Life Across The World

From my parents’ divorce to cheating boyfriends, I’ve never had much stability in my life. Maybe that’s why I travelled as far away as I could to forget my problems back home.

The wanderlust began in Secondary school when my Mum got a job offer in London and decided to leave our comfy life in Washington DC behind. The angsty teenager in me wanted to scream and protest just thinking about uprooting, but that quickly changed.

London sparked a passion for adventure and an incurable addiction to travel that I’ll never be able to ditch—no matter how badly my bank account begs me to.

Fast forward 6 years, I’ve been to over 23 countries, lived in 3 and am now settling into my new beginning in Singapore.

Living out of a suitcase may seem scary, and it is, but it also teaches you more about the world than Google ever will.

Being In A Committed Relationship With Yourself

Living in DC for 14 years sometimes felt like I was trapped in a never-ending popularity contest based on the number of friends I had.

Moving away, I learnt that the people who make the effort to stay in touch are the ones who matter.

Pre-London, I thought a relationship was necessary for my happiness so I constantly tried to make somebody else happy. Four of my relationships failed because I couldn’t commit to where I’d be in a year’s time.

Travelling teaches you to be in a relationship with yourself; it reminds you that all kinds of love, including self-love, are ‘equal’ with or without romance.

Minimalism is Key: Possessions Should Fit in One Suitcase

For a fashion and makeup junkie like me, it seemed impossible to sustain a life where I could pack up all my things and leave tomorrow. But the day I booked my one-way ticket to Singapore, I donated half my closet to GoodWill and listed my car for sale.

I remember thanking myself for this in Switzerland while sprinting through the train station to make my connection in two minutes, without having to drag a 23kg suitcase.

Re-adjusting priorities and ditching unnecessary items meant having fewer things to look after, giving me more freedom.

Make The Effort To Get Cultured

Locals tend to be more welcoming when you exhibit a desire to learn their culture. A little effort goes a long way—small gestures such as saying “thank you” in their native language can take you far.

Accustomed to the sheltered life, I experienced culture shock after seeing extreme cases of poverty in Indonesia. But the epiphany happened when I noticed how most people seemed genuinely happy nonetheless.

It can be so easy to lose sight and take the luxuries we have for granted, but I left feeling grateful and appreciative for what I do have.

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Dealing With FOMO Makes You Say ‘Yes’ To Everything

Leaving home also means leaving your besties and having to endure Snapchat-induced FOMO. Joining gyms, chatting up people in coffee shops, or swiping on dating apps—I’ve tried everything for human interaction.

In Rome, a boy slid into my DMs after finding my profile on Tinder. After looking through his Instagram, I discovered he was an amazingly talented tattoo artist. He offered to tattoo me and I offered to buy him a drink after. Now, I have my treasured tiger tattoo, a great story and a forever-friend.

Making a habit to say ‘yes’ and putting yourself out there for every social opportunity is a must.

Get Comfortable with Uncertainty

Visa processing, job hunting and budgeting can cause bigger headaches than Sunday hangovers after Zouk. The uncertainty behind the whole ordeal makes giving up seem like the easiest thing to do so you need a spirit for adventure.

As a means for some fast cash, I waitressed for a golf tournament and ended up befriending the president of a luxury club in Hawaii.

Two weeks later, I was on a plane with my best friend to the Big Island for a summer internship.

In three short months, I visited four of the eight islands. I free-dived with sharks on the North Shore, snorkelled with dolphins and giant Manta-Rays, jumped off 25m cliffs and illegally hiked up 3,922 steps on the Stairway to Heaven trail.

For every opportunity that comes your way, take full advantage. The real hardship is doing your best to stay positive and confident that things will work out.

But Discrimination Is Everywhere

With over 7 billion people in the world, you’re bound to run into people who will be—how do I put this nicely?—assholes.

I’ve been turned down from restaurants in Prague, called a “stupid American girl” to my face in Amsterdam and blatantly stared at in countless cities, all because I was initially judged for my accent.

It’s best to just bite your tongue and take the high road because ain’t nobody got time fo that negativity in their lives.

Nomadic Lifestyle

Living “nomadic-ally” is mentally and physically exhausting and the lifestyle can quickly become addictive.

Furthermore, reunion trips are the best. Connecting with friends halfway across the globe means partying until sunrise in Berlin for New Year’s Eve, dancing the weekend away at Tomorrowland in Belgium and Caravanning through the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

But long term travel is not for the faint-hearted as it forces you to constantly test your comfort zone and requires massive amounts of self-trust.

I’ve been down to a couple hundred dollars in my bank account, and have had mental breakdowns about the direction in life.

But at the end of the day, I know that this crazy journey that I chose only just begun, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

This article was first published on 11 May 2017 and last updated on 27 June 2024.

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