The World is for Living
What happens when one woman swaps status quo for adventure and global travels
By Kurt Dusterberg
Photo by Blaine Butler
Leslie Price is always headed somewhere, although she rarely knows where she is going.
Like so many people, Price spent years dreaming of places around the world she would like to visit. When her bucket list began to overflow and her job as a funeral director reminded her that life can be fleeting, she set out to change her work-life balance. A year ago, she quit the job in Orlando, reconnected with an old boyfriend in Cary, and moved to North Carolina.
Since then, Price has been living out her adventures—arbitrarily. Along the way, she has gained a remarkable following on her blog, MyAdventureBucket.com. Her entries are rich with details about ancient temples, remote villages, and delicious meals. If all goes well, she hopes to leave the working world behind once and for all.
Cary Living: It sounds like a 180-degree philosophical turn from funeral director to setting out to travel the world.
Leslie Price: It was kind of a natural progression for me because I was confronted with that reality every single day. I remember the first person I buried who was younger than I was; he was 18. Actually seeing that happen, watching the family mourn his life and everything he never got to do, it makes you think of all the people with dreams unfulfilled.
CL: Has travel always been a big part of your life?
Price: I started traveling on vacations like normal people. Not everyone goes to Burma or Uganda on vacation. I would save up, go on one big trip a year, and show pictures to my friends and co-workers and tell them stories. They would say, “You should write a book,” or, “You should write a travel blog.” In the back of my mind, I thought that would be cool. Being a funeral director is a high-stress job. I kind of got burned out.
CL: How many trips have you written about on MyAdventureBucket.com?
Price: When I started the blog, I got out my old handwritten journals and wrote posts about trips I had already taken over the past nine years. When I left the funeral home in February , I gave away about 95 percent of my belongings, took my dog to summer camp in Virginia, and flew to India. I spent a couple of weeks there, and then went to Sri Lanka for a couple of months. When I came back, I got my dog and took her on a six-week road trip around the U.S.
CL: I understand your destinations are chosen randomly. How does that happen?
Price: I use a random number generator. About nine years ago when I was trying to figure out where I was going to go, my list was about 200 [places]. I couldn’t possibly prioritize them. So I plugged in my 200-something things just to see what it would spit out. It chose sailing down the Amazon. My husband at the time didn’t really want to go to South America. Nobody wants to go to all the places I want to go; that’s a constant issue with me.
My random number generator sent me on the first solo trip I took, which was to Burma. But in 2009, the U.S. State Department was telling people not to go there. But [the number generator] picked this place, and that’s where I was going, end of story.
CL: Your writing and photography are very good. Have you done any writing in your past?
Price: All I have written in the past 15 years are obituaries. I don’t have any formal training, it’s just something I enjoy.
CL: How is this an affordable life?
Price: When I quit my job, I took my life savings, which was maybe going to be for a house. But that’s too much commitment and too much of one place for me. I had enough to make a go of things for a year or two. I have had a little success monetizing the blog through affiliate sales, using links to travel websites, and I’ve sold a few articles.
CL: Do hotels and resorts cover some of your expenses?
Price: Some of them have, which I always disclose in the blog post. I had some success with that in Sri Lanka, especially, because it’s an up-and-coming travel destination. It’s not the first place people think of traveling to; they don’t get a lot of U.S. travelers. Right now, I have almost 85,000 Facebook followers. When I send out a request to a hotel or travel company to ask if they want to collaborate with me, I tell them how many followers I have on social media. If that’s more numbers than they have, they’ll say, “That sounds good.”
CL: Since most of your trips are solo, what kinds of adventures do you seek out?
Price: I want to see everything. I’m constantly out walking with my camera. I just want to absorb as much as I possibly can. I don’t so much care for going to all-inclusive resorts. If all I see is a bunch of other Americans at the same resort, I’m not interested in that. I do need a little bit of luxury. I’m not 21 anymore; I can’t sleep in a rock-hard hostel bed. I need a little privacy and comfort, but I want to see how people actually live in other parts of the world.
CL: What is your takeaway from this—about the world and the people you have encountered?
Price: It’s that the world isn’t as scary a place as everyone thinks it is. When I went on my first solo trip to Burma, I had a secretary who was convinced she was never going to see me again. I get that a lot. People of a certain age, when they hear that a woman is traveling alone, they ask, “Aren’t you scared?” The world is not a scary place. Things can happen just as easily in Cary as in Rwanda. I’ve never had anything bad happen to me on my travels. If anything, people look out for you more when they see you are by yourself.
CL: Do you plan to do this permanently, so you don’t have to get another “real” job?
Price: I haven’t gotten to that point yet, and hopefully I won’t. I’ve been talking with Intrepid Travel about some larger projects down the road. I’ve got so many ideas about different things I want to write, that I don’t think I will have to go back to a conventional desk job—not yet, if ever. There are 618 things on my bucket list right now, and I’ve only checked off 100 of them.