According to a recent TIME Magazine report, many of us have the fantasy of quitting our jobs and heading off travelling. Well for Violaine Malié (28) this fantasy became a reality when she left her home in France and travelled around 30 countries before settling down in North Belfast with her partner Pedro and her 6-week-old son Hector.

“My travelling began when I left France in 2009 for studying. I spent several months on the island of Reunion off Madagascar for an internship in a beautiful 4-star hotel, working as an assistant spa manager. I also did several internships and university exchange in Iceland, China, Canada and Italy. When I returned home in 2012 it would be fair to say I had been bitten by the travel bug and knew I wouldn’t be living in France for long.”

After researching various places to relocate, Ireland seemed like the perfect location for Violaine. “At the time, my priority was to improve my English,” she said. “Having spent the previous 3 years living far from Europe, Ireland seemed to be a good option – and I had heard so many nice things about the Emerald Isle! I first moved to Malahide near Dublin where I attended English classes every day for 6 months. Afterwards, I found a job in Cork where I worked in the hospitality field, dealing with the US market.

“When I arrived in Belfast in 2014 I found a job in a call centre, working for a big hospitality brand in the hotel reservation field. Although this career wasn’t my long-term plan, the working hours let me indulge my passion for photography and work on my blog, Vio’ Vadrouille in my free time.”

Violaine’s blog offers a quirky take on being an expatriate living in Belfast and she covers her time exploring Ireland and further afield. Her posts on local culture include The Ulster Fry: the art of breakfast in Northern Ireland, a practical guide to St Patrick’s Day, Belfast, Brexit and the 12th July. She also has more exotic posts from Morocco, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

Now currently on maternity leave, she is hoping to visit more countries and has the goal of planning one country per month. “I’ll be travelling to Greece early June, France and Portugal this summer, and in between, I always enjoy a great getaway in Donegal or a staycation within the province!

“Travelling not only gives me the chance to see the world, but also gives me the chance to write about it. The world is a smaller place and although I love it here in Ireland, there is much more of the world left to see. I am working my way through the globe one country at a time!”

Another entrepreneur who has turned our love of travel into a thriving business is Paul Stewart (29). His online company, Uni Baggage ships luggage across the world and was set up 8 years ago when Paul was at university in Scotland and was spending a fortune sending belongings back and forward to his home here in East Belfast.

His business services customers, who like Violaine enjoy travelling or have relocated to another country by shipping their luggage direct from their home to wherever they need to be across the world.

He said, “Our service is popular for travellers and expats wishing to send suitcases, golf clubs or bulky items they purchased on holiday as it can save them hundreds of pounds and the hassle of having to bring oversized items to the airport or post office. We offer a full door-to-door service with online tracking each step of the way and have partnerships with couriers that will pick up luggage from locations all over the world so it is very straightforward.

“Also as airline prices increased and policies changed – such as Ryanair introducing charges for storing cabin baggage, we found that more ‘frequent travellers’ who move around several times a year use Uni Baggage to ship their luggage ahead of them to save them waiting around at airports.”

Although Paul had no intention of going into this type of work when he was studying at university, the changes to travel habits have allowed him to carve out a successful career for himself.

“I have noticed a significant change in travel habits in the last 3-5 years compared to the early years of the business and this has helped Uni Baggage grow significantly. You only have to look at the number of travel blogs that have shot up to show how much we are indulging in travel. I believe this is because of more affordable airline options, the growth of Airbnb and the amount of travel content on social networks inspiring people to travel more.

“We have recently doubled our team locally to deal with new customers travelling from Northern Ireland, Europe and our new 500 routes from the USA and I’m confident this will only grow. Online opportunities have not only increased the ease of travelling the world, it has also helped a business like mine service the travellers when they go.”

Spotting local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch @GSpotsBlog socials or email grainne@gspots.biz