Roadblocks, Firefighters, and Puppies (or Ch-Ch-Changes!)


Believe it or not but blogging is by no means a lucrative business. For a small percentage of people, sure. Us? Not at all. Some use blogging as a platform to pursue other endeavors or transition into different careers. Either we’re horrible brainstormers, have terrible luck, are a bit too “alternative” for what is commonly a conservative industry, or are just plain bad businessmen/women.

So what I am getting at?

We are really freaking broke. Crushingly broke. Really, really, stupidly f-ing broke. Are we unhappy? Hell no! Are we hurting in the pocketbooks? YES.

We’ve hit lots of road blocks lately.

We were supposed to head to TBEX Toronto for a travel blogging conference at the beginning of June. That had to be canceled. We were supposed to go on a grand USA road trip after. That also had to be canceled. Australia? Canceled. We can’t save up $10,000 to have in our bank account to show we are financially stable for the work visa. Jobs have been incredibly hard to come by since we’ve been back home.

When we came back from Mexico we had noticed one huge problem glaring at us – our bank account. Over the past 6 or 7 months, the blog had no longer been something we could rely on and we hadn’t gotten paid for 5 of the 7 months. Long story short, we had mysteriously racked up an insane amount of debt back on credit cards and we are back to square one.

Did I mention that the blog had turned into a job? I remember a day that I thrived for working on the blog. It was a labor of love. When it became the only source of income, I felt like it had become stale. My creativity was stifled. It became an obligation. I had left one rat race and entered another one unknowingly. We toiled for 40+ hour weeks, trying to make it work. Trying to make it “big” – and our “payoff” never came before we ran out of money (which is all good, it just means we have to put our energy elsewhere).

It was so dire that we were two months behind in rent and we went to donate plasma to buy groceries.

119/365 Donating plasma today for some cash. Apparently I have had too many tattoo sessions to qualify to donate. A little embarrassed and sad. Feelin' a bit dire. #365days

It is how I ended up feeling like I was in a hole. A very dark hole that will never be mentioned again. I felt as though we had hit rock bottom. Something like THIS. It was a very scary time that maybe, someday I’ll write about. But for now, I’m just glad that I got out of it.

That, my friends, is how obsessed we were with travel. We took it as far as we could but now we need to turn that around. We had never even really intended it becoming permanent when we started. It was supposed to be only a year abroad.

I feel so incredibly blessed that we’ve been able to ride the wave this far.

So what does that mean?


We’re creating roots in Austin. We still have our hearts here and it is much easier to stay put and have a bit of pay stability to get our life back in order. I never made as much on the road as I did with a “real” job at home.

No, we’re not going to stop traveling. It just means we have to travel differently. Expect more weekend getaways, general travel around Texas, things to do in Austin, and the occasional romp around the world.

And NO, I would NEVER quit Over Yonderlust. I love this blog. I look forward to posting. I love seeing your comments and discussions. There are so many stories we haven’t told you (half because there are some scandalous moments)! There are entire albums of pictures you haven’t seen. We still have so much to share.

We’re both working. If you haven’t heard by now, I’m working part time with the wonderful guys from Walks of Italy. Remember them? I’m also doing quite a bit of content writing and trying to get my photography career back in order (I used to be a wedding photographer here in Austin). Shaun is still scouting for a job to hold him over until the yearly firefighter tryouts (can we say HOT SEXY FIREMAN? I can.). I’m crossing my fingers that he doesn’t suffer the general American malaise with the job hunt.

Expect a few more lifestyle posts. As we create our “new” lives here in Austin, you get to see how I’m about to balance travel and “home”.

And while we did have to stop long term traveling before we were ready, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • Brunches with friends.
  • A new puppy.
  • Having an art space to create.
  • Non-stop chips and salsa.

It doesn’t mean that we will stop forever. It means that we have to slow down for now. There is nothing that can take away my wanderlust. We just need to make sure we’re doing it as responsibly as we can. 🙂

71 thoughts on “Roadblocks, Firefighters, and Puppies (or Ch-Ch-Changes!)”

  1. Oh my! I know exactly what you are talking about! A year ago we left “home” (for me, not for hubby, his is somewhere else) to go off to Asia and travel and see where it took us. Tagging along we have three kids, one (born on the road pretty much) and well, we ended up BROKE. seriously terribly broke, living with help from friends back home. Making friends In Bangkok (where we stayed longest), as in rice street cart friends who would feed us without having to be paid straight away, fruit vendors and coffee vendors that would do the same. The apartment we rented was luckily owned by a very nice lady who had a lot of patience with us! And in the middle of that I thought, could I make us survive with a blog? yeah right!!! it turned out to help me survive mentally, keeping my creative head on straight. Finally we decided that we did not want to go back home with our tail between our legs and started job hunting here. After months of this, it finally happened. And we aren´t desperately broke anymore, and we don´t have to borrow from the street vendors. I can say they all became my friends even if we didnt speak the same language. Nothing like those experiences to keep our blogs going right? Keep up the amazing vision and Ill be always following your new and old adventures.

    1. OMG Orana! You guys are hardcore! I’m glad to hear things are working out now. What kind of jobs did you find?

      I really do hate being broke. It really hits the soul hard when you come from a culture where monetary success is everything.

  2. I saw your reference to blogging as a rat race somewhere else recently, and that line really resonated with me. It’s such a shame that that’s how it ends up for so many bloggers, especially those who tried to leave a job they weren’t happy with. I love having roots here in the U.S. And working for Walks of Italy? Sounds wonderful!

    1. RIGHT?! I left our jobs only to end up despising another. It really is “unfair”.

      I do love living in Austin. I just wish we had more money to enjoy it fully. In time right?

      1. Yes, in time you’ll be able to enjoy Austin fully. I have a cousin who’s been there a few years and I know they just love it! Sounds like a great city.

  3. If you never tried, you’d never know. Now you do, so you know how to adjust and make the next runs even better. Use the downtime to study as much as you can about the intricacies of the biz and what else you can do to improve because there’s always room. 🙂

  4. Sounds like you guys are making the right decision for your current situation. Making a living from blogging is extremely hard work, and like you said, not many people actually succeed at getting it to that point. If you love travel and blogging, keep it at a level that allows you to still have fun with it. Working with Walks of Italy sounds awesome since it will give you some income and you’ll be working with a company you like and it still has to do with travel. I’m so sorry you hit such a dark point awhile back, but I’m very glad to hear you’re doing better now. Good luck with the changes!

    1. Even with hard work you need that certain break to make it big. At one point I was working 60 hours on the blog and not making headway. I’m willing to put in the work – why don’t things ever work out? (I’m not even going to start ranting)

      I am happy that I’m temporarily working with a company I believe in. It makes all the difference.

  5. Good for you guys for recognizing the right time to slow down. I’m sure you’ll love blogging even more when you aren’t depending on it to pay the bills, and maybe that shift will allow you to create even more inspiring content as it’ll be coming from the heart rather than an obligation to produce. Knowing that you guys, who are truly talented, are struggling with monetizing, doesn’t bode well for the rest of us who are trying to make this work as well, but regardless, I find your story inspiring. Maybe the rest of the travel industry just needs to catch up with the potential of so many different types of travel bloggers available to them and how we can be useful to them. Whatever it is, I’m sure that if you keep at it, even if its more passively, you’ll get to where you want to be eventually. Good luck with this next exciting phase! And you’re getting a puppy! That’s awesome!! 🙂

    1. I want to be inspiring! Or rather, I want to feel like I’m putting out inspiring content.

      I have this general theory that people are making money convincing people there is money in blogging when there isn’t… but that is a whole story all on its own. We had an extremely horrifying year – many things which I didn’t even cover here and honestly, I don’t think I will ever cover.

      But yes – I miss having an animal in my life and it is one thing I’m looking forward to.

  6. I’m pretty sure the nonstop chips and salsa is a major perk worth staying in Texas for! I hear you on the labor of love blog pains. Crossing my fingers for you two and I expect lots of alternative Texas posts!

    1. <3

      I'm going to be trying my damnedest! But really, in order to be involved with some things you need money (even if it is for gas of bus fare) so a few things are going to have to wait for a little bit. :P

  7. I really hate being an adult sometimes and also often use Hyperbole & A Half comics to describe how I am feeling 🙂

    Circumstances forced us back home too but even that hasn’t been a smooth ride (but I hope yours is!) My work contract ended in December last year so I started freelancing this year with these grand “digital nomad”/”location independent” dreams and while I’ve had some wins, some weeks I make nothing even remotely resembling a wage which means my partner’s income has had to go towards supplementing what I’m not making and we’re actually now further behind.

    I’m now 31 which counts me out of most working holiday visas. I had hastily applied for a Canadian visa before my birthday but we’ve had to realistically admit we’re not going to get there before it expires and it’s a shitty feeling.

    We have a big new adventure happening this weekend though as we’re actually moving to a new town, going to live in the country in an actual lake house so we’re getting a puppy too – though he’s hopefully going to be a 10yr old rescue Lab but even though we’ve been “put” for a couple of years now I had been holding off getting a pet for when we went on our next big adventure. We still plan to have adventures, just not quite on the same scale anymore.

    To cut my extremely long story short, even though the circumstances suck I’m looking forward to going on this next chapter with you two and look forward to lots of puppy & art pics 🙂

    1. HAHA. Are we still adults because we read webcomics? Really though, she is freaking amazing.

      Chelsea – many people come here to be inspired and find happiness so I choose not to go into details of exactly how terrible the transition has been. It has been hard. VERY hard. I am putting aside my “dreamer” self and looking at the hard facts of life at the moment. When we’re back in a stable situation, I can dream again. There is so much we have to do – and a big one is finding Shaun a job with insurance. We have quite a few things we need to do with that one.

      I’m happy that you’re going to be with us on our next phase in life. I need support!

  8. don’t give up the dream sweetheart. But at least you know that you have your Dad a short drive away. The upside to this (and it is selfish I know) is that my daughter is close, much safer (relatively) available for very much missed father/daughter time.

    1. Dream has pretty much been stomped on at the moment. Either we win the lottery or find jobs and save again (which will probably be the latter). But if Shaun makes the firefighter thing, we’re stuck here until he turns 48.

  9. It’s so sad to hear this but I wish you all the best and you know that you always have a friend in Berlin (or wherever I might be) that is there if you should need any help! On the upside, another reason to visit the US soon 😉

    1. xoxo! You are always welcome to visit us! I can’t wait to get our own place and start being a home for travel bloggers and couchsurfers!

  10. Erica,
    The only way I have the ability to do my blog is from my social security retirement compensation. I have empathy for y’all and understand your plight. I wish you and Shaun best of luck in your endeavors and stay strong! It will work out in the end. #Positive Outlooks and Vibes coming your way!

    1. Mike, thank you so much for your vibes and the incredibly warm email you sent us. It means the world to us that you care so much. xoxo

  11. Austin seems like a fantastic city and I’m looking forward to getting there some day. So I’m more than happy to see more content on what Texas has to offer! 🙂

    Its a total bummer that you guys have been having a tough time lately, but that makes the good ones all the sweeter!

  12. I am really surprised to hear this – I thought you guys were a model for success. It scares me, really, because if you can’t make it . . . not sure there’s too much hope for me! Anyway, I really enjoy following your adventures and I’m sure there will be many more. I look forward to them! Good luck getting some travel money back in the bank! M

    1. A lot of people thought we were doing well – mainly because I didn’t feel the need to complain. I did feel compelled to let people know why we are not traveling at the moment though! 😀

  13. yay puppy! When i stopped RTW travel and set up roots again in Brooklyn, getting a puppy was a key thing for me as well. To be content with the idea of being in one place.

    It has been the awesome-est journey – my pup Cambodia has definitely added so much love to our local life. And dog travels too! Cant wait to see photos of your pup!

  14. Dear Erica and Shaun, wow great post! love your honesty in dealing with several big challenges! but heah that’s the spirit on to orher maybe eveb bigger and better who knows in the long run! the German say: better to have a horrid ending than horrors that never end!
    Good luck with everything and I know you guys will come out on top!
    You always have a free place to stay here in Frankfurt.
    Big hugs

    1. Thank you! I appreciate that people are appreciating my honesty. I was a little scared to post this to be honest.

      I’m hoping things only go up from here!

  15. Good for you, putting your happiness and financial well-being first… at least for a while! We’re doing the same thing this year, after 11 press trips last years put us in debt and struggling to get out. We like having a home base, spending time with my daughter, hanging out with our sweet dog, spending summer afternoons at the lake 15 minutes from our house. There’s a lot to see and do in/around Austin, just as there is in Atlanta, and nobody should think any differently about your site if you stick closer to home for a bit. Honestly, if we get the big trip we’re working on for September, we may not travel at all for 6 months or so, and I’ll finally write that book I’ve been planning for years. Hope your time off is similarly fruitful, and reinvigorating!

    1. I know we have had a few conversations about this Bret. It was a sobering moment when I realized the extent of our finances. I don’t count myself as out of the blogging game but we definitely need to take a moment to focus on ourselves!

      We had a really big press trips taken from us and left us devastated. It was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      But there is only up from here, right?

  16. I know you’ve worked hard on blogging and it must be hard to change the plan. I hope having a home base and being surrounded by people who love you will open the doors to new opportunities that you can’t predict now 🙂

    1. It is just such a crazy change out of left field! This one will take a long while to completely get over but I’m sure we will bounce back.

  17. I feel for you guys, it must be a hard adjustment after all the travelling you’ve done. Having a home base isn’t such a bad thing though – think of it as a springboard for all new adventures!

    1. You have no clue! I’m glad to have a home base – it is something I’ve wanted. Now we just need to make buckets of money to support both lifestyles? 😛

  18. THANK YOU. We’ve been back in Canada for 2 months and are in the exact situation, literally have $2 in the bank account, scrounging to make rent. It’s refreshing to see fellow travellers and bloggers that are realistic and have other career and life goals. TBEX was 5 hours from us (we live in Ottawa) but the possibility of us going was a hilarious, cruel joke. Funny enough, I feel like there’s been a huge wave of bloggers writing about how things have to change. Setting a home life is a great thing, we’re also enjoying it! Wishing you many happy moments in Austin!

    1. Hey Caro – after talking to MANY bloggers, there seems to be a vital component people are missing when discussing their lives. More bloggers than you realize have a 9-5 to pay the bills and support their blogging lifestyle.

      But yes, I get the cruel joke. We live in the city of SXSW where I can never afford the $1000 ticket.

  19. Sorry to hear but good luck with whatever the next chapter brings. Believe me, the reality of $$ versus doing what one loves hits close to home for more than just you!

  20. It looks like you are making the right decision at the moment. It is important that you keep the dream. However, when you do travel it will make the trips more special. Anyway I think your photography will see you through. Good luck guys.

  21. Thanks for your honesty with your struggles, Erica. I have an upcoming trip to Southeast Asia and I had been counting on money from blogging coming in but I’ve heard from other bloggers that link sales have really been slowing down in the past six months. And as for your blog, I’ll be reading whether you’re at home or away, I love your how genuine and down-to-earth (and funny!) you two are!

    1. Thanks! There are so many things people don’t talk about because it makes them feel like failures, and we refuse to be part of that way of thinking. <3

  22. I’m glad you made a choice that’s right for you — even if it was a difficult one to make. If it’s any consolation, since returning home to the States I’ve felt much more creatively inspired than I did living overseas and am blogging much more than ever. Plus having the blog has given me a good reason to get out & explore the places in my hometown I never bothered to visit before I had a blog. But it does hurt when people are like, “I liked your blog better when you were in China.” Umm, ouch.
    Good luck with the job hunting!

    1. Heh, yeah, we still plan on trying to travel abroad as often as possible and are narrowing the job search to companies with really good vacation perks. ^^

  23. Oh I can relate to the 60 hour weeks… I’ve started unveiling a handful of niche websites to try to make some side income since the travel blog itself isn’t a huge moneymaker. At least Austin is a great place to stay put for a while. I’ll say hi if I make it there in October as planned.

  24. As a new reader this is very sad to hear 🙁
    (although it does give me time to catch up on all of the amazing adventures you have been having!! hehe)

    It sounds like you really went through a rough time there, and its fantastic to see you come out on the other side, feeling positive and ready to start again!

    Best of luck guys, looking forward to hearing more about your home town 🙂

    1. It also gives us time to write about all the crazy things that happened to us while traveling. So be prepared for some great stories from our current and previous adventures!

  25. I get it. I totally do. I’ve never had to rely on my blog(s) for money because my past decade in China and Turkey was funded by teaching, but I did give it a (brief) go back in 2011/2012 for about ten months after a teaching gig dissolved mid contract and I was left with a work/residence permit for China but no job to go with it. It’s a rare thing to be blessed with no full time job and full legal status in China! Initially I threw myself into blogging with great enthusiasm (digital nomad! location semi-independent! travel!), but soon realized that 1. I suck at hustling for anything related to money and 2. I started to loathe writing and became creatively more dried up than in previous years of blogging with no thoughts of monetization.

    What I’ve come to realize (for myself) is that my blogging projects and writing in general need to be not at all related to my economic livelihood. Seriously. As soon as I start having to see them on purely financial terms, I start to resent them. Writing becomes a chore. If I want to keep writing publicly, I need to have other sources of income, like teaching or editing someone else’s work or whatever. I need to be almost utilitarian when it comes to supporting myself. This goes against everything I’d ever read about or dreamed about in the past. You know, the whole, do what you love and the money will follow? Well, maybe it will, but by that time I’ll have become so fed up with the thing I love, so frustrated by the need to hustle and sell and scrape by, that I’ll grow to resent it. It only took half a year last time, and that was supplemented with a bit of freelance teaching and exam work so I was never quite financially devastated.

    I’m starting to think my ideal job (at age 38, after 18 years of living and travelling overseas) is in the warehouse at Ikea, stacking boxes, provided I get time off (paid or unpaid) for 3-4 week bursts of travel once or twice a year. My mind can wander as I stack those boxes and ideas for writing can build and develop and I won’t take my work home with me. Liberated mind! Comfortable bank account! Buff biceps from stacking!

    I hope things go well for you guys and that you get your writerly mojo back and that your inner stability is regained. I’m cheering you on from the sidelines.

    1. We’re definitely not alone, especially as the industry changes. But all that really matters is that we find what truly makes us happy, so here’s to the search!! 😀

  26. It will get better I can feel it. We can relate to the blog being a full time job! We started ours 8 months ago and it is MORE than a full time job, and we each still have full time jobs for only another week before we depart for our RTW. Sad you weren’t able to make it to TBEX, I was looking for you two! You were missed for sure. Keep you chin up and keep positive! And the blog must live on!!!

  27. I’m thrilled to hear you’re putting your happiness and security at the top of your priorities list. Wanderlust is a deadly thing and I’m sure it has stolen the credit rating of a few intrepid adventures. Looking forward to your new projects and following your new style of travel.

    1. True, though I’m sure many of those travelers just shrugged it off and moved to Mexico where they lived happily ever after. 😛

  28. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting down roots. I love travel as much as the next person, but I also enjoy coming home to my own bed and all my stuff and the end of a trip. Congrats on the amazing gig with Walks of Italy and good luck to Shaun in his job search. Please share pics of the new puppy immediately!

    1. There are no words to express how amazing your bed is, or even just the feeling of familiarity. We’re stoked and will definitely make our dog part of the blog (once he/she is found).

  29. Hi Erica – Love the honesty of this post. You are only being responsible in recognising a limitation on your plans and adapting. I hope it all goes well and look forward to some puppy pictures!

    1. Now that you mention it, it seems like our lives have been about making plans and adaptation pretty much the whole time. But we’re happy with the decision and the way life is going at the moment. We can’t ask for much more than that. ^^

  30. I Always love how Real, Raw and open your posts are. I’ll always read you with regularity and am sending you long distance hugs! Thank you for sharing your life with us. It’s inspiring, and this low point is All part of that whole “bigger picture” thing. much love. jazz

  31. I don’t have to tell you that I’ve been through this… It is actually quite wonderful, and huge adventures still await you. 🙂

  32. I think anyone who has given blogging a full time go must be lying if they say they don’t have days that end in sobs and self doubt. I am still in the place where the good days outweigh the bad — and I hope to stay here! — but sometimes my mind wanders back to Brooklyn, and puppies, and baking and doing crafts and all those things I love about *not* traveling.

    Cheers to you guys for doing what is right for you, and for writing about it so honestly.

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