Travelling is amazing. Many people consider travelling to be a hobby, some even consider it to be a full time job if they're lucky enough. Some claim to disregard it, but only until they visit somewhere that changes their perspective altogether. Growing up, I used to relish at the idea of leaving home and visiting a new place with my family where everything was foreign. Throughout university, I used to actively look for opportunities to travel outside of the city I was based in. Even if it was within the country, just packing up stuff and leaving with friends was enough to take a break from the general busyness of life and take some time off. There's so much more to travelling than what it appears to be on the surface. Although the current situation our world is in doesn't allow for much travel, I and many of my friends are just looking forward to the day when we can get out and explore whatever is out there.
That said, travelling in itself can be an incredibly humbling activity, one that's capable of giving rise to new moments and ideas when appropriate. To help expand on this topic, I was joined by Caitlyn Lubas. Caitlyn is a full time travel author, content creator, and startup founder. She has worked at Facebook, Instagram, IBM and other big tech companies before quitting to become a full time entrepreneur by the age of 23. Her debut travel memoir titled 'You are Where you Go' is a collection of stories about she visited 70 countries and all 7 continents by the age of 22, all during college. She is also working on a startup idea called Travel by Womo, that aims to connect travellers with experts who can give personalised recommendations based on their experiences.
Starting as a Digital Nomad:
Most meaningful experiences in our life stem from a pre-existing idea or a moment that helps facilitate our pursuit for that experience. I'm currently listening to an audiobook trilogy: 'Steal Like an Artist', by Austin Kleon, where one of the points he mentions is that the concept of 'originality' is flawed, in the sense that nothing is truly original. Every idea comes from an idea, and our experiences in the past contribute to shaping whatever we wish to do in the future. Whether that's pursuing a particular career path, an individual or a relationship, or even a hobby/passion. You never know when something can help contribute to a feeling or an experience in the long run.
"I had a lot of experience at startup during the first few years at college. I interned ever semester as well as every summer to firstly, get experience at different types of roles but mostly in order to fund all of my travel experiences! I was lucky enough to intern with IBM, Facebook and Instagram and gather valuable experience along the way. With Facebook & Instagram, the work was more consumer focused and all about globalisation. My role was to look at the 'low resource languages' in the world, and how to find enough resources and develop a model that can effectively translate these languages into English and vice-versa. This would make all of Facebook's content more accessible for people around the globe. Similarly, with Instagram my role involved making Instagram stories more accessible by either adding captions, or translation features.
Overall, I loved my time working with these large companies. It allowed me to gather valuable experience from the get go about all these best practices to follow around the world, which probably wouldn't have happened if I began with a startup."
The Travel Entrepreneur
More often than not, university students who are in their final years think of pursuing something along the lines of what they studied, and rightly so. Typical options can include working for a large corporation, the government, or a small startup agency. Some daring individuals also decide to pursue their own idea, something they're passionate about or one that could potentially be a successful business model. We don't often see individuals deciding to 'travel' after they graduate, even though many would probably want to do so. Who doesn't love visiting new cities, meeting new people, trying new foods and consuming entire cultures in a trip? Social media influencers have also painted an elusive image of what it's like to be 'travelling 24/7'. Vlogs, pictures and stories make it seem like they're living the dream, visiting a new country every week. Is there more to travelling though? Is it just another leisure activity or can it be converted into something bigger? Something more valuable?
It comes to no surprise that COVID-19 disrupted many of our travel plans. Holidays and unwinding time kept aside, many of us are unable to visit our home country because of border restrictions. Naturally, people are eagerly looking forward to the day when everything returns back to normal and we can travel again. It's 2021 and families and societies are more open than ever when it comes to what career paths are worth pursuing. That said, some families may still be hesitant to entertain the idea of dropping out of college and just, travelling the world. It's important to note that regardless of what field we choose to pursue, the one constant that remains common is the process of putting in the work.
"I really discovered that travel can be a tool for personal development. It's not necessarily all about taking a break from life or getting good Instagram photos. It's more so about learning and growing outside of one's comfort zone. When travelling, I believe in the idea of 'feeding all of your senses'. Food for example, is a great way to understand what a country's cuisine is like and how it's grown, harvested and eaten. Similarly, history and art are great ways of understanding culture. I like going on walking tours to get a better sense of what that particular place went through in the past.
When travelling, I try to plan where I'm going to be staying and usually like to ask locals about their recommendations for where to eat, what to see, etc. Then, I plan my day and leave some time for spontaneous activities if needed. Having a good mix of enjoying what you want to do and doing what the place is known for is part of the process."
Travelling should by all means be a personal and enjoyable experience. Hopefully once COVID-19 is done and dusted for good, we can all revisit our travel plans and head over to our desired destinations to take a break. In Caitlyn's case, she managed to use her experiences to come up with an idea for a business: 'Travel by WOMO'. Using her passion for travelling, Travel by WOMO aims to help fellow travellers out there find out more about a place's hidden gems, best locations and spots to see, eat and visit. Case and point, you never know when your experiences can end up helping you find an idea, your passion or what you want to do.
One step at a time, we'll get there.
I'd like to offer my sincere gratitude to today's guest: Caitlyn Lubas. Check out:
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