I have been blessed the last two years with endless opportunities and doors open for me....and the secret is just BEING POSITIVE ANDDDDDD BEING A GOOD PERSON!!!
Here's the entry I submitted for the 82nd edition into the Tiny House Magazine!
September 23 2019 Entry
My name is Amanda Marie and I am a full-time travel vlogger, bartender, artist, and influencer. I sold almost everything to my name back in November 2017 and hit the road full-time May 2018 for an adventure of a life time! I live a beautiful, simple, and minimalist life every single day while inspiring others to live their best lives too. I chose to live a life of travel shortly after I almost lost my life at age 21. Just two months after my birthday, I was rushed into emergency surgery to save my life. I had an ulcer which perforated my stomach causing free air to seep which would have killed me in under 24 hours. While I was in surgery, they noticed that my spleen was covered in sists, so they cut me from under my breast line to my belly button and removed my spleen as well. When I woke up life was completed different for me. I had lost something I never had a direct connection to, yet I gained this appreciation for life and in those moments I felt connected to my body, mind and soul for the first time. Learning how to walk again and learning how to live with my new limitations put life into perspective for me. I was currently enrolled in the Forensics program at West Virginia University when I had my surgery. Fortunately, most of my professors let me finish the semester from home while I was on bed rest. A few months after my surgery, with weeks of begging my surgeon to still let me go, I went to London and Paris on a group tour with EF Ultimate Break. That was my first international group tour and a major turning point in my life and thoughts on full time travel. After returning back to college the following semester, something inside of me changed, I was still good at the subjects I was learning, but I had no interest in it anymore. I saw how my classmates faces would light up during our mock crime scenes and I saw their passion for Forensics grew as mine dissipated. The only thing that brought me true joy was travel and art. I finished my degree at WVU with a BS in Forensics and a minor in Sociology, applied for 73 jobs across the USA in every state except Alaska, traveled both local and international, and started to bartend full time while I waited for a call back for a job.
I eventually moved back home to NYC where I managed a craft cocktail bar and restaurant for two years. Running the bar was an integral piece in my story line and while living back in NYC I managed to pay off all my student loans, get an apartment, a new car, travel both locally and internationally quite often, and save up for "my future". I wasn't sure exactly what my future entailed, but I knew that I was the only one in control of it. I knew my future would include a tiny house, a life of travel, and a life with tons of creativity and art. I knew I wanted to go on an adventure of a life time and explore myself, others, and the world around me. I knew that there was more to life, I knew that deep in my core that working for others for the rest of my life wasn't going to be it for me. In September 2017 I had another major shift in my life. The way I was treated at work was taking a huge toll on me, I had a new boyfriend I just moved in with, another roommate who was a slob, was dealing with some health issues, and resigned from the management position at my job. I decided to take a two week vacation and I traveled with EF Ultimate Break alongside 44 incredible individuals to Costa Rica. This is the trip that changed my life. This is the trip that opened my eyes to alternative ways of living, to quality of life, and to our connection to nature and everything around us. When I got back from Costa Rica I was on an adventure high and a creative flow with one goal and one goal only...HAPPINESS. I dug deep, I self-reflected, and I decided that "my future" is going to be anything I want it to be and it starts now! By November 2018 I was driving an 18 year old RV through Downtown Brooklyn back home to convert into my tiny house on wheels.
It was a six month build that tested me in ways I never thought were possible. Through all the sweat, blood, and tears, with the help of my friends, family, and my regulars from work, I didn't just create a tiny house, I created a moving piece of art. My initial goals were to leave NYC and head west seeing all of the places I've always wanted to see along the way. I saved up for three months of full-time travel and I figured when that ran out I would look for some land to park my tiny house and find some work. I left NYC May 2018 and fifteen minutes later I was in a shop getting all 6 tires replaced because one blew and almost sent the RV off the road fifteen minutes into the trip. That was the moment I realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into, this trip will be unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life, and I am going to go through so much growth along the way. Three months, thirty states, 10,000 miles later, and with only $37 left in my bank account, I made it completely across the country to Washington. There I got a job, sold my RV and moved into a tent for a month while I decided if I should get an apartment or build another tiny house. September 2018 I accidentally drove back to my tent with a 2018 Ford Transit HF and moved everything I owned out of the tent and into the van. I lived in the van for a few weeks on a cot and with some bins of clothes before meeting up with another traveler to start the build on my van. Wess Lewis from Transcend Existence helped me start the build on my van up north in Washington. After spending 18 days on the build, exploring the islands, and making new friends, I headed south down the coast to meet up with another traveler, Phil Gorman. Phil was a carpenter back in Australia prior to him selling everything to travel the USA in his converted skoolie. He offered to help me complete my build and I met up with him and have been traveling the country making art and converting off-grid vans and buses with him ever since.
Choosing to live on the road was one of the best decisions I have ever made! Just a few weeks ago I sold my van to a good friend and moved into Phil's skoolie to start a new chapter together. This has shown me that it's not only about how you travel, but it's the people and places that matter most. I have now officially traveled the USA in an RV, a van, and a skoolie and along side some of the most incredible like-minded people! The lessons and growth I've experienced in relation to myself, others, the world, human connection, and nature are unlike any learning experience I've ever encountered. I have learned so many things while on the road, but most important I learned that we all connected and everything happens for a reason. When you finally let go of control, life will play out just the way that it is supposed to. Life on the road is life raw and accelerated in such a unique way just like an amusement park, where you get on line and buckle up for an adventure of a lifetime. Being able to share this unique growth process with y'all has been so rewarding. When I started all of this, my goals were just for me, but now a year and a half later, I am not just doing this for me, but I am doing it for you too. I am sharing my daily scrapbook with y'all and inspiring others to get out there and live out their dreams. My goals are to continue on this beautiful self growth process, inspire others, see the world, surround myself with culture, and create a creative space to share with others. My 2020 goal is to find land and spend the next few years creating an off-grid community filled with opportunity for us all. I cannot wait to share this new chapter and adventure and I ask if you would all come along on this adventure with me!