1. Why do you travel?
I travel because it accelerates my personal growth and challenges me to become the best version of myself. There are so many beautiful places in the world, and after a while, they begin to blend into one another. What truly makes travel valuable is what it can teach you. Travel has helped me develop the humility and goodwill to learn from people that I meet along the way. It has pushed me to understand my insignificance in this planet, yet still take actions that will positively impact others. Most importantly, it has challenged me to open my heart to others and live in the moment. Ultimately, travel is not a matter of what I see, but who I become along the way. I don't need to see the entire world. I just want to feel it run through my veins.
2. What do you think of when you think of a woman traveler?
There is a lot of talk nowadays about the feats and struggles of being a "solo female traveler." To be honest, I find the topic quite trite and overdone. A traveler is a traveler - I commend anyone who chooses to travel and experience the world, regardless of age, status, or gender. In today's day and age, I don't think it's necessary to praise women for having the courage to travel.
That's not to say that being a woman on the road does not come with its unique sets of challenges. Many of the countries I've visited have patriarchic societies or don't consider women as equal. I've definitely "felt" my gender more times than I can count. Even though I personally don't pride myself for being a woman who travels, I think that it's important for women travelers to support one another, to remain aware of the consequences that being a female may have on our environment, and to inspire women who may feel intimidated to leave their comfort zone.
3. What was your favorite travel experience?
Last year, I quit my corporate job in New York City to pursue a social experiment: I circumnavigated the globe by couchsurfing through my social network, meaning everyone that I stayed with was connected to me somehow. I never used the website, only human connection. I ended up traveling through 17 countries across 4 continents, and was hosted by 70+ people - most of them strangers (you can read more about my project HERE.
This was the first time I wholly put my fate in the hands of strangers. The experience completely renewed my faith in humanity: no matter what country I passed through, there were always people who were willing to help and support me in my goal to complete this journey. This social experiment taught me many life-long lessons about the beautiful messiness of life and travel, and what it truly means to be human.
4. Which place(s) do you want to go next, why?
My bucketlist is endless and constantly growing, but if I had to narrow down to five places that I'm itching to see, they are: Peru, South Africa, Antarctica, Japan, and the Philippines. I tend to go where my connections are - as soon as I find people in those countries who are willing to host me and introduce me to locals, I'll find a way to make it work!
5. When did you start traveling?
I was three months old the first time I was on a plane, and have been traveling for as long as I can remember! That being said, I wouldn't say I became a "traveler" until I began traveling alone at 18. The real benefits of travel - self growth, open mindedness, adaptivity, and so on - did not start kicking in until I started venturing out on my own.
6. Who do you prefer traveling with?
My most cherished travel memories happened when I was alone. I've found that traveling solo ia more conducive to serendipity: I'm in control of my own schedule, I'm flexible to change plans, and people are more likely to approach me. Some of my best solo moments include jumping on the back of an Indonesian stranger’s motorcycle on a whim and spending the afternoon discussing Javanese philosophy with local puppet-makers; the time in Myanmar when some monks-in-training I befriended at a monastery took me to see a secret waterfall; and following a local’s last-minute recommendation visit to a lesser-known Greek island, which became one of my favorite places in the world. I don't think I could have lived many of my favorite travel moments if I had someone else with me.
That being said, there is also something so incredibly special about traveling with people you get along with. Memories, after all, are richer when shared. When I travel in company, though, I want to make sure it's with someone I'll get along with and who shares my travel style!
7. Why do you enjoy photographing/writing about travel?
I approach the content I produce while traveling as a journal of my travels and adventures. I know it sounds cheesy, but I started my Instagram (www.instagram.com/thenomadsoasis) as a photo diary that I envision my kids looking through someday. Rather than giving them a data dump of thousands of photos, they'll get to look through a few photos and accompanying short stories for each year of my life.
Photography and writing is so much more than documenting my travels. It is creating a narrative of my life, freezing my favorite moments in time, and sharing them with others so that they, too, can learn from those experiences. In other words, my content is a time capsule; whenever I want to time travel back to my favorite travel experiences, I just need to look through what I created!
8. What is your favorite souvenir?
My stories! I've all but stopped buying material stuff while traveling unless I really need it. Thanks to Instagram, I am able to document the best moments that happen to me in real time with photos and an accompanying anecdote.
If I need to be reminded of my travels, I just scroll through my feed and read stories of the people I encountered during my journey and what I thought about each place I visited. The joy I get from that beats any material souvenir!
9. How does your background in Marketing impact your content?
My marketing background has helped me ensure that content I produce is purposeful and thought out. My experience as a brand strategist has equipped me with the knowledge to map out my target audience, brand preposition, and brand story.
Funny enough, I think I've learned more from producing and managing my own content this past year than I did working in advertising as a strategist for three years. It's one thing to learn about how to do this work for your clients, and wholly another to execute it for yourself. In fact, my experience as a content creator has allowed me to start my own online businesss as a brand consultant, in which I help my clients build their brands and identity.
10. Tell us more about the book you're currently writing?
I'm writing a book about my experience couchsurfing around the world through my social network. Specifically, the book is about what it means to become the architect of our own life, and how we can achieve that by crowdsourcing our dreams and having faith in the kindness of others. Each chapter is dedicated to a person that I met throughout the journey and life lessons he or she taught me about topics such as living a meaningful life, love, actualizing our dreams, and finding happiness in the simplest of things.
The book is a first-hand account of how the people we meet during our life's journey hold keys that get us a step closer to unlocking our dreams; it is our choice, however, to be receptive to the messages that are coming our way. If we are, we will find that the answers to living the life we dream of are right in front of us, and within us.
11. Any tips for a bad case of writer's block?
Writer's block happens all the time! Being a full-time traveler and digital nomad, I am constantly struggling with finding environments that are conducive to getting the writing juices flowing.
My main tip is: meditate! Often what I need when I get writer's block is silence and space to clear my mind. This comes in many shapes and forms, including sitting in a room in silence and meditating, doing yoga, going on a hike, relaxing in a park, or just listening to the sounds of rushing water. Quieting your thoughts is key. When I'm able to do that successfully, the inspiration and mini epiphanies come on their own (that's where my second tip comes in: always have something in hand to jot down ideas and thoughts when they do come!).
12. Any tips for others looking to go fully nomadic?
Have a plan! Social media (especially Instagram) makes quitting your 9-5 job to travel the world look so easy. It's not, and if you want to make this into a lifestyle, you need to have a strategy outside throwing away your stability to go travel without having some sort of plan set into place.
For example: I saved money for six months before quitting my job to make sure I had a safety net to start off with. I designed a project that I knew would catch media attention and be sticky enough to build a following. I reached out to people who could host me, researched freelance opportunities, and started building my social channels well before leaving for my trip. I was able to eventually go fully nomadic because I set myself up for success.
My other tip is, make sure you understand why you want to go nomadic. The truth is, this lifestyle can be really challenging at times so it's important to be honest with yourself and what you want. If you value freedom over stability, if you are curious to see the world for what it is (rather than what you imagine it to be), if you're willing to consistently confront and overcome your fears... then this lifestyle is for you. But trust me when I say, there will be many times when you question your decisions and wonder what you're doing. That's why it's important to have conviction in your decision, passion for your work, and faith that no matter what obstacles you encounter, the result will be worth it!