Nora meditates in New Zealand. (theprofessionalhobo.com)
Nora Dunn had a financial planning practice that she sold in 2006 to free herself for a lifetime of adventure! From years of financial planning and now many wonderful years of traveling, she has the tools and experiences to travel in a financially sustainable way that she wants to share with you today. Since early 2007, she has been on the road traveling to over 30 countries and 5 continents.
With countless tips for traveling frugally and sustainably, Nora provides readers with the confidence that they can also go out and explore the world without breaking the bank. For example, in 6 Travel Hacks You Haven’t Thought Of, Nora offers tips like renting cars through Costco and using “opaque” travel sites like Priceline to book hotels and flights.
Nora’s financial expertise provides a unique and invaluable perspective on travel that will surely help you plan your next trip! She has great stories to share, but also writes about some of the not-so-fine moments of traveling. She has seen and been through it all, so there will definitely be something for you!
What inspired you to start a travel blog? Was there a specific reason or an event that made you decide ‘I’m gonna start a travel blog today’?
When I started traveling full-time (back in the pioneer days of 2007), travel blogging (at least for me) was simply an alternative to sending out mass emails to family and friends, updating them with my adventures abroad. I figured, instead of clogging their email boxes, I’d chronicle my journeys on a blog. I could barely define what a blog WAS at the time!
It wasn’t until a few months later, when I’d realized I could translate my lifelong penchant for the written word into a form of income that could support my travels, that I saw the opportunity to take my blog a bit more seriously. It was still a couple of years of heavy work (which thankfully felt like play) before the income was enough to support me.
What have been the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of running your blog and social media presence? Do you keep in touch with your readers?
One of the biggest rewards of my blogging career has been the connections I’ve had with readers around the world, some of whom have opened up their homes to me, others of whom I’ve met for coffee, and many others with whom I have a written relationship but haven’t yet met in person.
I recently went through a crisis, and the outpouring of support (both moral and logistical) that was showered on me was humbling.
But there is a cost to these connections, and it’s time. Blogging – and especially the social media component of a blogging career – is a relentless daily task. Engagement is important and it takes time. Ask any blogger how they feel about taking two weeks away from their computer and internet, and you’ll likely see the color drain from their face.
Consider two weeks’ accumulation of 50+ emails a day, and you see how easy it is to fall behind if you’re not vigilant. In fact, I’ve got all kinds of reasons why blogging isn’t as great a match for travel as you might suspect.
What’s your favorite place that you have visited & what’s a dream destination that you still haven’t conquered?
I have a thing about “favorite” places; they’re different for everybody, and often it has less to to do with the place itself and more to do with the people you’re with and your emotional state of being at the time. The most beautiful sunset in the world could be a tragic sight if you’ve just had your heart broken. Having said that, I’ll say I’ve had fantastic experiences in both New Zealand and Peru.
About dream destinations, I don’t tend to choose destinations – they choose me, in the form of some interesting opportunity (for example, to volunteer, or to house-sit, or to visit people). When I started traveling full-time 10 years ago, I wanted to see everything and couldn’t narrow it down much further than that.
Since then, I’ve covered a lot of territory and no longer have a pressing need to “conquer” any particular destination, because for me travel isn’t about the destination as much as it’s about the experience. But I’ll play the game and say that Iceland is a place I’d like to visit, as I’ve never had more than a layover there, but the scenery coming in for landing was enough to convince me it’s a place worth spending some time.
If you had one piece of advice for people who want to travel throughout the U.S. and around the world but want to stay on budget, what would it be?
My biggest secret to financial sustainability or budget travel is getting free accommodation. In my first five years of full-time travel alone, I saved over $63,000 by staying for free in some pretty sweet spots around the world.
There are a variety of ways to get free accommodation, including volunteering, house-sitting, hospitality exchanges, home exchanges, and even living on boats. And it has the added benefit of usually being a culturally enriching experience with an instant network of local friends and local housing (instead of hotels).