Dec 12, 2013

Posted by in Blog, Featured, Giveaways, Personal | 41 Comments

A Reflection on Two Years (Plus a Giveaway!)

Two years ago, I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to “do with my life.” I loved my lifestyle; working seasonal jobs and traveling, but I knew I couldn’t do it forever. In the meantime, the litany of career paths I considered could fill a book.

Two years ago, I was heartbroken, coming out of a long-term relationship that I had thought would last forever.

Two years ago, I didn’t know what “location independent” or “lifestyle design” meant. I had read about some online entrepreneurs, sure, but I didn’t really think it was a viable career path for someone with few (read: zero) technical skills.

Girl with Korean orphan

Christmas at a Korean orphanage two years ago. Look past the awful haircut to the chubby baby + reindeer antlers!

Two years ago, I was hopeful, but lost, when I pressed “publish” on the first post on this blog. I didn’t have a clue where I wanted it to take me. But I loved to write, and I loved to travel, and I figured that was enough reason to give it a shot.

What happened next

I’m not going to say this blog has given me all the answers. You can’t look to anything external to do that. But I will say that it has given me guidance; besides my friends and family, it’s been the constant in my life. Even if I didn’t know what the future held, at least I had the blog.

I met people online and learned about an amazing community of travel bloggers and online entrepreneurs that are running their businesses while traveling the world.

I received emails from people who had read my blog and wanted advice about working seasonal jobs or traveling abroad. What a wonderful feeling that was. I’d always considered careers in counseling or teaching — but I never thought I could help people from behind my computer!


Good feelings all around.

I got a freelance job. And another one. And another one. Though none of them were directly related to this blog, I know I wouldn’t have been involved enough in the online world to have started working freelance without it.

It was a lot of work to maintain over the past year — working full time as well as growing my side hustle, but it was worth it. When I stepped into full-time online work this fall, it felt right.


I’m part of a vibrant community full of people who are living life how they want to live — and not how anybody else thinks they should.

I get emails all the time from people asking me questions about travel and seasonal work. The thought that I’ve inspired even one person makes me feel fulfilled.

I’m in the best relationship of my life. (That started while I was working a seasonal job, I might mention.)

I have the freedom and flexibility to spend quality time with my friends and family.

Last, but not least: I am the happiest I’ve ever been.

Susan Shain

Yup, pretty happy!

It’s all because of you

If you’d never read this blog, I would’ve abandoned it long ago. Your support has changed my life, and hearing from you — be it by email, tweet, or comment — keeps me going, writing, loving every day.

More importantly, your support has allowed me to show others there’s more than one way to live your life. If you want it, a life of travel, adventure, and freedom is possible. Because of you, I’ve spent the past two years showing people that, and it’ll forever be one of the most important things I do.

I’d like to say thanks

In conclusion: THANK YOU. I’m sorry I won’t get the chance to ever thank most of you personally, but I still want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Soooo, I’m giving away one $50 gift card to Novica!

Novica is a sweet site that I discovered a few months ago while helping my friend Teddy pick out a present for his girlfriend. In association with National Geographic and Kiva, it’s an online marketplace where global artisans can sell their wares. Each product listing has a photo and story about the artisan, and anybody can find something they like there — from jewelry to paintings to cutting boards.

Travel Junkette Novica Giveaway

If you guys are half as awesome and travelicious as I think you are, you’ll LOVE this site.

Not only will you get to buy something unique for yourself — you’ll be supporting a hardworking artisan in another part of the world. (And just so you know: they aren’t sponsoring this post in any way. I found the site and purchased a gift card with my own money.)

It’s my small way of saying thank you for being a loyal reader of Travel Junkette. It’s such a cliche — but through my attempts to help you, you’ve actually helped me more than I could’ve ever imagined.

How to enter the giveaway

As seen in the widget below, I’ve given you a few options. Each action gets you between one and three entries into the contest, so might as well do them all! If you’re already a TJ fan on FB (as you all are, right!?) you’ll automatically be entered when signing into the widget with Facebook.

When leaving a comment, please let me know what you’d like to see more of on this blog. It is for you, after all, so I want to know what you’re most interested in!

The contest will run until Thursday, December 19, 2013 (one week from today), after which the Rafflecopter widget will automatically pick one winner.

Good luck, and happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  1. Susan, you SOUND happy. It comes through in your posts, and your pictures. You’ve definitely made the right choice to pursue this life path.

    Just keep writing what you’re writing. I enjoy the seasonal job posts as well as your own travel adventure stories.
    Juliann recently posted..Mussels in BrusselsMy Profile

  2. I love your story and congrats on your two year anniversary!
    Lynne @curvyroads recently posted..The Best Views of Banff and Lake LouiseMy Profile

  3. Hey lovely! I love hearing all your tips and seeing all your recommendations! I also love hearing about other seasonal workers. Keep up the good work… hope to catch you soon!
    Ellen recently posted..Daytrip: VeronaMy Profile

  4. Julie Taylor says:

    It’s an enjoyable adventure following you around the globe! I am so glad to have met you while living life in the mountains of Colorado!

  5. How inspiring! I love your blog and while I’m not a world traveller, I would love to be some day. Your blog has made it seem like a real, tangible thing that is possible someday to me! And for that, wow! For now I love reading about your journeys. 🙂 Congrats on your happiness and success, you deserve it!
    Michelle @ recently posted..Easy Marinara ChickenMy Profile

  6. Margaret Smith says:

    Happy Anniversary. Love the travel stories.

  7. I’d like to see more inspirational stuff. 🙂

  8. Love the seasonal jobs thing. I am almost double your age and stil am not sure what I want to do when I grow up!

  9. rod jackson says:

    I would like to see more giveaways

  10. I’d like more giveaways.

  11. Ms Gretchen Ann Luper says:

    I would definitly like to see move travel tips. You can’t have too many.

  12. Holly Thomas says:

    Unique giveaways like this one.

  13. Congrats on your anniversary. I would love to hear and see more travel stories.

  14. I’d love to see more travel tips.

  15. I’d like to see travel tips.

  16. hi 🙂 thank you so much !! i’d love to read more travel stories .. happy holidays xoxo

  17. april yedinak says:

    I would like to see more travel stories and photos.

  18. Yayyy! This made my day. Keep chugging!

  19. Suzy !!!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and seeing all of the amazing photos ! Congrats on year 2! I am excited to see what is to come in 2014 🙂

  20. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    Always more travel tips. I’ve never had the opportunity to travel but look forward to being able to in just a couple of years. I’d love to hear stories about what to expect.

  21. Practical advice about different gigs around the world. And inspiration, but then your whole blog is inspirational.

  22. Best of luck on the next two years!

  23. Susan!!! You are amazing. Keep sharing your experiences, it is so much fun reading about them. Congratulations on your two year anniversary!!

  24. Hello, I’m new here so I took a quick look at your Instagram. I love your photos and would love to see more. 🙂
    Jenn S (FotoJennic) recently posted..Rediscovering my creativityMy Profile

  25. Oh I love travel tips and travel stories!!!!!

  26. I would love to see lots of travel tips, travel stories and pictures!

  27. Congrats on the anniversary! Keep up the good work.

  28. Susan, I’m so proud of you. Life is truly an adventure, and I’m so glad that you’re happy doing what you love. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. Congratulations, and wishing you continued success!!

  29. Nicole Lancaster says:

    I would like to see more inspirational stories and photography on your blog.

  30. I love the tips you give! When planning my upcoming trip to Europe, I frequently came back to read and re-read your advice on finding and booking cheap travel.

  31. Marlene V. (Enelram) says:

    Travel tips

  32. C Cendagorta says:

    Travel junkets saved us last summer when three of our credit cards got hacked just before travel. I followed her advice and off we flew!

  33. I’d love to see more travel photos. I don’t travel myself, so I enjoy other people’s travels! (And Happy Anniversary!!)

  34. Some travel tips from personal experiences are always helpful!!

  35. Congrats on your blogversary, Susan! That’s seriously amazing. And it’s good to hear you’re the happiest you’ve ever been due to following your heart :). Congrats on all your success!!!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..A Traveler’s Holiday Wish ListMy Profile

  36. Photography

  37. Happy blogaversary, Truly inspirational story I can relate to your story so much, I to started my blog after ending a long term relationship and had no idea what I wanted to do in my career, with my blog going just over a year things are still a bit all over the place but getting there I’m hoping to be where you are by year 2 anniversary of my blog.
    Brendon @ NerdTravels recently posted..Top Tardis Time Travel Destinations!My Profile

  38. Unexpected travel stories, like the small things on a trip that were unplanned

  39. Ashley Fryer says:

    More inspirational stuff can never hurt.

  40. Katy Emanuel says:

    I would love to see more travel tips.


  1. $50 NOVICA Gift Card Giveaway - Giveaway Promote - […] Ending on: 12/19/2013 Open to: United States, Canada, Other Location Enter this Giveaway at Travel Junkette […]

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