So why do people travel? Growing up and seeing such diversity in NYC and NJ maintained my interest in culture and different ways of living.
I always had hopes of maybe one day. Travel was on the back burner. I genuinely never thought someone like me would be able to create travel into a lifestyle. It always seemed too expensive or unrealistic.
After finishing school in December 2015, I wasn’t sure what was next in life. A job of course but I started thinking about the real world and that there had to be much, much more to life than just a j-o-b and paying bills.
After finally graduating and working through school, I felt free. Like I had done everything society had told me to do, now it was my time.
It was time to enjoy life for what I wanted to do.
After 3 months of job hunting, I was hired at a media company. It was a temp job in a Sales Support role.
I was so eager to learn, yet I was quickly proven there was no growth as I had unresponsive management and almost nonexistent leadership.
No benefits, no paid time off, and a dead-end position. I was very discouraged and got incredibly turned off at the whole situation if that was a little taste of the corporate ladder in America.
Very uninterested in corporate shenanigans, I realized it was time for a change.
It was time to make a move and had a huge decision to make. It was between:
- A. Move out and stick to a job I will probably grow out of, and participate in the American rat race while I accumulate expenses and more debt over time OR
- B. I can live a life with travel and experiences, less consumption, less stress, and possibly find a cheaper and better way of living and find another way to make money.
In July 2016, I courageously chose B.
Eager to see new places, I booked a trip to visit a friend in Toronto (Canada) for my 24th birthday. As a result, this is when the travels started little by little.
However, after that weekend, I went back to work and realized me traveling wasn’t happening with a 9-5.
As a temp, it was a huge process to take one day off. Remember, I had no benefits.
Fun fact: For the majority of “permanent” employees in America, you’re lucky if you get just 14 vacation days in a year.
Travel just isn’t a thing in Corporate America.
Finally, I started to realize that if the only reason I’m in a cubicle all day is to have money in my pocket, why not just find another way to make money elsewhere? This is when I realized there’s plenty of money to be made outside of offices.
No more putting off
I always had to put travel off for later.
When I was younger my family and I simply didn’t have the money. When I attempted to study abroad, I realized that was merely impossible. The loan amount for it made me think twice.
Travel seemed so far off and so expensive, I simply had the idea of “one day”
July 2016 it was actually going to happen.
I read an Oprah quote in my cubicle that honestly fueled this fire even more (Cheesy right? I know) To tell you the exact quote, (shortened it a bit) it was:
“There’s a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to feel that, to hear that, to know that and sometimes, when you’re not listening, you get taken off track. You get in the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship, you take the wrong job. Yeah, but it’s all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths. There are none. There’s no such thing as failure really, because failure is just that thing, trying to move you in another direction. So you get as much from your losses, as you do from your victories because the losses are there to wake you up.”
Doing something about it
BRAVO Oprah. That really hit home. This was the time my eyes opened up to the fact that life is NOT black and white. Just because you plan something you won’t always have the predicted outcome.
Subsequently, I realized I was in a job I didn’t enjoy dreaming about a life I wasn’t living. No more excuses, no more dreaming. I am going to make travel happen.
As such a loyal fan to this quote, I printed it out and hung it up in my cubicle for a reminder of my goals.
We’re going to do this Oprah! #lehgo.
I had the mentality of what’s the worst that can happen? I don’t like traveling? Something goes wrong and I have to come home? I run out of money? If I’m not passionate about this job and will quit anyway, it won’t be the end of the world if I leave now.
Coming up with a way out
With about $2700 in my savings account, I started thinking about what can be a way out to travel and work. Come and behold I found TEFL.
TEFL = Teaching English to Foreign Language. If you’re a Native English Speaker, have a university degree, and a passport, you have a ticket to make money abroad.
After researching TEFL, I learned that someone will actually hire me with 0 experience in teaching and 0 knowledge of the foreign language.
Great! Let’s do this! Where will I go?
I wanted to go somewhere far, somewhere new – a culture I knew nothing about.
When I was looking up places to TEFL, my South Korean best friend told me that TEFL jobs there have great benefits. They pay for your apartment, a decent salary, and health insurance.
My 24-year-old self was in awe. I remember thinking, why doesn’t everyone do this?!
Working abroad in the beginning of your travel journey can get confusing and overwhelming, If this is something you’d like to do, I have tips on how to successfully do this. You can find more information in how to work abroad.
The plan to TEFL
The first destination was Thailand as I wanted warm and beach-y. South Korea was my next move in case Thailand didn’t work out for whatever reason.
Ya know, I was scared to do this and legit had plans A, B, and maybe C lined up.
I planned everything to the T prior to leaving. I thought everything would go exactly as planned.
So cute of me.
Life doesn’t always go as planned. I expected way too much in these experiences and in my opinion, that’s why things went South.
I didn’t stay in either place for the scheduled time. The experience turned out not to be what I had in mind.
From my corporate job to TEFL being a nightmare, everything was going wrong.
Changed my mentality of life and adulthood, fast. Nothing really is easy and everything takes work.
I made the choice to go to these places, but what I learned at the time was that I knew nothing about life and knew even less about travel!!
So what went wrong?
I went away to Phuket one weekend and I got bit by a stray cat. There is an insane amount of stray animals in Thailand. They are everywhere.
Also, no I was not petting it, I actually was not a fan of cats at this time so this was a huge plot twist how this even happened. It literally just bit me and walked away.
To take care of it, I went to a hospital that same night. They put betadine on it and patted my shoulder and said okay. I was intensely uncomfortable and concerned as I thought the hospital handled it poorly.
I felt as though I was neglected proper hospital care. Once this happened, I obviously had other priorities on my mind.
I had 0 desire to go all the way back to Sakeo where my school was.
That incident rocked my world as this wasn’t on my agenda. Things frequently go wrong when you travel, it is the nature of the game.
My family wanted me to come home so it got discouraging to decide if I will stay or go.
In the end, what I decided was to island-hop for a month around Phuket where I rented an apartment at Dcondo Mine Kathu and then go to South Korea from there.
Learning about travel
After the realization of I’m not going to stay in South Korea, I gave myself a deadline. The date was March 2017 to attempt to save about $9,000.
I started thinking, I honestly want to travel. Just that, nothing else. This time, no teaching English.
I went on Youtube shortly after and searched for some travel terms for inspiration.
Loads of TED talks came up and I got so inspired to see the world even more. These were normal ordinary people who traveled all over. I thought that could be me. Why is it not me?
You ever get a chase of adrenaline where you need to act? That’s what happened here.
It caused action because moments later, I went on Skyscanner and booked a one-way flight from NYC to Berlin for $150 USD for March 2017 and another one way from NYC to Barcelona for May 2017 for $200 USD.
To be honest, I had no idea what my travel plans even were. What I did know was I didn’t want to put anything off anymore. I booked it so it was at least 100% going to happen.
Finally Europe, I’ve been dreaming about this forever! My mind started racing, how long should I go? Where should I go? How much do things cost? You get the point.
Quick change of plans
I actually ended up leaving South Korea earlier then expected, in November 2016.
2 weeks after I got home, I got a job. Time was not to be wasted.
I saved 10k in 4 months for this Europe trip. To get insight on how I was able to save so much (because yes it IS possible) check out tips to save money for your next trip.
I knew I wanted to go big financially. After all, it was my first real backpacking trip.
By myself, no one else was coming. I had to have a good amount of cash.
I left for Berlin in April 2017. My euro trip was originally supposed to be 3 months long.
However, before I left, I eventually snagged a nanny job in Berlin to start in the Fall of 2017. This was in case I wanted to stay around Europe, I had an option.
Off I went in April with myself and a backpack.
Fast forward to June 2017 I went to Sonar, a music festival in Barcelona. Little did I know, this would change my plans. I met an interesting Spaniard fellow named Pablo, my current partner today. He knew I was traveling and asked me about my next stops to meet.
I was impressed for sure but I thought the traveling thing was almost done as I was running out of money.
“I had to get back to reality,” I thought.
Once I was in Madrid, I ironically booked another one way from NYC to London for August and decided I would go to Berlin to nanny after.
Staycation in Berlin
Next, before Berlin, I got a job as a waitress in NYC for a month and saved about $1200 USD. Quit that, left in August again. I went to London for a day, Houghton (a music festival), Croatia, and then off I went to live in Berlin.
Because I had some money saved, I thought working a bit would be enough to cover overhead.
The reality was I ended up a running out of money and didn’t want to build up credit card debt. I had more bills then what I was bringing in so I left Berlin because my finances were not in order.
Since I didn’t have a working permit I also couldn’t work anywhere else.
I also didn’t know about working remote and the virtual world yet.
Pablo and I were still together, but I thought we would break up now that I was returning to the states to work.
Wrong. We made a plan that I was going to work for a year, pay off my debt, save money, and then we would move in together in Madrid.
The plan to move to Madrid
The plan was set.
When I came home, I began freelancing when I randomly got an offer for my old job back. Instantly I accepted it because it was secure $. My partner and I wanted to speed up the cash flow so we can move in together.
I worked there for about a month and a half until I got laid off.
2 weeks later, I got a much better job that actually paid a lot more too. Worked at that new job for about 3 1/2 months and then quit to freelance which is what i’m doing now.
I needed physical independence, not a work commute.
Fast forward to today, I’m currently based in Madrid and still traveling, just at a slower pace. There’s no rush for me anymore as I have been able to create flexibility for myself to travel whenever and I need a place to call home.
When you’re younger you don’t mind hopping around so much but now, I really need a place to go back home too, that’s mine, and that I feel comfortable. The act of physically traveling is exhausting so I just move slower now.
I’m here to show you unique places to travel to, how you can create a life abroad, great music to listen to and things i’m learning through out life.
Being an expat is the best of both worlds and I recommend doing it to everyone atleast once in your life. Living abroad and having the opportunity for easier travel is beautiful.
Win/win situation. Spain is an amazing place to live in and I highly recommend to visit Spain for traditional tourism if living abroad doesn’t interest you!
My quality of life has definitely improved since being here. NYC is great if you want to work but you eventually get burnt out.
That’s why people eventually move out west or they simply move abroad. Personally, the city is expensive, way too fast-paced, and crowded for my liking.
I travel to explore, to learn, to grow, to experience, to connect, to get lost and then get found again. Because the more I do, the more I feel empowered, the more I feel free.
I leave you with this. I’m here to help you connect the dots and open your eyes to see that nothing about travel is unattainable.
I say goodbye with a tune
I leave you with a tune of the American singer, Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish – Belly Ache
Press that play!