This week for our ‘5 questions with…’ series we caught up with Mirna, the lady behind the popular community-run resource hub Breathe Travel. The site provides great travel tips for women, however, as a man, I also find the content insightful!
Read on and discover more about Mirna, her journey, and her top tips for living a life abroad.
- When did you decide to turn your life to travel?
I can’t say there was ever an actual moment of choice. I was born in Bosnia and grew up in New Zealand, so I always felt a bit out of place. My parents first took my sister and me to see our family in Bosnia and Sweden when I was 10. Ever since then, I was constantly on a mission to save enough money for my next trip.
The first time I went to visit family in Europe by myself was when I was 14. Realising at such a young age that I could travel alone is what opened my world up to the possibilities of travel. I guess you could say that was when I chose to turn my life to travel.
- What is your best tip for someone wanting to pack in their 9-5 and turn their life to travel?
I’d say it depends on the ‘kind’ of trip they’re planning. If someone is dreaming of becoming a digital nomad and travelling for an unlimited amount of time, I’d recommend finding a way to sustain an income before they leave. Having an online business still has plenty of running costs and if you don’t know how to get that money coming back into your account before you leave, well, it’s going to be quite stressful trying to work it out on the road.
This could be as simple as practicing being a Social Media Manager or learning to use Illustrator. If you have some basic skills before you go and know how to make $50 from it, it’s going to be a whole lot easier while you’re away. You can also use these skills in exchange for accommodation, which won’t be bringing in money could cover a significant chunk of your living expenses.
- What does travel give you that everyday life doesn’t?
The freedom is the biggest drawcard; you have the ability to be spontaneous with big choices like where to live for six months or the ability to change seasons and locations drastically within a day. Every day you meet new people, all of these people have their own stories and backgrounds, passions and skills. Perhaps learning about one of their passions inspires you to try it yourself and you decide to stay there for a few months longer. Being able to spontaneously choose where I want to be and when is something my usual everyday life doesn’t provide. And the thing about acknowledging this is being reminded every day of how lucky I am. There is still an enormous amount of inequality in this world and I’m fortunate enough to have this option. Had I grown up in Bosnia it wouldn’t have been the same situation at all.
- What do you wish you knew at the start of your travels that you know now?
I wish I knew how to run an online business which brought in a decent income. It’s really hard trying to work it out while travelling. What you want to be doing is out having fun and enjoying new experiences while spending a few hours a day working. Not spending your days in your room learning how to do everything like building up your business, marketing, blogging, networking, etc. etc. etc.
But, then again, everything has its own time so it’s silly getting caught up on that. I mean, my business ideas have changed many times while I’ve been away so if I had stayed home until it was perfect, I would never have created what I have now.
- How do you build a social life outside of work when in a foreign country?
Allocate time to do both. If you don’t consciously choose to go out and socialise, even just for dinner or drinks, you’ll probably waste day after day being stuck in your room trying to focus on your work. You don’t need as much time to complete all your tasks as you think you do. If you give yourself a deadline and say you’re heading out in exactly two hours so have exactly that much time to get work done for the day, you might be surprised at how productive you are.
Also, hang out with a variety of people. You don’t want to only hang out with people travelling and working because then you’d only ever talk about work and which places have excellent wifi. You also don’t want to only hang out with non-working backpackers because they won’t have the same vision as you and you’ll crave chatting to people who are on the same journey. The cool thing is you’ll quickly meet both — backpackers will be there wherever you go, and there are loads of online groups, especially on Facebook, where you can arrange to meet with digital nomads in the area. So long as you focus on connecting with both groups as well as the locals, you’ll be okay.