*This is a guest post by Thalia-Maria Tourikis

I’ve always been a big believer in freedom, setting your own rules and breaking free of societal expectations. But it took me a while to build up enough self-belief and courage to go after the life I wanted to create for myself. During my twenties, I was feeling mentally beat up by a toxic job and unhealthy lifestyle. To an outsider, my life was glamorous, my job was well-paid and my social life was booming. But my reality was burnout, unfulfillment, and partying every weekend to escape it all.

When my well-being hit an all-time low at 27, I finally listened to my gut, quit my soul-sucking job and began travelling the world. (First stop → Sri Lanka!) I spent 5 months solo travelling across Southeast Asia and absolutely fell in love with life away from a cubicle.

Travelling soon became my therapy and I didn’t want it to end.

The thought of going back to a job where travelling wasn’t an option made me feel mentally and physically sick. I couldn’t imagine the thought of applying for jobs and going back to my old life of commuting for an hour across London to sit behind a desk. So I went down the remote work path as it allowed me to travel while earning an income. I started out as a TEFL teacher living and working in Arequipa, Peru before fully transitioning into online teaching. I now run a popular self-care blog and get to coach women on a 1:1 basis who also want to quit their unfulfilling jobs and travel the world.

Long story short — I get to wake up to my dream life every single day. But none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t left my comfort zone, embraced change and surrendered to the unknown.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learnt from travelling full-time:

(And no using packing cubes to save luggage space isn’t one of them.)

1 | There’s more to life than partying

If you’d told me in my mid-twenties that a day would come when I didn’t want to party anymore, I probably would have laughed in your face. I loved to party (mainly as an escape from my 9 to 5 life) and without fail, would unwind at the end of the day with a bottle of wine. But when I went on that first solo trip, I realised there was more to life than living for the weekends and getting drunk at your best friend’s house. I no longer felt the need to drown my sorrows in alcohol.

I discovered a whole new world of experiences that were far more fulfilling than a night out. From climbing Everest Base Camp to spending a weekend on a remote island with zero electricity, I realised that the moments I’d remember on my deathbed weren’t the hilarious nights I had while partying but the adventures I made while travelling. Being a digital nomad has taught me that freedom and adventure give me the happiness and satisfaction that no party ever could.


2 | Fulfilment doesn’t come from material things

When I lived in London, I had a toxic obsession with spending loads of money on clothes I didn’t need. I believed owning expensive things would make me feel fulfilled and successful. I also had low self-esteem and believed these material things would give me the confidence I needed to feel validated. Of course, they never actually did.

What I’ve learnt since travelling full-time is that true fulfilment doesn’t come from having loads of stuff. It comes from adventure, being authentic, making memories and having a sense of purpose. I now implement minimalism. As a digital nomad, it makes sense for me to only have one big backpack for clothes and one small backpack for valuables. It does at times get a little frustrating knowing I don’t have a wardrobe full of clothes to choose from but it makes my life easier.

Freedom doesn’t always mean being location-independent. It can also mean being material-independent. To not be tied down to pointless things or have an emotional attachment to possessions. It also means being free of external validation.

Your sense of self-worth can only ever come from you. So don’t look to others to give that to you.


3 | The world isn’t meant to be explored within a week

My pet peeve is being asked, “How many countries have you been to?”


Because travel shouldn’t just be a number or a list of countries you visit. Travel should evoke an emotion. It should leave a lasting impression and impact your soul. Travelling full-time has shown me the beauty of that. Since I quit my toxic job in 2017, travel has become my self-care. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, cultivates growth and self-discovery, sparks my creativity and leaves me feeling inspired. But with the excessive need for everything to be “Insta-grammable,” I can’t help but feel travel has become a popularity contest.

We see influencer after influencer post unrealistic pictures of the same view while the average traveller tries to replicate this false perfection. Entire countries and cultures are being reduced to tourist attractions, must-sees and “Insta-worthy” hotspots that can be done on a 7-day tour. You find yourself rushing from landmark to landmark, museum to museum, restaurant to restaurant, etc, without fully reflecting and making sense of your experiences.

My way is to ignore these pressures and practice slow travel. Take your time and explore somewhere new at your own pace. You don’t need to experience a country the same way someone else does. Get off the well-known path and create your own journey. When you go slow and stay longer in a destination, you can have a richer, more meaningful experience.

HOT TIP I understand, that staying in a destination for a long period of time is not realistic for everyone. So if you do find yourself somewhere for just a few days, adopt slow travel.

Ditch the Lonely Planet guide, wander everywhere and hang out in the local places.


4 | Mindset matters

I believe mindset is the foundation for optimising your entire life. Without the support of a resilient and positive mindset, you will simply crumble under the pressure of the challenges that come up when travelling. Or the comments made by those back at home. Cultivating a growth mindset has been the most important part of my journey. I wouldn’t be here* if I hadn’t worked internally on my mindset for the last 6 years. (By here, I mean nomading around Southeast Asia as I write this.)

During my twenties, I had zero self-belief. I had low self-esteem and would turn to alcohol to give me the confidence I needed to feel validated. As mentioned above, I’d spend thousands of dollars on clothes because I believed material possessions would make me feel fulfilled. But those things only made me feel worse about myself. It was only when I stopped trying to impress others and started to lean into my true self, that things finally changed for me. I now no longer look for external validation and instead prioritise self-love and inner acceptance.

Working on my mindset was the key. It gave me the self-belief I needed to go after my wildest dreams. So no matter how tempting it is to suddenly quit your 9 to 5 and travel the world, you need to do the inner mindset work first. Because let me tell you, going against the norm is not as easy as it looks. You need to have the clarity and confidence it takes to stop questioning whether you’re on the right path or not. You need to have the courage and resilience it takes to tackle any obstacles or setbacks that come your way. You need to have the belief in yourself to make it happen. So do not skip this step!


5 | You’re more than capable of your wildest dreams

When I told a colleague back in 2017 that I was quitting my job to travel the world, the response I got was, “You’ll be back in 2 weeks.”

I’m not going to lie, the comment disheartened me. It was frustrating that this was what she believed. And it was annoying that a part of me agreed with her. But there was no way I was going to let someone else’s belief hold me back from my dreams. Those estimated 2 weeks turned into 5 months in Southeast Asia and another 12 months in South America.

I’ve since built myself a digital nomad lifestyle and have been travelling full-time since October 2021. Every challenge I’ve faced to get me to this point in my life has proven that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. The thing I’ve learnt in all of this — you’re 100% capable of going after your wildest dreams. You just have to have unshakable belief in yourself. (Don’t skip the inner mindset work kids.)

Self-doubt and negative comments can hold us back but the only real limits are the ones we place on ourselves. If you wholeheartedly believe in yourself and stay focused on your why then you are better equipped to handle these objections.

Remember, the only person who needs to recognise your greatness is you.

Do what makes you feel alive and never settle for anything less.

You are more than capable of far more than you realise.

Final thoughts

Quitting my toxic 9 to 5 and travelling the world remains the best thing I ever did. Because it changed my life.

If I hadn’t ignored all the naysayers and gone with my gut then I’d most likely still be living a life I wasn’t happy with.

And that has been the greatest lesson. Travelling has shown me that I don’t value climbing the corporate ladder, owning my own house or living up to societal expectations.

I’ve learnt that what I do value is creating a life on my own terms — one that supports my need for freedom, adventure and creativity. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. If you’ve been wanting to travel for a while but keep holding yourself back out of fear or judgment, this is your sign to just do it. Stop waiting for the “perfect” time because it doesn’t exist. Start taking control of your needs and turn your dream life into your real life.



Meet the writer:

Hey, it’s Thalia — Certified Health Coach, Mentor, Blogger and Nomad.

I’m a big believer in freedom, setting your own rules and breaking free of societal expectations.

In 2017, I quit my toxic job to build a happier, healthier life and have been travelling the world ever since. I’ve designed a life that aligns with my core values, meaning I get to wake up to my wildest dreams every single day. I’m now on a mission to help you do the same.

For daily(ish) self-care tips you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest 

And for a deeper dive into creating a life you love, head over to my blog