahead. Before you freak out or get into your commitment issues, you can relax. I'm not going to ask you to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or write a novel. We're talking baby steps here. 

So for today, this beautiful, gift-of-a-fresh-start that's called Monday, what's one thing you can do to trade complaining for something lovely? How can you make it filled with more of what you love? Maybe it's something simple to boost your mood like taking a relaxing bubble bath, or letting yourself buy a stupidly-expensive latte from the boujee coffee shop on the way to work. Maybe you hand the barista a $10 tip for no reason other than being generous and making her day. Get crazy. Color outside the lines. Just do something that makes today special so that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday have big shoes to fill. And then, share your positivity of choice in the comments below. Let's make this movement contagious. 


I realize none of the above is necessarily revolutionary, but that's not the point. My hope of all this is to facilitate more goodness around a day that's known for snowballing various forms of negativity. Have ideas about the type of content you want to see in the newsletters moving forward? Please shoot me an email or tell me in the comments below! It takes an army to encourage each other, and I want this to be something you look forward to receiving every week.


So finally, we've reached the part where I ask you to join me. To sign up to receive Monday Maverick newsletters each week, complete the form below:


Join our Army of Optimists

* indicates required

Let's make optimism and encouragement more popular than cynicism. Let’s be mavericks. Let’s have another cup of coffee and  let’s make Monday awesome. 




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: 



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




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. 




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. 





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...





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). 





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!



blonde atlas