Lulu Escapes Meets: the Lovely Leah of The Sweetest Way
I recently discovered Leah's blog The Sweetest Way as we had both collaborated on a couple of blog posts with TripAdvisor. I was instantly impressed by her website and especially by the fact that she has managed to find the perfect lifestyle for herself, which she calls location independent lifestyle.
You will find out more about this through the interview but basically Leah has managed to live and travel wherever she wants and whenever she wants whilst earning a living with her blog. Many travel bloggers have similar aspirations so I really advise you to take the time and read her blog posts on this subject. She also gives lots of advice on how to start a blog and how to really make it work.
What's the first trip that you can remember that really made you want to explore the world?
Just after graduating from college in 2009, one of my best friends and I took a trip to Australia for three weeks. It was my first time overseas, and as a direct result of that experience I became absolutely, irrevocably hooked on international travel.
I wouldn’t have another chance to leave the country for another two years after that, but my itchy feet never went away during that time and I’m surprised I didn’t just hop on a plane with a one-way ticket to somewhere tropical.
When did you decide to turn your passion for travelling into you day-to-day job?
It wasn’t until the fall of 2013 that I discovered that it was actually possible to travel and work at the same time. By that point, I had already lived abroad for 1.5 years and was a few months into a backpacking trip through South America.
That December, I started my travel blog with no idea how it could ever become a business (and no real intention of doing so-I just wanted to write). Six months or so later, I decided to give blogging a real chance because I realized that building a location independent lifestyle was my ultimate goal.
You're an advocate for a location independent lifestyle on your website - Do you think this is made for every passionate traveler?
Not necessarily. I think it’s a very individual thing whether you want to become location independent or not. It takes a special kind of personality and a willingness to endure some challenges that don’t exist when you’re rooted in one place.
For me, location independence is about so much more than traveling. It’s about being able to set my own schedule from day to day and to feel good about how I’m spending my time and energy. It’s also about pursuing what makes me happy, and sometimes that means traveling and sometimes it means staying put.
For some people, not having roots might seem like a very daunting prospect. As I mentioned, there are definitely challenges to traveling all the time, such as not spending time with your loved ones or having to constantly search for decent WiFi so you can get your work done. Not all travelers will find that the sacrifices are worth their while.
Do you miss not being based somewhere for a long period of time and to have a place to call home?
I really did miss not having a home base, which is why this year I decided to move back to my home state of Washington. After 5 years of living a fairly nomadic lifestyle where I moved every couple of months, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I missed having a community and a close circle of friends. I missed having a routine and a bed of my own to lay my head every night.
But even though I won’t be traveling as often anymore and I have a home base, I am still living a location independent lifestyle because my work is 100% online.
Where are you originally from? Do you go back to your native country often?
I’m originally from Washington State in the Pacific Northwest (sometimes lovingly referred to as the Upper Left USA). I grew up in a small farming community in the dry part of the state (the wine region!).
In the last few years, I’ve been coming back to Washington for longer and longer chunks of time, because I realized that family and the people I love are the most important things in life and I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. I would live here for maybe three months at a time before heading out to a new international destination.
And as I mentioned above, I’m now here to stay!
What's the best part about living wherever you want?
I think the coolest thing about being location independent is that the world is and always will be my oyster. Anytime I feel like exploring, that option is available to me. Whether I want to pop over to another city for a few days or spend six months living in a tropical beach town, I can do it. And I’m flexible enough that I can work around my friends’ schedules if I ever want a travel companion.
What has been your hardest struggle with your blog and getting to where you are today?
Oh man, SELF DOUBT has been, by far, the biggest thing I’ve had to struggle with over the years.
This entrepreneurial/blogging journey is not one for the faint of heart, because it’s a goddamn rollercoaster of emotions. One day you’re riding a high, and the next day you’re being scraped from rock bottom by your support system because you feel like there’s no point in getting back in the saddle.
I’m still learning as I go every single day, and failing at something new every single day, and it’s been one of the most humbling experiences of my entire life.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be?
If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I would stay put right here in central Washington. As cheesy as this might sound, I’ve never in my life been so grateful to be exactly where I am.
Do you tend to travel solo?
I traveled solo for the large majority of the last five years, and it is usually my preference. I just like the freedom to do what I want and on my own schedule without checking in with someone else or a group of people. I recently took a trip with my mom, though, and it was awesome! And I’ll be traveling a lot with my boyfriend in the future as well.
What do you find is the most rewarding part of having a blog?
There are so many rewarding parts of blogging, like meeting and connecting with so many like-minded people around the world. That’s probably my favorite thing-I’ve made some amazing friends through this blog.
What's your favourite hobby when you're not travelling, taking photos and writing on your blog?
I love to do yoga, and I love to read. Lately those are my favorite hobbies when I’m not traveling or working on the blog.
Which country in the world has impressed you the most?
Greece, for so many reasons! The history is absolutely fascinating and there is such diverse natural beauty. Not to mention the food is amazing and the Greek people just have the kindest hearts! I’ve been to Greece twice now and I would go back for a third visit in a heartbeat.