This woman quit her corporate job at 35 and saved $16,000 to travel the world 'indefinitely'

Clelia Mattana - philippines viewCourtesy of Clelia MattanaClelia Mattana in Coron, Philippines.

In November of 2012, Clelia Mattana handed in her letter of resignation.

She had an established career as a sourcing coordinator at luxury fashion brand Burberry, a good salary, and her own apartment in London. But something was missing.

“I was unhappy because I wasn’t following my true nature. All I could think of was visiting remote places, travelling to my favourite destinations, and exploring my passion for photography and writing,” Mattana told Business Insider in an email.

The decision was made when she was on holiday in her native Sardinia in August of 2012. “After years of doubts and fears I decided that in six months I would quit my job and start travelling indefinitely,” she said.

Less than half a year later, she had saved over $16,000  and set out for her first destination: Southeast Asia. Four years later, Mattana is still on the road, documenting her adventures on her blog, Keep Calm and Travel, and her Instagram.

Mattana spoke to Business Insider about what her nontraditional life looks like, the reality of working on the road, and how she affords it.

'When I imagined how my life would have looked in 10 years, working in a field that didn't represent me at all, something broke inside me and I knew that I had to do something radical to change my situation,' Mattana said.

Courtesy of Clelia Mattana.
Panay Island, Philippines.

'So I decided to take the riskiest decision of my life, quitting a secure, prestigious job for the big unknown.'


'I had never been to Asia before and being born in a beautiful Italian island, Sardinia, I thought that starting with Thailand, with its totally different culture, cheap prices, and wonderful beaches, was the obvious choice for me.'

In Thailand.

'In the beginning I mainly used my savings,' she said. Once she made up her mind to go, she transferred over $1,000 from her paycheck to her savings for three months. She also sold some belongings, welcomed a roommate, and dialed down her social life in order to save $16,000 in five months.

In the Philippines.

Mattana spent only $100 a month in Thailand for rent, transportation, food, and a little shopping, which was a steep drop from the $1,000 rent she'd paid in London.

In Turkey.

'The accommodation was very basic and I was the only foreigner in the village, hence the ridiculously low costs. If you choose a more popular destination the prices obviously go up, but they are still not even close to be compared to the cost of living in the UK,' she said.

In the Philippines.

'Only three months after I started my trip, I was already working as a ballet teacher in a remote village in Thailand, as I wanted to live with the locals for a while and keep my savings intact for my future adventures,' she told Business Insider.

Courtesy of Clelia Mattana
In Thailand.

'During those months, I also decided to take my website and my blogging career more seriously,' she explains. 'I studied marketing, SEO, and copywriting on my spare time and six months later I tried to monetise a few articles with success.'


From that moment on, she has been able to sustain her life of travel through earnings from her blog.

Courtesy of Clelia Mattana.
Kalahari Desert, Africa.

'I'm now earning an average of £2,000-£3,000 (~$2,800-$4,300) per month,' she says. 'The earnings vary, but the website is growing very quickly and I've now have more than 100,000 visitors per month.'

In Thailand.

'I was also able to make money by creating long term partnerships with a few big travel-related companies, as well as landing some photographic gigs thanks to my Instagram account.'


'I've always been super careful when it comes to my finances,' Mattana said. Consequently, she's able to save money while travelling without skipping the things that mean the most to her. 'It's not always easy, but with a bit of planning ahead is definitely possible.'

In the Philippines.

'I usually never spend a lot of money in activities or expensive things, not because I don't want to spend the money, but simply because they are usually relatively cheap.'

In Sardinia.

'Travelling on a budget is not a necessity anymore,' she said. 'I still love the thrill of camping in the wild or sleeping in basic places or even dorms from time to time, because I have the opportunity to meet other travellers more easily and nourish the adventurous part of me.'

Courtesy of Clelia Mattana.
Kalahari Desert, Africa.

'When I was still trapped in my corporate job at Burberry, my approach to people was more guarded,' Mattana said. 'I was less spontaneous and rarely talked to strangers if not strictly necessary. Now I am more relaxed and open towards people.'

In Turkey.

'I can certainly say that when I'm on the road I am 100% myself,' she adds. 'I don't have to conform to what society expects me to be. I can decide to change my plans last minute and wear whatever I want without worrying too much about what people think about me.'

In the Seychelles.

Travelling also helped her put everything into perspective, Mattana said. 'Even if I might be wealthier than most of the people I've met when travelling in under-developed countries, I realised that some of them are richer than me in many other ways. A truly enlightening experience!'

In the Philippines.

'It wasn't an easy choice -- a woman at 35, leaving a well-established career, a good salary, and a secure life, just to travel the world is usually considered crazy,' she said. 'At some point I realised that the scariest thing wasn't quitting my job, but staying in there, wasting my years and only dreaming of a life I would never live.'

In the Philippines.

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