In 2009, Jennifer Dombrowski moved to Italy.
She had been living and working in Arizona when her husband got transferred through his military job to a small town in Northern Italy. She asked her employer if she could continue her work as a social media strategist for a university for a six-month trial period from her new home near Venice.
“That six-month trial period turned into six years,” she told Business Insider.
Today, Dombrowski, 36, and Tim Davis, 35, are living in Bordeaux, France, building their own luxury travel business, Luxe Adventure Traveller. They have visited more than 50 countries on four continents.
Below, Dombrowski told Business Insider how she came to start her own business, what it’s like living and working thousands of miles from home, and what everyone gets wrong about luxury travel.
Dombrowski launched a hobby blog to keep friends and family in the loop almost immediately after arriving in Italy.
In the Dead Sea, Jordan.
'The first weekend we had free, we were like, 'What are we going to do? Hey, let's go travel -- Slovenia is an hour away, and Croatia another hour. We visited three countries in one weekend, so let's start blogging about it,' she said.
In Puglia, Italy.
With Dombrowski keeping her US-based job with regular hours, and Davis holding a military job, they weren't able to indulge every travel whim. Instead, they sat down with their calendars and highlighted the limited times they could take off and travel together.
In the Bahamas.
Davis's schedule was more restrictive, thanks to scheduled military exercises and missions. But Dombrowski had seven weeks of vacation working for a university, and she was determined to maximise every minute.
In the Rhine Valley, Germany.
Instead of spending quiet weekends or breaks at home, 'we would make sure we always planned to have something going on during those times,' she said. 'Having the weekend and being in Europe, you could go so many places just driving or taking a cheap budget flight.'
In Maratea, Italy.
But just because they could travel on a shoestring budget doesn't mean they always did. If you're looking for a place to learn more about 'how to travel on $50 a day or less,' they write on their site, 'Luxe Adventure Traveller isn't it.'
In the Maldives.
But luxury 'absolutely doesn't have to be terribly expensive,' Dombrowski said. 'There's the champagne and caviar dreams version of luxury, but then there's just being able to go and enjoy a glass of wine here in Bordeaux. Being able to go out and enjoy that and treat yourself at the end of the day can also be luxury.'
In Bordeaux, France.
After six years of running their blog on the side, Dombrowski decided to quit her job and focus on building it full-time, with the idea that she and her husband will run it together when his stint with the military ends a year from now.
In the French Alps.
'It's been hard to find the perfect balance, because the exciting part for readers is that you're on the road, but we're not nomadic like a lot of travel bloggers,' she said. 'We used to travel to about 20 countries a year, and now we're going to half or less than half of that. It's about finding the things that interest us and that our readers are interested in.'
Living in Bordeaux, where they moved earlier this year, makes mixing work and travel easy. 'I can work all day preparing for projects,' Dombrowski said. 'But after I'm done or if I need a break I can go out in this beautiful city -- go climb the tower and get a cool view, or go to a great museum, or hop on the train and go to a tasting at a wine shop.'
In Bordeaux, France.
Aside from the blog, Luxe Adventure Traveller now offers consulting and helps clients with travel-related projects. For instance, Dombrowski is currently preparing for a food and wine Instagram takeover for the French tourism bureau.
Dune du Pilat, France.
They also licence some of Davis's photography to other businesses and Dombrowski works as a professional contributing travel writer. Currently, the site brings in about 30% of their total income.
In Bordeaux, France.
'We've learned to slow down,' Dombrowski said. 'We used to pack everything we possibly could into a vacation, because like most people we were going for a week at a time, so we wanted to see as much as we could. But it's really nice to plan a day to enjoy the pool or book a spa appointment or be lazy, because you are on vacation and how often do you get to do that at home?'
In Castellabate, Italy.
More than 50 countries later, Dombrowski shared some practical advice for travellers: 'Always, especially when you're planning an international trip, ensure that you've got all your ducks in order. If the country you're visiting says you need four consecutive empty pages in your passport, makes sure you do. We've had friends that have been denied entry for things like that.' She recommends travel.state.gov to find out what you need.
In Burano, Italy.
And, she added, 'when you're deciding to go on a trip, it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even if you take a trip once every year, that's a place you're going to go and not come back to. So if it means not going to Starbucks for your morning coffee for a few months to save for that one item you really want to splurge on while you're there, that's what you do.'
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