jumping shot great wall of chinaWelcome to A Little Adrift and thanks for stopping by. I’m Shannon O’Donnell, and this site has been my home since I left to travel around the world in 2008. I launched A Little Adrift as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows and whys for others feeling adrift and looking for a change in their lives.

Over the years, A Little Adrift evolved from a pure travelogue into a resource point to motivate and encourage other travelers through stories, advice, and photography. Readers have joined at all stages of the journey, some from my first musings from Sydney, others along the way as numerous international news publications featured A Little Adrift. I am humbled the community now spans more than 100 countries and tens of thousands of readers. Many members of the community dream of taking a similar trip and they use A Little Adrift to find the courage and resources to make international travel a reality.

ALA focuses on these core themes:

  • Slow, local level grassroots travel
  • Connecting to cultures through food and service
  • Practical advice for planning long-term travels
  • How to travel as a vegetarian
  • Tools and resources for living/working abroad
  • Creating a supportive community motivating others to travel

To see what projects I’m working on right now, head here. To join the community you can subscribe to updates via emailrss, or the monthly newsletter.

Join the community — we’re 50,000+ strong and growing!

Count on receiving a regular dose of travel inspiration, a huge community of
like-minded travelers, and first access to monthly giveaways.

[yikes-mailchimp form=”1″]

About A Little Adrift

In the early days, this site chronicled my year-long trip around the world trip and shared all the ways I planned, plotted, and made that trip a reality. And through hard-work (and some luck), I have managed to continue traveling and living in various countries and cities for the better part of each year. I craft stories to motivate travelers who dream of traveling but have not yet done so. The site also shares advice and inspiration for others setting off on RTW trips, and occasionally highlights resources and thoughts on location independence.

With more seven years of stories and advice, the site has become a resource spot for other round the world travelers—the travel planning page is one of the most popular on the site and aggregates tips and advice from this site, as well as the entire travel community. Each time readers email me with questions, I use that information to flesh out the planning resource page so the entire community can use the information. I’ve worked hard to build the site with extensive support and resources, and the folks at NPR, National Geographic, BBC, and others have pointed to ALA as a cornerstone resource for ethical tourism advice.

A Little Adrift’s ultimate goal is to better empower and motivate all interested travelers with solid advice on how to travel the world. I believe we each need the tools and experiences learned through travel, and the A Little Adrift community is committed to motivating students and young adults to expand their world view through travel. I also believe traveling with a service mindset gives a unique lens through which to immerse in new cultures, and I launched ALA’s sister site, Grassroots Volunteering, as a way to connect travelers to local causes and communities.

I have always supported my travels through online consulting, writing, and photography and I am proud that A Little Adrift remains completely ad-free and does not accept sponsored content. Amazon and affiliate links on the site, in addition to my book, are the sole ways I directly monetize this site. I write to share stories and advice in the hopes of better fostering a community of kindred spirits here on A Little Adrift.

A quick start guide to navigating the site: 

About Shannon O’Donnell

Speaking at a National Geographic Live event in Washington, DCI am a former actress, current speaker, writer, traveler, and storyteller (view all my projects and portfolio here).  And though it seemed a distant possibility in the early days of travel, I have managed to make international travel the focus of my life and work.

When I left the US in 2008, I had many motivations for traveling solo around the world, but the short version is something like this: I grew up in a sleepy town in Florida, moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career after studying Advertising/Public Relations at the University of Central Florida. After two years in Los Angeles, I wanted to change my life to embrace my dream to travel long-term. In a spur of the moment decision I decided to pack up my life in California and travel around the world for a year while volunteering and supporting communities along the way.

That focus on local-level service and support led to my first book; The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook (fall 2012) was met with many positive reviews, including Booklist Magazine, the Midwest Book Review, and Marilyn Terrell from National Geographic Traveler, as well as wonderful feedback from the ALA community.

As the A Little Adrift community spread to include travelers on every continent on earth, I have expanded deeper into travel community, looking for opportunities to use my experiences to motivate others to act on their dreams of international travel. National Geographic named me one of their 2013 Travelers of the Year, and my writing and photography have been featured on Canada’s Globe and Mail, BBC Travel, USA Today, Lonely Planet, and Cosmopolitan Italy magazine, among other places (the press/PR page holds those details, along with an author bio and media information on my book).

Public speaking is also a passion and I regularly speak with students about travel, international volunteering, and the importance cultivating an informed worldview. In addition, I speak about SEO and web marketing at travel industry conferences.


More details are on my contact page, or connect on social media below.

Where am I right now?

This page here is updated monthly with my travel and project plans!

That’s all I have for you on this page folks—why not start with the “Best Of” A Little Adrift page, it contains all of my favorite travel stories. :)

  • Hi – I love your story! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

  • Hi Shannon,

    Just read about your adventure on Beara – thank you for sharing. You're a talented and lovely young woman. Best of luck in your wanderings. Maybe we'll cross paths in Dingle. First round is on me.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I will definitely let you know next time I make it that way. I love visiting Ireland so much that you just might see me over there again soon! :-)

  • Dear blogger,

    I contact you because we are both travel bloggers and probably have an overlapping audience. We could share that audience.
    Are you interested?

    My journey
    From October 2009 – October 2010 I will travel around the world and find and support deserving causes (such as orphanages, streetkids projects, refugee camps, ngo's) by working for them, offering publicity and donating some money. I organize it primarily through couchsurfing and understand Charity Travel as a humanly rewarding way of traveling while helping the needy people on the planet. I hope you like this idea – you are welcome to read more about it on

    I hope to globalize humanitarian aid by proving it is perfectly possible to remain independent of large bureaucracies – because the internet allows us to establish the right contacts.

    I simply offer you a mutual link to attract attention to both our ventures.

    Looking forward to your reply,

    kind regards,

    Kamiel Verwer

  • everywhereist

    If there's one thing that resonates with me, it's a Florida girl with a strong case of Wanderlust. :)

    • ShannonOD

      That's what I thought when I read you were from Florida too! :-)

    • ShannonOD

      That's what I thought when I read you were from Florida too! :-)

  • Pingback: Flip’s First Pit stop: 100th Article()

  • Pingback: A Cornerstone For VolunTourism Experiences: The FOOD!!()

  • Pingback: ‘Is this seat taken?’ – The decision of traveling solo | Where in the world is Rita?()

  • Pingback: Useful Tips for a Student's First Time Traveling Abroad | Off-Track Backpacking()

  • Pingback: ‘Is this seat taken?’ – The decision of traveling solo | Where in the World is Rita?()

  • Pingback: T-Day – Minus 29 | Derek Meets World()

  • Pingback: Shannon O'Donnell on Making Ethical Choices for a Sustainable World | Drink Soma Blog | Mindful Consumption()

  • Pingback: DIY Voluntourism: A Manifesto – Intelligent Travel()

  • Pingback: My 4 Favorite Travel Blogs - Dare to Au Pair()

  • Pingback: Jambo!! Quien dijo que Africa no es interesante? |

  • Pingback: 9 Signs You're Stuck in a Rut - Banker in the Sun()

  • Pingback: Best Blogs for Cultured Travelers | Discover the World with Academic Arrangements Abroad()

  • Pingback: Travel Blogger Tell All - Everything Everywhere()

  • Pingback: [Friday postcards]: Kenya | CONTINENTAL DRIFTINGS()

  • Pingback: Get Out of the Rat Race Fast()

  • Pingback: International Women’s Day 2015 | Araya Adventures()

  • Pingback: Building for the Long Term - Drew Meyers Blog()

  • Pingback: Gary Arndt And Shannon O’Donnell Talk About Digital Nomads : OnTravel – Travel Information and Tips()