About Explore for a Year

Explore for a year is a blog about clarity, happiness and pursuing your dreams.

In April 2010, I left my 9-5 corporate job to explore my interests. Armed with a chunk of my personal savings, my goals for the next year are to:

  • learn web design
  • live my ideal life everyday and
  • find ways to generate income doing what I enjoy
  • travel solo for the first time

In the months leading up to my last day at work, I experienced a great amount of personal growth. This blog shares insights from my journey and lessons I learn during my year of learning and travel.

If you’ve ever wanted to leave your job to pursue something more fulfilling, let me help you get started. Each week this blog will provide practical and motivational articles on:

  • finding joy and fulfillment
  • discovering and pursuing your passions and
  • inspiring stories from people overcoming obstacles or living their dreams

This blog will also answer questions such as:

  • I want to quit my job too. How can I start?
  • How do I know what I’m passionate about?
  • How much money do I need?
  • I’m scared. What if I fail? What will my friends think?

>> Stay updated: subscribe by email, follow me on Twitter, like this blog on Facebook, or circle me on Google+.

Say hi below or leave a comment on one of my blog posts. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Ledgardo Lacson

    I just read some of the people writing on you , for me traveling is a passion if you keep on thinking how much money you will save then nothing will happen, you need action to make reaction . You can check my blog too. mrphilippines1974.wordpress.com

  • Ledgardo Lacson

    Nice to discover your blog , I’m also traveling solo for five years around the world and I enjoy it .but there is also bad or good being solo traveler.for me as a man I can handle it. But woman like you I really admire your courages to travel solo.

  • Anthony

    Does anyone discovered that they are star seeds. If you know you will not ask. And how hard did life challenged you in what degree you grown up after that?

  • Christine Marie Sierras

    very nice I hope to hear alote of fun and great!! aventures from you journeys

  • Lily, I just started my own journey into the world of blogging. I think what you are doing is amazing.

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  • Cipher


  • Maribel Zayas

    I am looking for positive changes and feel trapped. I work 2 jobs , 6 days a week. I’m a mother to a toddler (he’ll be 3 in March) and although I’m still with my son’s father, we grew apart a long time ago. I’m not happy with my life. Help.

  • jennifer

    So happy for you. I left ‘everthing’ too, years ago to travel ’round the world – it was the best thing I ever did!! Looking forward to more travel with my son! congrats to you!

  • Cindy

    Lily, very interesting. i can identify with what you’re doing. i’m currently on a 6-month off vagabonding. not the first time i travel solo, but first time doing extended traveling. did you have web-design skill before or just learned it along the way?

  • Frank Sr.

    …look forward to following your journey…

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  • Drtpepper

    After 25+ yrs, I find myself “redundant” in my corporate job. This breaths new life into the pause before me

    • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog. Hope you come visit again soon!

      – Lily

  • Lucillefer

    Interesting to find this. Have already quite the job and packing bags for India very soon. Here’s to those searching finding what they are looking for…

    • Hope you are having/had a fantastic trip to India. I found it to be a great place to grow and test your zen and inner calmness, in a really good way.

      – Lily

  • Stephen777 Com

    Love your blog. I too left the perceived world behind and am loving every moment. You may enjoy my blog at http://www.STEPHEN777.com

  • Cat43017

    I lost my job and want to travel but I will have to use all my life’s savings including my retirement to do so.  How do you find ways to make money while travelling?

  • Hamed

    Hi Lily, thanks so much for your quotes. I wish you the best.

    • Thanks Hamed, all the best to you as well.

      – Lily

  • Hi Dana, I tallied up my expenses at the end of my 13 month round-the-world and the total was $25,200. Of that amount, $45,200 was for flights (see the flight details here: http://exploreforayear.com/money/round-the-world-expenses-flights). I worked for about 4 years before my trip, so the $25K was a chunk of my personal savings but not everything. Hope that helps, feel free to email me if you have a specific concern/question.

    – Lily

    • Towid

       saving money is not rocket science, it is just discipline.
      I make around $47k a year (bi-weekly take home is $1340) , but I can potentially save up to 1700 dollars/month, partly because I do not have any loan except the monthly grocery bills from my credit card.

      The way I started is by opening a spreadsheet and in each row write down my fixed and variable expenses:  rent, hydro, gas, car insurance, public trans, phone, cable, grocery and car care  ( i am a car enthusiast ). There are some things you cannot do much about; like your rent, car insurance, student loan etc . There are variable expenses that you can squeeze and save; things like gas, grocery, cable ( you really do not need one), even phones. You really need to see where your money is going. For instance, i was spending 70-80 dollars per month on my cell phone. If figured out that If I have a home phone and keep a pre-paid cell phone and use the cell phone as a pager or for extremely emergency call, I can save over 500 dollars a year on phone only. Moreover, I came across things like magic jack ( IP phone ) where you pay only 80 dollars PER YEAR  and all you need is internet connection. As you can see, only in phone itself you can save upto 1000 dollar a year.

      I do not eat out. Instead I buy grocery and if I fancy, I cook a nice meal for myself which could last for couple of days  for that same price.

      Grocery could be very expensive depending on how organize you are. Go to grocery only once a week, and have a mental picture of what you are going to eat this week and make a list of it. This way you tend not to buy stuff you will eventually through away. You can save tons of money by being organized and not starving yourself.

      Unless you really have to, taking your car to work is a NO NO. why would you take the car when you have a public transportation system to take you and drop you off to your destination? where is the need? specially in Canadian Winter?

      For entertainment, you can go for a walk invite friends over for cup of tea ( does not have to be pizza ).  You could also use your community center for swimming, gym or use the library for reading.

      The list could go on. All you need to do is the discipline yourself and find cheap and free ways to celebrate life.

  • Karen

    Thank you for writing about your experience . I thought that I was the onlyone that wanted to do what you are doing .

    • Hi Karen, you’re never the only one :)

  • I lost my job as an architect 4 years ago, and after a period of feeling lost, I became a freelance photographer and have been loving it ever since.  AND… I’ve traveled every month since I was laid off.  It’s been an amazing journey.  Your story is so empowering.  Thanks for this blog! 

    • Hi Megan,

      Thanks for sharing a piece of story here, you’re an inspiration, really. I found it took time to find my identity (my “real” identity that isn’t tied to my occupation), and there was definitely a dark period in between. Out of confusion comes clarity, I suppose :) Keep in touch!

      – Lily

  • Hannah Hugo

    You are a star!!!

    • Thanks for your kind words Hannah! 

      – Lily

  • Laura

    Hi Lily,

    Stumbled across your blog and so excited to follow your journey. What an inspiring journey you are on and sounds like you will forever be changed. I can relate. My husband and I returned from a 14 month trip around the world last December. We’re still coming down and realize we won’t ever be the same. Our perspective on life has changed and we’ll never quite look at it the way we used to. Travel has a way of doing that. We look forward to watching your adventure unfold. 

    Happy travels to you!

    • Hi Laura,

      Wow, sounds like you and your husband had an amazing adventure around the world. Travel changes you so much, doesn’t it? It has a way of putting things in perspective, and I can’t believe how much calmer and more resilient I’ve become. 

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind wishes :)

      – Lily
      P.S. Any tips on re-integrating yourself back into “normal” life after returning from your RTW last December?

  • Hello Lily,

    Found this great site while scrolling through travel blogs. You got an amazing life! Really envy you now. I’m in love with traveling after I went to Beijing: http://goo.gl/qdZYF
    That’s my first no-travel-tours-trip. I just grab my backpack and go. Since then, I’ve been working to break off of the 9-to-5 routine in order to see more of the world, and your blog has been very motivating for me to reach that goal.

    Keep on the good work!

  • I am really glad to see the free spirit of an individual….superb experience

  • MarkG

    Hi Lily,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I did not realise that you were on WordPress as this is usually stated on bloggers’/sites’ homepages.

    I do not currently have any concrete ideas for a site or blog so am not looking to pay to get webspace hosted. Also I am unemployed for the long term and need to be frugal! All I need is a blank homepage to try and build on and learn how WordPress works without going ‘live’.

    I have signed up to the two websites that you listed – they look like valuable resources and I shall examine them further. There is some useful tutorials on WordPress and of course a support forum.

    It is a shame that I have used various IT through all my working life but have never brushed against the world of web design and building. I would like to change this as it may open up a lot of new opportunites for me.

    I drop you an email if I have any questions if that is OK but I do not wish to clutter up your site with my queries!



  • MarkG

    Hi Lily.
    I recently came across your blog site via another one and have now subscribed. I hope you are enjoying your time in Europe.

    I wanted to ask you how you are able to learn web design whilst travelling?

    It is something that I would also like to learn, but from home – as I am unable to finance a course.

    What sources/programs are you using? Any tips…

    Happy travels,


    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for stopping by! I took a 3 month course in Toronto (home) before I started travelling and did some web work while I was travelling. I’ve met a number of web designers who learned themselves, so it’s entirely possible. 

      The way I started learning about web design was from playing around with WordPress (that’s the content management system this blog is on). 

      Try making a blog at wordpress.com and then setting up a self-hosted version (wordpress.org). WordPress is commonly used for blogs, but it’s actually used for many corporate sites and other website types too (e.g. classifieds, e-commerce, etc).

      Other useful resources are smashingmagazine.com and hongkiat.com/blog.

      Good luck! If you have any more questions feel free to email me.
      – Lily

  • Anonymous

    hi lily..
    so happy coz i found this blog..
    my friend and i also thinking about leaving our 9-5 job and go crazy around the world.
    haha at first we thought it was super duper crazy idea..
    but after reading your blog..yeah..why not..just give it a try..now we working on it.

    your blog is so inspiring! =)

    • Hi Hanie, thanks for your kind words and… travelling around the world IS a crazy idea, but in the most wonderful and bold way :) Good luck with your planning, and if there’s anything I might be able to help with, let me know.

      Warmest regards,
      – Lily

  • Sam

    Finally! Someone that shares my attitude :) I will be quitting my job at the end of July. It was very dry office work but it was also an invaluable experience. I learned a ton and it is exactly what I needed coming out of university.

    I have a wide variety of interests. Music, sports, exercise, nutrition, mathematics, physics, psychology, business and investing. I’m also very interested in gaining spiritual knowledge and experiences, so meditation is something I’ve wanted to explore. I would like to learn, discover and do what I love to do and spend the rest of my life doing that, while at the same time helping others. So I’d like to become an entrepreneur of sorts.

    I’d like to travel like mad in the next few months. I’ll study your blog and see what all you have on here that I may find helpful.

    • Hi Sam,

      Sounds like you have a lot of interests that you’re passionate about – it’s wonderful and inspiring that you’re going to pursue what makes you excited. Your goal of ” do what I love to do and spend the rest of my life doing that, while at the same time helping others. So I’d like to become an entrepreneur of sorts” is similar to mine. I look forward to hearing about how your path unfolds.

      I wish you a wonderful adventure and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help :)

      – Lily

      • Sam

        You know what Lily, time is more valuable than money. We need money to enrich our time, but when we make money and cannot use it to improve the quality of our time, than the value of money becomes less valuable…that’s how I see it.

        I never understood the “buy a house and pay off the mortgage” goal. Is there nothing better to do with life than that?! Owning a house is a great investment and eventually you gotta live somewhere, but I think traveling the world and investing in your health, social life and your passions are far more gratifying.

        I just want to explore life for a little while, just like you. I haven’t had a chance to read much on your site yet. I believe that money will work itself out, that the amount of money you need to live the life that you are meant to live will “magically” arrive :)

      • Wings

         Sam your words are exactly what I needed. I’m not traveling the world, but I’m making a change in careers that will be a significant pay cut. But I pray that mt quality of life will improve and that I will have time to spend with my three year old baby girl and reconnect with husband. Sadly he believes in the “buy a house and pay off the mortgage” goal. It will be a struggle, but I made my decison today.

        Thank you,


  • James

    Just saw your blog here…very inspring. You are doing something I wish I had a chance to do!

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your kinds words. You’ll get the chance too, later, whenever the time is right.

      – Lily

  • Lily, wish we could have met here in Chiang Mai. Sorry we missed each other. Happy trails and best wishes in your endeavors. Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year to you too! I’m still in Chiang Mai, so we might still run into each other in the near future.

      All the best in the new year and go Team Chiang Mai :)

  • Nice site Lily. Keep those great articles coming. I hope your year out brings you what you are looking for. All the best!

  • Barry Ip

    Hey Lily!

    I came across this site from a FB post from you. Great articles!! I really like "10 Questions to Free You From Status Quo", it definitely makes me think about how I'm living my life.

    Keep up with the great work! Hope to see you around!

  • Felix Lo

    Hey Lily, it's been a long time. I heard about you pursuing your new journey a while back from Idy and I am glad to hear that you took that first step and continue to do so with this website.

    Look forward to seeing your progress!

    • Lily

      Hi Felix, good to hear from you! Thanks for your words of encouragement, the last two weeks have been a bit overwhelming with me starting my web portfolio, so I appreciate it :)