- Courtesy of Luxe Adventure Traveler
In 2009, Jennifer Dombrowski moved to Italy.
She had been living and working in Arizona when her husband got transferred through his military job to a small town in Northern Italy. She asked her employer if she could continue her work as a social media strategist for a university for a six-month trial period from her new home near Venice.
“That six-month trial period turned into six years,” she told Business Insider.
Today, Dombrowski, 36, and Tim Davis, 35, are living in Bordeaux, France, building their own luxury travel business, Luxe Adventure Traveler. They’ve visited more than 50 countries on four continents.
Below, Dombrowski told Business Insider how she came to start her own business, what it’s like living and working thousands of miles from home, and what everyone gets wrong about luxury travel.
Dombrowski launched a hobby blog to keep friends and family in the loop almost immediately after arriving in Italy.
Sunset floating in the pinks and golds of the Dead Sea! A few tips for floating in the Dead Sea: 1. The water is greasy from the high salinity, so bring an old swimsuit you don’t mind tossing out after floating. 2. Bring water shoes so you don’t cut up your feet on the crystallized salt. 3. Don’t shave right before going in.
In the Dead Sea, Jordan.
“The first weekend we had free, we were like, ‘What are we going to do? Hey, let’s go travel — Slovenia is an hour away, and Croatia another hour. We visited three countries in one weekend, so let’s start blogging about it,” she said.
In Puglia, Italy.
With Dombrowski keeping her US-based job with regular hours, and Davis holding a military job, they weren’t able to indulge every travel whim. Instead, they sat down with their calendars and highlighted the limited times they could take off and travel together.
In the Bahamas.
Davis’s schedule was more restrictive, thanks to scheduled military exercises and missions. But Dombrowski had seven weeks of vacation working for a university, and she was determined to maximize every minute.
In the Rhine Valley, Germany.
Instead of spending quiet weekends or breaks at home, “we would make sure we always planned to have something going on during those times,” she said. “Having the weekend and being in Europe, you could go so many places just driving or taking a cheap budget flight.”
In Maratea, Italy.
But just because they could travel on a shoestring budget doesn’t mean they always did. If you’re looking for a place to learn more about “how to travel on $50 a day or less,” they write on their site, “Luxe Adventure Traveler isn’t it.”
Under the sea Under the sea Darling it’s better Down where it’s wetter Take it from me One of the most unique dining experiences we’ve ever had. Anantara Kihavah’s under water restaurant, Sea, is a must! We recommend booking a table for lunch when you can see all the amazing sea life ???????????? swimming around. Where is the most unique place you’ve ever dined?
In the Maldives.
But luxury “absolutely doesn’t have to be terribly expensive,” Dombrowski said. “There’s the champagne and caviar dreams version of luxury, but then there’s just being able to go and enjoy a glass of wine here in Bordeaux. Being able to go out and enjoy that and treat yourself at the end of the day can also be luxury.”
It’s #NationalMacaronDay! Macarons are one of my favorite things and there is a fabulous macaron shop just a few doors down from my new apartment in Bordeaux. It’s a good thing I don’t have an elevator and will primarily be getting around on foot, so I can work off all the extra calories I’m sure to consume over the next year. ????
In Bordeaux, France.
After six years of running their blog on the side, Dombrowski decided to quit her job and focus on building it full-time, with the idea that she and her husband will run it together when his stint with the military ends three years from now.
In the French Alps.
“It’s been hard to find the perfect balance, because the exciting part for readers is that you’re on the road, but we’re not nomadic like a lot of travel bloggers,” she said. “We used to travel to about 20 countries a year, and now we’re going to half or less than half of that. It’s about finding the things that interest us and that our readers are interested in.”
Living in Bordeaux, where they moved earlier this year, makes mixing work and travel easy. “I can work all day preparing for projects,” Dombrowski said. “But after I’m done or if I need a break I can go out in this beautiful city — go climb the tower and get a cool view, or go to a great museum, or hop on the train and go to a tasting at a wine shop.”
It’s a heatwave again! I’m staying cool with ????. Violet is one of my favorite French flavors. Which is funny since I’m not usually a fan of edible flowers because, well, flowers taste exactly how you think they will. Like you licked your yard. But the violet is very sweet and it’s even common to find them candied. Yum!
In Bordeaux, France.
Aside from the blog, Luxe Adventure Traveler now offers consulting and helps clients with travel-related projects. For instance, Dombrowski is currently preparing for a food and wine Instagram takeover for the French tourism bureau.
Dune du Pilat, France.
They also license some of Davis’s photography to other businesses and Dombrowski works as a professional contributing travel writer. Currently, the site brings in about 30% of their total income.
A few rain drops and moody skies couldn’t keep me from exploring the jaw-dropping wine chateaux of the Medoc. Sadly, the French inheritance tax is so high that many of the estates just could not be kept in the families. This one is Chateau Pichon Longueville and it was bought by the insurance company AXA. The chateau is empty, but the estate still produces a second growth wine. And you can rent the chateau for private dinners and events.
In Bordeaux, France.
“We’ve learned to slow down,” Dombrowski said. “We used to pack everything we possibly could into a vacation, because like most people we were going for a week at a time, so we wanted to see as much as we could. But it’s really nice to plan a day to enjoy the pool or book a spa appointment or be lazy, because you are on vacation and how often do you get to do that at home?”
In Castellabate, Italy.
More than 50 countries later, Dombrowski shared some practical advice for travelers: “Always, especially when you’re planning an international trip, ensure that you’ve got all your ducks in order. If the country you’re visiting says you need four consecutive empty pages in your passport, makes sure you do. We’ve had friends that have been denied entry for things like that.” She recommends travel.state.gov to find out what you need.
Burano is among the top 10 most colorful cities in the world and the locals are proud of that distinction. It’s a tradition that began when fisherman decided to paint their houses in bright colors to be able to easily find their way home after a long day fishing and in the thick fog that often descends upon the Lagoon. It’s a tradition that has carried to today.
In Burano, Italy.
And, she added, “when you’re deciding to go on a trip, it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even if you take a trip once every year, that’s a place you’re going to go and not come back to. So if it means not going to Starbucks for your morning coffee for a few months to save for that one item you really want to splurge on while you’re there, that’s what you do.”
“Don’t go and regret not doing something when you get home. There are things you can do in your daily life to save up for those luxury expenses. Just don’t miss out on those things because they seem out of reach.”