Hi, I’m Thomas, a 20 something Canadian kid who quit his office job in downtown Vancouver in search for the true meaning of life.
I’m joking. I don’t have one single reason as to why I’ve decided to live my life as I’m living it but when asked why I decided to quit my job to travel, the words just sound like one big cliché I’ve heard from every Chad and Becky in every hostel common room I’ve ever been in.
Whats your name? Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? The three highly anticipated questions of every long term solo traveler.
My names Thomas, I’m from Vancouver, Canada and I quit my job to travel…
Usually, I get the same response of how cool that is and how they wish they could do that and how brave I am.
Yes its pretty cool. You could easily do the same if you so pleased. And no, it is not particularly brave to have the privilege to travel long term but yes, it is cool. These are usually the thoughts running through my mind as I have this conversation for the 3rd time this afternoon but its one of those things you just have to do.
Ever since I left home to begin this journey, I had always wanted to start a travel blog to share with my family and friends what exactly it is that I’m up to. The thing is, traveling got in the way of that. As I’m writing this a Pandemic has turned the world on its head and I’ve spent the last 7 months in Melbourne in arguably the worlds strictest lockdown. Travelling is so fun!
I’ve always thought these about me sections were always kind of conceited but If you’ve read this far I guess you’re actually interested in my story so here it is.
I was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada when I was two years old. Ever since I was a kid, I’d always tell my mother of my dreams to travel the world and meet different people who spoke different languages. In school, I would spin a globe and watch it spin around thinking of the different possibilities that lay outside of the four walls I was in. I would google pictures of the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the statue of David in Florence dreaming of the day I’d ever get a chance to see those sights with my own eyes. Growing up with a modest upbringing, I never got to go on a European summer family trip, a Cancun holiday or a New York getaway with my family. Any money saved up would be spent going back home to Hong Kong every few years to visit friends and relatives my parents were forced to leave behind in search for a better life for my brother and I. If it weren’t for my parents, I’d likely never have the opportunity to travel the way I do as a Canadian and the limitations I would have had growing up in Hong Kong, as we are now witnessing and for that, I will always be extremely grateful for the love that it took my parents for making such a difficult decision.
Fast forward to 2018 after working two jobs for over a year and just one month shy of my 24th birthday, I quit both of my jobs and booked a one way ticket to Paris to start my journey in Europe. I had left home with a very comfortable amount of money and went on to have the most incredible European summer I could ever dream of. The first thing I did when I landed in Paris was go straight to the Eiffel tower, 60L backpack in tow. It was way better in person than any google search I ever made and that’s where my journey began.
For the past couple years I inter-railed Europe for 5 months West to East, slept in a tent working for a party travel company in Munich for a month working at Oktoberfest, lived and fell in love in Paris for 7 months, overstayed my Working holiday visa for a few weeks with repercussions I’ve still yet to notice, had to leave Paris due to visa issues and traveled SE Asia for 5 months, went back to Europe in the name of love only to have my heart broken, left Europe once again to go back to Asia and then had to opportunity to go back home for Christmas to visit my family and friends which helped me quite a bit emotionally and mentally at the time.
While I was back home I pondered whether or not I should just start my career or drag my still heartbroken ass back out on the road. To be honest, I only thought I’d last for 6 months to a year when I first set out but the travel bug is real, and I’ve been truly bit. I decided I’d drag my ass back out to keep doing what I set out to do in the first place, which was to travel the world; so I booked a one way ticket to Australia, another working holiday visa in hand three weeks before a global pandemic would sweep Australia, and virtually every other country in the world and start the chapter of my journey.
This life isn’t for everyone. Before you leave, people don’t tell you how often you have to say goodbye to individuals who make such a big impact in your life, even for such a short time period. You don’t realize all the milestones you will miss back home, the birthdays, weddings and the weekends out with your friends. You watch your nephews and nieces grow up on a smartphone, rather than holding them in your arms before they no longer need you to hold them up anymore. People don’t tell you of how difficult it is to have a relationship with this lifestyle, and the heartbreak that comes along with that. The financial stability of most of my friends do not apply to me and its hard to relate to discussions of mortgages and investment opportunities. You don’t realize how lonely you will feel at times and how difficult this life really can be.
Long term travel can be challenging but to me, the beauty shines through the darkness. The people that you meet, the experiences you will undoubtedly have and the feeling of exploration lights a fire inside of me like no other. If you feel like you want to escape the clutches of everyday life and are ready to get out and explore the world, I hope you find what you need in this blog to help or inspire you. The best way for anybody to travel the world in my opinion is through working holiday visas, unless you are a trust fund kid with an unlimited credit card, then the world is your oyster.
Some of my favorite cities include:
Paris: Hemingway once said: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” This quote has always stuck to me and I found myself often times walking along the Seine river, staring at the same sights that Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein among many others would look at and realize how lucky I was to be living here. This is a city that has inspired so many great artists and writers and to be able to live life briefly as a Parisian has to be on the top of my list.
Berlin: The nightlife, history, vibrant culture and liberality of life in Berlin is incredible. I don’t even consider Berlin part of Germany, it really is its own entity. Going out at 3am and partying until the afternoon is considered normal. If you really want to let loose, book a trip to Berlin now.
Budapest: Where to get started. Out of all the cities I’ve been to, this might be the only city I’d ever consider permanently moving to. It’s beautiful, relatively cheap, the food is great, the woman are beautiful, there’s not much for me to hate. They also have incredible events and festivals all year long so you’ll never be bored.
Prague: Could be the most beautiful European city on this list. Walking along the Charles Bridge was one of my favorite things to do. Its quite a walk-able city steeped in history and culture. Another city I could see myself living in.
Pai: This small town in Northern Thailand is a hippies paradise. Life here is so peaceful and there’s a real feeling of community there. I unfortunately had a scooter accident there which caused me to be stuck there for a couple weeks but it was an incredible place to be stuck in.
Modena: Man this was a cool city. I went here specifically because I wanted to try all the restaurants Aziz Ansari went to in Master of None. What I didn’t realize was that most smaller sized cities, restaurants owners close shop for the summer and get out of dodge until the fall. I only got to visit one but it was still a good experience. Home to balsamic vinegar and the home of Enzo Ferrari.
Bangkok: A foodies paradise. Cheap and delicious, the best combo in food. A budget for any traveler and a good base to travel SE Asia.
Most notable travel stories:
Working at Oktoberfest and sleeping in a tent for a month with 100 other young people with free alcohol at the campsite. Pretty self explanatory but this was the most insane bender of a month.
Getting arrested with two others hostel friends in Venice over a misunderstanding and having to spend a night in an Italian jail. They cranked the AC of the room to freeze us out until the morning. Not a great experience, but always a funny story to tell.
Taking a two day slow-boat from the very North of Thailand to the border of Laos. It was two days of chilling, playing cards and drinking on a slow long boat. Half locals and half backpackers. It was my birthday and coincidentally another guy on the boats birthday as well so it was nice to have company for a birthday for a change.
Getting absolutely shitfaced and tubing down a river with 10 other people in Vang Vieng. Along the river there are bars that throw you a rope so you can pull yourself to shore so you can play drinking games with other people doing the same thing. In 2012, 27 backpackers drowned in one year tubing down this river. Its dangerous, and not quite sure why its still allowed but its a fun and memorable experience should you come out the other side…
4 day motorcycle loop in the Ha Giang province of Vietnam. All throughout my SE Asia travels everyone raved of how this was the favorite part of their whole trip and boy did it not disappoint. Every corner you took was breathtaking landscape after another. It is another one of those highly dangerous things you can only do in places like SE Asia but if I have another chance to do it, I would do it in a heartbeat. If you’re in Vietnam and you can only do one thing, do the Ha Giang Loop.
Meeting one of the founders of DigitalOcean on St. Patricks day at an English bar right outside my flat in Paris and drinking with him all day/night.
Accidentally getting on an unmarked path up to the peak of Lion Rock in Hong Kong, coincidentally meeting a random guy along the way just as lost as I was and climbing rocks to get to the peak in jeans. I still laugh at the memory of that and how dangerous that really was.
There are so many more of these stories and some I’ll include in later blog posts. I want to inspire others to make their own memories and experiences. If you want to travel long term and travel around the world, I want to help and take the journey with you. Thanks for reading this far and I hope you find what you are looking for in this blog to help you on your own journey to find whatever it is you’re searching for.
I’ve lived in Canada, France, Hong Kong and Australia, and you can too. Browse my blog to find out how.