Lauren Yakiwchuk likes to travel.
In the past year, the 34-year-old volunteered at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya, road-tripped around Iceland for two weeks, cruised the Caribbean, and city-hopped through the US and her native Canada.
In total, she spent about two entire months travelling the world.
She documents her travels — with and without her boyfriend, Justin Ceksters — on her travel blog Justin Plus Lauren, but she’s unlike many other travel bloggers in a key way: She holds down a completely separate job.
Yakiwchuk lives outside of Toronto and works as a video editor in the television industry. The 34-year-old has held her job for nearly a decade, and Ceksters, who works with her, has done so for almost five years. Although she regularly works 40 hours a week, the position is freelance, which provides her with a rare level of flexibility.
She explained to Business Insider that while they don’t take a pay cut to work freelance, not being salaried employees means they sacrifice income when they travel. “We work hourly, so we would lose pay for time we’re not there working,” she said. Partly for that reason, Yakiwchuk sometimes travels alone while Ceksters stays at home to put in some more hours. And, Yakiwchuk added, because Canada provides universal healthcare, the lack of benefits that come with long-term freelancing aren’t prohibitive. The only health costs they pay out of pocket are dental and eye costs that might be covered by a benefits plan for full-time employees.
While her work situation makes travelling easier than it might be were she a salaried employee with an allotted number of vacation days, she says time is still short.
‘There’s not enough time in the day,” Yakiwchuk said. “Trying to create content for the blog and do travel and work your regular job — it can be tough sometimes. I’m just like ‘go, go, go’ all the time. I find the blog is another full-time job almost, even though I’m not earning nearly the amount of money as my regular job. It’s hard to just have a little time for yourself. That’s definitely the hardest part: scheduling your time wisely.”
It doesn’t help that, though she enjoys her day job, “the hours can be all over the place,” she said. “We work evenings and weekends — the 24-hour clock is fair game in TV.”
To make sure she’s putting in enough hours to pay the bills in between trips, she said, “I make lists all the time, and try to organise my days — especially days off work. I just stay organised and try not to put too much on my plate at once. I try to do a couple things a day, because it always takes longer that you think.”
Yakiwchuk would like to start shifting more working hours over to the blog in the next few years, but she says she’s happy forgoing the nomadic lifestyle so common among professional travellers. “It’s nice to have this as a safety net, something you can rely on to pay your bills,” she said. “I can’t really see myself living the digital nomad lifestyle that a lot of travellers do. I like living at home and having a home base, and I have family and friends. Being able to balance travelling a few weeks at at time and then coming back, that’s definitely ideal for me.”
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