I met Michelle at a coding retreat in Bali and immediately resonated with her energy. Her kindness and genuine demeanor were apparent from the start and we became fast friends. After working in fashion for 7 years, Michelle began her a solo journey around the world and her story, as well as her creative vision are incredibly inspiring. She has just launched a unique take on a travel blog where she fuses her passion for the world, photography and music all in one. Check it out here.
Where are you based and what’s the best thing about where you live?
I’m currently based on the road, or rather in whatever country and hotel I happen to be in at the moment! But before I started my solo travels I was living in Los Angeles for four years. I loved the sense of freedom and exploration that being based in Southern California allows. As LA is so sprawling, there’s so much to see and do in the city itself, but there are amazing places just a quick road trip away that make it easy to get out when you need that quick escape. Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Temecula and Laguna Beach (among others!) are all just a short drive away.
Your favorite place in the whole wide world?
I don’t know if I can possibly whittle it down to one. Interlaken, Switzerland and Hawaii are I think two of the most beautiful places I’ve ever traveled to, but as far as the whole package – the culture, the people, THE FOOD – I’ve fallen in love with Vietnam and Bali in my recent travels.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m always inspired by people who are authentically and unapologetically true to themselves and value their happiness and passions over things like stability, comfort and cultural expectations. It’s not easy to do in the world we live in, but it’s 100% worth it.
How has travel changed you? What growth experiences have you learned from it?
In just a few short months of traveling solo, I’ve already had to let go of attachment to material things like clothes and tech gear, and coming from someone who worked in fashion for 7 years, that’s not an easy thing! I’ve had things shrink to oblivion at the Laundromat. I’ve had to toss items that didn’t fit in my suitcase and shrug it off. I’ve had a Kindle stolen and a camera lens get ruined. The old me would have gotten much more stressed about the above situations, but at the end of the day I’ve realized that anger and frustration typically don’t solve any problems. It’s better to stay calm!
Where has travel taken you so far? Where to next?
I’ve traveled quite a bit in Europe, Asia and the United States and a bit in Central America and the Middle East, but I’m dying to get to every continent as fast as my feet can take me. I’ll be headed to Mexico in late August for a month and am currently working on a Central America/South America itinerary to ring in my 30th birthday!
What makes you come alive?
Seeing a place with my own eyes for the very first time. I imagine that me sitting in the window seat of a plane as it prepares to land in a new city is akin to what a kid feels staring into the front window of a pet store with puppies playing in it.
What is your creative process like?
TBD. I’m still trying to work on it!
Your most rewarding accomplishments to date? Go on #girlboss, Tell us!
Honestly, just having the courage, strength and the motivation to follow
through with this grand plan on my own. I spent almost two years saving and planning for this trip, and then four weeks after I quit my corporate job my Dad was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. I was completely devastated and lost all motivation for a while, but he urged me to move forward with my travels. So I left for India soon after, but exactly four weeks into it I got a call that my mom was in the hospital after she had suffered a bout of seizures in the night. Scans showed that she had tumors in her brain and the doctors were telling us that she had three or so months. I jumped on a flight home four hours later and spent two months at home taking care of my mom and trying to sort out my life.
Luckily doctors aren’t always 100% right, but it was the worst and scariest 6 months of my life. Through all of that I could have easily just thrown in the towel and lost all motivation to move forward with my goals — and there were definitely some days where I was close. But my parents have been an incredible support system and want nothing more than for me to chase my dreams, and so really I’m on this journey for them. It’s so much fun to Skype with them and share all the crazy adventures I’ve been on. I know it makes them really proud.
Aisle or window seat?
What’s your best advice for aspiring travelers?
Don’t worry and plan and stress so much. Whether it was about what to pack, my itinerary, if it would be safe traveling alone or trying to map how I was going to get from point A to B, I obsessed over every detail of my trip before taking the plunge and half of it was completely unnecessary. Unless you’re planning on exploring really remote locales, chances are travelers before you have done the same things you want to do and there are systems in place to accommodate that. Before I arrive in a new country there’s always a few nerves associated with not knowing what to expect, but I’ve found 100% of the time so far, everything to be much easier than I had previously expected.