This column, “Escape Artist,” is a series about folks who have escaped. More importantly, this biweekly column is for those thinking about trading in their 9-to-5, leg-shackled-to-the-desk existences to forge their own way. The brave outliers featured in this collection of interviews are the digital nomads, online entrepreneurs and lifestyle trendsetters who decided it was time to say to hell with the humdrum and grab life by the roots.
Hannah and Adam Lukaszewicz run Getting Stamped, a lifestyle blog that features travel guides, travel photography and tales about nomadic travel. The married couple has traveled nonstop since 2013 to more than 60 countries. Adam, a mechanical engineer, takes the photos and writes the blogs for the site. Hannah, a tax auditor, runs the site’s social media feeds and is the voice of Getting Stamped. In 2016, they look forward to traveling to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The “escape the 9-to-5” mentality seems to be popular now. What are your impressions?
Hannah Lukaszewicz Our generation tends to think differently than previous generations. We are not content working our lives away to make a big company richer. We were raised with the internet, and we know there are more ways to make money than the traditional 9-to-5 job. In today’s world, most jobs can be done from anywhere in the world, so there is no reason why you have to be in a cubicle.
What was the “aha” moment that sparked ongoing travel for you two in 2013?
HL Our “aha” moment happened while we were in Belize two months before our wedding in 2012. We met another couple on the ferry that quit their jobs and sold their home to travel the world. After the ferry ride, we thought they were a little crazy and said we could never do that. Later that week, we ran into them again on the street and had another long conversation. Once we returned home, we started researching and found tons of travel blogs with people traveling the world full time. We realized with some planning and savings we could take our own trip around the world.
How does your life now compare to before with the “American Dream,” as you put it?
HL We are our own bosses. We set our own hours and can work from anywhere in the world. The “American Dream” is a pretty picture, but it’s a little too boring. Now when we tell people what we do, their eyes get wide and they usually say we have the best jobs on the planet. With freedom comes new stress, such as not having a paycheck waiting for you every Friday, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What inspired you to start blogging and doing travel photography, and how did you first build a following?
HL We started blogging to inspire others in the way our favorite blogs inspired us. We wanted to convince the next generation of travelers to get out and see the world. Adam has always been interested in photography, but it wasn’t until we were on the road that he focused on it. Photography and blogging go hand-in-hand, and without good photos we wouldn’t have grown the following that we have. Growing a following is tough, and you need to consistently post great stuff on every platform you can.
Why did you decide to focus on the “Getting Stamped” idea and brand?
HL We wanted to focus on experiences and destinations that still have that “something special.” With the internet and easy access to information, the world is changing at its most rapid pace in history. As great as that sounds, cultures are changing, people are changing, and destinations are changing. We wanted to seek out the rare places in the world that stir our sense of adventure. Having the passport stamp refers to a time when travel had a more authentic feel. We truly believe you learn so much with every new stamp in your passport.
Do you have a favorite travel spot you’d like to share with Paste readers?
HL Our favorite travel spot in the world is a tiny island in Thailand 60 kilometers from the mainland in the Andaman Sea. Not many people have been to — or even heard of — the island of Koh Lipe. It’s not the easiest island to visit, but that’s part of the reason why we love it so much. Koh Lipe has gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise water, amazing diving, friendly locals, a great beach vibe and tasty southern Thai food.
The “dream job” and “travel blogging” mentality is becoming more popular. Does the market seem saturated, and how do you stay connected with your followers?
HL There definitely are a ton of travel bloggers out there and more travel blogs popping up daily. What sets us apart is our travel photography and that we are a married couple. Many people start blogs without realizing how much work is involved. Instead, they want free trips and instant fame. Although it’s still possible to start a new blog and build it into a successful business, it takes work and great content. We interact with our followers daily on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We really love Snapchat as a way to stay connected with our followers — they literally travel along with us 10 seconds at a time.
What’s one tip you have for readers who want to live a life like yours?
HL It’s not as difficult as most people think, and it doesn’t take as much money as they think either. When we were in the first stages of planning our new life, we developed a budget every month. We figured out how much money we needed to support our lifestyle and saved for that goal. If you don’t want to save a ton of money before you travel, see if your current job field has any remote possibilities. We have a web design business at one8web.com and schedule Skype calls with our clients. There are countless ways to make money while traveling.
What are you most excited to focus on in 2016?
HL You’re going to see more travel videos and lifestyle blogs on Getting Stamped. We have amazing content to share from our travels so far and still have some wicked travel destinations lined up for the rest of 2016.
Carolyn Crist is a freelance journalist based in Georgia. She writes about travel, health and business for regional and national publications.