The date was 20th September, 2005. I was just after turning 27.
I sat in my seat staring out the window of the plane on the runway of McLaren airport in Las Vegas.
A huge grin was spread across my face.
I’d just blown €5,000 playing poker over the past ten days in various casinos.
However, I was flying home with a new sense of purpose in life. I was going to travel the world and see as much of it as I could.
Up until that point in my life, I’d zero interest in travel or anything to do with travelling. Hell, even the thought of sitting on a bus for more than two or three hours used to make me tremble.
Before that solo trip to Vegas, I’d visited Italy, the UK, Portugal and the States. I honestly had no intentions of visiting other countries unless it was a holiday or possibly work related.
I was content with my life. I was happy living in a small town of 4,000 people in the west of Ireland.
So what changed?
When I tell anyone these days that I used to hate the idea of travel, they think I’m making it up. When I tell them that spending ten days playing poker alone in Vegas changed my “travel views”, they definitely think I’m lying.
“What changed your mind?” This is the obvious question that follows in most cases.
Truthfully, I don’t exactly know myself.
For the ten days I spent in Vegas, I literally did nothing only play poker, eat buffet food and partied – all of which were done in complete excess.
- Visiting the Grand Canyon was out of the question.
- Seeing the Hoover Dam? What was that?
- Visiting Death Valley or any of those other attractions never entered my mind.
- How about catching a few shows in Vegas? You must be out of your mind!
I was there to play poker and that’s what I did.
However, I do remember walking down the Vegas strip one day and thinking to myself that it would be cool to come back again someday with friends or family, so that they could experience all of the awesomeness of the city that I was lucky enough to (obviously, not losing the €5,000 part!).
But it was the thought that followed that stuck in my mind for days, weeks and months afterwards. My experience of meeting new people in Vegas, and I guess the feeling of being in such a different environment that my home town made me think I was to see more of the world. I thought I want to meet more people. I want to broaden my experiences and if that means travelling to new countries, then I guess I’m going to travel.
That initial trip to Vegas was to be the first of four return trips to the city, but for different reasons over the course of the next four years.
Myself and Florence had just started going out two weeks before I went on that trip, so I told her how cool it was and that if she ever got the chance to go there that she should.
And she did – we went back in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and not only played poker, but actually visited the Grand Canyon, the hoover dam, death valley, saw a few shows and did a road trip around California for a month.
We saved and went away on all of these trips together and each time we returned home, we would just start a new ‘holiday fund’ for the next trip and adventure on the list. I guess you could say that it became a kind of rinse and repeat process.
We did this from late 2005 until 2012 and got to see some amazing countries in those years. We independently volunteered for three months in orphanages and schools in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda in 2009.
I was ecstatic at seeing parts of the world that I had no interest in seeing only a few years earlier.
By the time we returned home from Africa, my longing to jump on a plane straightaway to another far away land confirmed what I thought wasn’t possible – I was addicted to travel.
It consumed me and all I wanted to do was save every penny towards the next big trip. Luckily for me, Florence also had the same aspirations as me, although she was a little more apprehensive about leaving home and living out of a backpack.
But when it came down to it, she wanted to see all the same countries as I did, and she also saw the value in spending money on experiences…life experiences that can never be taken away.
Taking things to the next level
Back in 2011, we headed off for a planned seven month trip around south East Asia. Everything was going perfect.
We got to visit Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia and up next on the list were Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
However, after 3 months into the trip, I slipped a disc in my lower back which led us making the tough decision to return home. At the time it didn’t seem like the “right” decision to make as we had so many more experiences to have, but upon reflection, it definitely was.
I was confined to the bed for most of the preceding two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand and seeing me helpless didn’t make the situation any less painless for Florence either.
Upon returning home with our tails between our legs as they say, we discussed where we wanted to travel after I got better again.
However, Florence was getting a little anxious at continually saving, going away, coming home broke and starting over again.
So we looked into a few possibilities of working online with the long-term plan to be able to work online and travel the world.
The whole idea of being able to work on a laptop anywhere appealed to us massively.
The birth of a small content business
It wasn’t until December 2012 that I started writing articles for a few clients. After a while, once the work was coming in steadily, we both realised that if we scaled things then we’d be able to work and travel at the same time.
Seven months later we left home on a one way flight to Thailand.
At this point, we were able to make about €2,000 a month writing content for clients, which was more than enough for us to travel and live in a country that we were slowly growing to love.
Since then, we’ve expanded our online business and have over thirty writers producing content for our multitude of different clients. This month (August) has also been our best month to date, as we’ve finally had our first five figure month – Yeah!
Building an online business from scratch and incorporating it into our daily lives has literally changed everything for us.
Now, we can travel whenever and wherever we want. All we need is our laptops and an internet connection. Of course, it’s not all roses and rainbows – like anything in life, there are challenges and obstacles to overcome with this ‘laptop lifestyle’. We’ve also had to make some big sacrifices along the way too.
Right now, we’re in India on a three month trip. While we’re not here to “find ourselves” or find spirituality, we are here to explore this amazing country and find a steady Wi-Fi connection so that we can continue to work on our business in order to feed this travel addiction!
Am I still addicted?
I wrote this post as September will mark the ten year anniversary of that solo trip to Vegas where I realised that travel was something that I wanted – something that I yearned for.
Looking back, this yearning for travel and my want to learn new things, have new experiences and want to live my life on my own terms is something that I’ll never ever regret. I’m lucky that my addiction was to travel and that it has brought me so much happiness.
Right now, at this moment, after some thinking, I can say that I’m still addicted to travel. The ten years that I’ve spent fuelling this habit has not subsided all of the longings that I felt that day I walked down the Vegas Strip. In fact, they are still as prominent as they were back then.
However, while I know that I’ll always have the desire to see new countries and explore new surroundings, I know that things will eventually slow down a little and short bursts of travel will take the place of these longer backpacking trips.