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Scholarships for Real Life: Emily Wray and The Voices of Petersburg

Emily-Wray-Color In 2013 the WDS community started a foundation, making an initial investment of $100,000 and pledging to support “Scholarships for Real Life,” a program to enable people to pursue a dream of their own while also addressing a problem that affects others. Here’s one of our 2015 grantees.

Meet Emily Wray. Emily is a Course Director at Full Sail University, but once a year she travels to Petersburg, Alaska—a small island community—to support clients of Petersburg Mental Health Services (PMHS) as they tell their own stories.

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A 4-Person, 6-Month Volunteer Adventure Around the World

JM8

I'm a 49-year-old father of two from Maine. For years I've worked in the TV business, writing shows and commercials, using my creativity to tell stories for advertisers. But lately, I have a new focus.

After a big trip that took my family and I around the world, I’m now writing books, working on behalf of orphaned children, and telling their stories. It’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever been involved in. I love it.

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Scholarships for Real Life: The Ryan Banks Academy

rsz_valerie In 2013 the WDS community started a foundation, making an initial investment of $100,000 and pledging to support “Scholarships for Real Life,” a program to enable people to pursue a dream of their own while also addressing a problem that affects others. Here's one of our 2015 grantees.

Valerie Groth is a trained social worker and life coach. She recently founded the Ryan Banks Academy, which seeks to create a safe and positive learning environment for kids in the Chicago area.

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How One Family of Four Created Enough Passive Income to Travel Forever

SharonChinatown

I’ve always wanted to travel and I’m not actually sure why. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Tasmania, which always felt like the edge of the Earth. It was a big deal just to get to the mainland of Australia!

As a teenager, I’d watch Australian travel shows and take notes on the destinations that appealed to me the most. After the dot-com crash, which came around my 21 birthday, I went straight to a travel agent and booked my first trip. Since then, I’ve been to over 80 countries!

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Former Stockbroker Travels through Europe on $10 a Day

TomKenya

My name is Tomislav Perko. I’m 30, from Croatia, and I’m just a regular, everyday, normal guy, that every now and then tries to do something irregular, unique and extraordinary.

Back in the day I was a stockbroker. Suit, tie, lots of money—that kind of lifestyle. Due to the financial crisis in 2008 I lost everything: money, career, reputation. Little by little, I started exploring alternatives to chasing my career and another promotion.

Then I realized that I should be gathering experiences and connections, not money and other tangible possessions. "Things" can vanish in no time.

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A 13-Month Round-the-World Trip Booked Entirely On Miles

ms6 Matt Schwartz began travel hacking in 2011, and last year quit his job for a dream trip around the world. One of his best buys? An NYC to Bangkok flight for less than $45—in Business Class.

I’m a twenty-something taking a career break from Information Systems to travel the world. Traveling alone has been part of my life since 2010, and I decided to leave my job (for a bit - I plan to go return) in early 2014 with a one-way ticket to Bangkok. Since then I've traveled through over ten countries.

People I meet wonder how I was able to just quit my job and hit the road. I’d argue the fact that this question exists is systemic of a larger issue Americans have about vacation and work-life balance.

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“Being On the Road Changed Us Forever”: Around the World on Two Bikes in Two Years

Jane10 Avid travelers Jane and Stephen Mountain recently returned to North America after a two-year bicycling trip around the world. Here's what they learned... and what they're planning next.

I'm Jane, and my husband Stephen and I have fallen into a pattern of ditching all the responsibilities of a normal life. It started on our first trip together almost 20 years ago. We backpacked around Europe, fought the entire time, and finally broke up when we ran out of money and patience.

Stephen moved to Chamonix to work the ski season and I moved to Geneva to learn French (he ended up breaking his collarbone and my French is hopeless, as it turns out). We reunited in London, got back together, and got married.

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“Everyone Gets a Call to Adventure”: On the Road with Erin McElroy

ErinHorseHours Erin McElroy decided to take an extended trip to one of the passionate places she could think of: Argentina.

I believe the hero’s journey is possible for anyone; that we all get a "call to adventure,” and have the innate desire and responsibility to do something great.

I call myself a writer, adventurer, and change-maker. I work with people one-on-one and in workshops to help them find the “thing” that makes them feel most alive and happy because I believe the best thing we can do for ourselves, those around us, and the world is to be the most authentic version of ourselves at any time—and I want to contribute to this.

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“If We Never Booked the Tickets, We’d Never Go”: On the Road with Serena Star Leonard

Well into her third year of continuous travel, Serena Star Leonard and her husband John spend their days exploring the world and documenting stories of people who make a difference.

I’m Serena, a half-Kiwi, half-Malaysian born in Hong Kong. My husband is John, an Irishman. We were both living in Australia when we met, fell in love, and got married in the space of 16 weeks.

I’d worked in corporate environments for a number of years, but I wanted to change things up. My goal was to work for money one day a week and spend the rest of my time doing work I was passionate about but wouldn’t necessarily make a cent.

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Live a Life of Travel, Even with a Full-Time Job: On the Road with Ruby Escalona

As many of our readers know, having a full-time job doesn't mean you can't make travel a regular part of your life. Ruby Escalona tells us how she does it.

Hi! I'm Ruby. I grew up in the Philippines, but now live in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve always had ambitious dreams. When I was a child, I wanted to read all the books in the world.

Now, I’m passionate about traveling. My fiancé and I have desk jobs, and a motto: live a life of travel, even with a full time job. We’re seeing the world, one bit at a time. It’s a little slower than people who are location independent, but it works for us.
Ruby9

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Woman Completes Mission to SCUBA Dive in All 50 States

Jennifer-Idol Congratulations to Jennifer Idol, who just accomplished a huge mission: becoming the first woman to SCUBA dive in all 50 states.

Jen spoke briefly in the lightning round at WDS 2014 and we profiled her back when she was well on her way to accomplishing her quest.

"I did it! It's a relief, and I am tired. In a way, the journey is ongoing with articles, the book, news, and social media. I won't be diving all 7 continents, the U.S. territories, or all countries as a new quest. Instead, I'll be undertaking assignments, still working on sharing the meaning behind this current journey, and working on something new.

As I suspect you also know, journeys are long, cost more than we plan in more ways than we can anticipate, and yet help us define who we want to be, where we want to go, and what we want to do. They can be platforms from which we launch our true aspirations, or just end when they're completed."

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A Journey to 40 Countries to Learn How the World Prays

Jared and his wife were interested in how the world prays—so they went on year-long exploration of different types of Judeo-Christian prayer. Here's what they learned.

My name is Jared Brock. I’m a writer and filmmaker. Together, my wife and I run a charity that fights human trafficking, and we’ve traveled to over 40 countries and visited more than 40 American states and Canadian provinces.

My most recent adventure was a 37,000-mile, year-long prayer pilgrimage around the world. I explored prayer traditions across the Judeo-Christian faith, including some of the "weird uncles" and "crazy cousins" under that umbrella. I danced with rabbis, visited monks, spent time with Quakers, checked out the world's largest church (1 million members!), and visited numerous ancient sites including Assisi, Avila, Monte Cassino, Camino de Santiago, the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem.

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Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Quest to Visit 547 Restaurants

KL8 One day, Kristin looked around at the life she thought she wanted—the job, the relationship, the stuff—and realized her heart yearned for something else. So she decided to do something big: travel the country in an effort to go to every vegan restaurant.

My name is Kristin Lajeunesse. I'm a 32-year-old, self-employed business clarity coach and creative marketing strategist for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I work from home (or rather, my computer), and enjoy picking up and moving every few months or so to explore new locales.

My quest was to promote and share vegan restaurants and eateries from around the world. Between October 2011 to August 2013, I lived in a van and entirely off of donations in an effort to eat at and write about every vegan restaurant in the United States. I called my quest Will Travel for Vegan Food.

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“My Car Is My Home, the Planet Is My Backyard”: On the Road with Bruno Caumette

BrunoRainbow For almost two decades, Bruno Caumette has made his home in a Toyota Land Cruiser. He's been around the world once and is currently working on his second voyage. His stories are touching—and his photos are incredible.

I was born in France, but by now I’ve spent as much time outside of my birth country than in it. In 1998, after working for fifteen years, I bought myself an old Toyota Land Cruiser, converted it into a home on wheels, and set off on the road. I was heading for Africa, but beyond that I didn’t have a plan, a timeframe, or even money.

Fourteen years later, I’d returned to Africa—after having traveled overland through places like Afghanistan, Mongolia, Siberia, Korea, Alaska and Patagonia—inadvertently completing an around-the-world trip. I’d driven over 400,000km (that’s 248,548 miles) and taken three ferries, but never once hopped on a bus, train, or plane.

Now I’m three years into my second around-the-world trip. It’s no longer a trip, it’s a lifestyle. My car is my home and the planet is my backyard.

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