“Escape the Rat Race” Case Study – Megan Jerrard – Mapping Megan

Feature Image - Escape the Rat Race with Mapping Megan

Virtual high fives and awkwards hugs to all my sharers out there! ✊

Megan is a 31-year-old travel addict, an outdoor adventure enthusiast and adrenaline junkie with an incurable disease called “the travel bug”. An Australian lawyer and journalist, who gave up both career options to pursue the digital nomad lifestyle, her passion for traveling and writing overtook her desire to sit in a corner office, and instead, she now works as a freelance travel writer and professional blogger at mappingmegan.com.

Here’s an intimate (and inspiring) look at the ups and downs of her adventure. If you’re looking for insider advice on how to escape the rat race and build a location independent life, this is for you.

How long have you been traveling? Where have you traveled?

I’ve been traveling since 2007, and over the past 12 years have visited 70+ countries, and stepped foot on all 7 continents. Iceland and Antarctica are probably my two favorite destinations; they’re both untouched, pristine environments, with huge opportunities for outdoor adventure, and fairytale landscapes that transport you to a completely different world, and keep you in a constant state of awe. I wrote this post on what it’s like traveling to Antarctica on an expedition cruise.

Mapping Megan traveling in Antarctica

What was your life like before you started your adventure?

I started traveling straight out of High School – I graduated year 12, and within a month was straight on a plane from Australia to England (back then it was a loooooong flight!). I lived and worked in a boarding school for a year in 2007, and traveled throughout Europe in school breaks. I’ve incorporated as much travel into life since then, so my life ‘before this adventure’ was pretty much normal teenager stuff – school and classes!

What inspired you to start your life of travel and/or build a location independent lifestyle?

As I started traveling I found myself thrust into new environments, immersed in entirely new cultures, hearing the English language spoken with an unfamiliar accent; and I realized this feeling of new discovery was what I wanted out of life.

I quickly learned that it’s a completely different experience to journey to the Pyramids of Giza than to watch it on a History Channel documentary. It’s a completely different emotion to watch the sunset over the African Plains while on safari than it is to see someone else’s photo and think “wow!”

Mapping Megan volunteering in Africa

What struggles did you face when deciding to leave the security of your old life behind (emotionally, financially, relationally, etc)?

One of the biggest sacrifices for me in traveling so much / full time, is that you lose touch with a lot of friends and family, and you miss big milestones like weddings, birthdays, events etc. Technology these days is fabulous, because you can video chat, message instantly etc, so it makes staying in touch lot easier. But Skyping in to meet a new nephew isn’t the same as actually being there with them. 

See also: Why I Kissed My Promising Career Goodbye to Travel the World (And Don’t Regret It)

How did you overcome those struggles? 

Technology – when I started traveling in 2007 I had an international phone card, and I spent a lot of time and money on postcards, and emails home. Nowadays, you can video chat for free through Facebook and Skype, so it’s a lot easier to maintain relationships and keep up with your loved one’s lives.

How have you supported yourself financially throughout your journey?

When I started traveling I wasn’t earning money online, so I was working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, while studying at university, so that I could afford to travel every semester break. I would work from 6am – 12 pm, go to uni classes (or take them online), and then go to another shift from 3 pm – 11 pm, sometimes work overnight shifts.

Looking back it was insane, and I was operating off maybe 5 hours of sleep for about 5 years straight, but it wasn’t a burden at the time, it was how I had chosen to prioritize my life. 

After I graduated from university I started putting that same time and energy into building a career online, and since then I’ve been fortunate to have built it up to the point where I have a sustainable and successful location independent business that allows me to travel all the time. 

See also: 9 Simple Money-Saving Hacks to Boost Your Travel Fund (Without Giving Up What You Love)

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How has your life improved since quitting your “normal” job?

Having the freedom and flexibility to work for yourself, and work from any location as long as I have a laptop, has made a huge difference to my life.

I have complete control over the vision for my business, over which jobs I accept, which I don’t, and I can take up travel opportunities whenever they might arise. I get to wake up every day and spend time on projects that I’m passionate about, which is huge – it doesn’t feel like work when you genuinely love what you do. 

Mapping Megan working on laptop

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Building an online business is a lot of work, though I’ve never really struggled with staying motivated and over-committing myself to something; I think one of the biggest challenges as a digital content creator is around being taken seriously; it’s still a very non traditional career choice, and we battle against a general lack of understanding, and sometimes even a lack of respect for our profession.

People often think of blogging as just a hobby, so it’s always a goal to educate people that what we do as content creators is actually a lot of work, requires a lot of skill, and that content creation is a professional service that companies and advertisers shouldn’t expect us to perform for free.

Many content creators actually work 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week to keep up with the demands of running a successful business and building a sustainable online career from scratch. While many publishing platforms have full teams behind them to manage content creation, marketing, business strategy, web design, partnerships, accounting, etc—self-employed content creators do ALL of this themselves.

You can see why it’s frustrating when we’re not taken seriously, regardless of how successful the business might be.

What’s one thing you know now that you wish you would’ve known first starting out on your adventure?

That blogging and online content creation can be a viable and sustainable career option! When I started traveling in 2007 I ran a hobby blog just for the fun of writing, and as a sort of diary to preserve my memories. It wasn’t until 2013 that I realized people were actually making money doing this! So I definitely would have transitioned from hobby blog to professional brand a lot sooner if I had known about the possibilities. 

See also: Best Travel Jobs: 107 Killer Ways to Make Money Traveling

Mapping Megan taking photos of Iceland

Anything you would’ve done differently?

Travel sooner! I would have loved to have taken a year abroad in High School. One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned through traveling is that we rarely regret the chances we took, even if they failed. We only really ever regret the missed opportunities and things we didn’t do.

⚠️HOLD UP! Before you peace out to explore the world—have you thought about travel insurance? If not, let me tell you a little story…⚠️

What one piece of advice would you give readers thinking about leaving behind the 9-to-5 to build a location independent lifestyle?

Do it! One of the biggest things that prevents people from taking the chance on living their dreams is fear; fear of leaving a secure lifestyle for something completely unknown.

But when you’re 90 years old and looking back on your life, as I said, you’re only ever going to regret the missed opportunities, and the things you didn’t do. Even if you fail, or you succeed but you decide the lifestyle isn’t for you – you had the courage to give it a go.

Otherwise you’ll live the rest of your life hung up on wondering ‘what if’ – and that’s no way to live. 

Need an extra dose of inspiration? Check out this huge list of best adventure quotes!

Mapping Megan skydiving

Any final words of wisdom?

Reality is negotiable. I learned this very early on. Have conviction in what you want out of life, and make it happen. Don’t just sit there and want for it to happen, don’t just wish for it to happen, actually go out and MAKE it happen.  

***Do you have a successful “escape the rat race” story? Wanna be featured in an upcoming case study? Shoot me an email for more information.***

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