Dedicated to bringing you captivating stories, bucket list destinations, and off the beaten track experiences from
near and far. 

Dedicated to bringing you captivating stories, bucket list destinations, and off the beaten track experiences from
near and far. 

welcome to the blog




Middle East


Latin America


North America



How I Afford To Travel All The Time


How Instagram Influencers afford to travel all the time.

Lets Talk About Money

Let’s talk about money. How influencers afford to travel — and how I afford to travel all the time is the most common question I receive from people. It’s a difficult question to answer, for a number of reasons, but primarily because it’s based on a false premise. The question assumes that I actually travel all the time. I don’t.

A photograph may be worth a thousand words. But those words don’t tell a complete story. 

My Instagram account is a carefully curated collection of photographs from my outdoor adventures. It does not represent my life – just some of the more picturesque moments. During those brief moments, I take lots of photographs, and then I post them over time. This creates the illusion that I am always jet setting off to some new exotic location. But I’m not. Few are. You’re just seeing my highlight reel. Social media is fun, and can be very inspirational, but it doesn’t provide a complete picture of anyone’s life – only the part they want you to see. So don’t fall into the trap of comparing your actual day to day life, to the curated life someone creates on social media. It won’t end well. Trust me, I know.

Jess Wandering’s Instagram Account.

Once upon a time – my story. 

Social media is a relatively new frontier – people are still exploring ways to use (and abuse) it. It’s the wild west of marketing, and theoretically it can open doors to your wildest dreams. There are a million reasons you might want to grow your audience. Maybe you want exposure for your art, maybe you’re trying to monetize your passion, you’re an aspiring model, or you have a message to share with the world. And those all seem like perfectly legitimate goals to me. But that’s not my story. My story is more accident than ambition. More clumsy than calculated.

I grew up with a pretty clear idea of what life should look like. That “should” dictated every decision I made – whether I realized it or not. Then one day, all of the building blocks I had carefully balanced to create a life in line with what others expected of me started to topple over. And I just kind of let them – because I wasn’t happy.

I was laid off at my law firm. The logical thing to do was find another job as a lawyer. But I didn’t. Confused and lost, I fell back on hiking and camping – interests that had been an important part of my childhood, but that I had long abandoned. I was happy when I was outside — always found enough space there to think. I realized that as a lawyer I would probably never find the type of balance that I wanted in my life. So I reevaluated my priorities and made a change. I got my real estate license and became a weekend warrior.

I’m not suggesting that everyone can or should make a big career change. I may be privileged, but I’m not that dense. I know that everyone can’t make their own schedule, travel all the time, or work remotely. When I started down this path I had a unique set of circumstances. There’s no denying that.  But I do think that most of us have room in our lives to make more time for the things we truly want. And while money will come and go, time only passes.

Lanikai Beach on Oahu, Hawaii.
Lanikai Beach on Oahu, Hawaii.

But how do you travel all the time?

I continued to post photos from my weekend trips onto Instagram. And to my great surprise, people—complete strangers—liked the photos. My following slowly started to grow. It was addicting. Here I was doing something I genuinely enjoyed, something that had always brought me happiness, and I was getting positive feedback for it.

Not only that, but it turned out there was a whole little world of people out there with similar interests as me. People who loved the outdoors, hiking, camping, and documenting their adventures through photography. Along the way, I crossed paths with others doing this – people who helped me better understand the art, the techniques, the equipment, and the business of it all. Yes, we inevitably compete at times, but far more often I feel it as a family of support, and I know I would not have made it to this point without their help.

And while all of these people have played a role in my personal and professional growth over the last couple years, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special thank you to Quin Schrock (@everchanginghorizon) at this point. I have little doubt that without Quin’s constant support and creative inspiration I would not have many of the opportunities I enjoy today.

Oahu Hiking

On assignment with the Backcountry team.
On assignment with the Backcountry team.

Me on assignment with  Quin Schrock . Photo by  Christian Shaffer .
Me on assignment with Quin Schrock. Photo by Christian Shaffer.

Eventually companies started to reach out. This was another surprise. Of course I knew social media marketing existed. But I had no idea how it worked.

As my following continued to grow, brands and tourism boards offered to pay in exchange for exposure on my feed. For brands, this generally means a post of me using their product. For tourism boards, the idea is the same, but the product is a destination. These trips are either sponsored (expenses paid for), or I’m paid a contracted amount, or both. The idea is that you travel to the sponsored location, take photos of your experience, and post them to your feed. In return, the destination gets exposure to an audience of people that is already interested in travel. It’s a win win situation. The size of your following, combined with engagement, generally dictates the rates you are paid for these promotional posts.

Florida photo

Never Stop Learning

To this day, the vast majority of my trips are self-funded. But I’m able to fund them in part with savings from these opportunities. I’ve always tried not to do too many sponsored posts. Not because I think there is anything inherently wrong with them. But because it has always been very important to me to only work with brands and destinations that I feel are in line with my values and interests – not always as obvious as it might seem. Like all of this, it’s a constant evolution.

More importantly—and this took me a lot of trial and error for me to figure out—but I won’t work with a company that wants to dictate the creative direction of my photographs.

There are a lot of different approaches to sponsored posts. Some are more subtle than others. And I’ve always believed that the most important part of having a successful social media business is continuing to value quality over quantity. I need to be excited about the work that I put out into the world, and I find comfort knowing that my sponsored posts are all photos that I would be proud to post regardless of whether I was getting paid or not.

Every post you make represents your brand. So while it can be tempting to compromise on your vision in the short term to make money, it’s generally not worth it. If you build a quality brand, brands and tourism boards will take note, and you will be able to negotiate more for your work in the long run.

Jess Wandering and Travel Yukon

As I continued to get offers, I found myself struggling to find a healthy balance between real estate and travel blogging. Real Estate gave me more control over my schedule than I had practicing law, and I enjoyed it, but availability is key in real estate and conflicts were becoming more frequent. I knew I had to make yet another change. At the beginning of the year I decided to take a leap of faith and see if I could make a living doing photography and travel blogging full time. I don’t know if it will work out. In many ways I have no idea what I’m doing. And maybe I never will. Maybe no-one ever really does. But I do know that I would always regret it if I was handed this opportunity and didn’t at least try.

Jess Wandering in Arizona

Jess Wandering Philippines

Jess Wandering in LA

You start at the beginning

There is no right way to start making big changes in your life. It’s cliche, but I think the best advice I could give is to just START – even if you don’t know exactly what it is that you’re starting! Now is as good a time as any to start living the life you want, because it’s the only time we have any control over.

Don’t wait for the right time. Because it will never come. When I started I was working a full time job. I was hiking, camping, and backpacking – not inherently expensive activities. I rarely traveled more than a few hours from home and had only been using a camera with one lens. And I had no idea what I was doing. Point is, you don’t have to start by jumping into the deep end. But you do have to get wet.

Pursuing happiness is difficult. It requires sacrifice, hard work, and risk. Under these circumstances, it’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring ourselves against other people’s successes. But comparing ourselves to others is a slippery slope that generally only goes one way – down to the rocks below. I like to think that happiness, on the other hand, is found in understanding what you want, pursuing it with all you’ve got, and then taking it from the only person that can give it to you  – YOU.

Photos in collaboration with Quin Schrock.

Thank you so much for Your Support!

forever grateful, jess

Related posts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. John.doe@mac.com says:

    Good article, Jess. When bombarded by images of people have fantastic adventures, it’s easy to believe that those people are going nothing else. Thanks for the reminder that the reality is quite different. I also like your advice about making change happen. There’s no time like today!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks so much John! It’s funny I don’t think any of us are immune to the temptation that social media provides to compare out lives to those of others. I know first hand that it can leave you feeling pretty inadequate. I just have to remind myself that I should know better than anyone that it’s mostly just for show!

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing such frank insights to "how you do this," keeping it real. I enjoyed reading about your experience and of course, seeing your pictures.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Amy, really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read the blog! This one was a little different for me. I’m glad you found it interesting! 🙂

  3. Josh Brown says:

    Great article. Hope your new adventure works out. Love your pics of all your travels. Keep it up!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks so much Josh! I really appreciate you checking it out. I hope it works out too, but if not, I think I’ll be okay with knowing that I went for it, and made some great memories and friends along the way.

  4. Gina says:

    Great post! Thanks for making it "real" for us!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks Gina! Glad you enjoyed it. There were so many directions to go in for this particular questions, it was hard to start. But I had to take my own advice and just start. 😉

  5. Chris says:

    Love how you broke it down in such a detailed manner! Makes it seem much more attainable!

    • Jess Dales says:

      That’s so awesome to hear Chris! I was worried it wouldn’t be detailed enough. But I also didn’t want to loose people in the weeds. So I really appreciate the feedback!

  6. JOHN says:

    Care to share where that Yukon post is?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey John. I don’t remember the name of the exact peak any longer, but this photo was taken in the Tombstone Territorial Park. Hope that helps!

  7. Johnny says:

    Very nice article. I enjoyed the combo of positivity, realism, and humility. I’m no photographer (but hope to be one day) but somehow those traits are embodied in your pictures too. Hope the transition to full-time pays off BIG time.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Johnny! Really appreciate all your kind words. And that you took the time to read all mine! Hope you have a wonderful day.

  8. jithin says:

    Great post. Loved reading it. It was inspirational.

  9. Daniel says:

    I can really relate to this one…thanks for posting it!

    • Jess Dales says:

      That’s fantastic to hear Daniel! I was definitely worried that it wouldn’t be very relatable – given that we all have our own stories and unique set of circumstances. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Karl Ndieli says:

    This is awesome Jess. Absolutely fantastic Inight

  11. Qusai says:

    You’re such an inspiration!

  12. Sam Brandner says:

    Love it! As someone who would one day live to do the same, it’s difficult to see every day as another step towards the end goal.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I totally agree Sam! And it’s so easy to just push things off to another time (or at least it is for me). But I think just doing little things to reach your end goal every day will go a long ways! Otherwise it can all feel so daunting.

  13. Daniel says:

    Beautiful and honest story Jess!! I hope all these paths lead you to the happiness. We talk soon. Peace&Love

  14. Ethel says:

    Thanks Jess for sharing your story❤️ It’s inspiring. I hope one day i will have the courage to take the leap and see where it takes me…

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Ethel! Seriously means a lot to me. And remember you don’t always have to leap all at once! Sometimes baby steps get you to the same destination. 🙂

  15. John says:

    Thanks for the post, Jess. It’s comforting to hear all that as a lawyer who’d also rather be outside wandering. Makes me feel slightly less claustrophobic knowing that you’re not out in some exotic location every day, either. Keep up the good work and come back to MT soon.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Glad you liked it John! I have so many friends that absolutely love being lawyers, and make time for amazing adventures too. So I know it’s absolutely posable to have both. We all just have to find what works for us!

      • John says:

        I really like being a lawyer too actually, even though it often leaves little time and energy for other pursuits. I just admire that you stepped away from it to do what really makes you happy.

  16. Amo says:

    Excellent post & enjoyable reading!!

  17. Carson Graham says:

    Great post! You have been a huge inspiration for me. I wish you would have elaborated more about how you went from a used camera with one lense to the pro that you are today. What steps did you take to improve your skills?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Carson! I’m glad that you enjoyed it! The only step I took to improve my skills was to just keep taking photos, and surround myself with talented photographers. I think you can learn a lot just from identifying photographs you like, asking yourself what specifically you like about the shot, and then trying to emulate that the next time you’re shooting! But more than the camera, I think introducing Lightroom into my work flow made a huge difference in the quality of my photos. CreativeLive has some great online courses for that! But I actually started just watching free tutorials on YouTube. Best of luck!

  18. Tyler says:

    Wow thanks for sharing that! Fascinating story, love your honesty. Best wishes as you go full time!

  19. Kris says:

    Awesome backstory and super inspiring!

    I can relate to the corporate job situation. As someone that works in medical device sales the lack of freedom gets me down constantly. Its been one of the reason I’m working on making the switch that will allow more freedom in my personal schedule.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Kris! Awesome to hear that you are making moves to find that happy balance in your life. I know for me it will probably always be a struggle. But I certainly feel better even when I’m taking little steps toward my goals. Best of luck out there!

  20. Rovie Dovie says:

    Such a great post! Thank you for your words.

  21. Jess says:

    Loved reading this! It’s something I’ve wondered about travel bloggers I’ve followed over the years, and your honesty and sharing of your personal experience really paints the picture of how it all works behind the scenes. Thank you so much for sharing your passion with all of us. It is such a joy and inspiration to follow you along your journey. Sending love!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much for the support Jess! I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. I love this little online community of mine. I know how much social media can get me down, and I realize that while my photos might be inspiring to some, they also have the ability to get people down about their amazing real lives. So I figured a little transparency could go a long ways!

  22. Max says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, do keep on living your life fully (although you seem to be on the right track !)

  23. Pradeep says:

    Amazing post Jess. Wish yu more happiness and peace. Happy blogging. Thanks for inspiring.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you!! I’ve quite enjoyed writing lately. So hopefully there will be a lot more to come.

  24. Matvey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m always inspired by people who were willing to take a risk and were able to succeed. It’s also great to hear the whole journey. No one wakes up being a full-time travel blogger.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my story Matvey! I think that’s so important to remember. The best results often take a lot more time and work than people realize.

  25. Mike says:

    This is an eye opening blog post. Thank you! I have been stressing big time about making the leap from employment (which I actually really enjoy and get plenty of vacation time from) to a full time explorer of the world. I have always been blown away that there were people out there who just had the funds and freedom to go where they want when they want.

    I thought that quitting everything and just going for it was the only way to achieve that lifestyle.

    Reading this story has made me realize though that all of the people that I am inspired by on instagram are not all that different than myself as far as finances and responsibilities. Everyone still has the other side to their online presence which is the "dailly grind" so to speak. It’s opened my eyes to the fact that I basically am living the life of exploration that anyone I look up to on IG does, and that just need to keep on keeping on.

    Thanks for the insight! Wander On.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Mike! It definitely sounds like you have a pretty nice set up right now. And I would be willing to bet that you are correct about a lot of the photographers and travelers that you look up to! The photos we choose to post are such a small portion of our actual lives. I’ve actually been at home for the last few weeks doing taxes, writing, sending out emails, planing future trips, etc. But on-line it looks like I’ve been to Hawaii, New Zealand, Zion, The North Cascades, all in the last week. Keep on keeping on. Best of luck!

  26. Kevin Emmons says:

    ha, you mention: "In many ways I have no idea what I’m doing. And maybe I never will."
    I beg to differ….You really do know what your doing and your good at it. Good luck. @kevincolorado.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Kevin! I appreciate the vote of confidence. I think this space is one where you always feel like there is more you could be doing. So I feel a little out of control at times. But you do what you can!

  27. Joshua Earle says:

    I’ve seen quite a few of these blogs coming out recently but yours has been by far the best. Very honest and eye opening story. Amazing to hear what your journey has been like and that it is possible to make it in this industry. Thanks for sharing!

    Wish you all the best in your endeavours.

    And safe travels!

    All the best,
    Joshua Earle

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Joshua. That is truly humbling to hear, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed the read. Have a wonderful week!

  28. Yaroslav says:

    I think this was perfectly written, loved reading it. There’s a lot you can take from. "Don’t wait for the right time. Because it will never come." Those are words to live by.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I’m happy to hear that you liked it Yaroslav! I’ve always been really bad at making decisions, so not waiting for the right time is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way! 😉

  29. Annie says:

    Loved reading this Jess! Thanks for the endless inspiration. So happy to hear your pursing photography and traveling full time – can’t wait to see where life takes you!



    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Annie! It’s definitely an exciting time. I’m not sure where this path will take me, but it feels like I’m headed in the right direction. At least for now! X0

  30. Fliptummi says:

    Thank you for sharing and being so inspirational.

    I have had the same thoughts for a while for a drastic career change but could not find the right reaffirming testimony for it. You provided just that.

    Thank you!

    • Jess Dales says:

      I’m happy that you found some inspiration in the blog. I think it’s important to remember that very few things are forever, and it’s okay to try something new, and if it doesn’t work out that’s okay too. You can always fall back, but you can only go forward if you start taking the steps. Best of luck with whatever you decide!

  31. Mia Falck says:

    Great story Jess! Your honesty is inspiring. Congrats for being brave and taking the risk!

  32. Luis says:

    Great honest post about what is a real life and what is shown in IG. I always think that IG only shows a shot that was taken out thousand of seconds and is what our thoughts build a supposed life of the poster. Great reading this from you. Just keep swimming…! I fully agree with trying any opportunity you have and get rid of other people ideas about what a cool life is.
    Thank you!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you for the awesome comment Luis! It’s’ nice to have the support of like minded people. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, and understand the difference between the life people present on social media, and the life most people live!

  33. Kevin Gutierrez says:

    Such a well thought out article. It’s been great seeing all the hikes and travel related posts. You continue to inspire me with both travel and photography, especially since you hike to places I’ve been. Keep up the great work. Can’t wait to see where you end up next.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Kevin! I always enjoy reading travel articles from places I’ve been as well. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it’s just interesting to see the different ways people experience the same location. Until next time!

  34. Olga says:

    Great post! I thought it was the most authentic blog post on traveling that I have read. Thank you!

  35. Amy Renalds says:

    Loved your post. It’s very honest and informative. You photos are also beautiful.

  36. Poornima Handa says:


  37. Mike Proulx says:

    I love the color and level of detail you capture in you photos. Do you mostly use Sony cameras in your work? Keep doing what you do. You inspire the rest of us to get out and explore. Thanks.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Mike, thanks! Most of my photos are shot on a Sony a7rII or III. Although I used old photos from my original point and shoot for the photographs in the first part of this post, because that was the camera I started with!

      • Mike says:

        Thanks! It’s refreshing to see that you make sure to go back and respond to all our posts. Good luck in your travels.

  38. Acey says:

    Jess, you’re a true inspiration. You honesty, passion, and transparency is vivid in this post. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this. I wish you all the best, wherever you are!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Acey! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the supportive words. Hope you have a great week!

      • Acey says:

        I came back to this post after 5 years. I’m still following you and see how you have grown your brand. But in essence it hasn’t changed and is still appealing to me. I love your feed and your writing style. I followed your itinerary in Southern Australia several years ago and I was thinking about how good quality blogs can affect our decisions.

        • Jess Wandering says:

          Thank you so much Acey! It’s so cool to hear that you’ve been following my journey for so long. And you are completely right – not much has actually changed. For better or worse I haven’t scaled much, and have continued to do everything on my own. It’s been quite the ride and I’m so grateful for the community of wonderful people like you that have supported me along the way. Happy New Year!

  39. Jeremy says:

    Great article, your intelligence and candor is refreshing.

  40. Joe says:

    I have always wondered how travel blogging works financially. I also wanted to say you and your posts are beautiful! The places you’ve explored and shared are both impressive and incredible! Congratulations on taking the leap to full time travel blogging. Good luck with all your upcoming adventures I look forward to seeing and reading about them!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Joe! I’m glad that I was able to clear up some your questions. I think it’s an industry that lacks a lot of transparency. Not necessarily on purpose, but because by the time you’re fully immersed in it, you kind of forget how strange and unintuitive it all seems! Thanks again for the comment! 🙂

  41. Kim O’Neill says:

    Jess, I’m so proud of you. You left your comfort zone and then entered an alternate universe. Very cool. Keep up the excellent work!

  42. Brittany says:


    This is beautifully written. I remember emailing you and you gave me similar advice- just start. I’m on the verge of finding a better full time job so I can save and get more travel gear, and who knows, perhaps I too can finally hit the road after awhile of being a weekend warrior too. Thank you, because today has been discouraging and hard, and I needed all of these words. I really hope your full time photography and travel blog works! You do so well. No regrets! Send it, to infinity

    -Brittany Schaar

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Brittany! That’s awesome to hear that you are taking the first steps to finding a more balanced/happy life. I’m sorry yesterday was discouraging, and I hope today is better. I’m sure it will make you stronger in the long run. Best of luck with everything! X0

  43. Peter says:

    Amen. Great post. I feel very fortunate to have gone down the Instagram rabbit hole and through people I was following, and who were following you, that I have been able to following you and your amazing photographs. I will follow your Instagram posts until you stop. Take care.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Peter! I’m very glad that you found me as well. It’s so nice to have such a supportive community of people following along. Have an awesome week, and thanks again for taking the time to stop by and read my story. 🙂

  44. Talia says:

    This is awesome! Super inspirational and a great reality check that social media isn’t real. I’m about to drop myself in the deep end – because I want to though. But can’t wait to use some of this info in your post to help me swim more than I sink!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Talia! I definitely don’t have anything against jumping into the deep end! More power to you if you can do it. I just worry that some people wont get in at all if the deep end sounds too intimidating. Best of luck out there! x0

  45. Daria says:

    Great story! Nicely put words. No one really knows what future holds and there is no right or wrong way of life. You do you. As you were planted here on this Earth for your own unique experience.

  46. Gerald Pallister says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have an issue with some of the social media platforms. Eg. My instagram followers counter seems to go down despite many followers being added. I have raised this on 4 occasions with the administrator but the problem remains – 10 new followers counter drops by 5. I am using Viewbug and Facebook each requires its own time. Suggestions. Thanks . Love your pics and write ups. Gerald Pallister

    • Jess Dales says:

      I Gerald, in addition to gaining new followers everyday, all of us loose followers as well. But instagram only notifies us when we get new followers. So it could be that despite the fact that you are gaining new followers everyday, you are loosing more than you are gaining, causing your overall following to drop. If you are interested, you can sign up for Iconosquare – it will tell you not only how many followers you gain each day, but also the number of followers that you loose.

  47. AMAZING post girl! What an inspiration for people like me who are just starting out, not really sure what the path is yet, not really sure what I am doing, but just taking those steps to do something. Your journey is incredible and I look forward to seeing more of your adventures!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks so much Heather! It’s a brave new world out there, and I think we are kind of figuring out how it all works. Taking steps to do something is the best approach I know. So you’re on the right path! I hope you find what you are looking for and have a lot of fun doing it!

  48. focalfocus says:

    The first ‘HOW I AFFORD TO TRAVEL ALL THE TIME’ blog post that’s honest and I really like. It so true you say about comparing yourself to others. Everyone spends their money in a different way and gets different opportunities, it’s like try to catch the wind, you can’t and it will be exhausting. I hope many will read this as inspiration. Well done!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Wow, thank you so much! That is awesome to hear. I’m so glad that you felt it shed some real light on the topic. I really appreciate you stopping by to read the post!

  49. Rebecca says:

    I love this post it’s so helpful and honest ❤️❤️

  50. Stavros Mitchelides says:

    Awesome Jess!! I do have the amazing luxury of traveling full time; so my story is totally different, but it’s people exactly like you that I aspire to meet along the way. I hike 5-7 days a week and shoot nearly 10,000 photos a year…sometimes it feels like a job! You’re one of my absolute favorite people to follow and I’ve hoped that we could cross paths for at least a year now…eventually I’ll get lucky enough Keep it up, you’re talented and amazing.

    • Stavros Mitchelides says:

      ps. I’m @joyryde

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Stavros! I agree that the people you meet along the way are some of my favorite parts about traveling. We can all learn so much from each other. Perhaps our paths will cross some day! Until then, happy traveling. 🙂

  51. Derek says:

    This is a well written and honest article and I appreciate it. Good luck on the adventures and keep up the hard work.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks for reading my story Derek! It’s always a little nerve-wracking putting something out that is a little more personal than a must do list. Appreciate the kind feedback!

  52. Cara Hosie says:

    Thanks for being so honest and transparent in what you do. I feel a lot of travel blogs portray a desirable lifestyle that is unacheivable for most people, but it is refreshing to read what actually goes on behind the scenes and the work it takes to get to this point.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I’m glad you liked it Cara! There’s always so much going on behind the scenes with any form of art. But I think we forget that with travel blogs because they appear on a platform that is used for such a diverse range of purposes by the average person. I’m always having to remind myself that I’m only seeing the finished product! 😉

  53. Kelly Nicole says:

    Loved this thank you!

  54. Linda Pugh says:

    Thanks, Jess. Well said. Having your travel & expenses covered still seems difficult to attain. For the vast majority, who aren’t blessed with your genes, it’s even more of a challenge. Then there’s the tiny issue of paying the mortgage and bills

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Linda. I would totally agree that it is difficult to obtain. I never meant to imply otherwise. It has taken me years and a lot of hard work to get to this point – and I would discourage anyone from pursuing travel photography or blogging unless they are willing to work extremely hard to reach their goals. I have no doubt that I work longer hours now than I ever did as a lawyer or real estate agent. The difference is I’m passionate about it.

      I also think it’s important to remember that no matter what your background, or perceived deficiencies, there is likely a segment of the population that would relate to you on that level, and thus be interested in your journey. I know successful bloggers of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. You just have to find your audience!

  55. Rochelle Rimolde says:

    Love the honesty… It’s always good to hear! Very inspiring ~ thank you!

  56. Trevis Boyd says:

    I enjoy hiking and taking pictures, right now I only take pictures with my phone. The problem is that I’m always disappointed with the results of actually printing the picture out. Can you recommend a good camera that is: lightweight, not too big and clunky, and has ability to upload directly to social media?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Trevis, I started out with a Sony Ciber-shot DSC RX-100. It’s a point and shoot that takes really high quality photographs, but can fit in your pocket. I have one, and it’s really great for when I don’t want to lug my larger camera around. I’m not sure what your budget is, but you could probably find a used one, or an older model for a reasonable price. Best of luck!

  57. Alexis says:

    Hi! I’ve been approached on Instagram by companies to promote their products. However, I haven’t done anything with it because I’m unsure how to tell if it is legitimate or a scam. How did you navigate that issue?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Alexis! I always ask brands that contact me on Instagram to send me an email. In the email you should be able to tell if they are a legitimate brand or not. They will generally include a link to their website, and their signature block will have all the appropriate information you would expect to see. You can also use LinkedIn to make sure they are who they say they are. I ignore any request for temporary or 24 hour posts from "online stores." They may not be scams, but it’s just not the direction I want to go in.

  58. 801lellies (shannell) says:

    I love the honesty and transparency. I usually don’t think about how people afford to travel, i always thought it was too much of a personal subject to ask, i just love the story of their adventure. But after reading this, I now see that the question raises a story in itself. Very well written.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I’m so glad you liked it Shannell! I always found it to be a fairly personal question as well. That being said, I understand why some people would be curious about it. And I would hate for anyone to beat themselves up wondering why their life doesn’t look like some of the travel accounts they see on Instagram. So I decided it was time to shed a little light on the issue. 😉

  59. M says:

    Thank you for this blog entry! I was laid off from my accounting job in the beginning of January- just as my husband and I purchased our first home. I decided to not pursue another office job and am working to build my own business instead. I am able to spend more time with my son and slow down life (at least a bit!) Most days are tough! It is inspirational to hear someone else’s story – real story, not promotional hype. Thank you for sharing and know this simple blog entry has inspired me to keep on keeping on even through the tough days.

    • Jess Dales says:

      First of all, congratulations on your new home! I know that can be quite an feat in this market. I’m glad that the blog came at the right time for you. I find that I work even more now than I ever did with one of my desk jobs. It seems as if there’s always something else that can be done, and I never get the thing done that I started the day planning to do. But it doesn’t feel as draining because I’m passionate about it! (Or at least that’s the idea). That being said, it’s also more personal, so speed bumps and failures can feel more defeating. It’s all a learning process, and I’m sure you will do great! Best of luck on your new path!

  60. Emily says:

    This was great to read, thanks so much for sharing something that is a rather personal story – we don’t always see that genuine expression or authenticity on social media!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Emily! It was definitely a different experience for me writing something as subjective and personal as this post, so I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it. 🙂

  61. Andrew says:

    Very insightful, sincere thanks for sharing this with the community!

  62. Oreste says:

    Thanks for that Jess.

  63. Rochelle says:

    Your line "And while money will come and go, time only passes." hit home. I am so inspired and it makes me want travel & explore the world even more.

    Do you have any tips on how to take good photographs? Your pics are mind blowing. How do you get those aerial/wide angled shots? A drone?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Rochelle! Happy to hear that you found it to be inspirational!

      I think the best advice I can give for improving your photography is to try and get out and shoot a lot. I’ve also learned a lot from studying the work of photographers I really like, and then trying to identify what the specific elements are that I’m drawn to. Then I can try and incorporate those techniques into my own work. There are also basic compositional rules like "the rule of thirds," to keep in mind.

      There actually are not any drone shots in this particular post. Most of the photos are taken on a Sony a7rII (which is a full frame camera), with a 16-35mm lens (which is a fairly wide angle). If the shot looks like it is taken from above me, the photographer probably is shooting from a higher vantage point so that more of the landscape is shown in the background. Hope that helps. Best of luck!

  64. Baptiste says:

    Hi from France !
    I just discovered your blog and your instagram. I am really surprise you take the time to answer of this question about money and i really like your answer.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi! I’m so clad that you enjoyed the read. I get a lot of questions about it, so I wanted to try and add a little transparency to the conversation. Glad you found me! And thanks for following along. 🙂

      • Baptiste says:

        And what’s about your next destination ? I didn’t saw lots of scandinavia countries ! There are really natural and incredible 🙂

  65. brandon says:

    if you hadnt gained as many followers, and didnt get paid in one way or another to blog, would you keep with it ?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Brandon. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and photography, so if I wasn’t getting paid I would certainly still be doing those activities. But if I wasn’t ever making any money, then I doubt I would have given up my job to pursue it full time.

  66. Kelsey says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge!
    Do you ever see yourself returning to law when you are older and did your law background help with starting your own business? Also, this might be to forward, but is doing what you do now as lucrative as what you made as a lawyer or real estate agent?

    Thank you again for sharing your story. I have been a follower for quite some time now and find your posts very inspiring!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Kelsey! Thank you so much for reading the blog. I think the education that I received in law school has indirectly helped me in a lot of aspects of my life. Law school focuses a lot on writing and analytical skills and those are two things that are always useful. But I actually think the marketing that I learned in Real Estate as been more directly applicable to starting my own business. Blogging can be as lucrative, and for me it has been, but you have to remember that I was an entry level lawyer – so I wasn’t making a ton of money. I actually made more as a Real Estate broker than in either of the other two professions. Best of luck!

  67. Jan says:

    Jess thanks for the post. Really helps and also the answers to all the questions in here. Love what you do so keep it up. I wanted to ask more on how you started gaining real followers specifically in the beginning , could you provide more details on that?

    Was it any particular hashtags, paid advertisements, some collaboration, etc



    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jan, I was actually thinking of writing a blog on that issue because a lot goes into organically growing a following. But I think the main three things are high quality content, consistent posting, and a high level of engagement both on your posts and other peoples posts. Meeting other creators and collaborating with them is also a great way to naturally grow your following through cross pollination. 🙂

      • Jan says:

        Looking forward for reading it if you ever create one! Thanks a lot for the tips and for the taking the time to write back. May success and good vibes keep coming your way


  68. Tom says:

    Hello Jess! Thank you for sharing your adventures with us! I have followed you on Instagram and always loved your photography! And once I viewed your work on my computer, I was even more amazed when seeing it on a larger display!!

    And the short video clip of you in the Philippines at the waterfall that Quin took was truly mind boggling! Can we expect to see any more video clips from that amazing experience?! (even if you don’t disclose its location, that’s fine we just want to see more! lol)

    How do you feel when other people/pages share your work on social media? (with proper credit of course!) I know some photographers welcome it with open arms, while others frown upon it heavily and feel their work is being stolen and reposted, even if the photographer and location are given.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Tom! Thanks so much for checking my blog out. I really appreciate all the support! I don’t mind when people/pages share my work on social media as long as they give appropriate credit. I understand the logic behind the alternative argument, but I have taken the view that sharing is part of social media, and even if I wanted to there is really no effective way of stopping it.

      I’m not sure if we have too many other videos from the Philippines trip. Although there are at least a couple more out there on Quin’s feed! But I know we will continue to make more in other locations!

  69. Hilmi says:

    Well, I really don’t know what to say for all your feelings and thoughts as a complete stranger, yet I feel like I have to say thank you for your sincerity and humbleness. Thanks a billion Jess for being who you are trying to be.

  70. Sydney says:

    I like this post, but am a little confused – it seems like most of your photos are taken by ever changing horizon. Do you take your own photos too nowadays? For deals you make with companies, do you give him a cut or does he give you one? You didn’t mention him in your post, seems a little unfair since you wouldn’t have a lot of your photos without him.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sydney. Thanks for stopping by! Quin has played a huge role in all my successes, and I can never thank him enough for that. There were so many things to explain in this blog post, and it felt very long, so I tried to keep the section about the people I have met along the way and how they have helped me grow fairly general. But to answer your questions, yes, I sometimes take my own photos on jobs, and before I met Quin I took and posted all of my photos.

  71. Crystal says:

    I have had this itch or feeling of something more from life. Something that helps me connect with nature and myself, this feeling that I don’t want to be comfortable but happy and free. I just want to say thank you so much for this post. I have been hovering around what I want to do for the rest of my life for what seems like sometime. I can’t believe a complete stranger had such a immense impact on how I’m feeling, again thank you and keep doing you. You may never know what you’d doing but atleast your doing it and that is awesome.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Crystal. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! I’m so happy that my story resonated with you, and it makes me so happy to know that you have found some sort of inspiration in it to follow your intuition. Best of luck on your journey!

  72. Ruthie says:

    I am not sure how I came across your page, but soooo glad I did. Thanks for writing this post. I’m motivated to start, even though I really have noooo clue what this is that I’m starting.

    When you say you began and traveled a few hours from home, were you doing this alone/groups?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Ruthie! I’m glad you came across my blog as well! When I first started I would try and convince friends and family to go out hiking with me most every weekend. But when they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, I would go on my own.

  73. Jeff Cline says:

    Hi Jess,
    I absolutely love your work! I have actually enjoyed reading your thoughts, advice and perspective on things even more than viewing your amazing photos.
    Your words, your story and your posts are truly motivating and inspiring for me personally as I am at the start of a similar journey. I have owned and ran a small real estate company in SC for 18 years and last year I decided I want to spend the next 20 years doing something I am truly passionate about which is being in nature and creating new adventures. So I purchased part of an untouched 48 acre island in the middle of a secluded river and started offering kayak, pontoon and tube float trips to the island while building treehouses later this year for overnight camping options. It has already been a whirlwind experience of learning and very hard work but so unbelievably satisfying and that was the most important thing that was missing in my life before. At the end of each day now I can sit back and really appreciate and feel proud of the accomplishments of the day whether it was clearing brush to discover a new part of the island or taking a tour of people to a place where they were able to discover something new for the very first time. It is so very rewarding and your eloquent words really capture the essence of getting to "that place" isn’t a destination but rather the journey!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jeff! That sounds like an amazing journey! I truly believe that nature has such a healing effect on the human spirit, and I can only imagine that your new venture will bring some much needed R&R to a lot of people. Having just traveled through a few areas in the south I have a new appreciation for that region of the US, its beauty, and soul. Plus, who doesn’t love a treehouse!! Best of luck. I have no doubt it will be a rewarding experience!

  74. Marek says:

    "I don’t know if it will work out. But I do know that I would always regret it if I was handed this opportunity and didn’t at least try. " – that’s the most important sentence I’ve ever read.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I’m glad it resonates with you Marek. No ones knows the future. And it’s impossible to anticipate the long term impact of every decisions we make. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them. 🙂

  75. Morgan Waggoner says:

    Hi Jess,
    I have been following you on instagram for maybe 2 years now, and I have always enjoyed your photos. I think we are a lot alike, I am currently a sophomore in college studying biology and I am lost. Originally, I planned on premed, but recently I have begun to rethink because I just can picture myself very unhappy in the future. All I want is to travel the world and make an impact, and actually live my life to the fullest. Another problem is that I have never actually traveled. I live in Ohio so its not the most scenic place either. Anyways, I was wondering if you had any advice?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Morgan. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I think it’s unfortunate that we are made to chose a career so early in life – before we have had many real experiences to help guide our decision. The truth is, only you know what’s right for you. But I will say that if you are already having doubts about the path you are on, I would definitely take a step back and give yourself some room to breath. I grew up in a medical family, so I know from personal experience that it is a very long road, and not something you want to dedicate your time or money to unless you are committed to the process. My suggestion would be to take a semester to study abroad. Perhaps in a service oriented program. Studying abroad might give you the room you need to gain perspective, as well as the travel experience you are looking for. I found that it was a great way to learn more about myself, without putting my entire life on hold. Best of luck!

  76. Kurt Hersh says:

    I somehow stumbled on your page looking at photos on Instagram (a bad morning ritual) and then found my way to your blog. First I would like to say not only are your photos stunning but your writing is impressive. I really enjoyed reading this post and look forward to more in the future. I really appreciated your honesty on brand intergration and how much you actually travel. Also, I am taking a new “step” or “start” in my career and it seems very scary or should I say there are parts that are unknown, but your post has inspired me to jump right in. I think I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t start that way. I believe we share that same attitude in life. Anyways, thank you for the enjoyable read this morning, best of luck to you in the future.

    Best regards,

    Kurt Hersh

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Kurt – thanks for the comment! We share the same bad morning ritual. I’ve actually been trying to sleep with my phone in a different room, to try and break the habit. I’d almost forgotten what a simple alarm clock can do! I’m glad you were able to find some inspiration in the post. I know in my own life starting is always the hardest part. Often because I make it that way. Best of luck with your new start!

  77. Daniela Guisao says:

    Hello, thanks for sharing the information, I am from Colombia and I follow you all the time I love your profile

  78. Kristina says:

    Hi Jess!
    So I recently came across your IG page and instantly fell in love with your content. I have been wanting to start my own blog on traveling for quite some time now. However, I don’t have much experience actually doing it even though it’s a huge passion and dream of mine. I have only traveled/hiked/camped in California, it being my home state and all. So my question is, with the limited places I’ve been, should I start my blog anyway or does it hinder me from doing so? Also, just want to say this post has inspired me so much! That last sentence really spoke to me.

    • Hi Kristina! Thanks so much for all your support, and checking out the blog. I think that if blogging is a huge passion and dream of yours, than you should absolutely start one! After all, what do you have to loose. I see the fact that you are so well traveled in California as a real asset. Think how much more you know about traveling, hiking, and camping in California than the average person. That means you have something of value to share, and I think people would be really interested in hearing your insights and local tips. I know I’d be interested! You can always expand the scope of your blog later if you end up traveling more extensively. But we all have to start somewhere!

  79. Mason says:

    Impressive, your pictures are incredible. I just started a legal job as well and find myself spending way too much time zoning out in my office looking at pictures like these and daydreaming about hiking. Seems to be a correlation between soul crushing legal jobs and wanting to be outdoors…? Still trying to figure out a way to make a living being outdoors but I’m afraid I don’t have your photographic talent or good looks, so the instagram route probably isn’t feasible for me. Enjoy it for the rest of us!

    P.S. If I may, I would recommend going to Cape Town and doing the Table Mountain hike. One of the most amazing experiences of my life, and plenty of opportunities for a photo or two.

    • Hi Mason, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. I would absolutely love to visit Cape Town someday. It’s high on my bucket list!

      I’m a strong believer that we all have something of value to offer and share with the world. It’s just a matter of finding the right niche. That being said Instagram certainly isn’t the best fit for everyone. But if you’re serious about working outside there are lots of other options – thinking park ranger, tour guide, etc. There’s also nothing wrong with being a weekend warrior. It can be quite rewarding to make the most of the little time you do have outside. Best of luck!

  80. Sydney says:

    I love when the universe just delivers signs on a silver platter. Found your insta, found this post, recently quit my job same sitch, just replace "lawyer" with "marketer" and that’s my story. Nice to see that I’m not alone (of course I’m not) and nice to see it’s working out for you, it gives me hope!

    • Hey Sydney! It is nice when the universe reaches out to comfort us in our wild decisions. I have no doubt you won’t regret leaving marketing. After all, you can always go back, but sometimes dreams don’t wait. Congrats on the big life shift, and best of luck!

  81. Ronita says:

    I was first captivated by your Florida posts. I’m from Florida and had never heard of a good number of places that you recommended. Now my husband and I are researching some of them.
    I am currently working on restarting my own blog and found myself reading some of your posts. I absolutely loved this one and want to thank you for being so truthful and inspirational.
    As several other people have mentioned your photographs are amazing. Do you have any tips for learning to master the art of photography? Did you take any classes yourself or it just come naturally?
    I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    • Hi Ronita! I’m so glad you like the blog. I’m working on a few photography related posts, so keep an eye out for those. But I also get a lot of help from my partner Quin (@everchanginghorizon on Instagram). Neither of us ever took official classes. We just take a lot of photos, and over time I think that has really helped us develop our style and figure out the type of compositions that work and don’t work for us. The best advice I can give is to have fun with it, and just keep shooting! I hope you get the chance to check out some of the places I mentioned in Florida. It truly is one of my favorite places. 🙂

  82. Rossanna says:

    Absolutely loving this post 🙂
    You are truly inspirational and I really like your writing.
    Thanks for the reminder of not comparing ourselves to others..
    I’m currently hitchhiking from Ushuaia to Alaska and started my YouTube channel not so long ago to documemt it all as a mini serie. And I think I really found what I love doing and enjoying this a lot. Idon’t know if I will ever make money with it but even if I don’t it’ll be all worth it!
    Congrats on the big changes, you have a my support!

    • Thank you so much Rossanna! I’m so glad you liked it. Your adventure right now sounds amazing. What a crazy journey! I can only imagine the stories you will have at the end. I don’t know much about YouTube, but it’s a great platform to share your story on. Best of luck!!

    • Maaz says:

      What’s the name of your channel? Would love to follow along

  83. Jess Pedraza says:

    Hi Jess,

    Came across your Instagram and was blown away! Your story was very relatable! 🙂 I am also a lawyer and I’m currently working remotely doing some contract work and started my Instagram and blog. It’s been an amazing time so far. I’ve heard to start getting more followers you have to collaborate with other Instagram pages and blogs. Any tips on collaborating when you’re just starting out?

    Thanks a million.
    – A fellow Jess

    • Hi Jess! I think that the best collaborations start with authentic friendships/relationships. So I would start by engaging with people that share your interests and passions. Those interactions will lead to genuine relationships, eventually you might meet up in "real life," and before you know it you’re collaborating – without even trying!

  84. Eli Barry says:

    You and Quin are quite the team! Major props for the photography work, truely some of the most beautiful Ive seen. I hope you continue to follow your dreams, and thank you for inspiring me to persue mine!

  85. Ishraki says:

    You are a good writer, I enjoyed reading this.. Its assured and honest, calculated yet free. I dont know you and perhaps never will, but I wish you best of luck in the journey of life ahead beyond the frame.

  86. Brad says:

    Great insight into the great travels and awesome business you run. Congratulations your story is inspiring.

    • Thank you Brad! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I get quite a few questions about some of these topics, so I figured it would be nice to try and put down my story in one place. 🙂

  87. Jennifer Henry says:

    Thank you for your insight! Your story is inspiring. I too am struggling with my place in the world and have a burning desire to travel the world. I just got back from two amazing weeks exploring Hawaii and have never felt so alive. I also recently lost my job …time for a new beginning!

    • Hi Jennifer! I’m sorry to hear about your job – but as I’m sure you are already realizing sometimes even events that seem unfortunate at the time make excellent catalysts for the changes we actually want to make in our life. There’s no place quite like Hawaii to put everything into perspective! I’m glad you had such an amazing trip! Best of luck. XX

  88. Katie says:

    I have been in real estate for a little while and desperately seeking more balance. This blog was everything I needed to read. Thank you so, so much.

    • I know the feeling Katie! Real Estate is actually so similar to what I do now. I think as independent contractors it is always challenging to find a good balance because there is no clear start or end to the work. And there is ALWAYS MORE we could be doing. I’m not sure I’ll ever find the perfect balance. But I think recognizing that is half the battle! 😉

  89. Don Leow says:

    Thanks for being so upfront and genuine. What you wrote are both inspiring and realistic.
    I love this quote from you “…most of us have room in our lives to make more time for the things we truly want. And while money will come and go, time only passes.”

    Lost but not completely lost (in life journey), right?


    • That’s exactly right Don! And the longer I’m on this little planet of ours the more I’ve come to realize that everyone feels a little lost in their own way. Even those people that we look up to, or the ones that always seem to have it put together. I think we are all more similar than we realize!

  90. Mark Allen says:

    Thank you for writing this blog post! I’ve just begun following your blog, but have been following your adventures on Instagram. I’ve had a plan to have my photography be my "retirement plan"; even have a tee shirt that says so.

    We have an old Victorian home that was crying when we met (and had to purchase) her. I have to finish her restoration before I can – in my mind – leave her to the care of another. At that point, my wife and I plan to hit the road.

    Thank you for your amazing inspiration!

    • Hi Mark! Thank’s so much for sharing a little of your story with me. I love the idea of having a T-Shirt with your goals. Talk about keeping yourself accountable! Best of luck with the restoration, and I sincerely hope that your retirement is full of new adventures and lots of photos!

  91. Stephanie says:

    It’s so nice and refreshing to hear all of this. And so genuine of you to be so honest about everything! I have been trying to document my travels this past year and going crazy thinking that the only way to organically grow an account these days is to travel 24/7! lol It’s nice to read posts like this.
    So cool that you are getting to do what you love. Thanks for the inspiration! ❤️

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Stephanie! There’s such a lack of transparency on social media (both intentionally and unintentionally), and it can be very isolating. I think the important thing with organically growing will always be quality over quantity, and staying focused on what you love, and the value you bring to your followers. If you get burned out, your content will suffer, and so will you! 🙂

  92. Most people yawn past "nature" photos, even breathtaking ones. I think the reason yours stand out is a combination of colours/lighting/exposure (no doubt you use some type of editing software), the fact that you serve as a model for many of them, and of course the stunning images themselves (i.e. the unique parts of the world you opt to share with your viewers). Your story is inspiring, you deserve your success, and even if Quin may one day cease being able to follow you around shooting those spectacular photos where you add spice to the location, that’s nothing a good tripod can’t avail. The main ingredient will always be you. Your subtle posing techniques in the photos are sensual yet classy. There’s a healthy juxtaposition of commercialism with naturalism, the social media world needs something to relate to and a captivating woman appeals to the majority of us, i.e. females envy your looks and males lust you, in each case the eye is attracted to the photograph, and that will always be the key to successful photography (no matter what anyone says) namely the ability to draw viewers toward the subject matter. Oh, and there’s a James Joyce vibe to your writing style, transcendental thoughts meandering… beckoning the readers to enter into an existential conversation with themselves as they read your thoughts… well done young lady 🙂

    • Thank you so much Adoni. I really enjoyed reading your comment! You brought up a lot of interesting points. And it’s always fun to hear people’s perspectives on my work. I’m definitely going to look into James Joyce. I know who he is, but have never actually read any of his work. Now I’m curious! Thank’s again for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate the support!

  93. Dhruvee says:

    Wow this is such a great push for me! I am 17 and have been struggling to decide what I want to do in life but the thought of sharing my experiences and telling stories about my journey always amused me in a funny way. It may sound cliche but travelling has always been my passion. Travelling for me is a way to inherit creativity from what a beautiful world God has made for us to explore. I also think of it as a medium for me to talk about my journeys and my experiences and I can do all of it through blogging. Diverse culture,different places,nature,sceneries,seasons,colours,sounds,music,writing. All these things excite me every moment of my life. Although I’m 17,I want to make a path for me to reach my goals and that is to make travelling as a career rather than a leisure activity or a short getaway to relax. But the problem is everytime I try to take a step into the world of blogging , I always doubt myself thinking that I don’t have a base or an audience that would take up the interest into reading whatever I’ve written. But ya, reading your post just woke me up saying that I have to take a chance and I have to atleast TRY! For now I’ve been travelling on my parents expenses and I really want to change that but I never know how. I can’t give up my passion nor my goal which is to travel almost every part of the world. I’m sorry if there were parts that was hard to understand as English is not my first language. You’re doing amazing and I hope one day I will come across some young aspiring teen commenting on my blog talking about how much he/she loves travelling.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Dhruvee! I’m so happy that you found this blog post inspiring. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do, and then to actually take action to move in that direction. So you are definitely ahead of me there! Most things of value don’t happen fast, and sometimes the path to our goals is long and twisted. But it sounds like you know what you want, and are willing to work hard for it. Best of luck!

  94. Dan Cronin says:

    Thanks for writing this blog Jess. I am also at the point where I know I want to make the leap into photography full time but haven’t gone in 100% yet, full of fear of the unknown. This post really helped me coming from someone who left the corporate world for your passion and I find a lot of inspiration with your story. Thanks!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Dan! That leap of faith is so hard. I’m not sure what you do now, but I think one of the most important things I’ve learned over the past few years, is that it’s okay to start over, try new things, and go back to old things if it doesn’t work out. Best of luck with everything!

  95. Ligia Morera says:

    Love reading this ! It’s very realistic and give encouragement to keep going! Thanks for those beautiful words that you wrote to everyone that is pursuing happiness. I love when you explain is part of your life and social media give the impression that is your whole life. Thanks for your sincere words!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks Ligia! It’s so true, and I hate the idea of adding to anyones unhappiness by pretending that life is just one giant vacation. I think everyone on social media tends to only share the good stuff, but it’s easy to forget that!

  96. Jessica Staron says:

    Thanks for sharing ! I’m also at a huge transition point in my life. Recently left my career as a tv news producer to find something more fulfilling ! Will be starting my own blog soon to try and share my story with the world. I hope to inspire others like you have!

  97. Oksana says:

    Wow, very honest and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing ❤️. I do enjoy your Instagram feed, and your blog posts. The best of luck on your new adventure

  98. Terry says:

    Beautifully Said

  99. Brittni D. says:

    Wow, Jess! Your writing is incredible, I’m impressed. Potential new talent to expand into? 😉 Anyway, thank you for being such a beautiful inspiration <3

  100. Al Bee Buzzin says:

    Thank you for being honest. I find one of my biggest issues is picking which of my photos may be interesting to someone other than myself. That and trying to emulate such good stories like others. Perhaps I care about the ‘gram fame’ too much!

    • Jess Dales says:

      I find that it’s almost impossible to anticipate what other people will like or be interested in. It’s always best to be yourself, and put work out into the world that you are interested in and proud of. After all that’s what sets you apart from everyone else, and will help you build a dedicated audience that wants to engage with you for you! Best of luck! 🙂

  101. David Nour says:

    Well done and candidly shared. Thank You.

  102. James Goodie says:

    Wow what a great read Jess! Keep doing you, I’ve enjoyed your feed for some time now. Inspiring! God speed!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you James! Always cool to hear from someone who has been part of the community for a while. Really appreciate your continued support! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  103. Cannigia Laluw says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! This was a good read, and i have been enjoying your IG feed for a while. Keep doing you!

  104. Ceara says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Jess! It’s always refreshing and inspiring to hear about the hard work, the questions, the trust in yourself and a sometimes vague notion of what you want, to set your life on a path that feels right. I’m at a point of needing a major change in my life, and I’m struggling with overcoming the feeling of being "typecast" in what I’ve done so far. Also great to see a fellow Washingtonian out there living a life that would make any a PNW native proud. I think those of us from that place where the mountains meet the sea have a powerful sense of geographic identity, and we experience the world around us in a way that is equal parts viscerally raw and transcendantly inspired.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Ceara! Thanks so much for the kind note. I definitely understand the feeling of being "typecast." Ironically I think I do it more to myself, and then assume other people feel the same. Wishing you the best of luck in this next chapter! And who knows, maybe I’ll see you on some Washington trails. 🙂

  105. Miguel_H says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, it’s pretty awesome. Continue doing what makes you happy.

  106. Kat says:

    Wow! Love reading this post! Thanks for sharing this journey! im just starting out in blogging world and I’m struggling to find my niche:

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Kat! So happy you liked the post! It can definitely be difficult to find your niche. But I think it’s actually not as complicated as we make it. Write about what you are interested in! A lot of the times the very things that we are insecure about, are the exact things that make us the most relatable to other people. So don’t be afraid to just be you! That’s the best way to find your own unique niche – because there’s no one else out there quite like you. 🙂

  107. Yash Trivedi says:

    Hey Jess,
    Your journey sounds amazing. I started enjoying your Instagram posts a couple of months ago and there wsure was something different about your posts that made me instantly follow your IG. They seemed real, honest. It gave a sense of feeling that these weren’t conventional photography sessions but actual moments captured in a beautiful way.
    I am from Incredible India. So far I explored my country in the best possible way. And recently I started overseas exploration with the first countries being Italy, Austria, Czech and Hungary.
    I am an tech entrepreneur, and not in the field of travel and travel blogging so I always had the doubt how people really afford to travel all the time. Needless to say, your post helped.
    Incase you happen to explore India, I shall be more than happy to assist you and your colleagues in exploring my country. Keep inspiring people like you already do.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hello Yash. Thank yo so much for the very lovely comment! I really appreciate you taking the time to follow me on Instagram, and then read my blog. It’s always nice to hear that someone enjoys your work. I would love to visit India some day! And I will certainly keep your offer in mind. 🙂

  108. Megan says:

    Hi Jess,
    Such a refreshing and inspiring blog, thanks for sharing. I actually found your blog first and then saw your Instagram and am loving the content and how honest you are – It always seems as though you need the best gear from the get go, which as you say, is very much not the case. Keep doing what your doing 🙂
    I also like how you managed to make it all the way down here to NZ.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Megan! I think you might be the first person ever to find my blog first. I love it! I’m so glad you are enjoying the content – that really mans a lot. It was actually my third time to NZ. But the first time since Instagram and blogging. I think that NZ will always be one of my favorite places, and holds a very special place in my heart. I just wish it was a little closer! 😉

  109. khairulraihan says:

    thanks for sharing an interesting post. I love all your photos.

    Your big follower
    khairul from malaysia

  110. Myranda Ellis says:

    Your work is truly inspiring my goal in life is to travel and see the world I just don’t know how to start it. I’m waiting to start social media up again so that ill have quality content to post. I love photography and want to get more invested into it I’m just not sure how to go about it. If you have any advise I would greatly appreciate it. I really admire what you do 🙂

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Myranda. I tried to include my advice in this post. There’s really no blue print for starting, but it sounds like you are on the right path. Just work hard, put out your best work, and stay true to yourself and your interests! Best of luck!

  111. B. Scott Dodson says:

    Thanks for sharing Jess! It’s great to hear truths. I jumped head first into the same lifestyle and I’ve never felt more alive. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it. My wife wanted to travel and my job prevented us from doing it. So I quit a 6 figure job at 36 with no plan and I’ve survived a couple of years in the field figuring this photo/writing thing out. I love it. I know it’s hard to take the leap into this lifestyle, but keeping the lifestyle going is just as challenging. It’s not all peace signs and carefree attitudes. Anyways, safe travels and maybe my wife and I will cross paths with you and Quin one day. Keep up the great work!

    • Jess Dales says:

      It’s definitely a lot of hard work. But few things are more rewarding than creating something, and then putting it out into the world! Cool to hear about someone else’s journey on this crazy road. Everyone has a different story, and I love it!

  112. Lisa Esser says:

    Over the past 10 years of my life of lurking on the blogs of travelers, writers, and food/culture enthusiasts, I’ve read dozens of "how to start", "here’s my story", and "how I afford to do it all" posts. And yours may be my favorite. It feels real (as does all of the writing on your blog). And maybe it just resonates more with me than others I’ve read, but I didn’t end the post feeling discouraged that I couldn’t possibly do the same things. Instead I feel more sure that my goals are not unrealistic.

    Thanks for the honesty in talking about the opportunities you had, Jess. I’m seeing more and more that there are other ways of living that allow traveling than becoming a full-time travel blogger. Of course I’d enjoy that, but at this point in my life, I know it isn’t possible. But seeing what you built just on weekend trips is SO inspiring and I feel kind of relieved, ha! I thought I’d never get anywhere with my dreams unless I quit my job and I know I can’t afford that, so it was feeling impossible. I’ll definitely be holding onto this link when I need that reminder, and sharing with other people.

    Good luck to you as you pursue this full-time – I’m sure you’ll be very successful!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for the kind comment, and for taking the time to read through my blog! I’m really happy to hear that it resonated with you. The truth is that I think being a weekend warrior, and writing about the adventures you are able to have while maintaining another job, a family, and other obligations is a lot more relatable to the vast majority of people than the full time travel blogger is. And for that reason, it makes your point of view, and your writing, that much more relevant and interesting. Best of luck!

  113. Robert says:

    I really enjoyed reading through your blog. It really gave me a better understanding of how easy it is to be out of touch with reality when it comes to social media. It’s so important to be thankful for the blessings that we have in our lives and not compare ourselves with others. Each of us need to enjoy the life that we have been given and not put to much stock in other people’s experiences and memories but instead need to make our own.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Robert. Your words are so insightful and spot on. Social media has a lot of up sides, but I think a major downside is that it makes people question the lives that they have built for themselves. It’s so important to stay humble and grateful. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

  114. Steven says:

    Great read! Thanks for being so open. This question could’ve been answered in a couple of sentences. But the way you replied shows it comes from the heart and you truly feel that it is so important to follow your passion no matter what.
    Thanks for the amazing content!

  115. Gary Leeds says:

    Hi Jess.

    I’m Impressed with your honesty and realism in this article. Your blog is always interesting and the photography is stunning, and both inspire me to travel. But as you so rightly point out, constant travel is rarely a possible. I find there is always plenty to see on my own doorstep. So even thigh far flung travel is a limited luxury, getting out and enjoying the beauty of nature is a gift afforded to everyone.

    Keep up the excellent work.


    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Gary. I’m really glad you liked this particular article. Obviously it’s a little more personal to me than a lot of my more travel oriented posts. You have a great perspective on life, adventure, and travel. I wish more people could appreciate the beauty of the world right around them. Thank you for the kind comment!

  116. Hi Jess,

    I have been following you on Instagram for quite sometime. I am a huge fan of your work and posts. Today, I visited your website and read "ABOUT" section. I must say that I have become a bigger fan of yours than I early was. I am really impressed with your clarity, honesty and love for life. Keep posting and happy travel. Would love to meet you if you are visiting India.

    ~ Chinmay

  117. Stephane says:

    Hi Jess,

    I recently saw your Instagram profile as well as Quin and I was so amazed by your adventures and travels that it gave me back the love of discovering the world as well as myself. It is true that Instagram can sometimes trick you into believing that your life is not as fun as others but it also gives you a taste of what it could be.

    Thank you for sharing this love of yours…As a travel enthusiast, I will definitly follow your next posts and wander myself into this whole wide world.


    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Stephane! Really appreciate that. I’m excited to hear that you are feeling inspired to get back out and explore the world! It’s always so wonderful to reconnect with our passions. 🙂

  118. Brian says:

    Just wanted to drop in and say finding people like you are such an inspiration for me, as I’m at the beginning of this journey myself. My wife and I are leaving our corporate jobs in a couple months to travel the country for a year and reflect and reset. Photography has always been a hobby and I’m seriously thinking about pursuing it fulltime. I cant tell you how awesome it is to keep finding people who have made this leap and are thriving! I’ve had my head down in the sand working for years so just getting started on Instagram and blogging but like you said. You have to start at the beginning. Keep doing what you’re doing and I cant wait to do the same. Cheers, Brian.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Brian! Thank you so much for the kind note. It’s not always the easiest journey, and messages like yours make the long days a lot easier! I’m so excited for your new chapter. Traveling around the country will be a great opportunity to reflect and resent. Plus, I have no doubt you’ll create some beautiful moments and photographs! Happy travels to you and your wife!

  119. Ashley White says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this! I’m working on my blog and this really inspired me. Good luck to you, I’m sure you’re going to continue to do and be amazing! Your photos are breathtaking!!!

  120. Nikki says:

    Fell upon your blog about Santorini by accident where we are travelling this Fall. Found your comments so genuine, relatable and informative. I have in fact taken some of your advice on places to stay and places to eat.
    Thank you much 🙂 Nikki

    • Hi Nikki! I’m so glad you stumbled on my blog! I’ve actually never been to Greece… and I don’t have a blog on Santorini. But your trip sounds amazing! Have fun! 🙂

  121. casey charkowick says:

    Timing is everything. I needed to read your story right in this very moment. I’ve been struggling lately because somehow I’ve found myself living someone else’s life. I grew up outside. On the water, in the woods, under the stars. That’s the life I’ve always wanted for my family. Well, now I have an amazing family and we live in a nice home with way more stuff than we need because I blinked and ended up a corporate attorney with someone else’s dream job. My office sounds strikingly similar to yours. Searching for a way out through meditation and silence, I’ve concluded that real estate is likely the best way to get my family back on the less trodden path to the life we crave. My three year old son cries every time I leave for work. Most people tell me he has to get used to it. I reject that. I tell him every day to do the same. He drives me and your blogs have just reignited my fire. – Thank. You.

    • Hi Casey! I’m so glad that you found this post at the right time. Everybody has to walk their own path, but life sends us so many mixed messages, it can be easy to find yourself on someone else’s. I know that feeling! I’m excited to hear that you are taking steps to build the life that you truly want to live. I think starting is always the hardest part. Best of luck to you and your family!

  122. Jesse Joksch says:

    You are truly an incredible women. I have missed following your adventures. When I had an Instagram, you were one of my favorite people, and the one to usually like my posts back. About an hour or so ago, I came across a video on the Aurora Borealis Observatory page. Courtesy of Everchanginghorizon. I saw you were tagged in it, so I went to Quinn’s page. After Liking, Loving, and Wowing many post I liked the page, and followed the Web Link. From there I ended up here. Loved reading this by the way. You made the right choice. I am guessing you were a good Lawyer, and great Real Estate Agent. But, you are a brilliant Photographer and Writer. As for my Instagram: I was @subieluver, but changed it to #mycrzycreativelife before I decided to move on. I still love photography, and have chosen to live on the road. Thanks for following your dreams, and inspiring wanderlusters like me to let go of reality, and follow our own dreams

    • Hi Jesse! Thank you so much for dropping in and leaving this kind comment. It’s funny I think about getting off Instagram all the time. I feel so conflicted about it. Grateful for all the amazing opportunities it has afforded me, but equally worried that I’m missing out on a lot of the little moments in life. The details that make you who you are. Glad to hear that you are still taking photos and exploring the world post-Instagram! 🙂

  123. Michael Szymanski says:

    Ms. Jess, my name is Michael. I want to say that you’re really inspiring person. Few weeks ago I started university but I thinh it’s not my cup of tea. Living in big city is too touch for me. I come fro small town in mountains, so it’s like other world. But some day I found yours blog and inspired me to maybe try something new. I love to go hiking, rock climbing etc. I’ve already started to think about making a blog. But I don’t know how to start? I’m 19 years old and I’ve got only free weekends, camera in my phone and will to discover the world. Can you give me some advises?

    • Hi Michael. University is a big transitional period, and regardless of what you see around you, I’m sure everyone is still adjusting to the changes. Four weeks is a very short period of time, and I personally would definitely give it at least a few months if not a year before you drop out. When I started out with my photography, I also only had weekends, and that was perfectly fine. 🙂

  124. Joe says:

    My first impression from your blog was that you were a spoiled trust fund girl ! Boy was I wrong ! I tip my hat to you , your honesty on how you achieve your travels is very refreshing , keep it up .

    • Thanks for taking the time to read my story Joe. Obviously I’ve been quite privileged with the opportunities that have come my way. But I appreciate you seeing the work that has gone into it as well. 🙂

  125. Alex Krotz says:

    This is inspiring, and I want to thank you for continually being so inspiring to me and to so many others. From Instagram to here, I love reading about your adventures, as well as your day to day life, the behind the scenes. I love seeing the hard work that goes in, learning about it, and it really does give a little spark and a reminder that makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing in my life and with my career changes as well. Honestly, the behind the scenes and hard work inspires me more then the phots alot of the time haha but thank you, and thank you for "bringing us along" on your journeys 🙂

    • Thank you so much Alex! Your message honestly made my day when I read it, and I’m sorry it has taken me a few days to respond. I’m so happy to hear that you are on a path that feels right to you. There’s so much pressure in our society to pick one career and stick with it, so It’s always difficult to make any sort of change in life. It takes a lot of courage and hard work. No matter what happens, you should be really proud of yourself! 🙂

  126. Kacy Phan says:

    Hi Jess,

    I love the honesty you put in your post. Your story is very inspiring! I have been self doubting my ability to continue on this startup business journey. However, after reading your story I realized that it’s okay to start a path you are totally clueless about. Yet, determination and self preservation is the key reach ones goals. Thank you for sharing your struggles behind the success with us.

    • Hi Kacy! Thank you so much for the message. It is totally okay to start a path you are clueless about! There honestly aren’t many paths in life that aren’t a little mysterious. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to change your mind, fail, switch directions, start over, go back home. There’s something to be learned from all of those experiences. I’m sure you’ll end up somewhere great at the end of your path, even if you’re not sure where it’s going yet. Best of luck!

  127. Iain spivey says:

    Hi Jess

    I have just come across your Instagram page and blog and found it very inspiring to read. I am at another cross road in life, there are many haha. But your page resonates with me and reminds me of my last travels and how much I want to return to the things I love doing. Photography, exploring and travel. So thank you and I will continue to follow.

    Iain x

    • Thank you so much Iain. I can’t tell you how much it means to receive messages of encouragement like this. I truly hope that you do get back in touch with some of your passions. Best of luck!

  128. Peter says:

    Wow. This was such a well written, heartfelt response to a question I’m sure you get all the time. Of course, the images that went along with it didn’t hurt either. I’m guilty of thinking "who is this rich, spoiled young woman? It must be great to live this kind of life.". For my ignorant assumptions, I apologize. You’ve managed to inspire a photographer, into his early 60’s, with a fresh look on living through hard-earned achievements. Well done, Jess. Keep ’em coming, please.

    • Thank you much for the kind message Peter. I think that we’ve all fallen for the seemingly unrealistic lives that many people appear to be living on social media. Whether deliberate or not, there’s not a lot of transparency out there about this industry. Everyone’s story is different of course, and this one is just mine, but I’m glad you found it enlightening in some way. Thanks again! All my best wishes.
      – Jess

  129. Andy says:

    Wow your blog was an amazing read and so inspiring!
    I wasn’t too happy with my life a few years ago when I got out of the army and started working a construction job right afterwards that I didn’t like as much as I thought I would have also.
    So I started looked for outlets like reading and hiking on weekends/vacations to escape my problems, I stopped measuring and comparing my success to others, I eventually quit my job and found a new job where I’m working in the Middle East where I’ve been paying off a lot of debt and getting in better shape mentally and physically. And today I am the happiest I’ve been in a while due to making a completely change in my life instead of complaining all the time and all of this was due to seeing your post on Instagram filled with inspiration to venture out into the world. Because of this, I love to hike and travel when ever I can now! Thankyou so much!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story Andy! What an unbelievable journey you have been on the last few years. And to think that I even played the smallest roll in inspiring these huge changes is unbelievably humbling. I’m so encouraged to hear that you are happier now. I wish nothing but the best for you in the future! Thanks again for the update on your life. Amazing stuff!

  130. Kate Rae says:

    Incredible post and pics, and some inspiring advice. Especially to just start! Cheers 🙂

    Kate Rae

  131. James says:

    Beautiful read. To be honest I haven’t been happy for a number of years. I would try this or that. I enjoy what I do for a living (welder) but there is still something missing. I’ve always wanted to travel abroad but never made it a priority. And a love for riding motorcycles which was put on the back burner for too many years. After seeing some of your posts and some others (Itchy Boots on YouTube) I’ve been inspired to change that. Currently in the planning and saving stage to pursue an idea a friend and I hatched about 10 years ago. To combine my interest in traveling with my love for motorcycles.

    Thank you for this post and it’s inspiring words and advice. Really pulled at my heart.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts and experience James. I’m excited to hear that you are moving toward making one of your dreams come true! I have to admit that the combination of travel and motorcycles sounds like quite the adventure. Best of luck!

  132. Brendyn Hatfield says:

    Just stumbled upon your adventures and what a great message and great blog. Nice to see that through a leap of faith people truly can be happy doing what they love instead of what they think they need to be doing. Keep it up!

  133. Alan Green says:

    Great story, fab website and blog!
    Pleased to gave discovered your wonderful content.
    All the very best!!
    (Alan G)

  134. Thomas says:

    I took the left fork years before you were born but your adventures bring me joy that you took the “right” fork in the road of life. Travel on Jess…

    • Thanks so much Thomas. I’m learning that there is no right fork and that there’s joy to be found in all road of life. If only we could live more than one of them!

  135. Manas says:

    It’s very rare to see a blogger answer with such brutal honesty! It’s true, most of the times, we don’t know where we are headed when we cruise through such unchartered waters. Keep traveling Jess! Apart from the photos, you write beautifully too!

  136. Ellie V says:

    I came across your blog a couple of months ago. Your images are beautiful and your writing is impeccable. I really look forward to reading your new posts. I have always wanted to start a travel blog but “life” always seemed to get in the way. Reading this has truly made me rethink my life. I stopped making excuses and now, I am in the process of starting a travel blog for your “average” busy family. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

    • That’s such a great idea Ellie! There are so many families out there who love to travel but don’t know where to start. I’m sure any inside you can provide on your blog will be greatly appreciated. Best of luck with the new venture. 🙂

  137. SteveM says:

    What a terrific read. Well done on going for gold. Classic John Lennon lyric…"life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans" (Beautiful Boy). Keep up the awesome work.

    • That you so much Steve! I apologize for taking so long to respond. Sometimes comments get a little buried on these older blog posts. Love the quote – those Beatles knew what they were talking about.

  138. Gill says:

    I am a college student majoring in Marketing and just unsure of what I will do with it after college. Something I know I would love is to travel and have my own hand lettering business along the way. Even as a college student, I’m feeling like things are getting in the way and the path I’m going down is very narrow. I know Law must have seemed very narrow for you too! Reading this really made me realize that your major does not determine your life path!

    • Hi Gill. Yes! Your major definitely does not determine your life path. In fact, I know very few people who are currently working in the profession that they went to school for. That doesn’t mean they regret the education. Just that sometimes you end up applying your education and experiences in ways you didn’t anticipate. It also helps me to remember that you don’t have to pick one thing forever! It’s okay to try different things, switch professions, start over, etc. Best of luck!

  139. Erica says:

    Just stumbled across your site for the first time. It resonated with me because my story is similar. I just left my "day job" within the last few months. I am now a traveling spouse and writer documenting my new life online too. Thanks for the reminder that I have done the right thing.

  140. Julia says:

    I’m so gratefull i found your blog

  141. Thank you for being an inspiration to others to following their dreams! I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m putting one foot in front of the other and going for it anyways! Here to awaken myself and others to serve the world @omtravelx any other advice is greatly appreciated…much love!

    • Thanks Crystal! I have no idea what I’m doing either haha. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that hardly anyone does. Like you said, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other. Starting is the hardest part, and it sounds like you’ve already done that! For more advice check out my blog post: "Top Tips For Growing Your Brand On Social Media." Best of luck!

  142. Kristen says:

    Love this blog ! very inspired your sound like a really down to earth person and honest about your journey.

  143. Kari Polcyn says:

    Do you have any blogs about your time in Chiapas?

    • I don’t. Our experience was really affected/shaped by COVID to the point where I wasn’t sure how useful it would be for people in the future. But if you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

  144. Catalina says:

    Hi Jess,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Greetings from NJ

  145. Josie Sánchez says:

    Hi Jess! Love how open you are about your process! Says a lot of positive things about you! I was wondering, how did you set up your blog tax wise when it became profitable? Like do you have to register it is a business?

    • Hi Josie! I set up an S-Corporation for my business, but that isn’t necessary. I know a lot of travel bloggers and photographers that run their business as independent contractors without any sort of business classification. But I’m not a tax expert by any means, so I would definitely contact a tax specialist if you are curious about what would be best for your situation!

  146. Yanfeng says:

    Very inspirational, down to earth and informative blog! Finding out who we truly are is not simple task since we are busy with living, yet it’s simple since the journey of our life is the definition of who we are. Keep up the great work, not for likes from others but from the bottom of your heart ❤️!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the blog post. I think I’ll be trying to figure out who I am for the rest of my life. The trick is to enjoy the journey!

  147. Jess Shaw says:

    Hey Jess. I love your Instagram page and have followed for a long time but have just discovered your blog! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your wisdom. This was so helpful. Remote working is something I am thinking about to facilitate a life of adventure.
    Funnily enough I have considered virtual assistant and proof reading services and I actually spotted a typo while I was reading this – “I found a enough space there to think”.

    If you ever want someone to proof read your blog I will gladly do it, for free. It would be great experience for me and I want to read it anyway! Feel free to email me at jess.shaw.events@gmail.com if this is ever something you need someone for!

    I look forward to reading more of your blog posts, they look amazing. Your photos and website are gorgeous. I look forward to your next Instagram post!

    • Hey Jess! Thank you so much for the proofread. I hate typos. . . they are so distracting. I might take you up on your offer in the future. I think my parents are getting pretty tired of proofreading their adult daughter’s homework lol.

  148. Jess Shaw says:

    "You don’t have to start by jumping into the deep end. But you do have to get wet."

    I love this quote so much <3 You’re so inspiring!

  149. Kellen says:

    Hi Jess! I loved your story! I always see your Instagram but had no idea of the story behind. Thank you for sharing. What camera would you indicate to a starter?

    • Thanks so much Kellen! Yeah, the blog is a bit of a passion project, so I’m glad to hear you found it. When I was starting to take photography more seriously I used the Sony a6000, and I still think it’s a great option. For more detailed info on the photography gear, I use and have used in the past check out my photography gear guide!

  150. Tiffany Cooper says:

    Awesome post and information!

  151. Yusuf Çağlar says:

    You’re awesome and this post is a great inspiration to me thank you

  152. Hannah says:

    I’m so glad to hear what I already knew. It’s refreshing to see things from the point of view of the actual human. A real person with a real life just sharing all the positive with the world. With all the negative and discontent we have in our daily lives it is so important to know that everyone has struggles regardless of whether they choose to share them. I have been following for quite some time, you, Quinn, Andrea and others. My little escape from the world. My fiancé and I will both be pharmacists when I graduate in about 6 years and our priority is to retire young and do the things we love. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks, but attainable if you are willing to put in the work. Thank you for being honest and real!

    • Nothing worth doing is as easy as it looks! That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over time. It sounds like you have a great plan in place, and I hope that it all works out for you. In the meantime I’ll do my best to keep providing you with little scapes from the daily grind. You got this! 🙂

  153. Brandon Taylor says:

    Great Post!!! I love how you stick to your values in determining who you will work with. Keep up the great work, and safe and happy travels.

    • Thanks, Brandon! I really appreciate that. It’s definitely a privilege and hasn’t always been easy to pass up big opportunities, but I think in the end it has been the best thing for my brand.

  154. Jimin Moon says:

    Great post. I really love to read your writing, and it gives me positive energy. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sometimes, I fell into the trap of comparing my life to the life of travel influencers. Your writing changed the way I think today. Thanks again.

    • Thank you Jimin! We all fall into that trap sometimes (including travel influencers), which is why it’s so important to be transparent about what’s happening behind the scenes. For example, today, my Instagram stories are from the Bahamas, but I’m actually sitting at home in Seattle writing a blog post for a job. 😉

  155. Elisa Boulanger says:

    Beautiful. I dream everyday about this life and I am going to fight for this. Thank to inspire us.

  156. Divya K says:

    Hi Jess
    I love this post am dabbling a little in this myself so it’s really inspiring thank you

  157. Clarisse says:

    Thank you for this! So well written and so inspiring ❤️

  158. Gulnaz Hardin says:

    Thank you Jess! I love seeing all this amazing pictures and this story! So inspiring!

  159. Ruchita says:

    Thanks for the article Jess! And all your content here and on insta is awesome. I love hiking, outdoors and nature. All this summer have hiked every single weekend on the east coast. I dream of quitting my day job but haven’t yet had the courage to do so 🙂 Maybe one day I will and full time pursue what makes me really happy. Your story tells me it’s possible.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thanks so much for the comment! I really need to get out east to do some hiking. I always feel bad that I don’t have more recommendations for such a huge area. And I hope that your path takes you where you want to go, regardless of what that looks like. 🙂

  160. Colin (SurfMadDad) says:

    Thank you for sharing a somewhat touchy subject for a lot of people. I’m really glad that you have found something that you enjoy and I love seeing your beautiful photos. I wish you many more years of enjoyment and traveling

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thank you so much for the well wishes Colin. I really appreciate that. I think it’s important to be transparent about what goes on behind the scenes in an industry that lacks a lot of transparency.

  161. Carol L McKenney says:

    I just want to congratulate you on seeking your happiness and actually taking steps to achieve it! Your posts, blogs and photography quality are way above average. But I like your organizational skills! There are many, many ithers that are doing what you are doing. When I did something like this way back in 1971, people thought we were crazy. I am 72 years old now and that’s my past. But I feel we were unique back then. We planned our “around the world” trip of 10 months for a year. We lived on one income. Our entire trip included a PanAm ticket and food and accommodations for $6,000! At first PanAm was reluctant to help us with an affordable plan but we finally negotiated a round the world ticket for $1,150 a piece if we stayed in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a wonderful experience and I felt we were lucky to have had that opportunity. The American dollar was very strong at that time. We couldn’t have pulled off what you are doing now: there wasn’t “social media” at the time, no Instagram, no audience. I’m happy for you and I wish you continued happiness. Really glad you included information making your presence REAL!

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Carol. What an unbelievable experience! I think you were most certainly unique back then. And I can only imagine what an adventure that trip must have been. Would love to have been able to experience the world without social media.

  162. Ben Slivka says:

    I tried searching for SARS and COVID and pandemic to see how you had weathered 2020/2021, but came up empty. You might consider a post about that?
    Thank you from Clyde Hill,

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Ben. Thanks for your concern. Luckily a lot of what I do is outdoor adventure related, and the one thing to never shut down was the outdoors. As a result, I was able to weather the past couple years relatively well compared to some of my friends in the travel industry. Once travel opened up again, it was just a matter of complying with the various COVID protocols in each destination.

      • Jules says:

        Been followy your glam photos on Instagram for a while, but clicked through to the blog for the first time today and this article caught my eye. My thoughts: 1) What a delight to find such substance behind what I had previously perceived to be another beautiful, but perhaps superficial Instagram facade, 2) You are a wonderful writer, and 3) Since this post is over 3 years old and seems like it was written not long after your decision to go full time, I wonder how this has worked out financially/professionally/ personally overall for you? If you were ever compelled to provide an update to thos post along those lines, I’m sure I’m not the only one that would find it fascinating. Thanks for a wonderful discovery this morning Jess!

        • Jessica Dales says:

          Hi Jules. Thank you so much for stopping by the blog! I know not everyone has the attention span for long form content, and it always means a lot to me when someone takes the time to dive a little deeper. As you pointed out, it can be difficult to give a lot of depth to the images shared on Instagram. I can’t believe that it has been 3 years already! I will certainly consider writing a follow up post.

  163. Gregg Barrett says:

    Hey Jess
    If you are ever in South Africa and / or Botswana, please reach out. We would be happy to show you around, and setup some adventures.

    Wishing you well.


    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thank you Gregg. I’ll certainly keep that in mind. Would love to make it out to either of those countries at some point.

  164. Crystal says:

    I enjoyed reading this. Your sincere insight and your experience was motivating. Just reading your article makes me realize I need to change my life.

    Thank you

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read it Crystal. And sorry for taking five months to get back to you lol. Clearly there’s a lot I still need to work on. Best of luck on your journey!

  165. Michael W says:

    Awesome content. Jess. You are truly 💯 I love all this and I am going to do my version. You are a gifted photographer, or have a gifted photographer with you at times. Anyway, thanks so much for the incredible inspiration. I’m not sure you expected to inspire men, but here I am. Awesome story and poignant pics. Bless you ♥️🙏🏼♥️

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thank you so much Michael! I’m so glad that you found this post inspiring. I think if you look through the comments you’ll see that there are quite a few from men as well as women. I think the desire to live a full life, chase dreams, and pursue passions is a human calling that transcends the sexes. Best of luck out there!

  166. Mike says:

    Great story and very inspiring!

    Just wanted to let you know you are also a good writer.

  167. Kimberly says:

    New follower.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I am a fellow traveler (road tripper), and have had friend straight up tell me “wow you’re traveling again”? And I am just like, this is where I prefer my time and money go. Some folks like to get new cars and expensive brand clothing, I like to make memories with my family on the road. I’m far from being rich, and like you, blessed with some opportunities, and a hubby with a wanderers spirit, so we literally take off to various NPS sites any chance we get to get in on a few hikes, breathtaking views, learn new things, and away from the noise of our day-to-day 9-5 lives. Anyhow, just stopping in to say thank you for sharing, and now I don’t feel alone in my thought-process on life. Haha! Best to you always!

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for the note. And sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I completely agree that there are little priority shifts that many of us can make with our time and money that would allow for more travel, if that’s what you’re interested in. I’m glad that you and your husband share a passion for the road and adventure. Keep being you!

  168. John says:

    Hi Jess !

    A picture of a Yucatan Cenote came across my windows screen and while cycling through I saw you on a swing over a pristine pool and thought “I’d love to do that”! I’d love to travel.

    The truly sad thing is I did travel to many countries in my youth never realizing the beauty I’d actually seen taking them all for granted never putting them to photography for posterity.

    You’ve realized that wonder capturing it with your great photography and writing skills. Your blog and those of Quin, Christian Schaffer and others allow me to travel if only in my imagination temporarily escaping the four walls of family life. No picket fence though :>)!!

    While family life has its own wonders travel has been zero for decades so thank you for these moments that provide a brief respite.

    May you forever continue to have amazing and safe journeys!


    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi John. I apologize for the delayed response. I really appreciate your kind note. It’s wonderful to hear that you have been able to travel vicariously through some of my posts. It’s always difficult to appreciate where you are in the moment. Definitely something I need to work on!

  169. Chris says:

    Love the post, and your way of expressing yourself both through images and words … as I was reading it I kept thinking that the Law degree (and all the rigorous work with words and languaging that comes with it) was in fact in integral part of your journey!?!
    Congrats on busting out of the corporate world… I’m working on doing the same and finding it is amazingly more challenging than you would think. takes real courage and commitment.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Thanks so much Chris! I definitely was part of my journey, and I think it makes me particularly grateful for this opportunity. Best of luck on your own journey. I have no doubt you’ll find what your looking for, even if it’s not in the shape or form you imagine.

Reader Favs

Learn More

Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

Meet the Writer

see you soon!

Before you go, make sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on new blog posts, upcoming events, and other fun travel resources!

Wander with Me

Raleway Ultra Bold