TAMPA (FOX 13) - Do you dream of traveling full time? It’s not as hard as you think as long as you make a plan and find your voice.
We caught up with two very different types of travelers to find out how they're funding their treks around the world.
THE ‘RETIRED TODDLERS’
A Tampa couple quit their day jobs and took off to see the world with their toddlers front and center, building a YouTube channel and social media following as they go.
Henley, only 3, and her 2-year-old brother Jagger are traveling the world with their parents, Jake and Michelle Schomp.
"Our first stop on our trip is Vancouver. Oh, it’s so far away!" Henley announces.
To fund their year abroad, the Schomp family says they worked hard and saved harder -- downsizing to one vehicle, earning extra money doing side projects like online consulting, selling off belongings, and eventually their whole house.
When asked, "Do you have a house?” Henley proudly said, “Oh, I do not. I just travel!"
VISITING EVERY COUNTRY
But how hard is it to "just travel" for a living? We caught up with youngest American to visit every country in the world on a layover in Tampa to find out.
“The way I always look at it, if you look at your passion -- and travel is certainly one of my passions -- you can turn it into a moneymaker. You never have to work a day of your life,” offered Lee Abbamonte.
Abbamonte gets paid to fly, cruise, and stay at fancy hotels all around the world, and write about his experiences.
“Basically, from my website, I turned that into a social media gig, a television gig, and brand partnership. So I work with some of the largest brands in the world – hotels, airlines, destinations, et cetera -- and I partner with them.”
He partners with companies like Allianz travel insurance, essentially as a brand ambassador, sharing the importance of getting insurance on social media and in TV appearances.
“You have to have some kind of name, so to speak,” he continued. “Give people a reason to follow you.”
For him, that reason is his world record for world travel. But he didn’t set out to become the youngest American to visit every country in the world.
“No, it just kind of happened along the way,” he explained. “I liked traveling, it was a hobby. And when I was halfway there, I saw light at the end of the tunnel and thought ‘I'm gonna go for this!’ I never actually thought I could make it into a job or make money off of it.”
FIND YOUR VOICE
But for the rest of us, you need to find your niche. Is it adventure vacations? Travel on a budget? Dog-friendly trips?
“If you're kinda a new kid on the block, what's your credibility with a following? That helps, but you have to become an expert in something like why should people listen to you,” Abbamonte suggested.
That's exactly what Retired Toddlers is aiming to do -- becoming go-to experts in how to take big trips with little kids.
Jake Schomp says they’re not picking trips because of sponsorships at this point, but rather based on what’s best for their families. So they were pleasantly surprised to get interest from companies.
“We’ve had some brands be really supportive of our journey, which was very encouraging. We've found that if we stay loyal to the brands we love, they tend to find us.”
The takeaway? Living the dream starts by realistically saving ahead of time.
“It's crazy how much we saved by not living our normal life in Tampa. Like, we don't have a mortgage payment, no cable, no car insurance; nothing like that,” Schomp said.
“Yeah, and when we're traveling, we just don't spend as much on things,” added his wife, joking that the last thing they want is heavier bags.
The bottom line making your brand unique is brand-partnership gold.