Jess O'Connor, 'Mind Nomad'
"Just living is not enough. I must have sunshine and freedom."
Jess loves learning about the world – be it through getting lost in a new city or between the pages of a good book. An ocean obsessed New Zealander, she lives in Auckland by the sea with her partner Tom, and travels abroad once or twice a year. In 2015, she quit her marketing day job to become a freelance copywriter, which led to the launch of her small business, Made of Words. One day she dreams to travel for work, but in the meantime she's happy typing from her cosy home office, surrounded by books. Her idea of a perfect overseas adventure is road tripping across a country and taking it slow, stopping at quirky small towns and staying off the beaten track. Except she’d probably book ahead, because she’s that kind of traveler (a wannabe free spirit with type-A tendencies). She prefers slow travel to fast-paced adventures and would rather sit in a cafe and people-watch than go skydiving (but she's okay with that). One of the most magical places she’s ever visited is the West Coast of Ireland, and she once walked 100km for charity . If she won the lottery, she’d probably become a lifelong student and study at as many amazing places around the world as she could. Some of her happiest memories are from university days, when she studied French and English and spent six months in Lyon. She loves learning languages and believes it's the best way to truly understand another culture. Next she would like to learn Italian (and do an Elizabeth Gilbert and eat her way around Italy, only without the heartbreak and with Tom in tow). If she could have any magical power, it would be to see life through someone else’s eyes at the click of her fingers – but books and travel offer more than enough magic to keep her curious soul alight.
Natalie Gruner, 'Wanderlust is Life'
"...the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures…"
A travel girl at heart, Nat has been studying, working and living abroad for the past seven years before recently returning to her home country Germany for an extended visit. Travel has influenced and shaped her whole life. What started with family holidays and summertrips with friends, turned into an all-consuming love when she fully immersed herself in different cultures and countries during her studies. It all started when she moved to Seville, Spain for her first semester abroad while earning her Bachelor in Multilingual Communications 9 months of amazing experiences later, she returned to her hometown Cologne, invigorated and determined to see more of the world once she finished her Bachelor. This time the call took her to England where she immersed herself in the wonders of London, completed her Masters of Science in International Business Management and met her partner Nick. This chance meeting of the hearts lured her to New Zealand, introducing her to the most magical place she’s ever been to. A planned one year stay turned into five years and while she can now picture a life in paradise, her incredibly close bonds with her family and friends back home inspired her to yet again pack up and leave. If she’d be granted one wish, she’d combine all her favorite people in one place so she’d never have to miss one of them again but an optimist at heart, she is planning to take matters into her own hands. She is currently living in Germany, working remotely for a digital marketing company and on a few different projects, travelling as much as possible and trying to build a more flexible life for herself that allows her to live in paradise without compromising regular home visits and continuous globetrotting.
Meghan Advent, 'Adventure Addict'
"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."
Meg is a travelholic. It started out as innocent experimentation in high school when she signed up for the class trip to Italy and Greece. Once there, she became intoxicated by the different lifestyles, amazing culture, and exciting landscapes and became powerless against the lure of the unknown. Before she knew it, she was saving money for her next adventure overseas and wound up in Australia learning to surf and scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. To support her habit, she worked as a waitress in Sydney and earned enough to pay her way to Southeast Asia. Once home in Canada, she realized she had a problem. Each trip was getting longer and longer and it was taking more to satisfy her cravings. A two-month stint in Europe confirmed that she had to take control of her addiction. She moved to Calgary to earn a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and managed to keep her cravings in check by doing two study abroad programs; one in China, one in Australia, and travelling as much as possible around these areas. To pay for these fixes she did what she could - bartending, telemarketing, customer service, catering - and racked up some student loans. Upon graduation, she returned to Australia and exhausted her year- long working visa. On the way back, she was tripping in Africa, taking in World Cup games and chasing lions on safari. Again she returned home, broke and unemployed. Once more she returned to school, this time gaining useful and exciting digital skills to bring on the road. She then up and moved to New Zealand with her American partner and worked her way up to a job that now pays her to promote travel. Beautiful New Zealand and her work trips keep the obsession in check but the call is always there.
Dear Travel, Love Jess
Dear Travel, Love Nat
Dear Travel, Love Meg
I worked hard for you before I even knew what you were about. At a time when I could've been hanging out with my friends after school I was working to afford you. And then when we finally met, you were more than I ever dreamed you could be.
The next time we met, I would jump in with both feet. It was scary. I had other choices but your call was strong and I went for it without holding back. That leap of faith defined me. Everything I once knew was brought into question in a wonderful and exhilarating way.
I returned home a different person, confused and unsure of what to do next. I tried to see you again just months later but it wasn't quite the same. I tried to recreate what we first had and it was impossible. I didn't know then that you are always changing, too.
Dear Travel, Love Nicole