I’ve always been a bit, um, different.
My friends and family know me as the girl that travels alone. The girl that’s always leaving. The girl that refuses to settle down.
While most of my friends were getting married, buying their first home, and you know, being adults, I spent the past near-decade fixated on one goal: to travel as much as possible.
So believe me when I say: I completely understand how it feels to pursue a lifestyle that nobody around you understands.
Sure, I don’t own a house and I have an existential crisis every other month, BUT, I’ve grown exponentially as a human being over the last decade — all thanks to travel.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can count. I gained confidence and a greater sense of self. I stumbled into a career that I love. And I’ve had some incredible adventures along the way.
At the risk of sounding horrendously cliché, travel has completely transformed my life.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this life of constant globe-trotting? I don’t want to live my life on other people’s terms.
Yes, this blog is about travel and expat life, but it’s also about my journey to create an unconventional lifestyle that I love — one that involves tons of travel.
Here’s my story:
Shortly after I graduated college, I booked a one-way ticket to Australia and spent six months backpacking solo around Oz, New Zealand, and Fiji.
I had no idea what I was doing; I took two pieces of wheeled luggage on that “backpacking” trip and spent my first day in Sydney wandering up and down the same street because I was so paranoid of getting lost. (This was before I travelled with a smartphone, mind you. Thank God for Google Maps, am I right?)
When I got back home, my wanderlust was out of control. All I could think about was travel.
So between 2011 and 2015, I worked at a seasonal hospitality job throughout the summer and travelled every winter.
Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe — I gallivanted across several continents and visited a number of “dangerous” destinations along the way.
But it wasn’t enough.
In 2015, I moved abroad to Edinburgh, a city that captivated me from the first time I visited three years earlier; a place that spoke to my soul and instantly felt like home.
I spent two blissful years in Edinburgh, explored the European continent, and inadvertently created a life I loved.
I planned to stay in Edinburgh for a while, but UK immigration is THE WORST. I mean, I ran into some visa complications and willingly left when my Youth Mobility Scheme visa expired. (I’m totally over the whole ordeal, by the way. Ahem.)
In short, I was heartbroken.
was deported left the UK, I travelled around Europe for seven weeks and then went back to Canada, where I proceeded to stare at photos of Edinburgh and sob uncontrollably for an embarrassing amount of time.
Eventually, I got my shit together and fell into the world of freelancing. Once I started making relatively steady income, I decided to give the digital nomad life a go. My first stop? You guessed it: Edinburgh.
My plan was to spend a few months in Scotland and then base myself in the Balkans for a while, but I ended up staying in Edinburgh the whole time — apart from a few trips around the UK and a quick to jaunt to Lisbon.
And that brings us to now: I’m currently back in Canada, having yet another identity crisis and trying to figure out my next move. It’s cool, though — I think I’ve finally come to terms with this whole “adulting” thing. Although I am writing this in my pyjamas while eating almond butter out of the jar…
Editor’s note: I put down the jar of almond butter long enough to get a job at an awesome travel company and I’m now based in Toronto.
Why I blog
I started Ashley Wanders because I always felt somewhat out of place in my hometown.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many amazing and supportive people in my life, but I’ve also dealt with my fair share of naysayers and well-meaning arseholes (#AmIScottishYet?).
People who rolled their eyes when I said I was going to India. People who made me feel guilty for pursuing my passion. People who constantly pestered me with soul-crushing questions like “When are you going to settle down?”
When I started reading travel blogs, I realized I wasn’t alone.
Travel bloggers inspired me to chase my dreams, they gave me tips that changed the way I travel, and they helped me realize it’s okay to choose an unconventional path (and that I wasn’t crazy for doing so).
That’s why I blog — and that’s what I hope to offer you.
I want to write words that resonate with you when you feel like an outsider. I want to help make your move abroad to Edinburgh a little less stressful. I hope I can give you the nudge you need to relocate to a new country, travel solo, or choose an unconventional path.
New to this blog? Here are a few of my favourite posts:
7 Reasons I Fell So Hard for Bosnia
Magic in the Highlands: My First Impressions of Skye
Eating My Way Through London’s Markets
7 Reasons Why I Love Lisbon (+ My Top Travel Tips)
4 Moments of Magic in Istanbul
I lived in Edinburgh for 2.5 years (and it’s my favourite city in the world), so you’ll find lots of Edinburgh-related content around here. Check out these posts for Edinburgh tips and inspiration:
61 (Awesome) Things to Do in Edinburgh
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Edinburgh
Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh? Read This First
My Favourite Spots in Edinburgh via Instagram
Living in Edinburgh: The Expat Survival Guide
Expat in Edinburgh Monthly Roundups
25 Telltale Signs You’re An Expat in Edinburgh
Head to my Edinburgh category for a complete list, or check out my Destinations page to browse by country.
Curious to know what it’s like living in Edinburgh? Want to commiserate about how difficult it is to move to the UK permanently? Fancy chatting about travel, expat life, hot yoga, the first season of Outlander, sharks, or Asian food (I really like all of those things)? Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
You can also connect with me on Instagram.
…I’ve just found your blog–I can’t wait to read more about your epic wanderings!!…
Glad to have you along for the ride! 🙂
Love it! From one Canadian to another, hello! Can’t wait to read your articles!
Hey Cyrstal! Thanks for reading 🙂
Stumble upon this amazing blog! Looking forward of reading more of your adventure posts.
Thanks for reading and enjoy! 🙂
It was so nice reading your blog and I am really impressed by the places you dying to visit. If anytime you are in India just inform me will show you my country.
Thank you for the kind offer! Hopefully I’ll be able to visit India in the near future!
So happy to connect with you! It’s never too late to dream a new dream.
Jessica, Turquoise Compass
Very true! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jessica!
Just came across your blog! Can’t wait to follow along on your journeys. I love your line “I’m also hoping to connect with like-minded individuals who dream of travel and, and like me, have chosen a more unconventional path- regardless of what others may think.”
I’m on that same path and others may think it to be crazy, but I love it! Hopefully we can share travel stories 🙂
All the best,
Hey Jessica! I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog and I’m excited to read your travel stories!
Thanks for taking the time to say hello 🙂
Hey there Ashley, this is random but saw your post on wandering earls site.. I am currently driving through India on a motorcycle and will be back in Goa in Feb at some point. Im a travel blogger from Ottawa, if you would like to meet up let me know! India can take some getting used to!
Hey Alex! Yeah for sure, I’ll send you a message on your site now to see if our dates will overlap!
Great blog! Love it… 🙂 I’m eager to read more about your destinations. And bravo to you on the one-way tick to Aus.
Thanks so much Jessica! 🙂 The one-way ticket to Australia was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
Thanks for sharing your adventures, love the destinations photos
Thank you for reading! And I’m so glad you like the destinations photos 🙂
This is remarkable! As a 22 year old guy, I feel the same way. I want to see the world. And not see it as a tourist, but really see it from the inside! I’m really looking forward to following this blog!
I’m glad to hear you can relate, and thank you for reading! 🙂
I’ll keep reading! 🙂
Great Blog! Just curious, what do you do for work? Do you find the cost of living fare to the salaries they have there? Thanks!
Thanks Evie! I’m working as a document transcriber/proofreader at the moment. The cost of living is quite expensive here, and I’d say entry-level position wages are on the low side. If you’re able to get a mid-level position, the wages are better suited in comparison to the cost of living – but it’s also very dependant on the sector of work!
You have so eloquently put into words exactly what I feel. – Except I haven’t taken that first step yet.
Thank you, Mikaela! I know what it’s like – that first step can seem so daunting, but I promise it’ll be worth it 🙂
I’ve just found your blog and really enjoy reading it 🙂 .I hope someday I can be like you.
Hey Hana, thanks so much! Glad to have you reading 🙂
Hi, how can I subscribe?
Hi Cate, you can subscribe via the subscribe button on my sidebar, or near the bottom if you’re on your phone 🙂
Great job done, well organised blog i can not wait to see you join me in Uganda soon . Africa with out Uganda is incomplete!!!
Holy crap. I found your blog by complete chance. I, literally, typed in things to-do once I get to Edinburgh, and your blog was the first search result that popped up.
Only after reading a couple of your posts, did I realize how similar we are. I mean, I’m not as adventurous; I’m not as well-traveled; I’m not as curious; I’m not as articulate or eloquent; but other than that, I think we can be twins.
But all kidding aside, your most recent post (though in April) broke my heart. I’m essentially you two years ago, before you jetted off to Edinburgh with a one-way ticket. I’m, metaphorically-speaking, in your shoes. I, too, am Canadian (born and raised). And one day said, “f*ck it”. Bought a one-way ticket to Edinburgh. And I’m due to leave at the end of the month.
Your post gave me hope, that perhaps, Edinburgh will accept me with open arms, and I’ll come to fall in love with the city, and everything that it encompasses. And I do feel for you. It can’t be easy to leave behind the life you’ve built for the past 2 years, being powerless do anything about it. I, too, dread that day. Like all Tier 5 youth visas, you only get 2 years.
Though you haven’t updated in awhile, I do hope you’re well. And if you have any helpful tips that might increase my chances of surviving the wild jungle that is Edinburgh, it would be appreciated. Or, you know, if you need someone to lend you an ear, I always have an extra one laying around in my closet.
Wishing you all the very best.
Thank you so much for your heartfelt and thoughtful comment – it literally made my day! And I’d argue that you are both articulate and eloquent on the basis of this comment alone.
I’m so happy you’re also heading to Edinburgh on a one-way ticket – you’re going to love it! I’m not sure what type of work you’ll be looking for, but I found recruitment agencies to be very helpful, and there’s always hospitality, bar & restaurant jobs available as well. Apart from finding a job and a place to live, you really don’t need any survival tips for Edinburgh because it’s such an easy city to live in. Just try to prepare yourself for potentially having to leave after you’ve fallen head over heels in love with it – I can’t attest to the difficulty.
Thanks again for your kind words, I truly appreciate it. I’m now back home in Canada, trying to readjust to life here – which has been strange, to say the least.
Wishing you the best of luck in Edinburgh, and please let me know if you have any other questions or if you’d like advice on anything Edinburgh-related 🙂
Love this post, so well put! It totally resonates.
What an opening page. I look forward to more posts x
Thanks very much, Laura 🙂 Happy to hear you’ll be reading some more of my posts — I’ll definitely head over to your blog and check out your adventures as well!
I’m completely jelly beans…it’s my dream to live in Edinburgh (American living in New York). I’ve been there 3 times now and each visit manages to be even more magical than the last. I completely understand what you mean about how the city speaks to your soul. I’ve never been somewhere that I truly felt like I could fit in, yet last time I was there I made so many friends…people that just came up to me and my gf…a drunk lad who ripped his pants and was switching pants with his mate in the bathroom stall so he could get into a club, said it wasn’t what I thought, I said “hey, you do you”, bought me a rum and gave me his football club sticker. Still have it in my wallet. Lady overheard me quoting all of Ghostbusters 2 in the basement of the Banshee’s Labyrinth, was as impressed as my gf was annoyed by it lol we hung out the rest of the night and talked. Met a lovely couple from Glasgow on a birthday trip to Edinburgh, they had to annunciate when they talked so we could understand them, they would translate the rest of the night for me as a large drunk man either wanted to fight me or kiss me…I never found out which, but was flattered none the less.
I wish I could do what you’re doing/have done but it feels hopeless to me or just a dream that’s out of my reach. Though it brings me pleasure to see someone who has made that scary jump and has lived to tell the tale. It gives me hope.
Hey Daniel, thanks so much for your comment! I love all of these stories of people you’ve met in Edinburgh (and laughed out loud at the guy who was switching pants with a friend to get into a club, ha!). They’re fantastic examples of why I love Edinburgh and Scottish people so, so much! I hope the opportunity presents itself one day and you manage to live out your dream of living in Edinburgh 🙂
I found your blog on google and Pinterest and I am so happy that I did! I am currently residing in the US but I have recently discovered a love for Scotland, and a desire to move there! Your website has proven to be very helpful, with real “down to earth” commentary and information and tips for moving and living there. In the future, I definitely plan on moving to Scotland and attending the University of Edinburgh. I am mainly concerned about the visas because I don’t just want a student visa. However, your website and accounts of your life in Scotland has been unbelievably helpful! So thank you very much.
Hi Gia, thanks so much! 🙂 So glad you found my blog and that my tips have been helpful. Best of luck in the future when you move to Scotland – I’m sure you’ll love it!