how i afford to travel the world

How I Afford A Life Of Constant Travel

Dear Mum,

I hope this postcard finds you well. It’s been a while since we last heard from each other. If there was Internet in Heaven, you might have probably read here that I’d quit my job to travel the world. Don’t worry, before you get yourself too worried, yes—I’m still in one piece despite having travelled to more than 65 countries.

And no, dad didn’t sponsor me. How could he have afforded to? He had only saved up enough to allow me to finish my degree in an Australian university. I am eternally grateful to him for doing so but I had a hard time persuading him that the world has more to offer than a regular pay cheque. He couldn’t have understood my intentions then but now, I’m glad that he has come to grudgingly accept that I would never be quite the regular Malaysian girl next door.

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Vipassana Meditation Retreat Experience by Tiny Wanderer

A Journey Within (A 10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat Experience)

People who know me personally call me animated, exuberant even.

Okay, I admit I can get pretty talkative when it comes to talking about things I care about or to people that I connect easily with. Yup, I’m one of those people who just can’t shut up once triggered. My voice raises a few decibels higher (this is embarrassing normally, especially in a public place), my facial expressions move in sync to match the speed and the passion of my speech, while my hands gesture wildly to complement the whole conversation in action.

So imagine, when I first toyed with the idea of enrolling myself in a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat, friends arched an eyebrow quizzically.

“Really Ying? Why torture yourself?” I pretended they had only my best interests in mind.

So I did it and survived. That was almost a decade ago. Till this day, I still could recall vividly the lessons that I’d learned while struggling through the entire duration. It was one of the ten hardest days in my life. I was almost reduced to tears. But while I didn’t find answers to any life’s mysteries, I caught several moments of clarity. These moments of clarity also helped me stay present and mindful while travelling.

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12 Ways To Kick-Start Your First Solo Travel Experience

Did you imagine the start of your travels to be somewhat like this?

A regular family is eating dinner quietly, when all of a sudden, the youngest of the family, the mousiest of the lot, suddenly drops her fork with a clatter, announces to her parents that she’s going to globetrot, her parents cheer and then, the next thing you know, she’s wandering into the heart of Patagonia, with a backpack and saucepans clanging on the side.

Yes, you did and worse of all, you truly believed in that little story that you’d made up. You haven’t started your travels because you’re waiting for that one-size-fit-all-sure-fire-formula that will turn you from an ordinary being into an extraordinary adventurer. While waiting for this formula to drop from the sky, you thought perhaps it’ll be just be easier to travel vicariously through your favourite travel blogs.

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maldives banner

The Other Side of Paradise: Maafushi, Maldives

As the ferry slowly pulled up to the pier, the large hanging grey clouds rumbled slowly, threatening to rain. Chris and I looked uncertainly the sky and then at our approaching destination: Maafushi Island of Maldives.

We had been super excited when we spotted a reasonably affordable guesthouse on Maafushi while researching for accommodation on the Internet. Double rooms started from USD35—it felt almost too good to be true!

However, as Maafushi grew closer and closer, my heart sank a little.

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Maldives On The Cheap: How I Backpacked Maldives For Less Than USD 300

I bet you’re about to hate me.

You’re huddling in your cramped office cubicle, wishing that you were anywhere else but there.

You wince as you scroll through the page. One after another, photos of sparkling turquoise waters revealing itself slowly and almost mockingly. You can almost breathe the balmy air; taste salt on your lips.

Reading about someone else’s vacation on the Maldives is like smashing salt into your gaping wound, and yet, you can’t seem to tear yourself away from the page.

Well, don’t.

Because I’m about to tell you how you can do the same without having to sell your first-born. Or that shiny new gadget of yours.

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Life in small-town Germany : Part 1

 WHERE IN GERMANY ARE YOU LIVING IN AGAIN?

 

I‘m growing comfortable living in a little German village called Hermsdorf. To the uninitiated, it’s somewhere in the state of Thuringia, where the nearest bigger cities would be Jena and Gera. Leipzig and Erfurt would be an hour away while Berlin a mere 2.5 hour drive.

 

Still lost? Me too. I knew nothing about Hermsdorf before I got here.

 

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Dawei Myanmar

Discovering Dawei

Mornings in Dawei city start with a hearty breakfast at our hotel.

 

At Shwe Moung Than hotel, the $18 per night price tag not only offers a lovely double-room with a private bathroom, but also daily breakfast at the highest floor. The breakfast menu varies so everyday is a pleasant discovery of local Burmese dishes. The van driver who drove us from Htee Khee border town to Dawei sure knows the best places to stay in.

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Reflections of 2014

Reflections of 2014 (And Some Favourite Travel Highlights)

Admit it. We always turn pensive when New Year’s Eve rolls by.

The last day of each year, somehow commands an enormous power to make us think. Whether you like it or not, you tend to contemplate, to muse and chew on the little high and low moments of the year that went.

I rang in the New Year by making a dish of Malaysian chicken curry for my new-found German friends at their place. I’d tried my best to emulate the simple flavours of home but without the right ingredients, it didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.

The curry was way too creamy, the chicken not flavourful enough.

But because it was already late and everyone was hungry, I couldn’t just dump the dish into the bin and make another. Besides, I didn’t have enough ingredients to start making another one.

Unfortunately, for me, the dish must be served.

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view from the van_banner

Overland Crossing From Thailand Into Myanmar

As the bus slowly approaches Ban Phu Nam Ron, the Thai side of the border between Thailand and Myanmar, Chris and I, survey the aisle. The passengers on the bus have somehow dwindled to just two other locals and us.

“Myanmar! Myanmar!” the driver motion to us. We flash him a thumbs up, drag our bags off the rusty overhead luggage compartment and hop off. Ahead, we see large blue signs that mark the end of Thailand and a little immigration office where we will head to for our departure stamps.

The day is now dry, still decidedly humid but slightly cooler, unlike the initial downpour that had kickstarted our journey from Kanchanaburi Bus Station.

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wanderlust tiny wanderer

Doing Wanderlust (By Opening Up Your Heart To The World)

SOME TIME IN 2009…

I unscrewed the large metallic screws that held my cabin’s porthole tight and looked out. The real threat of Somalian pirates has passed-we’re free to enjoy the transient but majestic ocean vistas once again. Looking out from Deck 3, the ocean appears close; occasionally a whiplash of water would graze the surface of the porthole. The night was jet-black, the horizons indistinguishable except for the lash, swash and slosh of the waves against the vessel, illuminated by the neon on the promenade deck. I pressed my face against the porthole, unable to take my eyes off the constant motion of the ocean and thought, “I never want to stop wandering.”

What exactly is this insatiable wanderlust that has urged me to throw myself into the maelstrom of romance and ‘consummation’ of far-flung lands? I am not an explorer, a historian nor even an avid tourist, yet consumed with a certain kind of restlessness, I had packed my bags and had set out for the unknown.

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How I Was Denied Boarding at Bangkok International Airport in 2007

My journey around the world didn’t begin with a round-the-world ticket. Instead, my miraculous round-the-world journey somewhat kick-started with denied boarding.

 

For a 23-year old Malaysian girl possessed with fervent wanderlust, with little savings, no credit cards and no travel insurance to her name, it was a bad omen, warning her of the dangers ahead. But she was young and naive, with plenty of time and a handful of spunk.

 

So my journey began with a simpler thought: I will take one step, and then another. I’ll solve this problem and then another.

 

I never knew where I’d go and where the road will lead me to. I only planned to keep pushing boundaries and see how far that would take me.

 

And here’s a story of how I was denied boarding at first but then eventually succeeded to travel to Europe on a one-way ticket.

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