Meet The Traveler is a series where each week we interview one lifestyle traveler from around the world. These travelers range from being digital nomads, location independent entrepreneurs, or simply so passionate about seeing the world that they’ve fully integrated travel into their lifestyle. Our travelers will bring us into their world, sharing their transition story, what they do to support their lifestyle, and giving us insight into their life as a traveler.
If you’re looking for inspiration to transition to this lifestyle, want to meet other people in the community, or are simply curious to know how others live and split their time, then you don’t want to miss this series!
Meet The Traveler: Travel Influencer & Teacher Alyshia Turchyn
We like to start things off by knowing the behind-the-person story. We love getting intimate and learning about what drives a person to be who they are. Let’s skip the small talk, and head right into some more passionate questions.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey? Who were you in a past life, and who are you now?
I was born and raised just outside Toronto, Canada in the GTA (greater Toronto area). I finished an Undergraduate degree in Health Science from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Finally I completed my Master’s in Education from Concordia University in Montreal.
When I was 18, I took a trip to Poland with my grandpa to visit his hometown in Tomaszów, Lubelski. I would say that was my first real trip abroad where I was put in charge of navigating a foreign country. My grandpa hadn’t been back in 25 years and didn’t quite know what to expect, therefore left most of the trip in my hands. Having to be in charge definitely sparked something in me because I’ve had the urge to travel ever since.
After I finished all of my schooling I was free to work and roam the world for a bit. However, coming back home to work, save, travel, repeat became quite repetitive. I wanted to take a leap into the unknown, to see if I could actually do it. So on February 16th, 2018 I packed two suitcases and moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I have been living there as a teacher ever since.
Where are you from originally?
Oakville, Ontario, Canada (just outside Toronto)
What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?
My passion for photography has grown extensively since moving to Vietnam. There is so much more opportunity for interesting captures especially in Ho Chi Minh City. It is such a different lifestyle than what I grew up with in Canada, so I constantly feel inspired here which is a nice change.
When did you first get interested in traveling?
I’ve been fascinated with other countries for as long as I can remember. Growing up we didn’t travel much, if at all. The world was somewhat of a mystery until I was about 16. In 11th grade I took a class trip to Italy, and then the trip with my grandpa in Poland happened when I was 18. Poland surpassed all of my expectations, and truly made me realize how much travelling can impact you in the best way possible. I remember just being so sad that I was going home. Although my life was great in every possible way, I just longed for that adventure, and the unknown that traveling gives you.
When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle and work overseas as a teacher? Was there a trigger point?
I remember telling myself after I got through my Master’s program and finished my schooling, I would let myself travel as a treat. And I did.
I had thought about being a teacher as a gateway to live abroad and make travel a lifestyle, but it was a terrifying thought. So instead I went on a 4 month backpacking trip with my sister through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Afterwards I went on to visit friends in New Zealand and Australia. When it was time to head back home to work and save for my next travels, I was already itching to make travel even more of a lifestyle. That’s when I knew I just had to bite the bullet and take a chance. So I packed up and moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where I have been living, travelling, and and working as a teacher ever since.
How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult to become a teacher overseas?
For me it was a seamless transition and a quick one at that. I had chatted with someone from my hometown who’d lived in Vietnam for over 10 years and who had said moving to Ho Chi Minh City was the best decision they ever made. After that conversation I was sold. I applied for a job as a teacher and accepted it within a week’s time. I booked a one way flight to Ho Chi Minh City three weeks later and I’m still here today! Although I am a full time teacher, I have travelled to more places than I could have ever imagined. I have seen incredible landscapes, and have been able to pursue travel photography more fully.
Could you elaborate on what you do for work? Do you work remotely for a company, freelance, or have your own location independent business?
I run my own travel blog www.AlyshiaTurchyn.com and instagram. These are both focused on empowering others to travel the world, providing useful travel tips, inspiration and advice with emphasis on Vietnam. I’m a cafe hopper and foodie in Ho Chi Minh City so my content will point you in all the right directions to ease your hunger pains!
I am also a teacher full time at an international school in Ho Chi Minh City.
How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?
I try to travel as much as humanly possible on weekends and holidays. In between my days off, when I am technically “not-travelling,” I try to get out into the city and explore as much as possible! Whether that’s a cute cafe or a drool-worthy brunch spot, I am always out on the town.
What is your preferred method of traveling/living? Do you move constantly/stay at a few places for a few months/have a base/multiple bases?
My two home bases are: Canada, where my family lives, and Vietnam, where I have my own apartment. From those two places I have the freedom to travel while always having a home to come back to. Having at least one home base has always been my preferred method of traveling. Living out of a backpack is not as fun as the internet makes it seem. The back pain is real! Since I have a full time job as a teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, I definitely need to have consistency here. It is also a great place to base yourself since there are so many interesting countries surrounding Vietnam.
What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?
I am a summer baby through and through! I will run from the cold snowy months to sweltering summer days any day, any time! Thankfully Ho Chi Minh is +30 degrees at all times!
What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?
Vietnam is definitely a great place for digital nomads and location independent lifestyles as the cost of living is low and the ability to travel is high. I would also say Bali (Indonesia), Thailand and the Philippines are great for that purpose too.
How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?
It’s hard to establish friendships when you’re always on the move, I know this first hand. It’s also tiring and tricky putting yourself out there constantly. What has worked for me is to just say “yes” (with caution, obviously) to as much as I can. If someone asked me to go for coffee or catch a sunset, I’d say yes. Even if we never got another chance to hangout or we just didn’t vibe, it was always a good experience to meet someone new.
While traveling I’ve found, hanging out in your hostel bar or heading to the backpacker area of a city is always a guarantee for finding and making new friends.
If you’re living in the city, Bumble BFF, Instagram, Tinder, Hinge, and other similar apps have let me find friends and date pretty easily! I know, I know, Bumble BFF, how lame, don’t worry that’s what I thought too. But you just never know. I met two of my best friends in Ho Chi Minh City through Bumble BFF, so it works!
Also, I’ve found joining specific Facebook groups for travelers and expats, especially in SouthEast Asia, makes meeting people super easy. Sometimes there are groups specifically for meet ups in certain cities!
How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?
Facetime has seriously been a lifesaver. Pocketing out certain times during the week that work for friends and family has helped me keep in touch, and feel like I’m not missing out too much back home!
Living abroad also lets you figure out the friends that are willing to make the effort to keep in touch. It’s definitely a two way street with communication, and if one party isn’t willing to put in the effort, it quickly becomes way more work to keep in touch and keep that relationship alive.
What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?
There is so much I love about the traveler lifestyle. I love how it constantly challenges me and teaches me. Seeing the world first hand is an educational experience that I just cannot get in a classroom, no matter how much schooling I do. Every destination I’ve been lucky enough to travel to has taught me to look past my own ideas and societal views. It’s helped me open my mind and allowed me to meet amazing people from all over the world. The traveler lifestyle definitely alters your perspective, as your world view isn’t the same as everyone else’s.
Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?
If there is one thing I dislike about the traveler lifestyle it’s that I can’t easily see my family and friends back home.
What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?
I’m not sure that there is something currently missing from my life. I’m pretty content with what I have, and I know that I am so lucky to live the life I am living. A goal of mine has always been to live abroad, and right now I’m living that goal. I am so happy that I pursued something that totally pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?
I wish I would have known how easy it is to adjust yourself to a new life away from your home country. Of course it is tough at times, but if it’s your choice and you jump in with both feet, it all finds a way to work itself out.
Nerves about the future in a foreign country definitely made me hold off from making the leap. But when I finally did, it was everything I hoped it would be.
Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?
I definitely do not see myself living this lifestyle forever, and will eventually settle into a more “traditional” lifestyle. Depending on what path I take career wise, I may choose to live abroad forever, but I have not shut any doors to future possibilities.
What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?
I know this is totally cliche, but I’d say, just go for it!
If you’re like me and the thought of being a digital nomad seems daunting, and you’d feel more comfortable with a steady job and a weekly paycheck, there are unlimited possibilities for employment abroad. Take me for example – being a teacher has always been a passion of mine and teaching positions over here range from part-time to full-time, from online to night classes. There are endless employment possibilities to accommodate your travel lifestyle.
Where can people connect with you?