50 People #2: Andi on adventure

50 People #2: Andi on Adventure

At age 51, Andi quit her job in aviation sales, rented out her condo, got rid of her “stuff”, and left her life in the US to start over. After floating around Southeast Asia for a few months, she stumbled into a new life in Taiwan and has been there ever since.

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>> PROFILE

Name: Andrea | Currently in: HsinchuTaiwan

Originally from the United States, Andi has been living in the southwest of Taipei for the last two and a half years. Although it was something she never planned, things couldn’t have worked out better.

These days, Andi spends her time teaching English, going on adventures and writing about travel on her blog ‘Andi on Adventure’. Slowly and surely she is achieving her goal of working with a humanitarian relief organization to help those less fortunate in South East Asia.

I caught up with Andi to talk about how she is trying to use travel for good, and why sometimes its best to just follow your intuition and trust that it will all work out in the end.

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>> INTERVIEW

You’ve travelled far and wide from your hometown in Minnesota. Were you always interested in travelling?

After college I started working for Northwest Airlines and moved all over – New York, Los Angeles, San Diego. I then settled in Hawaii for 13 years. After that, I moved to Florida and worked for Avantair, a small start-up airline that eventually went under. I really became addicted to travel when I had the opportunity to do my college internship in Japan. I was able to explore Hong Kong, spent a weekend in China, and then returned to the US where I just knew I couldn’t get a “normal” job. At age 22 I was bitten by the travel bug and would never be “normal” again!

What was the motivation behind quitting your job and moving to Asia?

I was working in Sales for Avantair, selling shares of very expensive airplanes to very rich and famous people. It was a great job, until there was a serious maintenance issue that drew the attention of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration – the governing body of airlines). They grounded the entire fleet of planes for 3 weeks, which made it very difficult to sell. So I spent time at work researching ways to start my life over and stumbled upon the idea of teaching English in Asia. I knew the company was in bad shape financially and probably wouldn’t survive, so I made my exit strategy. I left my job March 1, 2013 and they went under in June. The timing was perfect!

Did you always plan on ending up in Taiwan?

Prior to landing in Taiwan, I had spent 3 months volunteer teaching in Vietnam. After that I kind of wandered around Southeast Asia for a few months, trying to figure out where to go next. Once I finally settled on Taiwan, it was such a relief and I was happy to have a home and excited to create my new life.

Was it different to what you expected? Did you have any preconceptions?

At first everything was difficult – teaching, shopping, driving a scooter, daily life- probably even more difficult than I expected. Meeting people and making friends also was much more difficult than I expected, but I think that has more to do with my age than anything. But I was confident it would get easier, confident I had made the right decision, so I just struggled through the hard parts and have made it to the other side. It’s all good and so worth the effort!

You describe your blog as ‘café writings from the road.’ How exactly did you get into travel blogging?

My first job out of college was with Northwest Airlines, and in that time I had the opportunity to travel all over the world for free (or really cheap!). Many times I travelled alone and always had a journal with me. One of my favorite things to do in a new city was to find that perfect café with comfortable chairs and great people-watching. I would sit there for hours and drink coffee (or beer) while writing in my journal. That’s kind of where “Café writings from the road” originated. Recently I returned to Florida and cleaned out my storage locker, getting rid of most of my “stuff” except those travel journals. Rediscovering those journals was one thing that inspired me to start writing again.

What’s your favourite place you’ve been to and why?  

I’ve been to Thailand about 15 times now (I’ve actually lost count!), so I guess that would be my pick for favorite places. It’s such a diverse country, from the beautiful beaches in the south to the mountains in northern Thailand. I love the Thai people too, very kind, very calm, very Buddhist. Bangkok is a fascinating city but usually a few days is enough and then I head north to Chiang Mai or south to one of the islands. Last month I spent a few weeks there doing a 10-day scooter trip on the Mae Hong Son loop, beginning in Chiang Mai. I fell in love with Ban Rak Thai, a small Chinese village on the Burma border. Great place!

What is the hardest thing about travelling?

I think the hardest thing about traveling is staying healthy while on the road. It’s so easy to get carried away trying new foods, drinking too much beer, and not working out. It takes a lot of discipline to eat and drink responsibly when your instinct is to embrace it all as a new experience!

What’s next? What are your plans for 2016?

I plan to do more traveling around Taiwan in the next few months. In the past year, I’ve been to Bali, Hong Kong, the US, and Thailand twice, but haven’t done much traveling around Taiwan. There is so much to explore on this island! I also plan to spend a few weeks in the US in mid-June to see my family and hope to make it to Belize while I’m in that area of the world. October will be Myanmar, one of the countries on the top of my Bucket List!

Do you have a travel philosophy?

I guess the philosophy I’ve developed since I started traveling as a naïve 22-year old is – “As long as I don’t get killed (or raped), everything that happens will make a great travel story someday”. That mentality kind of takes the pressure off when things don’t go as planned. It’s all an adventure, all part of the experience.

And finally, do you have one travel tip for everyone out there?

Slow down and breathe! You really don’t have to see everything or check everything off your “To Do” list. Sitting at a café, drinking a glass of wine, talking to the local people can be just as entertaining and enlightening as following your preplanned itinerary. Be in the moment.

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You can learn more about Andi and how she travels at andionadventure.com. To see more stories from the 50 people 50 places series, click here.

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