Kesi Irvin never imagined that she would spend her life traveling the world. 

“When I was little, I was always that person who excelled in everything that I did,” Irvin, 31, tells CNBC Make It. “In school, I had straight A’s the entire time, I had leadership positions … I kind of was always in this mind trap that I want to get a really high-paying job and kind of follow what my parents did, they worked in New York City on Wall Street.” 

The New Jersey native landed her first internship when she was 16, working for Morgan Stanley. “I always envisioned I was going to be that Wall Street girl,” she shares. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, her childhood dream came true: she moved to New York to work as a financial analyst. She quickly realized, however, that “there was not much work life-balance at all” working on Wall Street. “I started to really crave the life aspect,” she adds. 

Irvin had always used her limited vacation time for international trips, but, as she notes, “it’s impossible to see the world in two weeks.” For two years, she saved about $1,000 each month with the intention of taking a one-year career break to travel around the world. “I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do it … I was young, single, had no kids and wasn’t making all that much money, which makes it all easier to pack up and go,” she says. “The longer you wait, too, the more chances there are for life’s obstacles to get in the way.” She officially quit her job in 2015.

That one year turned into two, then three, and now Irvin lives in Rennes, France as a full-time travel blogger and digital nomad. Her travel blog, “Kesi To and Fro,” has nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram and serves as Irvin’s main source of income. She lives with her boyfriend, Alex, as he completes his master’s program at the EIT Digital Master School in Rennes. The pair met in 2018 while working on a boat together in Croatia. She moved to the city in September on a tourist visa that lasts three months but is in the process of applying for a long-term visa. 

Kesi Irvin and her boyfriend Alex exploring Croatia together

Photo: Kesi Irvin

Turning her hobby into a profitable business

Irvin started her travel blog six years ago for fun to document her trips and pass on recommendations for the countries she visited, but decided to monetize her growing platform about two years ago during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“After about four years of constant traveling around the world, I knew I was missing something to work on, like I want to use my brain somehow and challenge myself,” she recalls. “I made my first investment in the blog, which was a $500 blogging course, and once I finally invested money in myself, that’s how I knew I was gonna take blogging seriously.”

As a travel blogger, Irvin makes money through multiple avenues, though brand collaborations, where Irvin promotes products, companies or other things on her platform, have been her focus. Irvin estimates she’s paid between $300-$2,000 per collaboration, and she receives that money via bank transfer or her PayPal business account. 

Other streams of income include group trips she organizes and hosts; paid travel writing; affiliate marketing and ad revenue from her website. “I don’t make as much money from those last two categories right now, but my main mission now is to increase the marketing and ad revenue for my blog,” Irvin notes. 

Before monetizing her blog, Irvin relied on her savings and worked as a seasonal charter host on a boat in Croatia, Greece, Thailand and other countries to support her travels. Now that Irvin is generating about $1,000 per month from her blog, she doesn’t have to take on any side hustles. “I’m making a sustainable living from my work, and living a comfortable lifestyle in France as a travel blogger,” she says. “It gives me more confidence to live in other countries as a travel blogger, and that this can really be my main career.”

How she spends her money 

Her routine in France 

Getting a long-term visa from France 

Irvin’s tourist visa only allows her to stay in the country for 90 days, so she is in the process of applying for her long-term visa. That process requires proof of income (making at least $75 per day for 365 days) and a slew of documents: scanned copies of Irvin’s passport, her birth certificate, statements letters for her purpose of stay, medical insurance, proof of accommodation, three months’ worth of checking account and savings account statements as well as credit card statements.

Soon Irvin will travel back to the U.S. to apply in-person as materials must be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. She’s optimistic that her visa application process will be smooth as she has an American passport and is self-employed. “I’m not trying to make a financial gain in France, I’m just working here for myself,” she says. 

Right now, Irvin has about $100,000 combined in her checking, savings and investment accounts. “As long as you show enough money in your accounts … for my stay here, that’s typically what people care about,” she explains. 

After spending six years living outside of the U.S, Irvin doesn’t see herself ever living there again. “I don’t think I will stay in France, but you never know,” she says. “I never thought I would live in France in the first place … I might end up really loving my time here!”

As for her next home, Irvin says she has considered moving to Germany, where Alex is from, or to Guatemala, which is one of her favorite countries. “I am open, just give me a globe, I’ll spin it!” she says. “I’m down for random adventures.”

Check out:

This 35-year-old left the U.S. for Croatia: ‘I live on $47 a day — here’s a look at how I spend my time’

This couple retired at 40 and moved their family to Portugal. Here’s how they did it

This 65-year-old retiree lives in Mexico on $1,500 per month—here’s why she’s ‘never moving back to the U.S.’

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(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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