Laci White, 19, from Atlanta, GA, reports that she really “discovered herself” during her travels to Europe and parts of Asia this year.
White defines herself as a “free spirit and a vagabond on a sole journey to consume life’s delicious adventures”, according to her travel blog Black and White Moments.
I sat down to understand White’s unique perspective.
ON INDIA: “You have to go to India. Everyone should go. It’s teeming with culture,” She said, showing me an Instagram picture of her in a Sari, “The people were so nice. They just accepted you.”
She paused to write down a tip for me when I told her that I’d like to go if I got a chance: “You have to swing by Ali’s in Mumbai. It’s the cutest pastry shop and Ali himself told me my smile reminded him of rain. Haunting and beautiful. What a nice guy.”
Dividing her time among exploring, talking with strangers, and writing, White said the opportunity to meet strangers and reflect is what drew her to travel in the first place.
“Traveling has really made me a storyteller of people and places and the words they can’t often say themselves. I love to talk to strangers and it’s crazy but they’re everywhere you go in Europe.”
ON MAKING FRIENDS: “Airnbnb was such a life saver because hello who can afford those fancy hotels?” She said laughing, “Here’s me staying at a Villa in Granada while I’m gently being groped by a bald Lithuanian man. Our maid called it ‘Que loco!’ She always said that.”
ON BEING IN THE MOMENT: Before embarking on her journey, White was concerned about missing her friends and family. Her worries soon went away after she learned how to “be in the moment”.
“What is Facebook but ‘look at me!’ and what is Twitter but ‘I’m funny!’ and what is ‘Snapchat’ but ‘I’m interesting!’?” She said getting very worked up, “It’s all ‘like, like like’, never ‘learn, understand, empathize’.”
White deleted all social media from her phone to truly ‘live in the moment’ and now simply uploads all the pictures when she gets back to the hostel at the end of the night.
MAKING TIME FOR TRAVEL: Now that she’s been traveling for over three months, Laci considers herself the go-to expert on how to make time for travel in a busy life.
“I just made time you know? I think we just all get so caught up in school, grades, classes, papers, college papers, college classes. I lost myself to the pressure. But I went to Europe and I found myself.”
White found that she needed to rethink some antiquated western beliefs:
“When I was making candle wax in a small village outside of Morocco, my teacher said to me: ‘Time is an illusion that we created to hold ourselves back.’
I stopped using the western system of calendars. I even deleted the app on my phone. Well you can’t delete it but I hid it in a folder named “Unessential” along with Apple Maps and Passbook.”
When Skyping with her friends and family on her iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch, she often reminds them how they should stop being bogged down by materialistic needs and just get out there and travel.
“I think everyone just has to buy a ticket and go. Travel changes you. It makes you question everything. Who am I? What am I? Where am I? How am I? Why am I?”
Although admitting that there are plenty of reasons people can’t travel, White ultimately feels that things like money, career, family, student loans, and health insurance are just excuses. And that everyone should be socially shamed for not doing it more often.
“You know what’s really holding you back? Yourself.”
“Some people call me lucky for having parents who can support my travels but I know better. When I was shaving an Armenian man’s beard at dusk on the steps of St. Petersburg’s cathedral, he said to me that ‘You can never be poor if you travel much and more.’”
White doesn’t currently hold a job but dreams of being a writer, artist, or photographer — anything as long as she can keep traveling, after graduating college.
“I don’t like to be defined by that word “job”. I’m a student of life.”
“When I was having my portrait painted by a blind Thai prostitute while an in-bred Australian dog ate my pussy, I realized ‘don’t let the big man in a suit tell you how to live your life.’ And that really stuck with me. Life is outside of a cubicle.”
As her months traveling around Europe come to an end, I asked White what was next. She grinned and told me it was up to fate.
“I slammed my hands on the keyboard at the airport and accidentally spelled the capital of Iceland: Reykjavik. So I went there for Christmas. I want to let that kind of magic lead me somewhere… anywhere next.”
This article originally appeared on Hostfully and is republished here wit permission from the author.