Welcome to this episode of the Why We Travel Podcast. In this episode, we talk with female solo traveler Tammy Tran about dealing with depression while on the road.
Tammy Tran is a 24 year-old who quickly escaped the conventional wisdom of life. She left her finance career to pursue her passions which range from traveling and skydiving to mental health and her Airbnb business.
During the summer before her senior year in college, she rejected a big finance internship to embark on her first solo travel trip through Asia and the rest is history. Tammy built a following on Tiktok through her adventures and continually encourages others to pursue the same life-enhancing experiences.
Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Why We Travel Podcast. Today we want to talk about someone who is relatively young and has seen already quite a bit from the world, and Tammy Tran , is also a good, , influencer. She has a huge following on TikTok. we wanna talk also about more serious about on how to deal with depressions while you are traveling.
So let’s say hello to Tammy. Hi Tammy. How are you?
Tammy Tran: Great, how are you? Thanks for having me
Claus Lauter: Tell me a bit on what got you into travel.
Tammy Tran: I think I always knew it was one of those things as a kid, just, when you’re growing up, , you look. Around. And then you see people traveling and you see people doing all these cool things. And it was just like that ignited, burning feeling that you just had to do that when you were a kid.
It wasn’t ever a question of like, Oh, I wonder if I’m gonna do this. It was like, when am I going to do this? I didn’t come from a family who traveled a ton. I was, very much stayed in one place my whole life. And then once I was able to, I was off , I was gone.
Claus Lauter: Okay. What was the first destination,
Tammy Tran: my very first travel was, , I went to Panama and it was on this global grade, so I was actually. , volunteering and I visited these very, very small communities to where, , even Spanish wasn’t their first language. It was like a very special dialect. So we needed two translators to even talk to these families.
and it wasn’t a glamorous trip by any means. It was very much like I was eating bugs in my food because we were eating outside and, , the sleeping situation was not great. It was a culture shock to me, but I loved it so much. Even in, least glamorous trip you could ever take.
I loved every minute of it.
Claus Lauter: So you started as a Adventure Traveler. How would you, , say what you are, are your solo traveler, an individual traveler, a group traveler? What kind of style do you prefer?
Tammy Tran: My main mode of travel is solo traveling. , I say about, Half of my trips are solo. I’ve been to 30 countries by now. solo travel has left more of an impression on me than when I’ve traveled with friends or anyone else because I just feel so free. So that’s my preferred modes travel.
Claus Lauter: what are the benefits of solo traveling compared to other styles?
Tammy Tran: First off, it’s very uncomfortable. , I don’t think that you will ever quite experience anything like solo traveling. When. You just go into travel with every single unknown factor and you don’t have anyone to comfort you through that you, navigate the airports, navigate the new train systems, or even not even being able to speak to anyone if you’re in a country that doesn’t, mainly speak English.
figuring that out on yourself just makes you grow so much as a person. And that’s why I’m so attracted to it, is because I’m forced into situations where I have to figure it out. It’s not like I can get around it any other way. I am the only person that I’m relying on. We take a new perspective on life.
, when you can do all these incredible things by yourself, you realize that you’re capable of so much more.
Claus Lauter: Give me examples of what kind of challenges did you have along your trip?
Tammy Tran: My very first one that I can. Immediately think of is, , it was my first solo travel, ever. And I went to Asia by myself. And this is the very first country I went out on my own. , that Japan trip, I was obviously in a group, but when I went out on my own in China, that’s where I landed first.
I’m not Chinese. I don’t seek any Chinese whatsoever. And I went to a very rural part of the country where even like in the airport, like they barely spoke English. So it was a struggle, like from the get go. And then, , I was trying to make my way, so I went from China to Hong Kong, , and then from Hong Kong back to China because that’s where my layover was.
I had no plan. I did not plan to go to Hong Kong. , but someone told me to do it and , it was great. They spoke English there, but then my flight was back in , their rural part of China. , I remember that it was super scary. It was like 4:00 AM and my flight was like super early and I was traveling by myself as a, , very young female, , who doesn’t speak any Chinese.
, and I stumbled upon a very sketchy part of, The train station and I fell asleep on the train, which first off, You should never do that if you’re by yourself at that late. , and I missed my stop and I got off. And then that one stop past the airport was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.
It was definitely like very gang related and there were people trying to convince me to , take a taxi and get to wherever I need, but like these people had missing limbs. Like every single person that I saw was missing an arm or missing a leg. They had a eye patch cuz they were missing.
an eye and it was the scariest thing I had ever experienced. And then like finally this nice guy was like don’t take the taxi, just hop back on to the train below. And I think like an obstacle like I don’t know how to protect myself when I’m out of my element. I don’t have anything on me, I don’t have anyone with me.
Just having that confidence. Knowing that you can handle yourself and you can get yourself out of , sticky situations is, , one obstacle that you’re always gonna have to encounter. So that was just immediately something that I thought of.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, that’s a good example on how you grow through sort of extreme situations as a person. And it also shows you on the other hand that wherever you are, there’s good people around that help you further and you don’t need to worry. People take care about travelers. Now, obviously traveling is a lot of.
Fun, but we also wanna dive a little bit into depression while traveling. So what’s your experience with.
Tammy Tran: There was one specific situation where, , my depression was not throughout my whole life. , it was triggered by a traumatic event, and then immediately I had to take a solo travel trip and it wasn’t. That I planned the trip because I was depressed. It just happened in that, life event and I didn’t want to let go of all the Pre-plans that I already had.
I decided to take the trip anyway, even though I was going through very tough time in life. And it wasn’t as glamorous as everyone thinks. I was still posting online. Though I wasn’t hiding my depression, it still could seem that I was having a grand time in my life. I was in these big cities, Buffalo, Madrid, , traveling.
I went to 10 countries on that trip. So , it’s amazing what you can do, even though you don’t really feel like going on. Even though I was severely depressed and I probably, , should have prioritized getting like mental help versus, , just traveling around. , I do appreciate that travel can give me a different perspective on what I was actually experiencing in life.
If I was at home doing the same thing, I would be, worth off, but, It just made me remember that there’s so much more to life. I’m, one tiny human in this big old blob of water and earth, and can be going because I want to eventually go back to traveling and experience the way that I did before depression.
Claus Lauter: Okay. You are going into this topic also on your TikTok account, and I think you have 194,000 followers on TikTok, so you have a huge followership there. And I think you are very clear about it’s not all glamor and it’s not all fancy. Being on the road, being a traveler, not a holiday maker, not tourist, A traveler is life.
And it was life. You have to deal with the good, the bad, the ugly. Now people might ask you as like, How can you finance your traveling? And I think you found a way that works for you. Tell me a little bit about.
Tammy Tran: , people ask me this on pretty much every single video that I post that’s traveling and I have attempted to answer. . , but I don’t think I found a way to put it very eloquently or very clear that makes people really understand what it is that I do. my first solo travel trip was when I was 19.
I was still in college. I didn’t have a full time job. so when you look at it like that, people really question. Did someone fund your trip? , did your parents pay you for it? Did you have a boyfriend who gives you money? And , , I did it just for background, like I majored in finance, , in college, so I had a little bit of an advantage in personal finance just because I studied it and I’m so passionate about it.
, so at a young age, I also did not come from a very wealthy family. , my parents were immigrants who came to, , America, and they really have nothing. Growing up like that, I just always valued, , saving and I always valued what I spent my money on. And I don’t wear makeup, I don’t do my hair.
I don’t buy, , fancy clothes or anything like that. Like I wear t-shirts that I got from high school that were free. , and I still do that to this day. And it’s, just depends on what you value. So I value travel and experiences. Way more than anything else. , so I was able to save up money and it doesn’t come overnight.
I put it in a high yield savings account that accrued interest. I opened credit cards that. I could achieve the welcome bonus and using the points I would look free flights essentially. , and even using those travel credit cards, I got a lot of points from it, and perks. And, , even when I used the cards on travel, I would earn additional points on that.
It just really boils down to. How badly you want it. , I see travel as just another expense. Some people have bills, they have rent, they have, , other luxuries that they really wanna spend their money on. I just choose to spend it on travel. It’s no different than affording anything else.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, I think there’s , a good clue there that a lot of travelers, specifically solo travelers, individual travelers, as you say, value traveling over anything else, and they’re not really , , majorists. They’re minimalist in a certain way. And, , the value that you get out of travel, obviously, I think is more valuable than anything physical that you can buy.
So what would you recommend someone who hasn’t done that yet, how should they get started with becoming a solo traveler?
Tammy Tran: Oh, wow. to become a solo traveler, honestly, , I don’t have a good. Step plan. There’s no step one, two, or three. The way that I became a solar traveler was, , I booked my flight out in advanced like couple months and then I figured it out. , I’m a huge proponent of just figuring it out as you go, and I think that’s where a lot of the serendipity from life comes from.
You just do it and, , you learn from that because no matter how much you. , there’s no plan that is going to prepare you , for life. . , something is always gonna come and derail your plan. I’m sure you’re well aware of, , when your travel plans go awry, , and you have to completely scrap it.
So my best advice, and I truly believe that, is you book your flight because once you book it, you’re set, , you can’t really take it back. , And it forces you to begin rolling the ball down the hill of, Okay, well I just booked my flight and now what, , where am I gonna stay? , what am I gonna do while I’m there?
, and then it sends you down a spiral of many, many Google, , searches of just what to do. And I think that’s truly the best way. You don’t really prepare yourself to be a solo traveler. You do it and then you are a social traveler. I think the best way is people get in their heads, so just do it.
Claus Lauter: Sounds good. I love that. So with 30 countries, any kind of recommendations, any kind of favorite countries so far that you have been, that you would go back or that you would recommend someone else to visit?
Tammy Tran: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a country that I didn’t like, but there were certain. Countries that engendered a feeling inside of me that I really want to try and attain again. , I think definitely Southeast Asia is. That region will always have my heart. I think that’s where I felt the most free, in America.
I think you feel that, you’re part of society and you’re part of this rat race, you always want more and more and more. , but I went to Southeast Asia, I think I was specifically in Bali, and it’s a very touristy place for sure. , but , it’s a good place for people who haven’t been.
Traveling that long, or, it’s a easy transition into a different country. But in Bali, , I was going out, , this one was not a so travel, I was with friends and, , we were going out and then we took a taxi back to our villa and the taxi driver was just like having a blast with us.
He was singing and dancing along the entire cab. Ride home. If I do that here in America, I just know that like my Uber driver is probably really annoyed of these random people in their car because they’re being loud and Ram case. But in Bali, they’re singing and dancing along with you and like they have the time of their lives and.
He got to talking about his life a little bit and , the typical Uber conversation’s like, Oh, how long have you been doing this? Do you enjoy it? How’s your night going? And he just answered like, he was so grateful for life. he mentioned he doesn’t make a ton of money from this and he has to support his family.
but he just seemed so grateful and so happy to. Be doing what he’s doing. I think it’s the environment and the culture that raises you to really appreciate those little things or, not have that urge , to want more. And I found, when I traveled around Southeast Asia, like Thailand, Vietnam, , It’s very similar.
, they all hold those values of, other priorities rather than just more, more and more and having all the money in the world. So those are my favorite countries to visit is when, they don’t have that privilege They’re a third country, I’m talking about a, place of privilege right now because I get to, leave those countries and they come back home and take away that message.
, but they actually have to live it, and I don’t have to experience the hardships that they go through. But, witnessing it and seeing how they react to life is something that I hold very daily.
Claus Lauter: Good pick bali also, one of my favorites have spent quite some time. And, , I’m a hundred percent you there. It’s just a very special vibe there. People are among the friendliest that you will possibly ever meet. So hundred percent with you , on that one. Cool. Where will your next journey trip, , take you to?
Tammy Tran: I’m, , going to Germany, actually, , in about a week or two here,
Claus Lauter: Okay, then, , sent my regards to my home country,
Tammy Tran: I will, you’ll have to give me some tips and all the places that you love going to
Claus Lauter: , I left Germany a very, very long time ago. Actually. I’m the worst person to give you any tips there. Cool. Tammy, Thanks so much for your time. I think I was really insightful and I think it will motivate people to look if they haven’t done yet, to become a traveler and even travel on their own and make this experience, which is definitely life changing.
Thanks so much for your time and talk soon
Tammy Tran: thank you.
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