One of the main questions I get asked when I tell people that I am a traveler is what propelled me to travel the world. This is such a big and important question that carries a lot of weight in my heart. Simply put, I had always wanted to be a nomad but behind the scenes, there is a whole story that I have left unshared. So here is the truth behind why I started to travel the world.
I guess it all began when I was in university. I decided to study business and not even a year into my studies I realized that when I finished, I would have a hefty debt and all the jobs I was searching for required years of experience. The only jobs I would be able to land straight out of school would be internships, most of them being unpaid. Now, I am an intense and fast-paced human, so I decided I would do internships during my time in university while also attending school full-time. I don’t know how I managed but I worked Monday to Friday 9 AM to 5 PM and would go to school Monday to Thursday 7 PM to 10 PM. I finished my degree in this manner in less than three years. I can’t even begin to put into words how stressful this was nor how proud I was of myself for accomplishing this.
Once I finished my degree, I entered the corporate world. Everything was the way it was supposed to be minus the fact that rent and real estate prices in Vancouver were out of control and my “good paying” job left me strapped for cash at the end of every month. I was living pay cheque to pay cheque and I was working in a space where work place bullying was very real. I played my cards cool and found a new job in an industry which I thought would be more wholesome. Let me tell you, I took a pay-cut, held my breath, and jumped into what should have been a supportive and peaceful work environment. It was not at all like the picture I had painted for myself.
At this point, my emotional and mental health were going from bad to worse. I knew that I was in a rat race running towards absolutely nothing. I fell into depression and my anxiety attacks were daily ordeals. I was self-sabotaging by drinking and locking myself at home for days, sometimes weeks at a time. I hurt people that were close to me and did things I am not proud of. No matter what I did though or how badly I treated myself, I had a few people in my life that loved me endlessly and would come through the windows if my door was locked. I will forever treasure these humans. Two of them were my parents, who supported and cheered me on no matter what.
I think they noticed how bad things were getting for me. My dad offered to take my mom and I to Costa Rica and I saw this as an opportunity to try out the whole going-with-the-flow type of travel tactic. I guess I should also mention that my parents are hard working immigrants and for the first ten years of living in Canada, we only travelled once. That travel was a trip to Cuba when my great grandma was passing away. Other than that, we never ever vacationed until later-on in life. I love going abroad with them because I know how hard they worked and how difficult life was for them so anytime I get a chance to explore the world with my two favourite people, I’m all in!
Either way, we went to Costa Rica and my mood and attitude immediately shifted. I journaled my travels there and I remember on the last page of my journal I wrote “this is what I’m meant to do”. I told my parents that when we went back to Canada I would sell everything and travel the world. I’ve always been full of “crazy” ideas so they had a little laugh and proceeded to ask me how I would manage that. I truthfully had no idea how I was going to make a traveling life a reality but when you want something bad enough, you find ways.
Long story short, we returned back home and I spoke to a few close friends about it. One of my best friends at the time knew how badly I had wanted to travel for a long time. In fact, when we first met I had a visa to go to Australia, but I gave up on that idea by prioritizing other things back home. He looked at me and asked me what country I would go to. When I mentioned that I had my heart set on Vietnam, he looked for the cheapest ticket money could buy and purchased my flight telling me that I couldn’t waste his money so I had to go. I will be forever thankful for this gesture, not because of the money for the flight but because I would have probably not garnished the courage to buy it myself.
So, there I was, with a flight ticket to Vietnam and a month and a half to go. Here is the first thing I learned about traveling; if you don’t have a ton of money, you get creative. I put my apartment for rent on Airbnb and it was booked for the full time I had left. I was living out of my car and in-between my parents’ and friends’ homes. I signed up for a course on weekends to become a certified English teacher and I freelanced as a business assistant during this time as well. I also sold all my furniture, one piece at a time so that the apartment wouldn’t look empty when new Airbnb guests would arrive.
Needless to say, I managed to save some cash for my travels. I finished my teaching course on a Sunday and the Wednesday right after I was at the airport ready to embark on this new journey. All I had was $2,000 in my wallet, a backpack with my main necessities, a heart full of hope, and a mind filled with a mixture of anxiety and excitement ready to travel the world.