My Inspiration To Start TravelingI think because of the fact that both sides of my family live quite far from where I grew up, I spent a lot of time in airports to go visit them as a child. I would always get excited for all the adventures and the annual catch-ups so I naturally wanted to continue doing that in my adult life.
I come from a small town, and I knew from a very young age that there was a whole world out there I knew nothing about. It quickly became very apparent to me that every time I’d meet someone from another city or country, they would bring something completely new to the table. A different lifestyle, mindset, habits, opinions, etc. I’m someone who’s very curious and I really enjoy hearing about different life perspectives and being challenged.
It's only after a bad breakup in my early twenties that I decided to finally put my needs first and buy a one-way ticket to Europe. I’ve never looked back since! The thrill and satisfaction I get when I discover the beauty of this world and meet other human beings is what keeps me going!
How I Decide On My Next DestinationI would say it depends on three factors. The main one is how I feel or what type of trip I’m craving at the moment. For example, do I prefer a beach destination or an urban getaway? Jungle or desert vibes? A relaxing or an adventurous trip? The second is how many days are required to visit a location vs how much annual leave I’ve got. The third comes down to budget; certain destinations are definitely pricier than others.
Lastly, I’d say it can also depend on unexpected opportunities that come up. For instance, if a friend is getting married somewhere, I might decide to extend my stay and visit another country nearby. For example, I recently went on a work trip to Tasmania and decided to extend it to make sure I could visit more than the capital city.
Duration of My tripsI tend to go on one or two big trips (10-15 days) per year, then a lot of short trips or long weekends away.
One thing that’s always been very tough for me since moving overseas, is having to choose whether to use my annual leave to go on new adventures or to visit my family. Both are extremely important to me, and luckily my work allows me to navigate this situation quite well. I put a lot of time and effort into the preparation for my trip.
In my day-to-day life, I pin every cool location I come across in my Google Maps. I do that whenever I’m scrolling through social media, reading a magazine, or having a conversation with someone.
When I decide on a new travel destination, I start by checking what I’ve already saved from that destination. Then, I begin a big online deep dive to find the main touristic highlights, but also some hidden gems (e.g. blog articles & location tags on social media).
If the trip is a long one, I have my entire itinerary planned in an Excel spreadsheet. If it’s a short one, I’ll simply list everything out in my Notes app. The thing I dislike the most when I’m traveling is wasting time trying to figure out what to do next, or where to sleep that night. I feel like my time is limited and I want to make sure I am maximizing it. That being said, I also leave a lot of room for spontaneous encounters and I’m always open to changing plans on the spot. I just prefer having something planned out; I feel like it flows much better, and it removes a lot of stress during the actual trip!
How I Decided To Become An Expat & The Challenges That I've FacedA life crisis when I was about to turn thirty?
In all seriousness, I moved back and forth between France and Canada for almost a decade, and I thought I was going to settle in France - with its European lifestyle. However, after almost three years there, I was feeling quite miserable. I’d go to bed every night feeling very lost and dissatisfied with my life. I’ve discovered that there is a big difference between traveling somewhere for an extended period of time versus settling there, especially when you’re a young professional who’s new to the workforce.
Let me explain. I fell in love with Europe for its history, charm, architecture, food, art, social life, ease of travel, nightlife, and generous social & holiday policies. Those things are all great, but the reality of life is that we spend a lot of time at work and that’s when things started going downhill for me in France. Even though I spoke the language and understood the society’s codes, I was shocked at most people’s mindset in the office, which was so different from back home, and ultimately not a good match for me (think Emily in Paris from Netflix - it’s not so far off from reality).
I was losing self-confidence and my overall work-life balance was disastrous.
This realization made me ask myself some deep questions about where I wanted to go in life. Going back to Canada for the 4th time was a no-go for me, mainly because of the harsh winters; I consider myself a beach girl and I liked the warmth of the sun. One night, I took a piece of paper and wrote down what I wanted my dream life to look like. After listing everything I wanted, it was clear to me that Australia was where I needed to be (disclaimer: I had never set foot in this country nor did I know anyone from there).
In the months that followed, I announced it to my family (everyone thought I had lost my mind), started planning my move, researched the visa process, resigned from my job, packed my belongings and put them in storage, and then hopped on a one-way flight to Australia.
I’m so glad I followed my gut feeling because from the minute I landed in Australia, I couldn’t stop smiling. It immediately felt like home, and even though I didn’t have a lot of money and I didn’t know anyone, I was full of determination and managed to find a job quickly, make friends and get sponsorship to stay here. The transition has been relatively easy, and I got settled almost immediately. The lifestyle and culture here are very similar to Canada, except it is much warmer!
My main compromises: being super far away from my loved ones, the ease of traveling (everything is much further and more expensive from here) & I miss the European art/food/lifestyle!
Favorite Memory Of Meeting New Friends & Exploring With ThemI meet new people all the time, especially when I travel by myself! I’m so privileged to say that I have friends all over the world, people with whom I’ve shared such special moments, and my door is always open to welcome them here!
When I was in university, I really wanted to go to New York. I didn’t have any friends who were available to come with me, so I decided I was going to just drive there by myself. During one of our classes, people asked me what my plans were for the weekend, so I shared with them that I was going to drive to NYC by myself and just explore. The next thing I knew, a classmate asked me if I was open to taking some people on board, to which I said yes.
I basically agreed to go to New York with a bunch of strangers, and to this day, the two girls who decided to join have become some of my closest friends.
Countries I Have Visited So FarI’ve been to 40+ countries so far, but I don’t think this number is particularly meaningful. Each country has so much to offer that you might want to go back several times and have a completely different experience every time! And sometimes, all you need is just one or two life-changing trips.
Nowadays, people are on a quest to visit as many countries as they can, and don’t get me wrong, I would love to have the opportunity to see as much of the world as possible. However, it’s what you experience during those trips that really teaches you something! It’s all about quality, not quantity, right?
Some of my favorite trips I’ve ever been on include the Philippines, Indonesia, and Morocco. I loved it so much there that I’ve already visited twice. I also had an incredible time in Egypt, Lebanon & Greece!
In terms of where I would love to go next, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, and Japan are sitting at the top of the list!
Cool Travel Experience That I Can ShareI think one of the coolest things I’ve realized while traveling is how small the world is. The best example of that for me dates back to 2013 when I was living in Paris. A good friend of mine from Canada came over to visit me. This friend had previously lived in Paris, so instead of preparing the usual tourist itinerary, I planned for a long weekend of debauchery during which we would go to the city’s best day clubs and nightclubs.
We ended up on a sunset boat party on the Seine River on a Sunday afternoon with a few of my friends and a few of her friends from back in the days when she used to live in Paris. There were a lot of people and alcohol involved and a lot of back and forth between the various tables so I don’t remember all the people I met.
Fast track to 2020 when I moved to Australia. I got introduced to a friend of a friend, who happens to come from the South of France. We hit it off really well and started hanging out more over a period of a few months. Her day job was at a luxury fashion clothing store in Sydney and one day we decided to go for afternoon drinks in the northern beaches of Sydney where two of her colleagues live. She asked if she could invite them to join us, saying we would probably get along as they’re both from Paris and left this city for similar reasons as me.
When they showed up at the restaurant, we introduced ourselves normally. We instantly started chatting and asking each other questions about the motivations behind our big move.
One thing led to another, we started to realize we had a lot in common. The questions became more and more specific (ie. which year(s) did you live in Paris, where did you use to go out, etc.) which I thought was surprisingly abnormal for a first encounter, and then it suddenly clicked.
While the girls were pursuing the conversation, I pulled out my phone and went through my cloud backup, all the way back to that 2013 weekend during which my Canadian friend visited me. Here it was, a group photo featuring a few people from that boat party, including the girl sitting right in front of me at this table in Sydney, whom I didn’t even remember meeting! We simply couldn’t believe it!
Why I BlogBack in the days, I used to simply post all of my travel photos in Facebook albums alongside very descriptive captions. This was my way of informing my family of what I was doing (a.k.a. letting my parents know I’m alive).
Then when I entered the workforce, I learned how to edit / code websites for some of my clients. I paired that up with my long-time creative passion for writing and photography, and my blog was born.
I have no shame in saying that my blog was originally a way for me to test my web development skills to ensure I would be able to do the same for my clients. With time, it became a way for me to help fellow travelers, especially solo women travelers, craft their perfect itinerary and inspire them to get out there to see the world.
How I Manage CostsPoorly! Jokes aside, I usually go on a trip with a price bracket in mind. Most times, I end up spending slightly more because I’m someone who can be quite impulsive and I can never resist the opportunity to experience something unique.
My approach to life is that if that’s something I would be proud of on my deathbed, then I should go for it!
Realistically speaking, I like to keep track of my spending via apps such as Splitwise or Tricount. These are particularly helpful when traveling with other people.
How I Manage My Work & TravelDuring my childhood, I’ve had so many people tell me: “there’s nothing worse than a job where you have to sit at a computer desk all day.
In retrospect, I’m so glad that that’s the type of profession I chose. Luckily for me, especially since moving to Australia & after having been through a world pandemic, I feel like employers are more and more open to remote working arrangements. Therefore, I’ve been able to balance my work & travel by working remotely, mainly when I am visiting family members or areas where I know I can have a stable routine.
I’m also someone who likes to take unpaid leave in addition to my annual leave, whenever the need arises. Because of that, I’d say that I spend roughly 3-4 months of the year overseas, and I would like to keep it that way.
Whenever I do work remotely, the most important thing to keep in mind to set yourself up for success is to commit to a routine beforehand. For instance, I make my schedule ahead of time and decide how I want to spend my days. I also choose my hotels wisely to make sure that I minimize transportation times and can really get to enjoy the area like a local.
GAFFL For TravelersI believe it helps match people with similar travel styles, which is key to a successful trip. It’s one thing to go on a trip with someone, but if that person has completely different expectations, budget, or style than you, I guarantee that you will go back home with so many grudges. The whole idea about traveling is being able to connect and share with others, and if you don’t get along with the person you’re with, then chances are you won’t enjoy your trip. I think platforms like GAFFL help connect like-minded people; people who would have probably never met in real life, but thanks to technology can go on an incredible journey together!
Advice That I Can ShareNever be afraid to ask for something; what’s the worst that can happen?
What has worked for me is building a solid plan for myself, and having a clear idea of what I wanted my life to look like. I honestly believe it is quite delusional to intend to live this lifestyle by just being spontaneous and going with the flow.
Sometimes, I come across people who interrogate my lifestyle and wonder how I made it happen because it looks so easy, but the truth is that it’s not.
It’s been years in the making and I am fully committed to making it happen. I often get criticized by the people around me for planning too much, but I always assure them that it’s the reason why all of it is possible.
One of the qualities that have helped me build this lifestyle is the fact that I am reliable. If I set myself up for something, I will stick to it. I live by this philosophy both in my personal and professional lives.
Things I Wish I’d Known When I First Started TravelingI wish I had known it wasn’t so scary and difficult, and that you don’t need to be rich to travel! I also wish I had as much self-confidence as I do now. I can’t remember how many times I missed out on an opportunity because I was too afraid to ask or to make decisions without my friends’ approval when I was young!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned when traveling by myself is that it’s so important to spend time alone and disconnect from your routine. It forces you to adapt to change and realign with your core values and what you want in life! It’s usually during my trips that I also face some very confronting internal challenges and start thinking about solutions.
Travel has really been eye-opening for me, and I love to share my passion knowing it might help other people!