Sole Sister Spotlight: Marie of Miles of Happiness

Friday, July 03, 2015

When artist and travel blogger Marie of Miles of Happiness first emailed me last year to ask if she could guest post on our blog, I was just floored by her portfolio. She was so talented and I looked through her travel sketches dreamily. I just knew then that we have to collaborate. Little did I know that we would co-create a Southeast Asian ebook only a few months later. I found it interesting that she was a European woman living in Asia. And I was this Asian living in Europe. I would have had the chance to interview her in person a few days ago when she visited France. But she left for Hong Kong just a day before I arrived in Paris. Here are a few things we can learn about her:

When did you start a travel lifestyle?

It all started from childhood. My father’s job made us move from place to place. At the age of 8, I had already lived in four different cities –all in France. Since then, traveling is in my blood. I have an incurable case of wanderlust. I left my parents’ place at the age of 15 to go to boarding school and find my ‘independence’ (30kms from their place). Three years later, I moved 900 kms away, to study art in Belgium.

When I started thinking about the future, I couldn’t help but dream about exploring the world. Then I went to New York for a week, fell for it... My thirst of curiosity continued to grow. I got my dream job in a Parisian advertising agency and loved it for a few years, then my dream resurfaced. It had the lifestyle I thought I wanted, living with my bestfriends in Paris. But I knew something was missing.

I resigned, left everything behind me and took a flight for Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2012. I didn’t know it yet but it was the beginning of a whole new life.

Who inspired you to take that big leap? WASS_Spotlight_Question_2

I’ve always been in awe of people who live their dreams. I loved to listen travelers telling about their last adventures. I remember one night, I met a friend of my boyfriend. He had just returned from a year of solo roadtrip in New Zealand. His eyes was sparkling when he talked about his trip. He was so inspiring ! If you’d listen to him, traveling is easy, there’s no reason not too, and if I decide I really want to, I can go travel the world. From tomorrow –or nearly.

After that night, traveling was the only thing in my mind. It kept coming back every single day. I talked about it to my boyfriend, who had traveled a bit as well. He told me only one thing. GO.

I stopped waiting, took my courage in both hands to leave my comfort zone, and applied for a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. Six months later, I landed in the land of the long white cloud. Aotearoa.

Since that day, my biggest fear is to regret and not achieving my deepest dreams.
Do you still keep a home base?

After six months road trippin’ in New Zealand, I went back to South France for a couple of months, then to Paris for work. Afterwards, my boyfriend found a job in Indonesia, so we moved to Jakarta for a few months. Later that year, I moved back to France. In early 2014, we finally decided to settle down. We got married on the 4th of January, and took a plane to Hong Kong on the 5th ! This is where our home is now. 

It took us a while to feel at home there, but after a year, we found our life balance. Hong Kong is a fantastic base for travel lovers. We can be in Japan, Thaïland or China in less than four hours flight ! –and we really enjoy that. We can’t stop traveling. It’s a virus. All my time, my thoughts, my creations, my money (!) – every thing in my life is about travel. Fortunately, my husband is the same –sometimes even worse. So we’re a pretty good team!

It can be exciting to have a bohemian lifestyle, to have a new home every night... But after a while, you get tired of that, and feel like you miss something. In Hong Kong, we have our habits, our friends, our family –AND we never stop exploring !

How do manage to keep traveling? Is there any special work that allows you to fund your trips? 

Traveling naturally became my priority in life. Well, when I took my ticket to go back home last month, I couldn’t help thinking “Or... I could take a ticket to... Greece. Or to India...“. When I go shopping, I always hear that little voice saying “that pair of shoes costs the price of a cooking class in Thailand..." My travel bug helps me save.

On the other hand, my blog has been a great platform for showcasing my work as a designer and illustrator. I also work freelance as a writer, copywriter, translator and web designer remotely. It’s a really challenging lifestyle, and I love it. I wouldn’t be able to go back to the 9 to 5. Besides that, my husband works for an airline company, which allows me to travel with low fare tickets.


Where do you get your inspiration to create your art?

I find my inspiration from everything that makes my daily life. The people on the plane, the traffic in the streets, the quietness of the mountains, the music on the radio, the smell of a flower... Traveling is such a great source of inspiration –everything is new and exciting. I particularly love Southeast Asia – it is so inspiring ! There is so much going on there I don’t even know where to watch.

I also spend hours watching videos, books and stuff about travels. It relaxes me and stimulates my creativity.


What makes you stand out as an artist?

I’d say my spontaneity, my old-school style (I only use Photoshop to light up and contrast the colors) and my childish way to see the world...

I’ve trained professionally at art school in France, then in Belgium. It took me a while to find my own style. I started to use watercolors for practical reasons –it’s super convenient to carry them. After what it naturally became my main tool. Now, it’s like handwriting, I found my signature. It’s not realistic, it’s crooked and the colors are roughly thrown on the paper -but it’s me!


You are currently traveling with your husband, what makes him the best travel partner? 

That’s a tricky question: I cannot be objective on the answer ! Well, I promise to try...

I’ve traveled with strangers, family, friends... And yes, I can say my husband is the best travel partner. For a simple reason : we’re a team ! We perfeeectly complete each other. He is an extreme-sport-lover-unorganized-traveler, and I love organizing our trips in every single detail, I hike since forever and I cannot have a week without my yoga session. I’m passionate about arts, he is the most skeptical and rationalist person I know.

We both push each other over our limits, to do things we thought we’d never do. He pushed me outside of my comfort zone telling me to travel. I pushed him to do the same a few months later, to join me in New Zealand. He taught me how to wake-board. I brought him at almost 5,000m, in the Himalayas. It’s a constant exchange –a constant challenge. There is no routine in our life –or no routine is our routine.


What Passion Projects are you currently working on?

If you know me a bit, you’d know I cannot stay with no passion projects for a long time... I know multitasking is bad for productivity, but that’s how I am !

I’ve started my travel blog Miles of Happiness almost a year ago and I’d like to take it to the next level -more posts, more illustrations, and, above all, more collaborations with great travel blogger like you Lois ! We just worked together on a beautiful project : a travel guide to Southeast Asia, a box filled with passion of two adventure seekers. It allowed me to get to e-meet Lois and to learn a lot about travel blogging.

Besides that, I’ve just started selling my creations in handmade markets and online. It’s thrilling to see how responsive people are. New products are coming soon on my e-shop, so stay tuned for some news...

There are also some “potential passions“ I’d like to develop, such as diving, paragliding and skydiving. And I’d like to run again, but I should stop talking and start doing it !


You were in the Philippines recently, what's your impression of the country?

I’ve only seen a tiny little part of Philippines, and I’m pretty sure most of Filipinos will say “This is not the Philippines !“. I was in Boracay for a long weekend on the beach with my girlfriends. I’ve read/heard a lot about the island before going, and I have to admit I reaaally curious. Is it still a paradise ?

Believe me or not, I simply LOVED it. It is not authentic at all and it’s all made for tourists. But I was conscious about it. The beaches are stunning, the sunset from Diniwid beach incredible and the atmosphere awesome for this kind of girly trip ! And you know what (even worse ;)) ? I’d love to go back there to show the island to my husband.

The Philippines is just a few hours flight from Hong Kong and I loved my first experience there, so I know it’s just the beginning of the discovery !
What's your advice for people who think that they can't live a travel lifestyle for any given reason?

Ttt, ttt, ttt... That’s an excuse ! If you really want it, do it. Some people travel without any money. Some people travel with a loan. Some with kids. With a disease. Everything is possible. The only thing is, you need to define your priorities and desires. I don’t say it will be easy. I’m just saying it’s possible. It can take years to save and leave your routine, and so what ? You would rather travel the world in two years than never, right ?

Do what you love.

Marie Pottiez of Miles of Happiness

Founder of Miles of Happiness, Marie Pottiez is an creative blogger curious of everything. She has an unquenchable thirst for discovery and sharing. Originally from France, she lived in Belgium, New Zealand and Indonesia, before settling down in Hong Kong in 2014. She spends as much time as possible traveling throughout Asia, discovering new pieces of paradise. You can follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Want to read more about women empowering women to travel? Check out more Sole Sister Spotlight.

Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters .weare@gmail .com. We look forward to your suggestions!

Searching for other sisters who make travel happen,
Sole Sister Lois


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