A Day in the Life of a Designer on a Year-Long Solo Trip Around the World

A Day in the Life of a Designer on a Year-Long Solo Trip Around the World

How To Afford a Life of Non-Stop Travel (Even if You're Broke AF) (July 2019).


We bet you've heard it from your coworkers and BFFs before: "All I want to do is quit my job and travel the world!" While most of the travel blog, YouTube wanderlust Vlogger or even travel tattoo-ignited wanderlust usually comes in the form of dreaming without action, we recently chatted with Emily Chen, a designer who actually made the bold leap (congrats, girl!). Emily left her job at Squarespace in August of 2015 to see some of the most far-flung corners of the world for an entire year. Read on for a day in Emily's ultra-inspiring life, where she's super focused on reconnecting with herself, good food and creative global communities.

7am: I wake up. I'm an early riser, so I really like the early morning, when I can walk outside and still have the city to myself — I'm currently in Melbourne. Since I started my solo trip around the world in August 2015, my external home and environment has changed so much. I've found that having a good morning ritual is incredibly grounding and balances out the parts of my life that are in constant motion.

My new morning ritual always involves coffee at a neighborhood cafe I love. I'm lucky because the coffee in Melbourne is wonderful and so is the hospitality. Today, I use the opportunity to write what I'm grateful for and what I hope for myself in the next year.

It's honestly been a bit scary branching out into the unknown. For as long as I can remember, I've always had a plan and a stable job. Now, I'm not even sure what this "thing" I'm doing is called. I just know what I care about and I have to keep going and doing it.

I think about how staying open in the unknown, without scrambling for the next thing or having an answer, is amazing, but also trying and terrifying. It's not something I — or people I know — are used to!

8am: A while ago, I started to carve time out of my day to create things with my hands. The computer can limit my imagination, so getting back to basics makes me realize what's possible. I love any excuse to carve this time out of my day, think outside the box and play with type. Today, I collaborated with a very talented and inspiring friend on her Trends on Trends food forecast feature.

9am: I'm starting to take on more freelance work, and I also have a part-time job at a food company here in Melbourne. At this time each day, I'm at my job working away on branding, copywriting, social media and design. This morning, I head to a co-working space (another great place to meet new friends!) and work on design projects, getting back to people and reaching out to others.

I really LOVE design ideas and projects — the initial brainstorming is always so fun! You pick up so much inspiration from all over in your physical world. You become a clue-hunter, noticing details in a building, at home, in a poster that your brain normally filters out.

11am: By now, it's already 9pm in NYC, where most of my friends are. I miss them a ton, so I often have one or two Skype calls a week around this time. Travel will have its highs and lows. You get to take in the awe of new places and meet new faces, but you'll always miss your community back home.

2pm: I use my afternoon to continue with email, my own project work or freelance work. (Note to self: Must. Resist. Buzzfeed.)

6pm: Dinner time! I usually make dinner or have dinner over at a friend's place. In NYC, I had monthly potlucks with friends and I loved how it brought everyone together. I think it's time to start them again here!

8pm: I'm new to Melbourne, and it's my home for this year. I'll usually meet new friends through activities (dance classes, yoga) or go to the occasional meetup. Or, like tonight, I'm on my computer, as that's how life and working in different time zones goes sometimes.

11pm: I try to get to bed at this time, and today is no exception. :)

"What if you just decided that you were going to be fine, no matter what? You'd probably do a lot of things differently. You'd test your boundaries. You'd trust yourself more. The trick is that feeling this way is just a choice you make. You decide to believe it or not." — Fredrique Dame. I recently read this great article as told to First Round by Fredrique Dame, and found so much goodness about career happiness and confidence in it!

I've realized connection, creativity and empowerment have been key in everything I do. And I have a keen interest in any project that centers around illustration, design, food, women's empowerment, global health and bringing people together over food and authentic conversation. I've also realized I need to be able to shape my schedule and work flexibly wherever I am. Find what works for you!

Inspired by Emily? Share your Instagram pics of travel, good food and creative communities with us by tagging us on Instagram @feminineclub!

(Photos via Emily Chen and @emcwanders)