Cubicles? 9 to 5? Not for Megan of Mapping Megan. With over 37 countries under their belt, Megan, along with her husband Mike, are avid adventurers who’ve made the world their office. Professional travelers, and professional adrenaline junkies, they have broken what’s conventional, and now live a location independent lifestyle. They are on a mission to put some miles on all corners of the globe, and lucky for us, we get to follow along and join them on their journey…
Tell me about Mapping Megan. Who are you guys, what you’re all about, and how long have you been on the road.
I am a 27 year old travel addict from Australia, an outdoor adventure enthusiast and adrenalin junkie with an incurable disease called “the travel bug”. My husband Mike (from America) is equally as afflicted, and after having met by chance after having climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, we kept meeting up around the world, finally married in a destination wedding in Hawaii in 2013, and have been traveling the world ever since!
I have a degree in both journalism and law, though what it ultimately came down to was my passion for traveling and writing overtook my desire to sit in a corner office. I am now a professional travel blogger, my office ranging from villas in the Galapagos Islands, to beaches on the Great Barrier Reef, bungalows overlooking volcanoes in Costa Rica, and everywhere in-between! My blog, Mapping Megan is a travel resource, which brings you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe. We’re on a mission to inspire people from all around the world to get out there and travel, and we do this through inspiring stories, video, photography, travel tips and advice, all listed on our blog.
Aiming for something different, above the regular travel blog experience, the homepage of our blog is an interactive Google map where you can click on the country you want to learn more about and pull up blog posts based on location. You could spend hours on that thing zooming in and out and getting lost in some of the greatest destinations from around the world!
What inspired you to travel and ultimately create a lifestyle of sustained travel?
The travel bug bit during my Gap year – I took 12 months to work as a boarding school assistant in the UK, and spend the 17 weeks of school holidays to travel and explore Europe. It was the adventure, excitement and the escape of monotony for me. This trip made me realize I wanted to see the world in living colour as opposed to watching it on a television screen. I wanted to actually feel, taste and experience the world instead of settling for the version I was reading in books.
It’s a completely different experience to journey to the Pyramids of Giza than to watch it on a History Channel documentary. It’s a completely different emotion to watch the sun set over the African Plains while on safari than it is to see someone else’s photo and think “wow!”
I quickly realized that this (travel) was the life for me!
Have you ever thought about returning to a “normal” life and giving up a life on the road?
We have no doubt that eventually we will settle down; in fact we recently arrived in Australia and plan to set up a permanent home base here from which to launch our future travels.
Though as the last sentence implies, just because we’re likely to set up a home base, doesn’t mean that our travels will come to an end. Full time travel, for sure – it’s fantastic while it lasts, though the lack of routine and stability is something we have begun to crave after a few years of being continually on the go.
You mentioned on your blog that traveling has given you “ a more well rounded education” than university. What are some lessons you’ve learned?
I have learned so much from traveling the world – so much about both myself, and about the world and the people in it.
Travel has taught me so much about myself – and I truly believe it’s the best way to discover your true self. I think that travel has seen me develop into a better person and for that I’m truly thankful. I can’t imagine the person I would be today if it weren’t for the experiences and life lessons I have learned while on the road.
Because of traveling I like to think I am a grounded, well-rounded person, able to accept and listen to all points of view, appreciative of all world cultures. Travel taught me how to survive by myself; to become street smart.
It taught me that kindness exists in the world, and that strange cultures should be explored and not judged. It continually teaches me new skills, and has opened my mind to new perspectives on history and politics. Because of travel I will forever be curious, and forever be intrigued by different cultural norms, and forever have a thirst for world knowledge and new experiences.
Travel has taught me that people are all the same. We all have our own unique customs and cultures, our own opinions and beliefs, and different ways of going about our day, however the one thing travel has taught me about people is that no matter which part of the world we hail from, we’re all the same. All human I mean.
I think that for this reason, if more people traveled, the world would be a better place. We’re all just human beings coexisting in the same world. Despite our differences, we’re all still people, and I think that we often forget that when faced with conflict.
You guys have been on the road since 2007, and one of the biggest question that comes to mind is – How do you afford it?
Right now we are lucky to have worked our blog to a point where it generates an income via advertising and freelance work, so we can work online while we are traveling, and our only expenses are that of travel! There are also many different hacks and organizations which allow you to travel at a very low price, i.e. house-sitting, couch surfing or home exchange for free accommodation, some volunteer placements will offer room and board, and work programs through companies like WorkAway allow you to work for a family, live with them, and have a few days off per week to explore your new land.
These are all fantastic ways you can make your dollar go further when traveling abroad.
In the beginning we saved by cutting costs and sacrificing unnecessary luxuries, however it was hard work and determination, which saw me, actually earn the money required to continue to travel. After my gap year in the UK in 2007 was over I wasn’t happy accepting that “reality” meant I couldn’t travel any more. I worked incredibly hard to make my dream of seeing the world MY reality. I did the “normal” thing to do and started University after my year away; however while studying full time I also juggled multiple full time jobs. Before I knew it, I was working two full time jobs while also studying full time. This meant that during University semesters I was working 16-20 hour days.
What are three steadfast rules that you abide by in order to stay on budget while traveling?
As much as possible we try to (1) Travel during the off-season, and this really helps. Each destination has a peak season, and this is when travel is most expensive, so traveling off peak is a great way to stay on budget while abroad.
We also largely plan and undertake all of our travel ourselves, i.e. not joining expensive group tours when it’s just as easy to rock up and enjoy the experience yourself. I.e. we recently did a glacier hike across Matanuska Glacier in Alaska – we found the directions ourselves, drove in a rental, paid the $20 entrance fee and then ran off and explored on our own. This approach is not only cheaper than having paid for a guide; it’s also a lot more fun as you have more freedom and flexibility with your schedule.
(3) Use public transport. Nowadays we generally rent a car as this is often cheaper for exploring a country and traveling long distances, though if you’re in and around the one spot, take public transport over taxis. While it is admittedly a lot faster to catch a can, keep in mind it will cost you a lot more than if you were to use public transport like the bud or the light rail. Check out more of our tips for saving money while abroad.
As self professed Adrenaline Junkies I bet you have some incredibly thrilling stories. What is your most memorable adventure that, to this day, still gives you the goose bumps?
Sandboarding in Huacahina, Peru, is definitely an adventure that stands out. I mean, you haven’t known adventure until you have zipped down a 300-foot sand dune headfirst, screaming for your life, eating sand the entire way down. And you definitely haven’t known adventure until you have strapped yourself into a sand buggy and flown through “Everest of the Desert” at high speeds, clutching your seatbelt until your knuckles turn white!!
This was one of the most thrilling experiences of our life, and you can check out our GoPro footage on the blog.
And what is the most dangerous situation you guys found yourselves in, and how did you get yourselves out of it?
We have been lucky to have never really found ourselves in a dangerous situation, and I think this comes down to really planning out our travel and making sure we’re behaving appropriately in foreign environments so to not put ourselves in harms way.
As a young female traveler before having met Mike, the biggest danger for me was finding myself in a dangerous situation after having consumed too much alcohol. Abuse of alcohol makes my list of the 5 biggest mistakes made while traveling – and I think it’s something we’ve all done before, drank to excess while partying in a new country. Though getting drunk abroad can often be a recipe for disaster.
I mean, you’re in a foreign country, potentially with little knowledge of the local language, customs and laws, with people you may have only just met, and it’s very likely that after a few drinks you’ll have no idea where you’re staying. Dangerous. Check out my post on “advice for getting drunk abroad” for more on the topic.
What tips can you give for others who want to get off the beaten path, and find that once in a lifetime experience?
Embrace slow travel, and immerse yourself into each new destination as much as possible. Interact with the locals; ask your hotel concierge about hidden local gems which tourists generally don’t go – really experience each new destination as much as you can and as you believe a local would.
We found a phenomenal secluded beach, for instance in the Galapagos Islands. We chose to experience the Galapagos by land, and set ourselves up for a week in an apartment on San Cristobal. Most tourists opt for a cruise, which includes a lot of island hopping, but we really wanted to get to know one island over the course of a week instead of 20 in that same amount of time.
The locals told us of this amazing spot, we paid $3 for a cab ride there, and spent the next 3 days snorkeling with the most unbelievable wildlife – sea lions and sea turtles came right up to your face, and the best part, there were 0 tourists to share the experience with.
If you could offer one survival/safety tip, what would it be?
Travel with common sense and make sure you’re heading abroad with a certain sense of street smarts about you. I know, I know, we’re living in a world where common sense isn’t so common anymore!! But I very much believe that the biggest tip to keeping yourself safe abroad is having street smarts.
For instance, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, don’t travel and throw your valuables around for everyone to see. Always travel with a card from your hotel so you have the address handy if you need to get back, don’t walk down strange, dark alleys, leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust, have an emergency stash of cash etc, and above all, always trust your gut. If your gut is telling you that something’s off, or you should get outta there, TRUST IT and remove yourself from the situation. Common sense stuff.
Your one essential piece of travel gear you can’t leave home without?
Smartphone. It’s such an essential item because it pretty much doubles as anything you could ever imagine. Need a calculator? Pull out the Smartphone. Need a camera? Smartphone. Social media, communication, currency converters, language apps – there are so many helpful tools that are found in the one device.
Where are you now, and where will the road take you next?
We have just recently landed in Australia, and will be setting up a home base in Canberra to explore the rest of the country as well as New Zealand and the Asia Pacific. As an Australian myself I’ve quickly come to learn from my travels that the rest of the world views our country as an exotic land which they can’t wait to explore. Yet to date I’ve been so quick to jump on a plane to explore the other side of the world before exploring my own!
I think that’s generally the case that we love to explore the rest of the world before discovering the gems that are located right here in our own backyard. So for the next year at least we have decided to dedicate our time to local travel, and find out what Australia has to offer! Between the Great Barrier Reef, desert safari’s in the Outback, swimming with whale sharks in Western Australia and some of the best secluded beaches in the world I don’t think we’ll find ourselves bored!
Do you have any final advice for others who wish to follow in your footsteps?
Just go!! Sounds like straightforward advice right? You would be surprised by how many people don’t travel or live the life of their dreams because of fear, the unknown, or just never getting around to it. I try to live by the notion that twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do. I personally don’t want to look back and wonder where my life went.
More often than not the only thing, which is holding you back, is you. So just go!
About Mapping Megan
Megan is an Australian Journalist, and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan – an award-winning adventure travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.
With the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure, Megan and husband Mike believe travel has the potential to inspire change in people, and in turn inspire change in the world. They embraced travel as a lifestyle in 2007, and are dedicated to documenting their journey and observations through entertaining, candid articles and brilliant photography.
Adrenalin junkies and incredibly active travellers, from mountain biking the most dangerous road in the world (Bolivia), to skydiving over the Swiss Alps and summiting Mt Kilimanjaro, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.
Follow their journey:
Latest posts by Carey (see all)
- Travel Hack Friday: #DIY Orange Peel Oil Candle #travelhacks - October 16, 2015
- Hanoi Vietnam, The Photoscape! #Hanoi #Vietnam #Southeastasia - October 5, 2015
- Travel Hack Friday: How to Find Edible Bugs - October 2, 2015