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