Hi. I'm Gwen.
It’s my passion to empower people to make their travel dreams come true, and Full Life, Full Passport is the embodiment of that passion. It’s where I help people see the world through expertly-planned, completely customized vacations. It’s also where I publish practical tips, inspiring itineraries, thoughtful articles, and fun lists on my blog to help make your travel planning easy and enjoyable.
A lot of people will try to tell you that there’s a right way to travel. I’m here to encourage you that aside from some basic matters of human decency (be kind to others, treat host cultures with respect, do your best to minimize environmental impact), there isn’t.
You’re not less of a traveler because you also have other life priorities and choose not to travel full-time.
You’re not less of a traveler because you take a cruise or a guided tour.
You’re not less of a traveler because you do something “touristy.”
You’re not less of a traveler because your photos aren’t Instagram-perfect.
You’re not less of a traveler because you pronounce it “Barsel-oh-na” instead of “Barth-elona” or “Budapest” instead of “Budapesht.”
What matters is that you are seeing the world and spending your hard-earned money on experiences that will grow, challenge, thrill, delight, and satisfy you. You’re leaving your comfort zone – whether with just a tiny toe or a giant, running leap – and making memories that will last a lifetime. And that’s what’s travel is all about.
So stop listening to the travel snobs, and let Full Life, Full Passport help you craft your best vacation yet!
And if you need help, I’m always here 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
I grew up outside of a small town in rural central Pennsylvania, USA. After going to university in Delaware and spending a few years living, working, and traveling across the globe, I now live outside of Philadelphia.
M is my handsome husband! We met in college, started dating a few years after, and got married in 2014. Since then, he’s been the best life and travel partner a gal could ever want. When I started Full Life, Full Passport, he requested that I refer to him by his first initial in my blog posts, so I have respected that.
E is our son, who was born right around Christmas in 2018, and S is our daughter who was just born in March of 2021. While I am pretty free with photos of M and myself, we have decided to be more guarded about our kids’ privacy online. That’s why we only refer to them by their first initials, and we refrain from putting many photos of them online, including on our personal social media accounts. While I am certainly supportive of mommy and family travel bloggers who feature their kids, we don’t want ours growing up having had their entire childhoods out there for the world to see.
Nope! While I was certainly fortunate to go on some great family vacations as a kid, my early travels were modest and mostly confined to the contiguous United States. (Think visiting family in California, summers at the Delaware beaches, a couple trips to Disney, etc.) It wasn’t until I went to college that I got my first passport stamps studying abroad and tagging along on a friend’s family trip to Panama.
I don’t. After a couple of years of living a nomadic lifestyle, I realized that I really value having a place to call home. (While on a two-month cross-country road trip with my best friend, I actually got jealous of people who hosted us because they were able to decorate apartments, join local organizations, and have dinner parties with friends who lived in the same area code.) My husband, M, and I also have a lot of goals for our lives that don’t have anything to do with traveling.
Great question! M and I are very passionate about financial responsibility and budgeting, and travel is one of many things for which we save on a monthly basis. He works full-time in corporate America, while I am home with our son, E, during the day. In addition to income from Full Life, Full Passport’s blog and vacation planning services, I do freelance work in technology and events as well as being a college admission consultant.
We also do a lot to lower the cost of our vacations, including scouting out travel deals, traveling off-season, packing our own snacks, and staying in mid-range hotels.
I love what my blogging friend Riana wrote about being an “almost budget traveler.” M and I do our best to travel as inexpensively as possible while still allowing for certain comforts and experiences. For example, we’ll travel off-season and stay in non-luxury hotels to save a bit of money, then splurge on a great meal in Paris or a one-in-a-lifetime experience like a glacier landing in Alaska. For us, it’s about deciding what adds value to our trip and focusing our spending there.
M and I also tend to be pretty pedal-to-the-metal when we travel, which is actually something I’m trying to work on. We love milking a trip for all it’s worth, like when we traveled over 1,250 km during a three-day vacation to Iceland. While it can be great to see and do as much as possible in the time you have, I also have learned that there’s a lot of value in “slow” travel (spending lots of time in one place or just not rushing to pack things in) as well.
For understandable reasons, this number is important to a lot of people, though I will admit that I’ve learned to place less stock in it over the years. If you’re curious, though, I’m currently sitting on 27 countries (which I define as United Nations member nations) and 45 US states, plus some additional territories and islands.
Places where I spent extended periods of time include Ecuador (where I studied abroad during my junior year of college), Alaska and the Yukon (where I lived and worked for three summers as a tour director for a major cruise line), and Peru (where I taught English in an elementary school in Huancayo). My longest trips were three months backpacking South America, two months backpacking Southeast Asia, and the aforementioned two-month road trip across the USA.
If you’re curious about which were my first twenty-five countries, check out one of my favorite early blog posts 🙂
It’s so hard to narrow down, but I will say that Alaska, the Yukon, Ecuador, Iceland, Chile, Scotland, Vietnam, Paris, and the American Southwest are all places I would return to in a heartbeat.
In short, no. M and I pay for our own travel entirely, and I like that being a paying customer allows me to give an unbiased review and recommendation of my experience. In fact, I usually don’t volunteer my job information to travel providers because I don’t want the experience I recount for my readers to be dramatically different than what they might encounter by following my recommendations.
That said, in situations where I have received compensation, a free stay, or sponsorship in any way, that will absolutely be disclosed to you as a reader. I promise, however, that I will always be truthful in my opinions and won’t recommend something that I wouldn’t have wanted to have purchased myself.