I’m Jackie Nourse, and this is my story (the long version).Looking for the short version? Click here.
Unlike many stories you read on websites like this, mine does not start with quitting a job to travel the world.
I have done that more times than I can count on two hands, but my real story starts way before I even held a job.
I was fortunate to grow up with parents who loved adventure, whether it be road trips, camping, hiking, or exploring all the national parks we could manage to squeeze into their vacation time.
When I was about 10 years old, I traveled to Montreal with my family. It was my first time out of the United States, and it was the first time I learned that part of Canada spoke French.
I remember being completely intrigued by everything so foreign to me. I even saved a grocery bag with French words on it, along with some of their cool foreign coins, and kept them in a secret drawer in my bedroom until I moved out and went to college.
At age 11, I started helping my older brother with his Spanish homework, and that was all it took for me.
I was hooked.
I began studying Spanish myself at age 12 and continued until I had finished all the grammar studies available to me at my high school. I declared Spanish as my major at age 17, went off to college, and then moved to Costa Rica to study abroad for a year at age 18.
I got swept up in the Costa Rican culture, the food, the dancing, the people, the beautiful places, and, of course, the language. Spanish rolled off my tongue so easily that people started mistaking me for a local.
I lived with an incredible family that I clicked with starting from day one. I excelled in my studies. I became an expert street salsa dancer. I had a permanent tan. I dated guys who taught me how to talk on the phone in Spanish (much harder than in person). I befriended entire groups of people who didn’t speak English. I traveled every weekend. I wrote my journal in Spanish. I thought and dreamt in Spanish.
For possibly the first time in my life, I felt absolutely in my element.
This was me.
When that school year came to its inevitable end, I couldn’t accept that it was over. My entire world had been turned upside down, the rug completely pulled out from under me. I’ve never been so upset to take a flight “home.”
When I got there, I knew at once that I couldn’t stay. Things couldn’t just go “back to normal.”
My normal had changed.
That’s when I started learning Italian. Not long afterwards, I set off for Italy at age 20 for another year of studying abroad. Another year of immersion in a new culture, another new language, with new food, people, sights, and activities. This entirely new life was so easy and natural for me.
I fell completely in love with Italy, and I knew I wouldn’t stop there.
I came out of that year with my life totally divided. I had a life in Italy, I had a life in Costa Rica, and I had a life in the States, with friends that I kept in touch with in multiple languages, literally all across the world.
What could I possibly do but keep adding experience and adventure to this path? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I began studying French and German in college, and after graduation I moved to Brazil for a third study abroad to learn Portuguese. I haven’t finished my French and German studies yet, because I plan to spend some time in France and Germany to become fluent in both.
I want those lives, too.
Update! I studied abroad in France for a month in 2018, at age 33, and became conversational in my 5th language.
I let the cycle I had built become my lifestyle. I’d find work for a season in the US to earn enough to leave again, and then off I’d go.
I kept exploring. I kept collecting languages, friends, and memories from all over the world. I kept growing, and my travel addiction grew with me.
I’ve jumped at every chance I’ve had to exercise my adventurous free spirit by seeing the world, all with my own resources.
I quit my last job and launched The Budget-Minded Traveler blog in 2013, already armed with a decade of international travel experience to carry me forward. The blog took off, and the very next year I launched The Budget-Minded Traveler Podcast (now JUMP Podcast), which for years has consistently ranked among the top travel podcasts worldwide. The BMT platform has its own Community as well as a Blueprint, a comprehensive online course that encompasses the most helpful, practical tips and inspiring stories into one place, teaching you exactly how to travel like I do.
As you may imagine, the success of my blog and podcast, paired with my hustle and dedication, commitment to networking, and growth as a brand has come with change, sacrifice, and new opportunities.
In the midst of pursuing a life of travel, adventure, and personal development, a new project emerged: Traveling Jackie.
I am a creative entrepreneur with more ideas than can possibly fit inside the niche of budget travel, where so many of us begin our globetrotting adventures. While The Budget-Minded Traveler will continue to change thousands of lives through its message, it does not nearly encompass everything I’m passionate about sharing.
Traveling Jackie is my outlet for everything else. It is my home online, starting when I uprooted my life and went nomadic in 2015 (go back in my personal essays for that story). It is my space to explore adventure travel, personal development, as well as leading mentorship programs, group trips, and women’s retreats, which collectively have turned into JUMP Experiences.
Travel is an incredible medium for both internal and external discovery, and I want to do my part to expose as many people to that as I can, to show people themselves, while showing them the world.
My ultimate goals are to inspire you to travel now, not later, to pursue your calling, listen to yourself, challenge yourself on a daily basis, and be who you are meant to be, no matter what the person next to you thinks.
Life is too short to live vicariously. It’s also too short to let anyone else dictate what YOU should do with your one wild walk on this beautiful planet.
Life truly is what YOU make it. So make something beautiful, and don’t wait.