Ep: 179: How this mother of two decided to donate all her belongings and travel over 40 with Nubia Younge
In this episode, I speak with Nubia Younge who is the founder of Chronicles Abroad.
Her goal is to educate people about the power of travel to empower them to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world.
As a single mother, she aims to inspire women of color to make a change in their lives no matter where they are in their journey.
Listen to find out how Nubia donated all of her belongings and decided to travel after 40.
Hey everyone! Thank you so much for joining us. I am really excited to speak with my guest today, Nubia.
Hey Nubia, how are you?
Hey, girl, hey.
I’m really excited to talk to you today. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?
Yes. So, my name is Nubia Young and I left the US about three years ago when I was about to turn 40, actually. I was hit at a crossroads in my life where I had already raised my children and my eldest had gone to college, my youngest was graduating high school soon and I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I kind of like, “What’s next for my life?”
I just got tired of the everyday mundane 9-to-5 and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. And I had loved travel for years prior. I had started actually traveling when I was like 31 so I was late to the game.
But once I got the taste of it, I was like, “I want to do this more,” but the unfortunate reality is, as an employee in the States, I would only be able to get, at maximum, like, a week, maybe, 10 days if I did it around a holiday and added in days and try to play like a day off Tetris.
So I was just like, “You know? There has to be something else out there.” And went on holiday for Christmas in 2016, came back after New Year, and was laid off. And was just like, “What? How in the world can this employer lay me off knowing that I just went on a holiday overseas for 10 days during the Christmas holiday, knowing that I’m a mom, and knowing that I’ve been with this company for 4 years and was trying to work my way up to a different…?”
So I just felt like, “Wow! How expendable are you?” And I said, “I would never let that happen to me again,” so I decided to not look for a job anymore. I was like, “I can’t do it. I don’t want to look for a job just for somebody to critique me down based on a resume and then tell me whether or not they believe I’m worth the position that they want to pay me peanuts for.”
And I just decided to travel as a lifestyle and I said I wanted to do it so I created my reality and bought a one-way ticket to Asia and started living the offbeat lifestyle.
Well, that’s a lot of transitions you made, especially some of that wasn’t really your choice in the beginning, and you kind of just “what” with that, right? And you created this whole new life for yourself and also to point out that a lot of people think that having a 9-to-5 is really stable and a freelancer or working remotely is not.
And of course, COVID is showing us that it’s probably the opposite right about now and you never know. Like with you, Nubia, you can get fired with a 9-to-5 but if you have something that you can do remotely, there’s always gonna be something especially if you own that business.
Correct. I mean nothing in life is stable if you think about it, right? Time isn’t guaranteed. Anything can be taken from you.
But when it’s your own, I don’t want to say call the shots because I still have to maintain my clients’ wishes and things like that, I can choose whether or not I deal with a client or whether or not I don’t.
And that’s the beauty of it, right? I can say this is how much I charge for this or I have someone else that can help you with the situation. So before I even got into work, I wasn’t necessarily working when I left.
I left feeling like, “All right, what’s next?” I kind of just did the impulsive thing and, as I mentioned, I was turning 40 not too long before I left. So I started researching people of color living abroad because, as a black woman, I didn’t know anyone that looked like me that was doing it and I couldn’t find it.
I was Googling, I was on YouTube, and I was just, like, waiting to see melanated people traveling and living all over the world and that wasn’t the case. So it was kind of nerve-wracking at first, I kept seeing a lot of Millennials graduating University and then just, like, backpacking Asia and telling you how to live on $10 a day and these kinds of things.
And it just didn’t resonate with me at all.
So that was kind of discouraging. However, I didn’t let that stop me. I was pretty much open and I don’t think many people understand what being open really truly looks like. Like, really being open to receiving whatever the universe had in store for me.
Good, bad, or indifferent, you know what I mean?
And so, I just kind of hashed out and took the severance package and did the whole employment route or whatever and dipped into savings and just bought a ticket in left. And while I was abroad, I would say the stupid thing, I vacationed. I am not going to lie.
I had never been to Asia before and to land in Bangkok and stuff like that. I mean, I was living it up on the rooftops and going on every excursion. And then, 6 months, 8 months, and I was like, “Huh! I didn’t spend a lot but I’m not working so nothing’s coming in.”
And that’s when it hit me like, “Dude, you still need and income.” I was living in Thailand like, “What are you going to do for income?” And that’s what I had to start shifting, pivoting, thinking, and changing my perspective ‘cause I was just like living the life which was fine, but I wasn’t on vacation. This was like a new lifestyle.
So I had to tap and lean into the new lifestyle and that’s what got me into becoming a digital nomad.
It’s really crazy when reality finally hits when you see that your bank account is going lower and lower and nothing is going up and then you’re like, “Oh shoot! I have to do something. Okay. Well, I want to keep traveling so I should get a remote job or set an online business.” And oh my goodness, it all changes from there.
So, Nubia, how did you prepare for that journey to finally make this into a more sustainable lifestyle? Because you can’t just keep traveling and having a vacation, there has to be some money coming in as well.
Well for me, when I left I knew what my budget was. So it’s kind of like I knew that I was going to stay within these specific means. However, when I got to Asia, I was just like, “What?! That’s so cheap.” So everything, and I don’t like using the term cheap, that was so inexpensive was like, “Oh! I could do three of these or whatever.” But it adds up, right?
I’m a storyteller. I’ve always been a storyteller. I always use my social media to share the kind of experiences that have gone through or things that I have eaten. And it’s just always been something that I enjoy doing well before blogging was a huge thing. I was kind of just writing and journaling my thoughts.
So I was talking to a friend of mine ‘cause once I left and I landed, I realized that there was a whole community of people of color living abroad and I’m just like, “Where have you guys been like seriously. I was researching and I couldn’t find any of you guys.”
And so I decided to share my story and my story was so unique at the time because I am not a Millennial, I don’t have Millennial children. So I fall into the Generation X Community which I feel like it’s a lost art form.
We’re masterpieces and nobody talks about us. We’re just like invisible. You have the Millennials at it like strutting around the world, doing their thing, tech companies. Seriously, it’s amazing. It’s absolutely beautiful to see Millennials tap into their best selves and their skill set.
And then, you have the retirees and they’re like, “Been there, done that. I’m about to buy an RV in Chile and Costa Rica or whatever.
But it’s the people between 35 and 55 that you hear crickets about for the most part.
Yeah, it’s always like either gen Z, Millennials, or Boomers that you hear.
Exactly. So, I was like, “I want to share my story because there’s so many of us, like myself, that want to do the same thing or want to just do something different.” So I started a podcast and I started a podcast called Chronicles Abroad.
And it was literally geared towards professionals over the age of 35 who want to live and travel with passion and purpose and that was my mission. Then I started chronicling, like, where I’m going and what I’m doing,
Don’t get me wrong, I’m taking pages out of the Millennials handbooks because they’re writing guides and stuff. I’m like, “Shoot! I do that anyway.” Like, everything I was doing, I was doing for free because I didn’t realize that I could actually monetize it.
And then it dawned on me when I had people visiting or friends would be like, “You know, you should actually offer tours. I had so much fun when I was in so and so country because you showed me where to go eat, what to do, and where to stay. Thank you for the recommendation.”
And it was just stuff that I enjoyed doing because I’m a sharer. I’m a repository of information as I go and I love talking to people so it just came naturally to me So then, I started creating guides, and then I started saying, “Okay. Well if you want to come to this country and you want me to show you around, this is how much I charge.”
It’s very scary at first ‘cause I never had to ask people for money, right? And I had a bit of, what they call, impostor syndrome surrounding it: wondering if I was good enough, if they’ll pay for it – all of those things.
And then it was just like I had to let that go because people kept telling me that I was a wealth of knowledge. So I was just like, “Yeah,” then I pump my chest like, “Yeah, I am.”
That’s hard to do: to take yourself out of that mentality where it’s like, “Okay, do I really deserve this? Do I know enough? Am I good enough for people to actually pay me for the services that I am putting out there.”
And then once you get out of that hump, things just start going the right way. So, when you finally realize that this is something that you wanted to do in order to create income for yourself, Nubia, how did you land your first client?
Okay, so there were levels to this.
When I first started remote work, I landed an online teaching position because that is the easiest way to get income, seriously. There are so many teaching platforms out there and they’re so competitive and to live in a place like Asia, getting paid 16 to $20 an hour is pretty decent.
It’s good. It’s not like living in the States where that wouldn’t get you anywhere, right? But in Asia, like a one-bedroom apartment, my one-bedroom was like $230 a month and that included pretty much everything – with the rooftop pool. So, to make $500 a month – that was good.
So I started with online teaching and then I realized people are like, “You know what? I want to go remote. Can you train me? Can you teach me?” And I was doing that for a little while and just giving them my referral code.
So every time somebody who I referred got hired, I got an extra hundred dollars, right? So if I’m teaching two people within a month how or if I’m giving them my referral code, I’m already paying my rent just by them applying and getting hired.
So then I started saying, “Okay. What if I teach people but I charge to teach them?” Because it takes time, right? And I’m giving you, like, resources on how to do, what they call, TPR, insight stuff that you wouldn’t really know unless you were a teacher.
So then I started charging and I think it was like $25 just for me to take 2 hours out of my day to teach you. Because what I realized is some people would like, “Yeah, I want to,” and I took my time but they didn’t follow through with the application.
So I was like, “I’m tired of wasting my time unless you are going to pay for it.” You know what I mean?
So I would charge $25 per person to teach them how to do it plus a $100 referral just for them applying and getting hired. So I was making money passively in a way, you get what I’m saying? So that was just like additional income. So that was like my first hustle.
Then I was like, “You know what? Let me create a website,” free website I think it was on WIX or something and it was called Remote Side Hustles. And I put my teaching platform there. I gave a guide kind of how to do it, gave my referral code. That was a way for me to just make passive income.
I was like let people and I would just put the code up like, “Hey, anybody interested in the States to make a little extra cash to pay off your car note or your student loan – here’s the link.” So that’s how it started.
Then, I got into really doing trips because people were coming to visit me, they’re like, “Hey girl, I’m going to come to visit you in Thailand,” and I’m like, “Okay.” But then, I realized every single time a person came to visit me, I was spending my money showing them around.
Then I was like, “Wait a minute, this can’t happen because I’ve done this stuff like fifteen times over again” ‘Cause everytime somebody visits they want to see kind of the same highlights.
So then I was just like, “Nope, can’t do that. All right, sure, if you want to come and you want to link up, I can show you all of these things and I’ll be your tour guide. But this is what I charge in order to be a tour guide because I’m taking time out of my day doing something that could produce me money.”
Does that make sense?
So then I started doing that and if they’re your friends and they value your time and your energy, they shouldn’t argue with you, right? They should be like, “No problem. I got you.” ‘Cause they’ll pay for somebody else or company or business to do it, but I can save you hundreds of dollars from being disappointed and being on a trip with 50 other people and screaming, “Kids!”
Like. on a tour bus or something and we can just rent a car and do the same thing. And it almost feels like a private situation.
Yeah. And that’s a great way to do this because you’re already doing it for free before and now people are willing to actually pay you money for it. And that’s another thing a lot of us are, again, afraid to ask for that. We’re like, “Yeah, but I’m afraid because what if they say no?” Then who cares?
They’re going to say no then you move on but if they say yes, you start creating income and you’re doing what you like to do anyway, which is even more awesome.
Correct. As a little pro tip: a lot of times I would factor in things in the itinerary that I haven’t got to do yet. So they were actually paying for me to do something new that I hadn’t had an opportunity to do but I had already had my eyes set on doing it anyway.
Which is an added bonus for you.
Exactly. And then, that morphed into creating personalized itineraries, right? ‘Cause I can’t always be your tour guide. So then it was like, “All right. I’m coming to Thailand….. with my friends.” And I say Thailand specifically ‘cause I spent two years in Thailand.
So I built a lot of this during those two years’ time span and I would give recommendations. And I will be like, “Oh, you have to eat at this place and you got to go to this place.” And then I was just like, “I’m doing this individually for every single person. This makes absolutely no sense. What if I just create a guide: best seafood places, best vegan places.”
And just have them pay for it and that’s it. And I can use it to go wherever they like because, I mean, you can go on TripAdvisor all you want, you can do the research but it might be hit or miss.
But if you know someone and you know how they enjoy certain things then you have a much more, like, respect in the level of trust to try that place out. You know what I mean?
So then I started doing that.
So when you finally started doing this and you’re realizing how you can create money from traveling essentially and you are doing all of these different types of services for your client not just tours but now guides that you have been able to do, did you set a budget for yourself while you’re still traveling and also starting your business? And how did you make it last?
Actually, I didn’t start creating a budget for myself because it was kind of like adding right? It was like, “Oh, if I’m already doing that, I’ll just add it to whatever.” I mean, as I started getting better at it, that’s when I started realizing that there was more money to be had to do it.
And I don’t want to say that this is only about travel, right? Like, you can live in Tennessee and know some of the best restaurants in Tennessee or the best places to check out like performance arts, theaters, or stuff like that. You can do this in your own backyard, you get what I mean?
It’s just utilizing the resources that you have in front of you and helping somebody save time and money. That’s all that is, right? ‘Cause that was their pain point.
Some people were coming and traveling but they were spending hours trying to figure out what, where to go, what to do. How do I get there? How much was the entry? And they’ll go on to this website, that website and they get frustrated but they don’t have to do that with me.
‘Cause I had already either: a.) done the work or b.) don’t mind doing the work because I love researching.
Also, the fact that most people are lazy like me to do any of that research and we could just go to someone like you, Nubia, and you have everything for us already and if you don’t, you love researching anyway, so were just like, “Okay, you do it because I don’t want to do it..”
Exactly. You’re just leveraging your skill sets. I mean, that’s the beauty of becoming, right? And when I say becoming, I leave that open for you to fill that part of it.
And that’s how you make this type of lifestyle more sustainable because you really create something from whatever it is that you actually are doing already or something that you love to do already and just start creating income from it.
Correct. And I haven’t even finished on the levels because that travel morphed into me working for a luxury travel company. ‘Cause I was starting to do trips and I started putting together, like, small group trips and I realized that was a lot of work.
And I didn’t really want to do that anymore so I approached a travel company and they were like, “Yeah.” And so I started working with them as a director, handling all of their four-star travel and I curated a bunch of travel for them. It’s a very lucrative business.
So now, I have a contract with a client that I know each month I’m getting paid. That’s when the real budgeting starts going in. It’s hard to create a budget when you’re a freelancer because you don’t know if you’re going to meet your sales goals or not.
But when you actually have contracts, you know at least how much your monthly is and anything additional like commissions or whatever, you just know what you would like to hit.
And it’s really great that you actually reached out to a company to do this because a lot of times it can get really frustrating when you’re just starting out and you don’t know how to market yourself first.
But for a bigger company that already has the manpower to do the marketing and you’re just going in there and trying to fill a need that they have any ways that you can fulfill for them, is another great way for you to extend another way for you to create income.
Yes. But to be honest with you, it’s not a big travel company. They’re a small-owned, small black-owned, female-owned, luxury travel company. So it’s like 2 to 6 employees but I knew her work. I knew who she was and she has a great reputation in the black travel space.
So I just knew I wanted to create with somebody that I looked up to and admired. So it was kind of like I didn’t want to become an employee again. Like, I felt back in the States where I was just somebody who can fill the void for them.
No, I really wanted to be a part of either a startup or a smaller business and help them grow to be their best selves. So with that said, I went in there thinking I would just be a curator, and here I am, a director.
And then, that opened up more doors because COVID happened and it felt like life had crashed down because as a travel business, it was like travel came to a halt. But what ended up working out was so many schools, companies, and corporations were giving away a lot of stuff for free: free courses, free subscriptions, free whatever. And I was here to receive it all.
So during COVID over the last three months, I’ve taken classes in social media marketing, digital marketing, content creation, and blogging. And I started doing it for the travel company. So now that opened a whole new portfolio.
Once I started posting on my Facebook and I started really diving a little bit more into content creation and social media marketing, another client reached out and was like, “Hey, I’m a small business, I’m starting off, I love your feed. Is it possible you can help me out?”
What she was looking for, I necessarily couldn’t do that because I was like, “That’s not what I want to do. But what I can do is this…” And so I told her what I could do and she was like, “Oh my gosh, yes.” So then I landed that client.
Then another client reached out and it was like, “I see what you doing. I love it. I would love for you to work with us.”
So what are some of the best resources that you have used to start your business and really make this a lot easier for yourself?
Some of the resources I would say is to utilize your network, first of all. Your network is your net worth. And I can’t say that enough.
Like, let’s say, for instance, you want to go to virtual assisting, going to Facebook lookup groups that revolve around virtual assisting, join those groups, say hello, meet people, introduce yourself and tell people what it is that you’re interested in doing.
Reach out, ask for help. I mean, seriously, if there’s somebody that you’ve been listening to on a podcast or watching on a show or something like that. It doesn’t hurt to reach out and say, “This is who I am. I am very interested in doing X, Y, and Z. Is it possible I can speak with you for like 10 minutes to figure out where to start?”
I mean, honestly, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. And every year should be the year of yes. Meaning you have to say yes to yourself, right? Stop self-doubting.
I had a conversation earlier today with an acquaintance of mine and she’s a great writer and she’s just like, “You know? I really want to get abroad but I don’t know what I could do,” I said, “You write.” She was like, “Yeah,” and I was like, “Copywriting is huge.”
I don’t have to say much more, I just want you to think about that. I’m just like, “You write. Copywriting is huge. Whether you copyright, edit, or ghostwrite. There are so many different ways that you can make money virtually.” She’s like, “Oh my gosh.”
It’s about opening your mouth, speaking to people and having conversations. And being vulnerable and telling somebody like, “Hey, I’m good at this. I just don’t know what to do with it,” or if you love writing, surround yourself around other writers.
The reason why she can’t understand her worth or her skills is because she’s around people who are not the same as her – they’re not of like mind.
Yeah. Having that community is really crucial to a lot of your success. And also we tend to underestimate ourselves when we’re not in the right group of people. So that is such a great thing to do – find those people.
And you can find them a lot easier now, especially with social media. There are so many people out there who are willing to be there for you and support you as well.
So, Nubia, when you are living abroad, what type of International Insurance do you usually use?
I wish I could tell you I did have one but I don’t. And been thinking about it. So I’m in the market to find one.
I hear that a lot from people and especially now, everyone is like, “Okay, when we can start traveling internationally again, we definitely need to get travel insurance because it’s a must.”
And there were a lot of things happening during COVID in the beginning that there are a lot of digital nomads that got stuck and then their providers exclude things like pandemics and natural disasters in their policy.
So if you were to fall I’ll or need treatment for coronavirus or pretty much any similar pandemics, you wouldn’t be covered and you need to pay for your own treatment which is ridiculous. You’re already in a panic, you’re already sick and now you have to be financially responsible for this when you thought you were covered. So that’s really crazy.
That’s why I’m really glad to be working with IntegraGlobal.com. They believe it’s their duty to support their members and uncertain times like these and stand by them when they need them. They have no exclusions for pandemics and natural disasters in any of their plans.
So, if you guys want to know more you can check out IntegraGlobal.com and see how they can give you the coverage you need, and maybe some you never knew you would like COVID which is ridiculous, guys.
I don’t know how anyone could have predicted this but Integra Global covers that even before it happened. So yeah, check that out for you too, Nubia, when we can all start traveling again. I think it’s so crucial to have this especially now.
Thank you for the plug.
So, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now or 40 years from now on you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?
Wow, that’s a deep question. I would love to be known for the woman who empowered and inspired other women to be their best selves without asking permission. That’s what I want to do.
That’s really powerful. It seems very simple but it’s also really powerful for you to be able to come out and be that for yourself first, right? And for others as well. So that is an amazing thing, amazing legacy that you’re going to be leaving.
If our listeners want to know more about you, Nubia, where can I find you?
All right, so you guys can find me on Instagram @anuexperience and also @chronicles_abroad and that is on Instagram and on Facebook: Chronicles Abroad.
Perfect. Thank you so much, Nubia, for being here with us today. I really appreciate it.
Thank you for having me.
Audio Engineer: Ben Smith