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Travel is no longer limited to a weeks-long vacation from work. Writer Helen Cordery introduces us to three people who travel for a living, making their homes wherever they happen to be.
Text: Helen Cordery
Country: New Zealand

n 2009 I stood on the edge of the Thar Desert and looked across what remained of India to the great expanse of Pakistan before me. That moment amidst the rolling, golden sand dunes was almost completely silent, save for the snorts and sighs that came from the camels nearby. It was then that I realized how far from home I really was—and how alive I felt. The breeze pricking my skin seemed far sweeter than any air I remembered in my home country of New Zealand, and the backpacking life— for all its drawbacks —had brought me closer to adventure than ever before. I vowed that I would follow this trail of excitement wherever it might lead.

I am not alone in this. New Zealand, for example, has at least 1 million of its citizens abroad, despite being a nation of less than 5 million. With the internet, travel and job hunting have become easier than ever before, inciting and facilitating wanderlust in many people. Travellers also have greater control over their plans, from searching for the cheapest flight routes, on, for example, to the advent of revolutionary accommodation options such as Couch Surfing and Airbnb. They can also view blogs, vlogs and consumer ratings of attractions, restaurants and providers before even boarding the plane on sites like Trip Advisor. The rise of the no-frills airline has made the wonders of travel accessible to the many rather than the few. This article shall look at three world travellers: the solo mum advocating for co-parent and single travel, the full-time backpacker and the business traveller.

Emily Lancaster is a former model from Nottingham, England, who now dedicates herself full time to blogging and vlogging from her base in Lisbon, Portugal. She is also a solo mum to her travelling tot companion, Sienna.

“Travelling enables me to learn and open my mind, and I love travelling with Sienna because it means we grow together. I love how it makes her become aware, and taking in the details the way she sees them is really special too. She notices the simple things and sometimes I don’t!”

She also proudly advocates for co-parent travel, a concept that is growing in popularity around the world.

“It just seems like a favourable solution for our broken family, which lives an ocean (and then some) apart from each other. I feel like we need to meet halfway in every sense, including geographically, particularly because in the case of Sienna’s father and I, some of our best moments have been while we were travelling and I wanted to re-create that sensation for Sienna. We started off with a three-week trip to the USA, and although it was challenging, I maintain that it was a great way for Sienna to share some time with her father.”

Emily counts San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Andalusia, Spain, and Sintra, Portugal, among some of her favourite places and adds that spontaneity is key to having great moments.

“It can be stressful —I often ask myself why didn’t I plan?—but it is also thrilling. It can go wrong but in the end I don’t believe that we have bad experiences because each experience is an opportunity to grow. Magic always happens outside of our comfort zones and when we least expect it. I advise everyone to observe the details, talk to people, and take a look around through your child’s eyes.”

Like Emily, Hugh Tinker has given his life over to travel. Born in New Zealand, he moved to England after his first taste of travel at the age of 24 when he backpacked around India and Nepal. Then, he wasn’t quite ready to return to his home turf. He landed a high-pressure role as an IT recruitment consultant in 2011, but by the time 2017 rolled around, he realized he was feeling burnt out —irritable, stressed, unwell and unsatisfied. He made the decision to walk away from the role he’d always cherished, with the intention of returning after a hiatus in Asia.

“I’d been chasing money all these years, as that’s how I’d equated success. I was very work focused—everything I did was for money, to the detriment of everything else. Suddenly I realized that I felt happy. Travel makes me happy, and that is what I think success really is. I like to learn about other people, to learn to be kinder, and I like the adventure.”

Today Hugh has travelled some 43 countries, with some destinations so remote that few people have even heard of them, let alone visited.

“My favourite place is an archipelago of islands in north-west Norway called the Lofoten Islands. It’s an absolutely breathtaking place—big sheer spikes of mountains jutting out of the Arctic Sea. I went there in summer when the sun never sets —I even went diving. My favourite country is Indonesia, first and foremost because the people are absolutely incredible, the friendliest people I’ve ever met, bar maybe the Philippines, because as a traveller it really sticks out when you feel welcome and safe. On top of that there are some amazing activities you can do, like hiking and diving. Some of the best diving in the world is there at Komodo and Raja Ampat.”

Travel is not always a walk in the park, Hugh concedes. He was robbed of all his belongings in Brussels, leaving him completely reliant on friends back home to send him money to get a new passport. He also finds the organizational element of travel a hassle, admitting he is more of an ad-hoc traveller. He advises would-be travellers to separate all their credit cards, wear a money belt, and have an open mind and do things they wouldn’t normally do back home.

Ugne Lipeikaite is from Lithuania, lives in Chile, and works for an international non-profit based in Africa that seeks to support community development through public libraries. She regularly travels to the continent to supervise projects, meet work partners and take part in events.

“I like it because it is interesting and most of all because I see the impact my work has on people. Seeing the way lives can change is inspiring and motivating, although emotionally and practically it can also be very difficult because I have to leave my family.”

She advises potential travellers to try to be as calm as possible and not to panic in unexpected situations.

“One of my scariest moments was when I was in the airport in Ghana, and I had not been issued a visa. Despite holding a letter from Immigration saying I would be issued one at Arrivals, I was held for several hours and released in the middle of the night without my passport. It was really scary. On the other hand, I remember being called to the registration desk at Accra airport in Ghana. I got really nervous, thinking there were going to be problems with my flight, but instead they had promoted me to business class with champagne and a comfy bed all the way to Amsterdam.”

Author Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. This skill of seeing with “new eyes” is a much heralded benefit of travelling, but can be gained anywhere. It can irreversibly change you; few realize that sometimes the hardest part of travel is going back home, only to realize that the place you left is not quite the way you remembered it, and that you are not quite the person you used to be. In today’s modern times, travel may not be about mapping new lands and finding fields of gold but instead about the development of new friendships and the meeting of cultures to create open-minded, flexible and brave individuals. After all, “travel truly is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.

Information Box

· For Lisbon-related travel tips and articles relating to solo and co-parent travel, check out Emily’s blog, Shine a Life.

· Handy apps to download before you travel include

Amazon Kindle: download all the latest reads so you don’t have to lug heavy books around

Duolingo: language learning made easy in a game-like setting.

XE Currency: live currency exchange rates

Tripit: compiles all your bookings into an easy-to-read itinerary.

Google Translate: translates 103 languages, 59 of which can be downloaded for those moments when you are without internet access.

Live Trekker: marks your travel route, noting speed and altitude, as well as allows for the inclusion of multimedia so that it becomes a visual trip diary.

Travel Bank: handles budgets and bookings as well as expense reports for employers and employees.

Airbnb: rents apartments and homes from local hosts as well as ‘Airbnb Experiences’.

City Mapper: transit maps, live alerts and Uber integration.

Mobile Passport: speeds you through US Customs and Border Protection with a scannable code; US and some Canadian visa holders only.

Air Help: helps take the hassle out of claiming compensation when a flight is delayed or cancelled by filing for you with your ticket details.


Modern Nomads: Making Travel a Lifestyle

Although it is sometimes difficult I love to travel to far and distant places. And I am not alone. In my native New Zealand, at least 1 million of its citizens are abroad, despite its being a nation of only 5 million people.

The Internet makes travel and job-hunting easier than ever before. It is easy for travellers to search for the cheapest flight routes on sites such as or find accommodations through Couch Surfing or Airbnb. You can read about different attractions or restaurant or hotel ratings on Trip Advisor. There are also many personal travel blogs and vlogs that offer useful advice.

Emily Lancaster, a former model from Nottingham, England, now dedicates herself full-time to blogging and vlogging from her base in Lisbon, Portugal. She is a single mother and travels with her daughter, Sienna. She proudly advocates for co-parent travel.

Hugh Tinker, from New Zealand, had a high-pressure job as an IT recruitment consultant, but he was always stressed. Now he travels all over the world and has found happiness. He has travelled to around 43 countries; some destinations are so remote that few people have even heard of them. His favourite place is an archipelago of islands in north-west Norway called the Lofoten Islands.

Ugne Lipeikaite is from Lithuania, lives in Chile, and works for an international non-profit based in Africa that seeks to support community development through public libraries. She regularly travels to Africa to supervise projects, meet work partners and take part in events.

All of them concede that travel is not always easy, but the benefits all outweigh any problems they might encounter.



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Modern Nomads: Making Travel a Lifestyle



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Modern Nomads

Summary Vocabulary

Discover its sights, sounds, and tastes:

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