What do you want from life? Do you have everything you always wished for? Not very often do we ask ourselves these questions while being caught up in the routine, drama and struggles of life. It is easy to lead a life that gives us a sense of security and safe space, but it takes a lot of courage to step out of the comfort zone and go for the things we believe in. It is something that does not occur to most of us naturally due to our cultural conditioning. We are expected to go to school, get into college right after school (gap year, what is that), get a job right after, get married, have kids and grow old with loads of grandkids. We are rarely asked if that is something we really want, if it will make us happy.
Someone rightly said — "By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others."
The inspiring life journey of Paige Newberry is one such exceptional story. From travelling to Morocco right after cancelling the wedding she wasn't sure of, to moving all the way across the globe to follow her dream of working with animals, she has done it all.
Let us get more insight into the remarkable life of Miss Newberry.
Paige, your journey is heart-warming and inspirational. Please tell the Tripoto community more about yourself.
I am 29 years old (will be 30 in April). I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I was very lucky to be exposed to adventures and explored the ocean and the islands nearby. Growing up, my father travelled for work and would bring my mother, sisters and me along whenever possible, so I caught the travel bug at a young age. I worked hard throughout school and was able to graduate from high school one year early. I took a year off between high school and college to work and save up as much money as I could. This also allowed me to take small surfing trips around Florida. From there, I was accepted to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, where I could focus on school and surfing.
When and where was your first solo travelling experience?
My first true solo trip was when I was 15-years-old. I was meeting family friends out in Utah for a snowboarding trip, and while I was used to travelling and flying, experiencing the airport alone was quite a different experience. The trip there was no problem. However, on the way back from Utah to Florida, I had a layover in Dallas. The second flight ended up being cancelled due to bad weather (tornadoes) and the airlines put me up at a hotel. At 15, I was not only experiencing travelling solo for the first time, but I was also experiencing tornadoes for the first time. However, I didn't let it scare me, and now airports are one of my favourite places to be (strange, I know!).
How many countries have you been to since then?
I am currently visiting my 21st country. Within the next six months, I will have travelled to six more.
How do you fund your travel?
I have always been a very hard worker. At one time, I had four different jobs, so I have learned how to save and invest my money well. I also do not spend much money on clothes or material things, and try to find the best deals when available.
What has been your longest time travelling and what inspired you to do it?
This trip I am on at the moment will be my longest. I moved from South Florida to Indonesia indefinitely and will be backpacking around Southeast Asia for six months. There are quite a few inspirations that led up to this trip which you can read more about on my blog. When my father passed away and I cancelled my wedding, I knew it was time for me to live every day the way that I knew would make me happy, not behind a computer in a cubicle anymore.
Tell me about your favourite travel memory.
My absolute favourite travel memory, at least so far, was the time I camped in the Sahara Desert. I rode a camel out into the middle of the sand dunes and laid under the full moon enjoying the cool breeze and socialising with the local Berber tribe. It was one of the most freeing, calming, adventurous experiences I have ever had the joy of being a part of, and it will forever be in my memories.
You have said that you began fearing going far from home after losing your father. How did you overcome that fear?
Losing my father was really hard. But the hardest part was knowing that my mother was alone for the first time in almost 50 years. It took a lot of time for me to be okay leaving her, even just to go to the store. As time went on, things got a bit easier. The one thing that kept us both going is knowing that my father would never want us to not live our lives to the fullest as he did. He loved what he did every day for work and loved seeing the world, and I know he wants the same for us. After my mother and I were able to mourn, I took her on a road trip around Ireland and the UK to help us remember that my father would be with us wherever we are. Now, my mom gets excited for me when I travel and loves to hear about the stories, and I take her on trips whenever she is able.
How did travelling heal you after all the hardships life put you through?
Wow. It heals me in too many ways to count! But one of the biggest aspects of travelling for me is the ability to connect with so many people that you would otherwise never have the chance to cross paths with. I have met some of my lifelong friends on trips I have taken across the world. I have met girls that I swear are my twin, both spiritually and physically (I met a girl in Morocco, who came all the way from Switzerland, and she looked exactly like me). Experiencing different cultures sheds a light on the life you are living, good or bad. You may think your life is going horrible until you come across a culture that has far less than you, but the people are so much happier than you. In Nusa Penida, Indonesia, people live with little running water and weak WiFi, but are some of the most pleasant people I have come across. Travelling truly shows that a roof, water and food is all you really need, and that happiness comes from inside you and what you choose to make out of your life.
I know every country is unique in its own way and it is very difficult to narrow it down to one. So, if given a chance to make any country in the world home forever, which country would you choose?
Well, I just moved to Indonesia so that says something there! But I absolutely LOVE New Zealand and hope to settle down there one day. The beauty of the landscape and the friendly people is just something that is hard to beat.
Travel changes us in the most extraordinary ways. Do you feel any change in yourself or your perspectives?
Every single time I travel, I feel a change in both myself and my perspectives. Every new place you go will offer you something big or small. You just have to be willing to go in with an open mind, and I promise you will never stop learning about yourself or about the world around you.
Do you look back to your home country and see it differently now? What made you leave it to travel all the way across the world.
I do look at my home country a bit different, but in a way I was already expecting it. South Florida has a very rich and materialistic lifestyle. It's about who has the newest car, the biggest house, the best clothes, and I have never fallen into that lifestyle which makes it very hard for me to adapt well. Even though I was born and raised there, I knew that wasn't where I was meant to be forever. I knew I wanted a place where I could live stress-free, where people enjoyed life and didn't just work for a paycheck, and where I could be myself and not have to worry about trying to "keep up". Don't get me wrong – I was very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the United States, but the culture there was just not something I wanted to be in. I needed somewhere where people appreciated waking up every day, regardless of what material things they had. I found that in Indonesia :)
While travelling we have a lot of moments when we feel glad to be alive. Can you tell us five such moments for you?
This is a tough question to narrow down, since I am thankful every time I travel, but here goes nothing:
– In Vancouver, Canada, I was zip-lining one of the highest and longest lines, when all of the sudden I felt myself slowing down rather quickly, but I was still far from the platform. All of the sudden, I stopped, hundreds of feet in the air, hanging from the zip-line. Instead of panicking, I took a moment to breathe, and looked around at the beauty of the dark green pine trees and the ocean in the distance. It was just me in the pure silence of nature, and I had never felt more alive. I patiently waited for the rescue team, and when they arrived, I asked if they could leave me there just a bit longer as I started filming with my GoPro. They laughed, and told me I was crazy... I just think I'm crazy about life.
– In Ubud, Bali, I hiked through a rainforest to an abandoned temple. The stairs up to the temple were very tall, very steep, and very slippery. Even though I have vertigo, I took a deep breath and climbed up to the very top. When I arrived, I was welcomed with a view of the tops of all the trees, the sounds of the birds, and the warm sun on my face. Definitely the most peaceful moment I had during my time in Bali. The climb down was not as peaceful ;)
– In the Dominican Republic, I took a very small boat out to the drop reef with a sand bar. We pulled the boat up on the sand bar, put on our fins, and jumped in. The colours of the coral and the fish were colours I had never seen in my entire life. I actually kept gasping so much that I was having a hard time holding my breath to dive down further. To this day, I have never seen a more beautiful environment, especially under water.
– As mentioned before, the Sahara Desert will forever be one of the times I have felt the luckiest to be alive. The peacefulness, the serenity, the pure nature surrounding you cannot be topped!
– In Tamarindo, Costa Rica, I surfed one of my favourite breaks of all time, completely alone which is almost unheard of in Tamarindo. That morning, I had woken up, grabbed a quick snack, and headed out. I caught some of the best waves of my life, and to this day, still look back on that trip as one of my happiest moments in life.
Do you miss your family and friends? How do you keep in touch?
Of course I miss my family and friends (and my animals!)! But I make sure to keep in touch through WhatsApp or Messenger and constantly send them photos and updates. As well, I always make sure to ask how things at home are going so that I never feel too far away or too disconnected.
Do you have any advice for the young people who aspire to travel the world?
Just go! There is so much specific advice I can give, but the biggest thing you have to overcome is the fear. People will try to hold you back, whether from jealousy or from protection, but this is your life and no one else's. Only YOU can make your dream happen. So do it now! Don't wait. If there is anything I have learned in my 30 years on earth, it's that life is WAY shorter than you think, and you never want to look back with regret. You'll be okay. You're strong, and you have the power to do so much. You just have to take that first step. And I promise it will be worth it!
What are your upcoming travel plans?
In late March, I will be heading to Singapore for a couple days before I make my way into Malaysia. From there, I will be travelling throughout Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. I don't have an exact plan yet, but I am hoping that I will be able to fund my trip further and explore China and Japan, but we'll see! I just need to find more freelance jobs!
More power to you, Paige! We wish you the best for your travels.
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