next adventure, booked
Hi all, I'm Lauren. this is my first blog post and as I post this, I'm waiting to board my flight to NYC, while booking my return flight from Miami to LAX, and officially starting my chapter of traveling as I work full time as a consultant.
Miami will be my 2nd trip in November and my 15th weekend away from home since coming back from Taiwan in mid May. My current trip I am about to board is my 10th. I came back to the States with a timeline of moving back to Taiwan in one year. This would give me one year of working as a consultant (after painstakingly recruiting for two months - with the help of awesome classmates/friends), one year to figure out moving my life across the globe, and one year to say farewell (for now) to my dog Oli, friends/family, and America. I figured to do all this properly, I'd need to stay close to home, but as I recently realized, even now, for a year, staying put just isn't for me.
I love LA, and to this day, I still think it's one of the best cities in the world and I'm blessed to have made many deep connections living here for the last 8 years. But since being back from TW, I've felt disconnected and restless when I stay in LA for too long. It's partially me, it's partially the city itself and the fact I've spent 8 years here, but ultimately feeling connected and fulfilled are integral parts of me to be able to succeed in anything and LA just isn't providing that. I'm happier and able to show up better in all parts of my life when I'm on the road traveling, connecting with myself, nature, and people I meet along the way and experiencing new things. These are the moments I've truly felt alive. And so, after a few successful trials of weekend/weekday trips traveling, working remotely, and living out of a backpack, I've decided that whenever my dog isn't with me (which is about every other month), I'll be out of LA - traveling and exploring different parts of America (and sometimes abroad). I've been so blessed that so far my travels so far have already allowed me to connect with so many amazing people and learn and experience so much. Moving forward I'd like to do my best to chronicle and share my adventures, learnings, experiences, and moments of connection I make as I attempt to balance travel and working (remotely) as a consultant, tutor, and coach. Here's me taking my first step towards this. Welcome stranger/friend, welcome to my blog, welcome to connecting with me.
A little background on how/why I travel:
I first caught the travel bug/wanderlust back in 2013 when I was studying abroad in Singapore for my undergrad. It was my first time truly traveling alone and living in another country. Singapore was the best place for this life changing experience. Not only did I get a taste of being Asian in a powerhouse Asian country where legitimately, they are more advanced and wealthy than the States in some ways, but Singapore's location made it easy to travel across SE Asia. Being able to live outside of America and travel to 8/11 ASEAN countries was truly a life changing experience that had me craving new experiences and cultures. Since then, I've tried to keep traveling an integral part of my life, even when I was working 9-5 in entertainment. From 2014-2016, most of my trips were weekend trips, hopping on planes to various cities within America, due to the way America PTO makes traveling difficult. From 2016 - 2019, I'd travel frequently to Arizona and then Seattle since my ex lived there for Medical School (even racked up enough points on Alaska Air for MVP Gold & random Frist Class Upgrades!). Even when I wasn't traveling, I would embark on a "local" adventure, whether it's checking out a new unique spot in LA, day tripping/road tripping to nearby points of interest, or creating new experiences with friends.
And then 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic shook up mine and the world's plans. Besides making it difficult to travel, my ex of 9 years also broke up with me and then I lost my job in August 2020 leaving me to rethink what traveling meant to me. So with a smaller budget, no guarantee in travel partner, and limited destination, like many of my fellow Americans - I looked towards nature. Between my MBA classes (which were all online) and job searching, I made traveling and exploring nature my priority - even if no one else could join me. From May 2020 to January 2021 I went to 7+ National Parks. Sometimes my dog Oli would be with me, sometimes a friend joined me, but many times it was just me alone connecting with nature. It was in these trips that I began to find myself again, where I was able to heal, and not only keep that wanderlust fire alive, but burn it even more passionately and reclaim traveling for myself.
After receiving a job offer for consulting and finishing my final thesis in December 2020, with my friend Conor's warm welcome and passionate suggestion, I decided to apply for a visa and go to Taiwan before I started my job in June. Covid-19 was only getting worse in the States (winter 2020 surge) and like many others I was itching to go abroad. I figured a few months in TW, where Covid was under control, would be a good "temporary" life changing experience / post grad trip as I finished up my MBA. I was right, except for the temporary part.
I knew going to Taiwan would be a lifechanging experience but not to the extent that it was. It's hard to pinpoint when or what it was that first made me want to move to Taiwan. Was it just a relief to see a community that actively worked together in handling Covid? Or the fact that my unemployment $ went a lot farther than the States? Was it the plethora of tasty food, beautiful nature, and hospitable people? How about the amount of amazing friends, community, and travel experiences I made? Or was it maybe how connected I felt with the people and culture where I was able to practice my Mandarin, being Asian wasn't a minority, and how welcoming the Taiwan people made me feel for just being me: a gay American born Chinese who wanted to heal, grow, learn, connect, explore, and be happy. It wasn't just one thing. It In Taiwan I felt fully in my skin, that I could be who I wanted to be, after healing, unpacking my baggage, and rebuilding myself. It was the challenge and growth opportunity I yearned for: the next chapter and brand new start I've been looking for. Two months turned into 3.5 months as I did my best to explore the entire island of Taiwan (spoiler: a life time wouldn't be enough to explore it all). It was in Taiwan, meeting other Covid refugees, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads that I realized this was where I was meant to be. I was meant to find my passion of being a higher education coach, connect with myself, move to Taiwan as my home base, and travel. It was hard for me to leave Taiwan when I hit this point of self realization and dream, but alas everything happens for a reason. I knew I had to go back to America at least for a year to fulfill my goal of being consultant and find happiness for the time I was there. Well, it took me a few months, but I've realized that besides being a consultant, traveling in the States to connect with others, explore the myriad of vast beautiful nature spots, and experience the various American cultures to properly say good bye is indeed that reason why I'm back in the States. And so that's what I'll be doing. If there was anything good that came out of the pandemic, it's that working remotely is the norm. So here I am, flights booked, travel plans on an Evernote, ready for this next chapter: California resident, dogmom, full time consultant, tutor, mentor, coach, and wanderlust traveler, here we go!
Thank you to those supporting me to start this blog and those connecting with me as I embark on this chapter of adventures. Excited for y'all to be a part of this journey :)