Quit Your Job & Travel The World | An Interview & Photo Essay with Shane & Julie Murphy

I'm not sure how, but a few months I came across the Instagram accounts of Shane and Julie Murphy.  They were traveling around on an extended trip through south east Asia at the time and from their posts it looked like they were having a blast (and making some great photos and memories along the way).  I decided to get in touch and find out a little more about this wonderful couple and what led them to leave their jobs and travel around the world for a few months.

Meet Shane & Julie.  All photos used courtesy of them.

Q: Tell me a little bit about you guys.  Where are you from, how'd you
meet, and when your not traveling around the world what do you for a living (or
plan to be doing when you return)?  

Our very first conversation was about traveling. We met the first week of my
freshman year of Grove City College at a study abroad fair. Shane was a cute
senior working for the international education office, and Julie was a curious
freshman exploring my study abroad options after just having returned from
touring through Europe. We connected over our mutual love for Italy (where
Shane had studied abroad and Julie eventually did likewise) and Shane
continued to pursue me under the disguise of “helping Julie with her international
education process.” We dated throughout the rest of college, which typically
comprised of nature documentaries and snacks.

This recent trip was a product of changing our careers where we planned a clean
break as we quit our jobs in DC (Shane was in finance and Julie worked for the
wedding planning website, WeddingWire) to enter the wild world of self-
employment. When we return, we will be living in State College, PA, where
Shane will become a partner in a custom homebuilding business and Julie will
continue to pursue her stationary / calligraphy business (co-founded with her
sister) Sandpiper & Co (sandpiperandco.com.)

Ankor Wat, Cambodia

Portrait, Vietnam


Portrait, Bali

Bangkok, Thailand

Q: Where are you currently?  Where do you go next?   

We’re finally home! (for now…) Our last stop was Turkey, but we had originally
planned to be in Nepal during / right after the earthquake, but by crazy chance
our plans changed – we are thankful for our safety but our hearts are so heavy
for the people of Nepal! 

Hoi An, Vietnam

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Phuket, Thailand

Q: I read that you both quit your jobs to take this trip.  As someone who
recently left my job to start this company, what was that process like for
you? Difficult?  Easy?  Require a lot of planning?  

We’ve always found excitement in venturing into the unknown and this was no
different. We were both in the process of changing careers and moving so it
became the perfect opportunity to add a 6 month travel window into an already
very clean break. Most of the planning went into financially preparing ourselves
for half a year of no income. This was the part that made us really decide how
badly we wanted to take this trip. In the year leading up, we began cutting
expenses like cable and eating out to save up what we expected to spend. There
was a skeleton of an itinerary for where we wanted to visit but the rest was
figured out as we went along. I’d say that we only roughly stuck to that original
plan thanks to all the incredible tips and advice we’ve received along the way.

Up early.  Sunrise hot air ballooning.  Cappadocia, Turkey 

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey

Q: As a couple you have a goal of traveling outside the US every year. Where else have you guys been? Where are you currently hatching plans to go next (when your done with this trip)? 
We’ve been blessed to have the chance to visit over 50 countries combined.  Here are some of our favorite places from the bunch that we’ve explored together:

  • Morocco – this is where we got engaged so it obviously gets some bonus points. Shane surprised me with a camel trek into the desert and proposed at sunset surrounded by rose gold sand dunes– it felt like we were in Aladdin.
  • Colombia - we honeymooned on the northern coast and were amazed by the friendliness of the people and the beauty that came out of a rough history
  • Italy - we both studied here but at different times. It’s hard to beat a place whose culture revolves around such delicious food.
  • Iceland – to understand why this is a favorite, just check out some of our Iceland pictures on our friend Lauren Fair’s photography blogand a video preview of our trip by our friends Greg & Olivia of Willow Tree Films. EVERYONE go to Iceland now. It’s easily some of the most stunning scenery we’ve witnessed and SO accessible!

For this trip we traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. It crazy to think about planning more travel since we just got home from this 6 month whirlwind, but we are hoping to get to Cuba by the end of the year before the tourist floodgates open.  

Shane bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand 

Queenstown, New Zealand

The Shire, Hobbiton, New Zealand

Gold Coast, Australia

Q: You have a really great website...tell us a little bit about "The Murphy
Atlas".  Did it start just as a chronicle of your travels?  
Our travelogue, The Murphy Atlas, started as a way to keep our mothers happy,
but now serves as a travelogue of our adventures around the world, as well as a
helpful guide for other travelers. We try to include actual specifics of each
destination (the exact Airbnb that we stayed at, where we ate, which bus
company we used, etc) as well as practical advice for saving money & budgeting
for travel (our first couple installments of our Travel Affordability series have been
our most popular posts to date! 
Found on Airbnb.  Cappadocia, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

 Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Q:  You have a lot of great photography on the site.  What equipment do you
guys bring along for such an extended trip?  Anything you'd highly
We use a Canon t3i and definitely recommended it for amateur photographers.
It’s not super pricey by comparison and very portable for traveling. The kit lens
isn’t anything to write home about so we mainly use a 28mm 2.4 that serves as a
very versatile prime lens for great details and portraits. A few accessories we
brought along were a travel-sized tripod, our GoPro 3+, selfie stick (we feel
ridiculous but it comes in handy for the GoPro), and a couple GoPro mounts for
surfboards, etc.
Monkey Beach, Thailand
Mayabay, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand


Q:  And finally, I have to ask, in scrolling through Shane's Instagram account I noticed a
story from Iceland that involved a Land Rover Defender, a flat tire, and
actor Gerard Butler.  What on earth happened?
Crazy story! We rented a giant Land Rover Defender for our September 2014
Iceland road trip. On the way along the southern coast to Vik we blew out the
entire sidewall of our tire and weren’t properly equipped with the correct tools to
fix it. We ended up having to dig an old pipe out of the ground to get the lug nuts
off and burned a couple hours on what should have been a 20 minute job. Finally
on the road, we were forced to make changes to our original plans and decided
to head straight to the hidden waterfall, Gljúfrabúi, that is only accessed through
a cave. Interestingly enough, we also happened to be dressed in full wedding
garb for a styled photoshoot with our videographer and photographer friends.
Just as we started to enter the cave, out from the mist emerged Gerard Butler.
He seemed quite entertained by Julie’s wedding dress and, being that we were
the only two groups there, he and his buddies decided to hang out and chat while
we all enjoyed this gorgeous spot. This waterfall is a must see in Iceland—even
without celebrities.
Flat tire in Iceland.  Photo:  Lauren Fair
Yep, they've got photographic proof.  Shane and Julie with Gerrard Butler.  Photo:  Lauren Fair
A pretty epic portrait in Iceland.  Photo: Lauren Fair


Thanks again to Shane & Julie for sharing a little bit about their story and their photographs with us.  You can find more photos and stories from their travels, as well as great budget travel tips they learned along the way on their website, The Murphy Atlas or on their Instagram accounts (here and here).

1 comment


Love this! I plan on doing this next year with my guy… adventure awaits! Also going to try to startup a website + instagram project along the way. Maybe you’ll write about my travels next :) Thanks for posting. @sweet.lou

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