Hi! We’re Azure and Shawn Marhanka. Thanks for visiting our site!
We’re a young couple from Northwest Arkansas, USA (WOO PIG!) who has discovered that the best way to enjoy and understand this amazing thing called life is through travel. We got married in August of 2014 and have built our lives around being mobile and fulfilling our dreams of seeing the world.
How my travel story began: I went to college for a pre-medical degree and changed my plan of action 3 months before graduation. After I graduated, I had some time to figure out what I actually wanted to do when I grew up, so I got a job as an au pair in Spain for the summer. Once I got there, I hated it (that’s a story for another day!) and was “stuck,” if you will, in Europe for the summer. My parents and my boyfriend at the time (who you’ll meet in a sec) tried to convince me to come home, but I knew I had an incredible opportunity, despite being way outside my comfort zone. I stayed in Europe and traveled all over the continent that summer and my life was forever changed.
How my travel story continues: I went back to school to become a nurse in 2014 and within a year, I was on the path to being a travel nurse. As a travel nurse, I take contracts anywhere in the USA and typically work for 13 weeks at a time. In between contracts, I’m fortunate enough to travel overseas with Shawn, friends and family. A portion of this blog focuses on travel nursing because when I started out, I had no idea what I was doing and I wanted to provide valuable information to those with a dream of being a travel nurse. To find out more about travel nursing, click here!
How travel has changed me: I never considered myself sheltered by any means, but traveling has opened my eyes in more ways than I ever thought possible. The biggest thing that it has given me is cultural acceptance and appreciation. Learning about tradition, culture, etiquette and beliefs of different cultures has let me see the world in a different light. What I love even more is that even when I’ve been in a place with a completely different culture than my own, I am still able to relate to them in some way. It’s a nice reminder that at the end of the day, no matter our differences, we are all human and should be treated equally as such.
Favorite country: Switzerland
How my travel story began: I grew up in central Arkansas in a little ‘ole town called Benton. The only trips I had taken at the time were visiting relatives. Thankfully, I had an aunts and uncles that lived in Colorado and Alaska. At this point in my life, I still hadn’t caught the travel bug yet. Fast forward to post college, my girlfriend (now wife) decided she was going to spend 3 months in Europe. I thought: there is absolutely no way I can go without seeing her for 3 months, but can I really afford to go on this trip? I was at the point of buying my plane ticket and complaining about the price to a couple of my best friends. After listening to me talking about money, my friend Nathan replies with a statement I will never forget. He said, “dude, will you remember a couple thousand dollars in 10 years or will you remember spending 2 weeks with your girlfriend in Europe?” That statement put everything into perspective for me and I bought my ticket the next day. I will never forget the first time I got off the subway in Madrid, walked up the stairs and saw my first city outside of the US. My jaw was open for a good 5 mins in awe and after 2 weeks of traveling Europe with Azure, I was hooked.
How my travel story continues: I’m currently a contract computer programmer that works from home. I basically have a really cool boss that is OK with me working from anywhere in the world as long as I get my work done. It provides an active source of income while we travel in between Azure’s assignments, which is a huge benefit.
How travel has changed me: One of the biggest changes in my life is realizing how much stuff I do not need. This is especially true when you are traveling out of a backpack. Azure and I have learned from travel nursing that we are chronic overpackers. Each contract we get better and better about packing lighter. For example, our first contract I brought about 10 nerd shirts to wear for working or lounging around the house. I ended up wearing 3 of my favorites and the other 7 sat in the drawer for 3 months. Another change is realizing how lucky we are in the US to have clean water that we can drink right from the sink. After experiencing a few places where you had to drink bottled water or risk getting sick, I quickly realized how much I had taken for granted. One of my last main changes was experiencing first hand that everyone is different. Just because someone is different in the way they live, look, dress or pray doesn’t make them any less or more than you. We are all human and it is awesome to experience just how different humans can be across the world.
Favorite country: Costa Rica
We’re excited that you have decided to be a part of our community! This blog was created (by Azure, mostly) to inspire and to inform. I want everyone to realize not only how financially feasible traveling can be, but how it can change your life.
Thanks again for visiting! I hope that this blog gives you valuable information and inspires you to either start traveling or travel more!
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Cheers! Ciao! Prost! Salute! ♥