Hello! My name is Melisa and I’m joining the Go Travel and Talk team as an avid traveler, advocate for spontaneous adventures, Californian native, and what millennials have dubbed a “digital nomad.”
Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of traveling to many different countries around the world while working along the way. It has become a slight addiction of mine to keep learning, growing, and seeing the world through different lenses. I chose to take the unconventional route and in doing so, I have realized that “home” can exist in many different places, and that choosing a life which fuels your soul and brings you fulfillment, can be done an infinite number of ways!
I am here to tell you a little more about how and why I’ve created this life for myself and how you can too!
I travel for the obvious reasons; to open my eyes to different cultures and ways of life & beliefs, tasting new flavors and foods, exploring the natural beauty and wonders of the world and experiencing those adrenaline-filled moments when you can't believe how you ended up in that exact place at that exact moment. But most importantly, I travel for the people, for the exchange of unique stories and to learn from locals and other travelers around the world.
I firmly believe that regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, you can learn something from every person you meet.
Call me cheesy, but I’m a true believer in the quote:
"travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer."
As I’ve made my way around this big beautiful Earth, I’ve realized that as a traveler, our main role is to move from place to place as consciously as we can, to act with kindness, and to give back to the communities we meet along the way. This mindset is what drew me to Go Travel and Talk. I met Maggie from the GTT team earlier this year in my favorite café in Antigua, Guatemala. We started chatting and as soon as she started explaining Go Travel and Talk’s mission, my ears perked up.
I had been thinking about it quite a lot. How do we make sure that we move through this world mindfully, while creating a positive impact in the places we explore? I’m definitely still figuring out the answers.
When I first started traveling, I was guilty of trying to squeeze as many spots into a trip as I could, but as I’ve grown and changed how I travel, it’s clear that this it not how I want to experience a new place or it’s people.
I want to feel like a part of the community and understand why things are the way they are.
I want to have a conversation with the local coffee shop barista, get to know the owners of my hostel, make conversation with the tour guides on my adventure treks even if we don’t speak the same language, learn and experience the traditional customs that are still in place, understand the history and family life of the city I’m in, and get involved with local community events.
I am a National Board Certified Health and Wellness coach working for a digital health company. I help individuals create new habits in order to live a more health conscious life and prevent chronic conditions through behavior change and accountability. Because all of the communication with my clients is done virtually through our app, I have been able to create a location independent lifestyle which has provided me with unparalleled flexibility of which I am eternally grateful for.
While living and working remotely in San Francisco and planning my next trip, I realized I could take this job with me on my travels and continue to incorporate my passion for travel as a part of my daily life. As long as the WiFi is stable and the time change is reasonable, I can work from pretty much anywhere. To my surprise, I’ve met countless fellow “nomads” around the globe who live and work from their laptops and I am constantly inspired by the unique and creative ways people have figured out how to do so.
For anyone contemplating a similar lifestyle, I can say with confidence, that there are ways to create it if you really want it - but you must be willing to put in the work to make it happen! Us millennial's are growing up in a generation where nomadic opportunities are endless, thanks to technology. If there is one thing I have learned through my travels, it’s that
with enough initiative, passion, drive, and determination, any sort of dream can manifest into reality.
What’s your dream?
While living this nomadic life, each of my trips are different. Sometimes I am with friends and sometimes I am alone, both equally as rewarding and wonderful in their own way.
I will say, the times I’ve gotten to know myself best have been when traveling alone.
Traveling solo is both nerve racking and intimidating but beyond liberating. Being on your own forces you to take chances, get outside your comfort zone, try new things, be vulnerable, problem solve, be okay with the unexpected, sit with your never ending thoughts as well as your flaws and your strengths, and gives you a whole lot of choices.
It’s something I believe everyone should try at least once in their lifetime because you might be surprised at what new things arise for you.
Travel and working on the road has helped shift my perspective in more ways than one.
It has inspired me by showing me how little it takes to be truly happy. It has challenged me by forcing me to make decisions (not my strong suit) and think quickly in times of uncertainty. It has humbled me by making me feel small in a world so vast above and below the surface. It has given me immense gratitude for the simple things we take for granted on a daily basis. It has made me sit with my flaws and my strengths, and it has made me want to be a better person.
It has shown me the person I want to be and has helped me remember and appreciate what is most important in life. It has shown me that there is no one way to live life, but that there are countless possibilities and no way is right or wrong. It has proven to me that regardless of what we hear on the news, the world is made up of good and honest people. It has given me understanding.
It has shown me that regardless of where we come from, how much we have, what language we speak, what our religious beliefs are, whether we are a mother in a mountain village in Vietnam, a father of an island family in Vanuatu, a Brahman in India, or a young Guatemalan chef opening up his own restaurant, we as humans are all innately similar and all craving the same things –
Connection, Community, and Love.
I travel to experience these connections and to slow down and reflect on those moments and conversations.
I have realized there is more to traveling than ticking things off of a list, and I’m determined to make my traveling more impactful. Whether that comes by staying in “green” accommodation or homestays, supporting local tour companies/businesses/farms, leaving no trace, taking public transit, limiting single-use plastic, being sensitive and open-minded, the list is endless.
I’m determined to be a more ethical and conscious traveler in order to protect our beautiful planet and the communities we are visiting and I’m thankful to be a part of the Go Travel and Talk community where these opportunities are being made more readily available.
Regardless of where I am in the world, I’m dedicating myself to being as kind and compassionate as I can be, smiling at strangers, consuming more mindfully, staying curious, finding gratitude in each day, and hopefully inspiring someone else along the way.
If you’ve caught the travel bug like me and are often dreaming about what life is like in other parts of the world, or find yourself constantly craving new interactions and experiences, there are plenty of opportunities for you to explore.
Keep in mind, there will always be a reason holding you back from taking the plunge and choosing what some consider a more “unconventional” path (job, relationship, societal standards). But there are a million and one reasons why you will be glad you decided to face those fears and go after a life that you truly want - I know, I have done it.
When deciding what kind of work you want to do abroad, my suggestion would be to ask yourself:
What you are passionate about.
What do you like to do in your free time?
What sort of things do you spend time learning about because you’re curious and want to know more?
Use these questions to help guide you in a direction.
From there, decide if you’re looking for something you can take with you anywhere you go, which usually means working from a laptop, or if you’d rather work face to face with others.
If working from your laptop, some options include working for yourself as an entrepreneur, managing an online business or blog, virtually teaching English, or simply working for an employer remotely.
If you already have a job that you love, consider asking your company if they are open to remote work or relocating you internationally if they have offices abroad. If not, consider researching similar companies who do offer remote jobs. There are plenty of websites these days to help fuel your search. Some examples include:
We Work Remotely, Workewco, Fiverr, Working Nomads, Remote Year, Airtasker and Nomad List.
I’ve met people working in sales, marketing, engineering, design, recruiting, even real estate! The remote opportunities are endless.
If you’d prefer to work away from a laptop and in person with others, consider a teaching job, fitness instructor, yoga teacher, the tourism industry, nannying, aupair, etc. There are even opportunities to housesit around the world, where you can receive free accommodation in exchange for looking after someones house and pets! Check out Trusted Housesitters!
My one piece of advice is, if this lifestyle calls to you, get creative, think outside the box, and ask yourself what else is possible?
Of course, like anything, there are challenges that come with the joy and freedom of a nomadic lifestyle.
For me, one of the biggest challenges I’ve come across has been trying to balance my life and relationships at home with my life while I’m away. There will be birthdays, engagements, celebrations, and changes that you might miss by living away from home and that’s a sacrifice you make in exchange for experiencing other ways of life. In addition, after living this “unconventional” life the past few years, I have developed a slight feeling of isolation when I’m home due to no longer always being able to relate to my peers and even best friends because of our different life trajectories.
However, my advice to you if you’re worried about this is to stay true to your path as long as it continues to bring you fulfillment and joy and live that truth with integrity. If you do this, your true friends and family will continue to support you no matter what.
We are all on our own journey to learn how to live and feel and love and I’ve found that for me, stepping out of the comforts of my normal routine and finding time to process and observe with curiosity, has helped me realize the most important parts of life.