When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

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Liebster Award: My First Liebster Award 

Dear Travel Diary,

It’s been a whirlwind of the past month getting settled back into Phoenix, AZ, so that Chris and I can develop a homebase and build up our businesses. Let me tell you – starting your own company can be one of the most rewarding things ever, but certainly no walk in the park! Everyday is a grind and at the end of the day you realize you have a whole new list to tackle.  But I’m so happy to be a #girlboss and create something of my own!

RELATED: Why We Decided to Stop Traveling Halfway Into Our Adventure Year

Several weeks ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Award (not to be confused with Lobster Award… stop autocorrecting me, Siri!) from the fantastic sister bloggers, Diane and Hope, over at MVMT Blog. Their blog is really informative for those of you that are a full-time employee or a full-time student scratching your head and wondering how you can travel the world without quitting or dropping out. It’s also for those who have the travel bug, period. By the end of 2017, they will have traveled to a total of 47+ countries. Amazing, right?! You can find their blog here or check out their Instagram here for visual inspiration.

Liebster Award Nominee

So, what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award was started back in 2011 as an online-only award given to bloggers by bloggers. “Liebster” in German means “dearest”. I feel honored to be nominated for such a thing. Over the past 6 months I have been impressed at how amazing the travel blog community is. Everyone is ultra supportive and helpful providing direction and advice. Thanks, y’all for being awesome. And, as always, big thanks to my readers for following along on the journey! I probably wouldn’t be blogging if it weren’t for you. Instead, I would be journaling for my own eyes to read, and not sharing is no fun! So, seriously, if you’re reading this, thank you. *hug!

Liebster Award Nominee

The first photo I ever took for happynfull! 🙂 Fitting it would be after a trip to McDonald's.

I started blogging on happynfull about 6 months ago, as my fiancé Chris and I quit our jobs to travel the world. I have always been a frugal person – my momma raised me right – and I get a rush of excitement whenever I snag awesome deals. I’m the type of person to search for online coupon codes before checking out any cart (BTW, have you downloaded the Google Chrome extension Honey? It’s automated and amazing!). I’m also the person who Google searches all products to make sure there isn’t a cheaper option online. My friends describe me as a big foodie and often ask me for recommendations on the best $ and $$ sign restaurants.

When Chris asked me how I came up with the name happynfull, I replied, “It’s because I want to be happy and full in every sense I can… especially in my belly and wallet!”

Here are my answers to Diane and Hope’s Questions:

Why did you decide to become a travel blogger?

When I announced I was quitting my job to travel the world #digitalnomad style, many of my friends asked for updates. I also get a lot of questions like, “Where should I eat when I visit Portland?” and “Do you have any recommendations on where to stay or go on my next vacation?” So instead of repeating myself, I figured I would have a one-stop source on my blog. It’s a lot more helpful, too, because in real life or text messages I’m not hyperlinking anything I’m saying. Through this blog, every adventurer can have a direct resource to learn more and I can capture my best recommendations and memories while they are fresh in my mind.

Liebster Award Nomination

In Berlin, this is the longest art wall in the world!

Is blogging your full time job, or do you work a full time job on the side?

I’m fortunate to start my own career coaching business slash career blog slash soon-to-be e-courses on everything career related for millennials seeking a career transition. The best part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom it allows you in your schedule. This allows me to take longer trips, travel on weekdays, and work anywhere with a laptop and reliable wi-fi connection.

Previously, I had worked in recruiting and human resources for 6 years post-college, though I have really been working since 12 (my parents owned a Baskin Robbins and multiple Chinese restaurants… I know, ahem, child labor laws?). And throughout high school and college, I held random part-time jobs as an optometrist technician, marketing surveyor, accounts payable rep, and law firm clerk. I can’t believe I have been working for a total of 17 years already! 

Where did you receive your biggest cultural shock?

Hands down, Montreal. We had just taken the train from Seattle to Vancouver, and I felt like I was still in America minus Canadian flags everywhere. And poutine fries. And maple syrup. But then when we flew to Montreal from Vancouver, I was in complete culture shock. How is this the same country? No one here speaks English. I can’t pronounce any of the words or read any of the street signs. Pinch me, are we not in France??

Budget Things to Do in Montreal

Beautiful view from the highest point in the city in Montreal

Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones?

I grew up learning Mandarin (Chinese) around the same time as English because my non-English speaking grandma raised me. My mom put me through Chinese school when I was in middle school, and I hated it because it meant extra homework. When I hit college, I realized how much of an advantage speaking another language fluently was and I now try to practice my Chinese any chance I get when I speak to my parents. Before college, they would speak in Chinese, and I would always reply in English. If I could go back, I would definitely have tried a lot harder. I’m trying to compensate for it now and it’s true what they say, the older you get, the more difficult it can get.

In high school, I also took Spanish because I think it’s the most beautiful language. I still try to practice on DuoLingo and I love watching any type of Spanish language drama like Narcos (though at this rate I only know how to curse someone out). Plato o plomo! Good ol’ Escobar.

What is your biggest travel fail moment?

One year, I went to China and went on a shopping spree through the black market. Knowing I had come with a full suitcase, I bought a duffel bag at the night market. It was only 99 cents! Well, you get what you pay for. When I got to the airport security to fly back home, the TSA representative threw my duffel bag onto the conveyor and it literally ripped apart. All of my knick knacks including bra and underwear flew all over the floor and conveyor belt. It was such a mess as I scrambled to pick everything up. Shit show.

Do you prefer staying in hotels, hostels, airbnb, couchsurfing, or something else?

Airbnb (use this link to get $40 credit on your first booking) all the way! OK, not to sound creepy, but I love looking inside people’s homes. Not in a stalker way, but more of a “this is really interesting to see how people live.” Plus, if I didn’t become a recruiter, I would have probably gone into interior design. I love getting ideas of how people craft their lives and their living spaces. It also is a great way to meet locals, see what it’s truly like to live in a city.

While luckily we haven’t had any bad experiences with Airbnb, I am still a fan of hotels. I like the flexibility of arriving anytime and not disturbing the home owners. There is a lot more freedom with noise levels and coming and going. On top of that, I feel the cleanliness is rarely questioned (for 3-star hotels and up). It’s also nice to have amenities like a gym or room service.

I did experience my first hostel ever when I visited San Sebastian in Spain. It was a really fun way to meet people and have instant friends to explore the city with. I highly recommend it if you’re solo traveling or in your 20’s.

Finally, TrustedHousesitters is a GREAT alternative for free housing for those that love pets.

Liebster Award

I also love Trusted Housesitters as it takes us to remote places and we get entire mansions to ourselves!

What’s the most bizarre food you’ve eaten while traveling?

While in Europe, I didn’t get to eat too much bizarre foods. In Portugal I ate their famous traditional white stew with tendon. Nothing too crazy, though. I’m used to eating all parts of an animal and not wasting ‘delicacies’.

I do love seeking out bizarre foods and love to watch Andrew Zimmerman’s show.

What is your best advice for traveling on a budget?

Make sure to check out these apps because they are free to download. Read this post if you are preparing for long term international travel. There are lots of savvy ways to save money!

One additional thing I also recommend is to look at all of your options when buying public transportation passes. There are a lot of great discounts for all-day passes, but you have to ask yourself how much you’re really going to be using the passes. Sometimes a 1-ride ticket serves you better especially in smaller walkable cities like Barcelona.

Where are you off to next?

I’m going to be going back and forth to California the next couple of days for two wedding activities and to move back some of our furniture a friend has stored away for us from when we did pack up and leave! But the next international trip will be to Iceland in April. Weee!

Liebster Award

I am nominating the following travel bloggers for the Liebster Award:

1. Noelle Across the Pond – Noelle moved ‘across the pond’ to the UK from the Washington D.C. area in 2016. On her blog, she documents helpful tips and advice on acclimating to a new culture, as well as her fun weekend trips where she reviews restaurants, hostels, and things to do in each new city she explores. Definitely check her out, especially if you plan on visiting London or any of the near by areas.

2. Swint Travel Blog – I feel like Mark has been all over the world already. He’s an aspiring travel blogger who is looking to make a career transition from the auto industry into the travel industry. With his helpful tips and guides, I imagine he will be making that switch in no time! He has a wonderful Instagram with lots of photos to make you wanderlust.

3. Miss Danni B Travels – Here’s a girl who likes adventure! As she was saving for a down payment on her house, she lost her job, and took that as a blessing in disguise. Instead of being tied down in one place, Danni writes about her life changing adventures and tips in each city she visits including Dubai and Oman.

4. The Expat Chronicles – Julie over at The Expat Chronicles is inspiring as she documents daily life as an expat. Originally from the US, she moved to Spain for two years (jealous!!), and is currently living in the Netherlands (extremely jealous!!). Check out her daily musings and sound advice for expats.

4. Maxy Travelette – Marija at Maxy Travelette is a female mountain climber who photographs her travels throughout Europe. Her photography is amazing, too, as can be seen from her Instagram gallery that inspires the inner wanderlust.

5. Java AND Junket – Having traveled to 6 continents already, Java AND Junket is a travel lover as much as a coffee lover. She shares great tips on all areas of lifestyle from ways to live without a computer to how to avoid motion sickness. 

6. Freckled and Fancy Free – Jessika is a Canadian living in England. She loves food and documents her newest finds in things to do and eat along her journey.

7. Travel the Whole Wide World – Eva over at Travel the Whole Wide World is a German PhD Student who fell in love with travel when she visited the US for the first time in 2003. Since then, she’s made multiple trips to the US, and continues to explore Europe, as well as parts of Asia. She documents her trips and gives great advice and tips along the way.

8. Madly Addictive – Sandy over at Madly Addictive creates amazing travel apparel that looks both stylish and comfortable enough to sit on a 30-hour flight with! Her blog section highlights tips like how to cope with anxiety and documents adventures across the globe!

Budget Things to Do in Vancouver

Here are my questions to the 8 travel blogger nominated above:

  1. How many countries have you visited and which is your favorite and why? (OK, so that was more like 3 questions).
  2. What do you primarily blog about?
  3. What do you love most about travel blogging?
  4. What is your number one travel tip or advice?
  5. If you could buy a ticket to go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
  6. Have you made any meaningful connections with a stranger during travel?
  7. What are top 3 items you always have in your travel bag?
  8. What are the top 3 apps you rely on when finding the best travel deals?
  9. What has travel taught you?
  10. For those who say, “I wish I could travel more,” what is your biggest advice to them?

Congratulations, y’all! 🙂

Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to read the responses from the 8 travel bloggers above and see who they nominate! Thank you again, MVMT Blog, for the nomination! I had so much fun putting this post together and I’m feeling pretty darn warm and fuzzy, too!

Categories: Travel Musings

Comments (4)

  • Diana - MVMT Blog . February 21, 2017 . Reply

    Loved reading your answers and getting to know you better, Emily! Congrats on getting situated in AZ – I still need to go visit sometime. Have an awesome time in Iceland! Can’t wait to hear how you like it. 🙂

  • Mark A Swint . February 22, 2017 . Reply


    Thank you for nominating swinttravelblog, also the questions presented are great for up and coming bloggers like myself who have a passion for travel and a passion for sharing travel with others!

    1. How many countries have you visited and which is your favorite and why? (OK, so that was more like 3 questions). I had to look at the map, and I counted slightly over (20) countries and still counting for future travel. My favorite country by far is Costa Rica! Why? The people – they are wonderful and very hospitable. In Costa Rica I feel safe, it’s a place you can live, there is all types of land in C.R. and the food and culture is great. I can go back again and again.

    2. What do you primarily blog about? Travel experience! travel makes me try new things and I want my readers to experience what I’m experiencing. I also like to blog about how easy it is to get travel deals.

    3. What do you love most about travel blogging? Blogging is an outlet for me, my passion for travel is in my heart, and to be able to express my experience and enthusiasm for it is refreshing.

    4. What is your number one travel tip or advice? Plan ahead, scan for deals in advance, know the going rates.

    5. If you could buy a ticket to go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be? South Africa, Cape Town.

    6. Have you made any meaningful connections with a stranger during travel? Yes, a very delightful connection 😊

    7. What are top 3 items you always have in your travel bag? (1) Camera (2) Battery chargers (3) (Tablet)

    What are the top 3 apps you rely on when finding the best travel deals?
    What has travel taught you?
    For those who say, “I wish I could travel more,” what is your biggest advice to them?

  • M McCown . February 22, 2017 . Reply

    Emily, I really enjoy your blog and appreciate the nomination! Glad to have another Phoenician travel blogger on the map!

  • Jessika . February 24, 2017 . Reply

    This was so fun to read! Thank you so much for the nomination <3 I gratefully accept and will make time within the week to take on the questions and process of keeping this joyful form of acknowledgement moving forward!

    I am also a coupon-googler when I online shop, and I loved hearing a bit about what you're up to now! I hope you are both feeling settled. Talk soon,

    Jessika xo

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