I’m a freelance writer, blogger, and budding photographer currently based in Taipei, Taiwan. I write for various publications and I’m a staff blogger for TravBuddy and Art of Backpacking. I also publish my own blogs on culinary travel (Our Tasty Travels) and on International Disney Travel (Pooh’s Travels). In the past few years, I’ve traveled to over 40 countries on five continents. I’m born and raised in Southern California, lived in Las Vegas for four years, and Sacramento for two years prior to moving to Asia.
I’m not a backpacker. I’m not a RTW (round-the-world) traveler, and while I prefer business class and five-star hotels, I am not always a luxury traveler.
So who am I?
I’m just your average person who used up every vacation day in my prior corporate life, and gave up one long vacation per year in order to take five or more shorter trips.
So often I hear that in order to see the world, you have to leave everything behind, quit your job, sell your house, and venture out for a year or more. Staying in luxury hotels is not an authentic way to travel, and carrying a roll-aboard over a backpack makes you a vacationer, not a traveler.
I don’t believe in labels, and I don’t think anyone’s way of travel is better than the other. Not everyone can pick up their lives and leave it all behind to travel the world indefinitely – nor does everyone want to.
So why No Checked Bags?
Something a horrible ex-boyfriend said to me once when we were parting ways – “you will never go out and see the world.” Not that it became a challenge, but it made me think. Why wouldn’t I? What was stopping me? Certainly not him anymore.
I took a deep look inside and realized that in many ways, I was stopping myself. I let others influence my beliefs and fears about different countries, what was safe, what a good trip entailed, etc.
While some people define adventure as bungee jumping major landmarks, skydiving, or other extreme sports, adventure can be as simple as doing something you never dreamed you would, or traveling to somewhere you were always fearful of going.
I decided to make some real changes in my life, open myself to new adventures and give in to the things that scared me most. In February 2009, I agreed to leave behind my corporate life and move to Taiwan with my boyfriend. At that point, I had only been to Asia once before for a week and never to Taiwan. We started the process right away to give me two months to get my visa paperwork in order and by June 1st, I was a permanent resident of Taipei, Taiwan.
During our early dating days, we were always long distance – he in the Netherlands and me in Sacramento, CA. We’d often meet up in different places to see each other, allowing us to also travel together. It really changed the way I traveled as we would often hit a number of countries on day trips or short weekend trips since Europe is extremely easy for overland travel.
Leave Your Fears and Baggage Behind
The No Checked Bags is literal and a play on words obviously. Now that I live in Asia, I tend to take a lot of long weekend trips to various places that don’t require me to pack two suitcases (although I still admit to taking 4-5 pairs of shoes for four days!)
It is also my own emotional baggage – I’m working to break down my own preconceived notions and fears about travel and places that may be perceived dangerous. Travel is a personal journey and has really helped me grow as a person. While pushing boundaries for some may be that next extreme sport, for many of us, it’s overcoming simple obstacles that keep us from seeing the places we want.
Reflecting on my own travels over the past five years, I’ve grown leaps and bounds. I’ve visited countries I would’ve never set foot in, eaten foods that make most people gag, and learned to adapt and not freak out when problems arise in foreign countries.
Travel is about embracing new cultures, exploring culinary traditions and religious differences, education, and learning to look at life in a different way. Our way, our own upbringing, is not always the right, or better, way to do things. Living in Taiwan has definitely shown me Americans could learn a lot from other nations.
I am only in Taiwan through the summer of 2012, however, I will be embarking on a new adventure when I move to the Netherlands for a few years and I learn to adapt to expat life on my third continent.
No Checked Bags Logo
The logo for No Checked Bags embraces some of the elements that are most important in my life. Culinary travel (please check out my culinary travel blog Our Tasty Travels,) wine, photography, writing, and Disney. Those who know my passion/obsession with all things Disney may catch the hidden Mickeys, along with my “travel gnome” Duffy the Disney Bear.
Through my stories and photos, I hope to inspire others with careers and families to get out and travel more — experience a new culture and give in to the unknown. Come travel the world with me and leave your own fears and (emotional) baggage behind…