Reading Time: 6 – 8 minutes.
Grab a snack and enjoy a little travel inspiration.
[I – Interviewer (me), A – Alyssa aka Global Gyal]
I: I’ve known of Alyssa for several years and more so recently through a mutual friend; my best friend is also one of her best friends. I was inspired to start this new feature piece based on her courageous adventures and the stories she shares via her Facebook page. From seeing her in action she’s truly an inspiration in different areas of life; she can party hard and still get the work done. As not to give too much away let’s get into the discussion so you can see what she’s currently up to.
A: Hello! Well, as you said my name is Alyssa Derrick. I’m born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda (the country that has my heart). I’m 25 years old with a degree in International Development and a minor in Business Administration. I’m in love with soca music (that too has my heart.) I also love my family, friends and good times. I enjoy a good book and quiet times too however (quite the contrast) and, I love to travel.
I: How did you fall in love with traveling?
A: I moved to Toronto for University and lived there for 4 years after I went to State College back home. This move was pivotal in my love for travel. My University was very diverse, so I met a lot of international people. I was living in a new country (and such a large one at that) and very involved in school. All of those experiences I had in those years combined to make me fall in love with travel. I remember walking through my school hall one time and I saw a map. I quickly searched for Antigua (a dot) then zoomed out and compared it to Canada, where I was. I then scanned and looked at the rest of the world on the map and thought “Look how many more countries there are to discover. If I’ve had such great experiences just from moving to this one place, imagine what I’d experience traveling to the rest. There’s so much more of the world to explore”. By the time I graduated I had a plan in place to start that discovery process.
Q: Is this your first solo travel experience? If no, what other countries have you visited?
A: This is definitely not the first solo trip but I do actually travel a lot with friends and family. When I was younger I visited the USA a few times and many Caribbean Islands. When I was in University each break my sister and my other friends and I would jump on a bus to another province in Canada or state in the USA. By myself, when I graduated I decided to go to South Africa, the UAE, USA and Barbados. I didn’t want to move back home just yet and I didn’t want to get a job, so that was my solution. I did it for 2.5 months.
Overall I’ve visited most of the English-speaking Caribbean, East coast USA, Canada, the U.K as well as the countries I mentioned in my first solo trip.
Q: How did you decide to go on this particular journey?
A: After university I knew I didn’t want to move back to Antigua and ‘get settled’. I didn’t want to get comfortable. I also knew that I had the travel bug in me.
On my solo trip to South Africa, I met a German girl traveling the country by herself, who told me previously she lived in NZ for a year. I was mind blown. She told me about a working holiday visa they have and said she did it just to explore the country. This stuck with me. Then I had met a few people, from the Caribbean as well as overseas, who mentioned how beautiful New Zealand was. Those two things sold me. So, I decided I was to move back home to Antigua for two years to save and move to NZ at the end of it.
Q: Can you give a little insight into your planning technique? (research, knowing where to go/how do you fund your travel/how do you prepare for a trip?)
A: Talk to people. Definitely talk to people, and talk to people who have actually been there vs. people who just hear about things. I reached out to a couple of people (different ages, from different countries) who I knew had been to NZ and shared my idea. I found some of these people by mentioning to others that I wanted to travel to NZ. I was surprised to find that people would point me in the direction of someone they knew who had been there before and could offer some insight. They gave me insight and feedback and from that information I went online to look for more information.
For funding, I paid for it myself. When I returned home from school, I made the decision to save for this trip. I decided what my end savings goal would be – I thought “How much would I need to get me to NZ and up on my feet?” Once I decided on a figure (I would also check flights for rough estimates in different months), I calculated how much I would need to earn and save each month to make X amount in 2 years. I set up a bank account purely dedicated to saving for travel and a direct deposit from my pay cheque went in every month. I never touched it until I started my trip.
Q: Does it ever feel like too much (Being away from friends and family)? How do you cope?
A: Yes and no. The trip came up around the same time a couple of things were going on in my life – a friend’s wedding in Toronto as well as a big exam I was taking a month before. But, I just took it one day at a time. The hardest part was probably actually planning ‘what’ to do while I was there – like a bus tour I’m taking for instance. There’s so much to do and so much to see in the country. But I’m not from there so how do I know what’s the best thing to do? There’s so much information on the internet you can feel overwhelmed (which I did). Eventually, I just jotted down what I could and said I’ll leave the rest to fate. My schedule would figure itself out :).
In regards to family and friends, of course I miss them. As I was away during university I’m ‘used’ to being away from them for extended periods of time. Usually, after 3 months I start pining for home and familiarity and my family and such. It’s only been about 2 months now so it hasn’t hit me yet. Normally, after the three months I’d see my friends and family. But, this time I’m across the pacific ocean – it won’t be that easy. But I plan to cross that bridge when I get there.
What I intend to do though is ‘plan’ a day or a couple of hours on a specific day each week when I’d catch up with friends and family. I find when I’m away I have to consciously make an effort to reach out to them – as they’re no longer in front of you or at your house anymore. Whatsapp is boss in all these situations though.
I also check in with my friends and they check in with me. There’s a 17hr time difference so that means it’s a littttleeee complicated. But one one full basket. A short convo here with my mom, and a long one with a friend helps to ‘refill’ my cup of home.
Q: What’s one thing you always travel with?
A: My phone? I NEED to have contact with back home. (Well not need but, it keeps me sane). And my camera. Oh and my flag. Always have a flag. Never know when you have to represent.
Q: A piece of advice you’d like to share with other young adults? (Travel tips, inspiration)
A: TRAVEL! It’s simple or if you can’t afford it, do something different. Take a different route home from work. Walk on the other side of the road than the one you’re used to. There’s so much to see, so many different perspectives. I’d also say if you have an idea to travel, talk to someone about it. Mention it to someone. Who knows what they could add – advice, contacts, encouragement. Expose yourself to the potential good energy that’ll help you achieve your goal.
Q: Any funny stories to share thus far?
A: HA! Yes. I’m at a hostel presently. And I’m paying to use an outdoor Porto potty as my toilet. PAYING. Okay, it isn’t that funny but I have to laugh at it not to cry lol
Thank you so much for sharing your story; looking forward to more of your social media posts and getting to know you better. Continue doing what you love and know that you’re inspiring so many people.