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The Story of Brooke vs. the World

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With almost four years of content filling the pages of this weblog, it’s not uncommon for new visitors to not really understand where and how this all started. It would take quite some time for somebody to go back through all the drivel, but it also takes a bit of time to answer the emails. The best way to deal with this is to create a post recapping the evolution of Brooke vs. the World.

The beginnings.

I had an idea that turned into an obsession. Why wait to see the world? Why spend a few weeks here and there when I could get more travel for my money when taken in bulk?

  • I tested the waters by throwing out the idea here and there, trying to see the response I would get to long-term travel.
  • I joined BootsnAll to be a part of a community of like-minded people.
  • I started the first version of my website, made with Frontpage, to document the journey.
  • I read as many travel blogs as possible in order to research travel plans.
  • I saved and penny-pinched as much as I could.

Saving money was a challenge, but it was also fun. It was quite rewarding to look at my numbers and see how far I had come along. The main tip I could give is to first take a hard look at how much money you spend each week or month, and where exactly that money is going. Then, if there is anything you can manage to do without, simply stop making it a part of your life. As cliche as it may sound, not spending that $5 on a Starbucks coffee everyday can really go a long way in some countries, even getting you a full hour of one-on-one Russian lessons in Central Asia.

Since I knew I wanted to see anything and everything, I basically decided to keep it all a bit open-ended. I set a money goal instead that would give me enough leeway to be flexible on the road.

  • I worked a full-time job, a bit of overtime, and an evening job as a waitress for a while.
  • I sold my belongings on eBay, Amazon and Craigslist.
  • I got a gazillion vaccinations, and started early at that.
  • I became extremely burned out at work.
  • In a little over 1.5 years, I saved up around $23k.
  • On a whim, I booked a month-long archaeological dig in Spain.
  • I quit my job, and headed off!

The travels.

  • I spent a month on the island of Menorca, Spain unearthing a Roman fort and meeting some great people.
  • I came home for the holidays.
  • I headed to Guatemala for 2 months, studied Spanish for nearly a month of that, and managed to touch ground in Mexico and Honduras in the process.
  • I came home for 3 weeks.
  • I headed off to Poland for 2 weeks, Ukraine for 1 week, and then off to my big adventure in Central Asia.
  • I studied Russian in Kyrgyzstan for around 5 months and made a couple of stops over in Kazakhstan as well.
  • I came home for 1 month.
  • I headed back to Kazakhstan, but found out I got a job teaching English in Ukraine.
  • I headed over to the Baltic countries for about 6 weeks, killing time while waiting for my teaching job to begin.
  • I met my Aussie boyfriend in Latvia, but had to part ways when heading to Ukraine.
  • I taught in the Ukrainian winter, lasting only 5 months there.
  • I headed to Australia to work and holiday (but mainly work).

My life in Australia and beyond.

I’ve been in Sydney for over a year now, and it has been a long ride for sure. I’ve worked a few different jobs, starting with teaching English virtually to kids in Korea. I’ve lived at four different locations around the city, but have now been at my current apartment for 10 months at the time of writing this, which is probably the longest I have stayed put ANYWHERE in the past 8 years of my life.

I have been able to stay and work here with two separate visas. The first was a sponsored work visa for 4 months from Bunac. I then left the country last July to get the official “Work and Holiday” visa for Americans. I spent about 10 days on the north island of New Zealand while waiting for it to process. I will have to leave Australia again this coming July [to get a tourist visa (ETA) for Oz], hopefully to the south island this time if I can find a flight I am happy with. Then, it is back to Australia, where I can start thinking about a partner visa with my boyfriend.

Besides New Zealand, I have some upcoming travels planned for within Australia, and will hopefully book up some more soon. You’ll be able to read about it over at WhyGo Australia. I also dream of the day I get to take Patrick to America and show him my neck of the woods, or the day I get to visit my friend and his new hostel in Vilnius, or the day that I get to start learning another language in a distant land.

It has been a weird ride, but good in so many ways. Thank you to everyone that reads, follows, comments, tweets and links to this site. Throughout all the changes in the past few years, blogging and sharing has been a constant for me.

**Updated December 2011**
So MUCH has happened in my world since posting this story, so I feel it necessary to properly update the post. Since writing:

Stay tuned…

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29 Responses to The Story of Brooke vs. the World

  1. Stephanie May 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Aww I love hearing other peoples travel stories. Nice to have yours summed up – I knew you’d done some really cool things but I wasn’t clear on the order. I really hope we get a chance to hang out when I’m in Australia in November!

  2. Ian [EagerExistence] May 28, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks for the “about Brooke” update. You’re right, for people who’ve stumbled across your blog recently, it is quite difficult to look through 4 years of posts.

    Thank God for plugins that show similar content, tag clouds, featured/popular posts, and recycling tweets on twitter.

  3. Adam May 28, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Awesome. I remember when my wife and I very first started planning our RTW over 3 years ago and going to boots and seeing you posting everywhere. It seems like so long ago we were following your saving plan and your extra jobs (was it Denny’s if I remember correctly?) and your strategy. Yours was one of the very first blogs we were following when trying to figure out how in the hell we were going to pull this off. Congratulations on all the trips and experiences you’ve had. I’m glad I get to follow your new adventures now.

    • Brooke May 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

      Yes, it was Denny’s! It’s funny how we remember things like that. Life has changed a lot since then for sure. Thanks so much for following 🙂

  4. Matt May 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for bringing us up to speed Brooke. Excited to follow your journeys as the come. Look us up if you get to the South Island anytime soon. Cheers!

  5. The Dame May 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    Wow Brooke! Youve done so much! I wish I could meet a good Aussie guy so I can stay in the country but after two years there, Im losing hope!

    • Brooke May 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

      Apparently the trick is to meet one outside of the country! I know, not logical, but that seems to be the trend I’m finding 😉

  6. JoAnna May 29, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    Wow! What an awesome and inspiring story.

    I only recently started following your blog when we began working on the WhyGo sites, so I didn’t know your background at all. It sounds like you’re happy in Australia, though, which is great, and at least you get the chance to travel in and around a new country as well as little jaunts to distant lands every now and again.

    Happy travels!

  7. Bethany May 29, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    This is so cute Brooke! You know what is funny? Just yesterday Randy and I were rehashing the “how we got to this point” convo and can you believe it’s been about 3.5 years in the making? It’s crazy. We were talking about all of these crazy things that have happened in between and how everything started to begin with. Of course your name came up! I can’t wait to get on the road this summer and finally get on with this crazy adventure.

  8. Maggie May 29, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    That’s remarkable — and, as someone about to start my rtw travels, it’s also inspirational. I’m really happy that there are blogs like this to remind me that I’m not crazy and to show me that there are like-minded people out there. Thanks for doing what you do.

    Maybe you’ll still be in Australia when I come through in June 2011!

  9. brian May 30, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Everyone has such an interesting back story of how they got traveling and/or living abroad. Yours is no different. Above it all if you’re happy, it will translate into the blog. Your longevity speaks to that. Glad to get to know you a little better.

  10. Shannon OD May 30, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    So nice to know how it all started and where you are headed! And I am hugely impressed by your ability to sock away all of that cash to start your trip and travels. 🙂

  11. Candice June 1, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    It’s nice to read a little more personal info about yourself, Brooke! 🙂 You’re an inspiration, for sure.

  12. Josh | The Wander Project June 2, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    I really enjoyed this post, Brooke. I love reading people’s “How I Make This Work” stories.

  13. Griffin Stewart June 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Enjoyed reading about your journey. I was wondering what company you went through to teach kids virtually in Korea. Sounds like a really cool opportunity. I am currently teaching kids in Korea live and in person, but would love to move to a more location independent type of teaching;-)

    • Brooke June 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      The company I worked for teaching Korean kids went under. Bad international management in Sydney. Even so, I still had to go to an office every day to work… not from home. You can always try using EduFire to get students for virtual classes.

  14. Elizabeth August 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    That was a very inspiring story.
    The only thing stopping me is, I don’t want to travel alone. Silly haha.
    I don’t know where to begin either. Any advice?
    thanks 🙂

  15. inspiredworlds July 5, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    hey amazing travel story!

    making me want to travel again overseas!

  16. Katina August 15, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Uh, WOW. What a life you’ve led! I live in Adelaide and I’ve just come back from a 15-week Europe trip, my second there in a year – and I wish I’d known about you before I’d left. Either time! My semi-regular blog is pretty average (being a journalist I’ll reluctantly admit to that), but this has knocked me over the head and scolded me for not sharing (all) my cool stories in more detail and creating a travel-focused site already. Thankyou, I’ll be following your future endeavours on here as I try to pursue my own physically and in writing. All the best 🙂

  17. Amy (Gloriously Dismal) September 29, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    I hope my story will resemble yours one day.. what a journey you’ve been on!

  18. Laura October 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    I am so glad you have this, I’ve spent easily over an hour reading your posts & thinking….”but where did it all start” and another question that few answer, “yes, but how much did you set aside?”….

    Thank you. 🙂

    • Brooke October 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by and reading, Laura! 🙂 If you have any other questions, be sure to drop me an email.

  19. Brittney March 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    This is great, I just stumbled across your site and this really summed everything up so well!
    I hail from Australia, but currently I’m on a round the world trip with my family, and I’m looking forward to reading your posts about Spain and Russia, where we’re headed later this year.

    Looking forward to following whatever adventures you have next (:

    • Brooke March 27, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      With your family… that is amazing! Where you off to?

      • Brittney March 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

        So far we’ve spent about two months in South-East Asia, and we’re currently in Vietnam. After this we’re spending 3 months in America, then 3 months in Europe, and then another 3 months in America – our aim is to do all 50 states!

  20. Missy January 17, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    Hi Brooke,
    What travels have you done through Vic?? If you haven’t already, you should get down here and see the amazing sites we have and things to do!!
    Missy

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