Meet Elizabeth, our last woman of the week this January, who is currently working as a freelance writer. You can witness her writing chops in this interview where she shares her spot-on advice about risk-taking and the challenges of working remotely while traveling. To see what it is that lets her wander while she works, check out Elizabeth’s interview and portfolio below!
Connect with Elizabeth:
Tell us about yourself?
I am a 38-year-old former sales executive turned freelance writer. I spent my 20s traveling for a few weeks a year in Europe, mostly going on beer tasting tours with my local brewery. As cool as these trips were, I’d always wanted more travel. On New Year’s Eve, 2014, I left on a one-way trip to Koh Samui Thailand and spend the next several years living and working in Southeast Asia. I made Bangkok my home base and traveled extensively throughout the region, meeting amazing people and really pulling myself out of my comfort zone. It’s been a hell of a transformation.
I used to be terrified of every insect I’d encounter but in the Thai jungle with no other resources available, I learned quickly how to identify dangerous ones and once even killed a scorpion with the bathroom hose. I studied comedy and Muay Thai. I learned what risks are smart (flying to Bali on a whim) and what risks are dumb (getting drunk while carrying your passport). Travel has shaped my entire worldview and given me optimism, perspective, and coping skills. Next adventure – South America!
Why do you travel?
I travel because I’m genuinely curious about the world. I want to get other perspectives. Through travel, I’ve learned that not everything is black and white. I spent my entire young adult life, thanks to Oliver Stone and American education, thinking that Gandhi was an amazing saintly person. I never knew that many people see him as a shrewd opportunist and pervert. There are endless perspectives on issues that range from Gandhi to American nation-building to Crimea and if you listen with respect, you’ll gain so much insight on the world. On a less noble note, I love to try local beers, food and listen to live music. I tend to gravitate towards night markets or street food stalls, although I will occasionally eat somewhere with a roof and walls if it comes highly recommended.
How do you balance work and travel?
I work A LOT. Traveling the world and working remotely means pulling 10-12 hour days and dealing with massive fluctuations in pay and stability. There is no job security. I spend at least an hour to two hours a day hustling for work. When you deal with international clients, the hours are ridiculous, oftentimes before the sun rises or after it sets. To counteract this, I only work during the week and save my weekends for passion projects and ‘me’ writing. I balance work and travel by setting strict rules. No play (including Facebook or checking the news) during work hours and no work during play hours. I find that when I’m focused I can get more work done. I travel on the weekends or use a wifi hotspot to work on the road.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
I’ve learned not to stress out over every little thing. I used to freak out when something didn’t go my way. A minor inconvenience, fight or unexpected hiccup could throw me into a tailspin. I remember sitting around at one point, bemoaning that someone published a passive-aggressive Facebook post that might have referenced a fight we had. What a waste of energy and time!
The first time I saw the sunset on Taling G’Nam beach was transformative. I’d been on Koh Samui for about a week, made some friends, and we were riding motorbikes around the island. We stopped at Taling G’Nam to check out the sunset and seeing it dip down below the water, throwing the longtail boats into shadow and lighting up the sky in riotous color was simultaneously one of the most breathtaking and freeing moments of my life. In that moment, anything was possible and I knew that I had made the right decision to come to Thailand.
Don’t believe everything you read about how dangerous other countries are because a lot of it borders on hysteria. Find women that live or work in the country you want to visit and ask them what it’s like. I’ve noticed that sisterhood is huge amongst female travelers and we look out for each other. Ultimately, you’re much more prepared and resilient than you think. Don’t hesitate and wait for the perfect time to travel. Reach out to other women, make a plan and buy a ticket.
Thanks for reading! Want more travel tips from Elizabeth and women like her?
Join the Suitcase Six mailing list and you’ll get access to 3 freebies to help you plan your next adventure!
After you sign up, you’ll start receiving the following freebies: 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF), 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist), and 30 Jobs to See the World.
Want more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.