After graduating from Clemson in 2013, I took an engineer position at a medical device company in Pendleton, SC. After one year, I entered the PhD program at Clemson for Materials Science and Engineering. I was working full time, doing research, and taking classes for almost two years.
In 2016 I felt a different calling in life. I could no longer ignore the voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t where I needed to be. So, to the confusion of my parents, I left my company in October of 2016 and began remotely consulting for online businesses.
You could call it a pivot.
Since I could work anywhere there was WiFi, I went all in and bought a two-month ticket to Vietnam. I had no friends that lived there and no one to travel with. I didn’t even make travel plans until I got to Asia, I just loaded my stuff into a backpack and climbed on a plane.
Hiroshima, Japan was absolutely moving. You see buildings that survived the atomic blast in 1945. When you stand next to them, inside the rebuilt city, it is a very powerful experience.
Singapore was great, too. I say it is perfect for those who don’t want to get culture shocked too hard. It is very high tech, modern, clean, safe, with excellent transportation, and enough Indian and Asian culture to satisfy the junior traveler.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is the Asian hub for people working remotely (called Digital Nomads) and it’s clear why. It’s a really fun, smaller city at the foot of the mountains. I miss the night time food markets and weaving a moped through aggressive traffic.
In Hanoi, I found a bar with an open mic night and got to play a short concert.
In Thailand, I signed up for a 2-day retreat through a monk university. We spent 2 days in near-total silence learning about Buddhism, the life of a monk, and spent hours each day meditating using the methods they taught to us.
My advice to future travelers would be:
Pack and repack your bag several times so you know where to trim down your belongings. I had to ship half my stuff home midway through the trip. Although it was expensive, having a lighter backpack made a huge difference.
Don’t be intimidated by the local language or culture. Almost anywhere you go in the world, you will find friendly people willing to help you. If you learn about 5 basic phrases in each language you can survive a few weeks. Be polite, respectful, and get comfortable communicating with your hands.
Finally, don’t overthink it. The world is basically one big back yard with really good food everywhere. Do some basic research on where you’re going and just… go!
In the picture above, I’m on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. More photographs at www.instagram.com/jarrettlucero