Seven years ago, Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott quit their day jobs and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. What was meant to be a creative sabbatical has turned into a life of full-time travel. On their blog uncorneredmarket.com, Dan and Audrey share their stories, photos and travel tips, as well as inspirational advice for living a more deliberate, story-filled life.
We sat down with Dan and Audrey to learn more about following dreams, taking risks, and staying sane when traveling full time with your partner.
Q. You wrote that turning in your resignation letters was the scariest moment of your travels; scarier than getting lost in the mountains of Kazakhstan or crossing the Turkish border from Iran. How did you know you were ready to take the leap?
A. We realized we were in jobs that looked great on paper, but weren’t really tapping into our creativity or spirit. We felt like only part of us was showing up for work each day. We had been talking – more like dreaming – about traveling around the world for almost a year, but there’s a big difference between talking and doing.
One night, we knew we had to make a decision. “Maybe we can put it off just a little longer. Save some more money, plan some more.”
But then we projected ourselves forward: “Five years becomes 10, and 10 becomes 20. The next thing you know you’re looking back and wondering, ‘What if…?’”
That wasn’t the life we wanted for ourselves. Now was the time to act. And we were ready for it.
Q. Be real with us here, has there ever been a moment – even a split second – where you find yourself thinking: “man, working full time in a cubicle with steady pay, sick leave and health insurance has a few perks”?
A. Yes. But it doesn’t last very long. The reality is an entrepreneurial life is one where you’re constantly juggling ideas, projects, proposals, chasing down invoices, and doing a million other things. Sometimes it feels like you have to be “on” 24 hours a day. It can get exhausting. That’s why it’s especially important for entrepreneurs to take time off and unplug – not only to recharge their creative juices, but also for their health and wellbeing.
Q. No relationship is perfect 100% of the time. And the close quarters of traveling can magnify moments of stress. How do you give each other space while you’re on the road?
A. One of the most important things is to actively communicate and be open and honest about needing space or personal time. That means we’ll sometimes sit next to each other for hours on end on a bus and not speak to each other. This isn’t because we are angry; we just need some time inside our own heads to process and just be.
Q. Can you tell us more about the “my day, your day” approach, and why it works so well for you two?
A. The principle behind “my day, your day” is pretty simple. One day is my day to be responsible for the itinerary, planning, logistics and little decisions like where to eat. And the next day is Dan’s. The goal is to divide up tasks, especially the ones that neither person likes to do, and to give someone the power to make the final decision if both people are indifferent or can’t decide.
Q. By now everyone who’s reading this is at least daydreaming about a life of travel. How do you support yourself while you’re on the road?
A. How we support ourselves has changed over the years. Currently, we earn income a few different ways and have a lot of our travel expenses subsidized through the following channels:
- As bloggers and “influencers”: We are brand ambassadors with G Adventures under their Wanderers in Residence program. We work on promotional campaigns with tourism boards and travel companies, and have advertising and affiliate links on our site.
- As consultants: As our blog and social media platforms became more popular, companies began to ask us for advisory services on social media and content marketing strategies, storytelling angles, and how to better market sustainable tourism. We now have a separate identity for this storytelling and digital marketing consulting at QV Global.
- As speakers and trainers: We deliver keynotes, breakout sessions, and workshops on the topics of storytelling and sustainability, digital marketing, and the blogger cooperation lifecycle. We’ve also spoken at universities and we’re hoping to do more such speaking in the future.
- As freelance writers and photographers: In addition to writing for our own site, we also do freelance writing for publications like BBC Travel, WTTC, G Adventures, Looptail, and more. Additionally, we sell licensing rights to publications and companies to use our travel photography.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to set up a non-traditional professional lifestyle?
A. Take a look at your skills – the ones you have and the ones you want to develop – and then think of what you can create that is of value for others. Often, people focus on following their passion first. And while that’s good, that’s not a sustainable business model unless that passion leads to something that others find valuable.
I also suggest people test out their business ideas for about six months before quitting their job or setting off on their journey around the world. This will allow you to work on developing a steady set of clients or services before the stress of the unknown comes in.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A.Take a deep breath. Be present.