In March 2012, Kristin Addis quit her job as an investment banker in Southern California.
Before she left, she’d been earning six figures a year, including her commission. However, she remembers, she wasn’t happy with her lifestyle.
“It was hard for me when our paid time off was only 14 days per year,” she told Business Insider in the fall of 2015.
“We’d go to the office puking our guts out because we didn’t want to use our vacation time being sick. I felt back then like even if I wanted to, in that 14 days, I wasn’t really allowed to take it all at once. I felt like ‘What is this money worth if I don’t have the opportunity to spend it on what I want?
“I thought there had to be more to life than that.”
So she set out to find it.
Less than a year later, Addis bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, planning to travel overland through Southeast Asia. Since then, the now 29-year-old has largely stayed on the move, documenting her journey through her blog, Be My Travel Muse, and sharing the expertise she’s gathered in her book, “Conquering Mountains: The Guide to Solo Female Travel,” produced with Nomadic Matt’s Matt Kepnes.
“I had been saving for years,” Addis remembers. “It was between putting money into buying a condo or travelling.”
She managed to accumulate around $20,000 in cash, plus about $60,000 in retirement funds, which she says she won’t touch until it’s time to retire.
“I’ve never had debt other than school debt,” Addis says. “I won’t spend money I don’t have, and I don’t want to dip into funds meant for later. If I couldn’t make being a travel influencer work, I would have gotten a job before I touched my retirement savings.”
Between affiliate sales from her website, sales of her book, and work with tourism boards and brands, she says she earns about 40% of her banking salary, and it’s growing. Even earning less, Addis says she feels richer now than she did when she was working as a banker.
“I think for a lot of people the most valuable thing in life isn’t cash — it’s something like free time or freedom,” she says.
Even though she works longer days now than she ever did in California to accommodate periods of being “off the grid,” she explains, “I feel richer now because I have an opportunity to see new things and meet new people, which I really enjoy.
“I think it’s subjective, wealth and richness.”
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