In this month’s We Fly High feature, we get a sneak peak into the travel of Sarah, an 18 year old who’s globe-trotted in places we haven’t even been to! Come on, reading stories about people traveling and pushing their financial and courage limits gets us all emotional, and we figured we’d share their stories with all of you; but no tears here. And of course, because you can book flights on our site so you have less of an excuse to not shut up and go.
How old are you? Where were you born?
I’m 18 and I was born in Toronto, Canada.
How many places have you been in the last year?
7 countries, 10 cities (Beijing, Hong Kong, Saigon, Mui Ne, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Grand Cayman, NYC, Ottawa, and my future home, Montreal!)
SO IMPRESSIVE! For an 18 year old, dang girl!
What made you catch the travel bug?
Last year during the summer before my senior year in high school I decided that I would go on a summer abroad program that would take me through 3 countries (6 cities) in Eastern Asia in 5 weeks. I went to China (Beijing and Hong Kong), Vietnam (Saigon and Mui Ne), and Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap). It was a double program where I would be making films and completing my final english credit in high school, and I would be doing it with other kids my age from across Canada, where I currently live.
I love how all of that travel still technically helped you get school credit for HIGH SCHOOL! Who are you woman?!
Were you at all hesitant to start traveling?
Before this, I had never really travelled outside of North America, specifically Canada and the caribbean where I used to live (Barbados represent!). Without you guys, I would have NEVER taken the plunge to go on this trip to Asia. I was terrified of the people that I would meet more than I was afraid of traveling. But you guys helped me break that barrier down for good. When I watched your videos you were both so carefree and laughed off the negatives. At this time in my life, your positive energy was exactly what I needed. After watching the video of you two sleeping on the streets of Barcelona, I decided that I would fully commit to this trip – shut up and go.
Aw! No need to thank us, we’re happy to have met similar souls who just get up and go because of our channel and blog; we want to be friends with all of you!
Now, let’s get down to the real stuff: what jobs did you work to pay for your tickets?
I realize that I am very privileged when it comes to saving money for travel because I still live at home with my mom, so I do not have to pay for my own food or accommodation. That being said, since my first year of high school I’ve worked at a local cat kennel – part time during school, full time over every holiday!
That’s adorable, and super savvy that you could make money while still going to school. I’m all about that juggle hustle, and most of the times that’s what you have to do to afford your trips.
What was the BIGGEST thing holding you back before you decided to shut up and go? (Could be financial, because of friends, personal fears).
There are so many factors but I think the biggest thing was feeling like I wasn’t outgoing enough to meet people on the road or to be assertive as a traveller. I have always been a shy kid, and before I’d travelled and decided to go without my parents I’d always thought that I was too shy and not cool enough to be able to travel on my own and meet people. Also finding enough money and time is hard when you’re a full time student, but hey, I managed to do it!!
Well, it seems like traveling definitely got you out of your shell. I always find that when we’re away from our families, and even our friends, we fully develop into who we were supposed to be. It’s necessary to have that space to grow without judgement and restrictions.
What’s been your MOST MEMORABLE travel moment?
I can’t pick one, there have been so many!! The one that comes to mind is going sand surfing in Mui Ne at the sand dunes. I went with a group of people that I’d known for about three weeks. We drove jeeps for about half and hour to get there, and the sun was slowly starting to set, and by the time we were leaving the sun was just setting. Then we played music and talked about all of our future travel plans on the way back. It was the first time I felt like I’d truly bonded with the people I was traveling with and it resulted in me making some lifelong friends for sure.
Isn’t that insane that in three weeks or even one day of meeting and bonding with someone overseas can mean more than knowing someone for a lifetime back home? I think it’s because everyone’s a little more vulnerable, open, and are acting authentically themselves for once.
Speaking of being your authentic self, on a scale of 1-10, how different do you think your outlook on life is after all this traveling? Why?
10/10. It’s hard for me to explain, but I know that traveling completely changed my view on what is important and on how I want to live my life. It made me realize that there is so much more to life than sitting in an office working a 9-5, only looking forward to the weekend. As cheesy as it sounds, I want to really LIVE my life instead of waiting for the next best thing. It also made me appreciate my family and how you really have to keep the ones you love close to you. Everywhere you go in the world, family is a huge part of culture, and it made me appreciate my community, my family, and my friends a lot more.
Preach! I’m all about sharing moments also, isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?
Seems like you’ve made some amazing friends while traveling, can you give us three tips to find the perfect travel buddy?
- Find someone who you can go through a stressful situation with and not get mad at. This seems impossible but it’s not… there are people out there who will make a stressful situation feel like an adventure or like one big inside joke. I know I’ve found a great travel buddy when they can take a bad situation and turns it into a funny story.
- If there is one language everyone can speak, it’s music. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made friends purely because I’ve been listening to music out loud or I’ve asked if someone wanted to share playlists. My best friend and I first bonded because we both liked the same old school Kanye song (We Don’t Care to be exact!) and we decided to start sharing R&B and hip hop recommendations.
- A good travel buddy will push you out of your comfort zone without forcing you. I tried things I never would have even thought of doing because my travel buddies recommended it, like going down the toboggan at the Great Wall of China. I was sooooo scared to do it, but they told me to take a risk and give it a try, because when else can I say I taboganned down the Great Wall of China?! A good travel buddy will also add places to your bucket list that you never thought you would want to see.
Seriously though, solid tips!
And where are you at now with your mindset after all this travel?
Now, a year after I climbed the Great Wall, did yoga on the harbour boardwalk in Hong Kong, went sand surfing in the dunes of Mui Ne, crawled through the Cu Chi tunnels, paid my respects to the victims of Pol Pot’s regime, spent 3 days straight temple hopping in Siem Reap, made multiple short films of my friends and I running through the streets of these cities, and most importantly made memories that I will never ever forget, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being the inspiration for me forcing myself out of my comfort zone to live life to the fullest. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt like I wasn’t truly living my life the way I wanted to but I was only making excuses for myself.
SARAH, YOU WISE WOMAN! It’s been inspiring getting to hear about your adventures, transformation, and solid travel tips! Good luck on your next move to Montreal – it’s one of my favorite cities (watch out, I might move in next door)!
If you’d like to be featured in our We Fly High segment, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org subject line “WE FLY HIGH.”