Julie Falconer caught the travel bug early on. As a child, her family travelled to the United Kingdom to visit relatives and even went on a trip in some parts of North America.
“You could say that planted the seed for travel,” Falconer told The Binge on the sidelines of The Hive Conference 2017.
At 18, she attended a language school in France and found herself travelling to different European cities on weekends. Later, she pursued a career in banking in San Francisco but later on felt that it wasn’t what she truly wanted.
Since she loved the side of the world where London was in, Falconer made the decision to move. She launched her blog, A Lady in London, to document her move, her life in her new home, and her travels.
A decade and 104 countries later, Falconer’s blog has become an online travel resource. It is also her full-time job now, alongside being a lecturer.
While all of this sounds impressive, it’s nothing compared to talking to Falconer in person. Smart, beautiful, articulate – people are automatically drawn to her and what she has to say. There’s something about her that makes people automatically want to learn from her, and get to know her better.
We talked to Falconer about travelling and making the big move – from challenges to how one can make travelling easier and more affordable.
A Lady Becomes a Londoner
“I loved San Francisco,” Falconer said when asked about the city she grew up in. “But if I didn’t leave then, then maybe I would have stayed forever.”
The International Relations graduate initially got a visa to live and work in London for two years. However, she started her blog before going over. “I’ve been here for 10 years, and it looks like I’ll be here for a lot longer,” she added.
She admits that it’s the international nature of the city that made her fall in love with London. Having amazing diversity, you bump into people from other countries on almost every street. This, Falconer says, is why she never felt like an outsider in London; and is one of her favourite things about the city.
When she first arrived, however, there were some challenges. “The biggest one was just to get set up in London,” Falconer said. “It took me six months to open a bank account. It was difficult to get a flat. Things that I took for granted back home were just a lot harder. Partly because I was an expat and partly because they work differently.”
She also needed to navigate through cultural difference. “I think also, for Americans moving to the UK, we tend to assume that culturally we’ll be rather similar. It was an adjustment period realising that we are rather different.”
These days, Falconer admits that she feels sort of stretched between London and San Francisco. Things that initially seemed foreign to her in London now feel normal. When she goes to San Francisco, she doesn’t feel like she fits in anymore. “I will always feel sort of stretched between the two – culturally and personally – but I think thats probably how I know I’ve become a Londoner.”
A Lady’s Travel Tips
After visiting 104 countries, it’s no wonder Falconer is now practically a travel expert. We asked her for her number one travel tip, and here’s the first thing that came to mind: Never check a bag.
“It’s so cumbersome to travel with a lot of luggage and you realize once you start traveling a lot that you don’t really need most of the stuff you bring all the time,” Falconer shared. She adds that it is best to pare down the things you are bringing, and leave anything that you wouldn’t need. Her bag always has some clothes, camera equipment, skin care, and only a little bit of makeup for when she needs it.
Flexibility also goes a long way according to Falconer. “Things won’t be the way they are back home. Things won’t work exactly the way you’re used to and that’s okay,” she said. Having a positive attitude and embracing these differences make the trip a lot more fun. Expecting everything to be the same only leaves a traveller frustrated.
A Lady and her Blog
Blogging has definitely evolved from hobby to career in the past seven years, and Falconer has benefitted from it. With travel blogging is her full time career, she has the privilege of seeing the world while having full control of her schedule. Being her own boss may sound all fun and games, but it takes a lot of discipline and work.
“I haven’t had a vacation in 10 years and travel is work,” Falconer shared. “But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I still enjoy it. A lot of times, I still have a bit of time when I’m at a destination to just relax and enjoy myself. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Maintaining one’s passion for what he or she is doing is crucial – especially if what they are doing is all-consuming like blogging. “If you lose that [passion], then I think it’s not worth doing anymore,” she added.
Burn outs are pretty common among bloggers these days, with some even taking a hiatus. But for Falconer, this is not an option for someone who wants to stay on top of her game.
“I don’t feel I can take a break. If I do, I lose my audience and my followers. Not because they want to desert me but because there’s so much competition out there.”
A Lady Deals with Burn Out
She says that there are a lot of other ways she deals with burning out, especially when it comes to thinking of new content.
“Sometimes it’s just traveling less. Staying in London for longer periods of time, saying no to a trip if it’s already too much,” she said. “I meditate every day so it’s really helpful for me to even take a smaller break.”
Meditation, Falconer said, gets her mind off what she’s doing. She also tries to carve out time so she can take a couple of hours where she doesn’t need to be online.
Our most important takeaway from Falconer? Travel is not a necessity despite Instagram feeds telling you it is. But for people who have some money to spare and are open to taking the effort in making it more affordable, it is definitely a rewarding experience.
“Travel is a luxury in the sense that it is something that you don’t have to do,” she said. “But I think it is such a powerful way of opening our minds to so many things and different cultures and different ways of existing and it really does change the way you see the world. In my opinion – for the best.” – The Binge
Photos provided by Julie Falconer. Profile photo taken by Scott Heavey for Action Images.