It has always been a millennial dream to be able to travel the world but for most of us, we can only afford to go on holiday once in a while. Sad but true! 🙁 Sometimes, it’s also hard to coordinate the right time and date with your other travel companions so your travel plans fail to materialise.
So, we stay stuck at our day jobs and can only daydream of the day we can finally just pack our bags and go on that travel trip of our lives. While this can sound scary to you, this brave young Singaporean girl did the impossible and she is now living the life of her dreams.
We’ve reached out to Chua Xinen, of KoalaTravelstheWorld, to find out how the 28-year-old started her inspiring journey back in 2015 and to get some insights on the experience and wisdom she’s gained over the years.
How she started her epic journey
Xinen was working in Singapore’s finance industry for four years before she finally realised that this was not the life she wanted. Having been bitten by the travel bug after her first solo trip to Australia, she had always wanted to recapture her wanderlust but due to her demanding 12-hour work days, her travel dreams took a backseat.
She said, “Somewhere in between my 12-hour (work) days and the hundreds of bookmarks of places I wanted to explore on my laptop, I decided it was time to get started on those travel dreams before they turn into ‘if onlys’.”
Like any tech-savvy millennial, she tried to search for information about Asian girls travelling alone but couldn’t find much.
That was when she decided to embark on her own journey and show others that it is indeed not as scary or dangerous as the internet makes it out to be.
Life lessons learnt
She recounts her journey through the years and summarises the best life lessons she has picked up from her many travels.
“You can do so much more than you think you can, you just have to try! Solo female travelling is safe as long as you trust your gut instincts and it isn’t lonely at all as you get to make many new friends along the way.”
The brave lass also says that this was “the best thing I’ve done for myself in my 28 years of life!” and has absolutely no regrets. While she has her ups and downs during her epic journey, she puts it all down as experience as she learns something new every time.
“It kept me on my toes and made my travel experience more authentic. Looking back, I would make the same decisions over again and still travel the same way.”
At last count, Xinen has travelled to five continents and more than 45 countries so far, so she definitely has some favourite places and experiences to share.
“I love Mexico for the food, Argentina and Chile for Patagonia and the five weeks I spent hitch-hiking there. I also visited the safari in Tanzania, which was super expensive but an experience that was totally worth it. Besides, I love Peru for the beautiful Andes and that’s where I fell in love with hiking all over again with a great group of friends whom I now have for life. ”
Wise words of advice
Based on her vast travelling experience, we also asked her for some inspiring advice that she would like to share with millennials today.
“Travel is only as expensive as your need for comfort. If you are willing to sleep in cheap hostels, eat local food, travel like the locals, try out camping or take the path less travelled, the experiences you gain will be much more valuable and insightful compared to those luxurious guided tours.”
“But most importantly, as a traveller you need to recognise your privilege in the mere ability to leave your city/country to see the world. Enjoying the moment is definitely more important than snapping 500 photos just for that perfect Instagram shot.”
Xinen says that she hopes to inspire other Asians to get out of their comfort zones and explore the world. She is currently living the life that she has always dreamed of and funds the rest of her travels with the money she gets from working with other companies in the travel industry.
She concludes, “I’ve left little pieces of my heart all over this world now and I truly feel so blessed to have met so many amazing people from different countries on my travels whom I can call friends.”
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