Leaving Behind a Job to Travel the World

Leaving Behind a Job to Travel the World

Thuymi Do quit her job at an advertising firm to travel the world with her husband. They eventually settled down in Dubai before moving to Singapore to open up a boxing gym.

That is when life as they knew it, completely changed, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 12 to 1, Adrian Abraham spoke to Thuymi Do, a Marketing Consultant specialising in social media and influencer marketing, about how the pandemic changed her life and the importance of being adaptable and positive amidst the unknown.

Adrian Abraham: A few years ago, you quit your job at an advertising firm to travel with your husband. Why did you decide to do that?

Thuymi Do: I was based in Dubai about four years back. I had an amazing job. I loved my team, I loved the clients that I worked for but then I was poached by another agency to open their digital segments and social media accounts. I am a strategic planner, so what I do – and love doing – is to come up with cool campaigns and creative ideas. After a few months, I realised that with all the contacts I accumulated throughout the years, I could work as a freelancer. Hence, I decided to sacrifice the stability [that came with the job], for the advantage of travelling. Back then, I would always travel during the weekends and I realised that if I was freelancing, I could travel anytime. I could even have international clients and travel to them. So, that was pretty much what inspired me. With experience and confidence, I took the leap and soon went on my own.

AA: What was it like to travel and work on different projects in different parts of the world at the same time?

TD: Well, first of all, working on your own is always stressful. So I decided to focus on the travel aspect since that was what I was passionate about and went to seek clients in the travel industry.

So for instance a client located in the Maldives, I would then extend my stay there for an extra week and see if there could be other job opportunities for me to freelance or to pitch for new projects – all while still having fun and enjoying life. It can be stressful at times so you will need to love what you do. If you don't enjoy what you do, it doesn't matter if you are freelancing at a nice beach, you will end up feeling miserable.

AA: Before the pandemic affected the tourism industry, you came with your husband to Singapore and opened up a gym. I understand the plan was not to work here full time, but to return to Dubai to continue with what you were doing. So what happened?

TD: While it was nice to freelance and do what we were doing, we also thought it would be good to have different income streams. We saw the opportunity of buying a franchise here in Singapore and opened our first gym in Serangoon Gardens. Now we also have a second gym, a boxing gym in Burghley Drive.

The initial plan was to open [the gym], stay for a few months, continue to travel around the world and visit our clients. Since what I do revolves around social media content and advertising, it is easy to do all of that on a computer anywhere. I wanted to head back to Dubai because I kept a good portfolio of clients there and Dubai is a very good travel hub. In my mind, I wanted to expand my client list in Asia and travel back and forth between the two biggest travel hubs in the world.

But a month after opening our gym, we were hit by the pandemic and the uncertainties started to drop on me. I had to decide on either moving back to Dubai or staying in Singapore. But because we had the gym, it made more sense to stay here physically to take care of it. We pretty much made a gamble and ended up staying in Singapore - which I am very happy that it all happened.

AA: When Singapore announced that it was going to enter into a circuit breaker, how did you react to the news and what did you do to adapt?

TD: I was a bit worried at first as I was not grounded here - I just came over to open a business. I questioned if I should head back home to my parents in Montreal, Canada, return to Dubai, where I was familiar with everything and could be stable with work, or stay here and take the hit in hopes that everything would reopen in two months. I thought we would return back to normal within a few months, but that never happened. So, it was quite a shock in terms of my habits. While I did develop cabin fever really quickly, I also somehow enjoyed the lockdown as it provided me with a good break from all the travelling. I tried to see the positive side out of it and, while it was difficult and demoralising at times, I also realised there was no point in being negative or depressed. It will never change the situation.

The way I approach life is to see what I can do out of every situation and find a way to optimise the opportunities.

Since I am unable to travel the world, why not travel within Singapore? After all, I can probably do it through food, the people I meet, and even the activities that can be found here. We are so blessed to live in a city with plenty of foreigners and different cultures.

AA: As a business owner, how did you keep up [and pivot] with the various restrictions such as the circuit breaker and various heightened alerts?

TD: While we were not able to travel leisurely in Singapore, the rest of the world started to do so, and that allowed us to receive work from our regular clients who were based abroad. While it was not possible to do physical work, there were still things needed to be done for recovery planning. Even though the airlines and brands were sending less press and influencers abroad for projects, there was still a need to plan for the things to come since travel would eventually reopen. So, we had to pivot when it came to suggesting plans and we had to be a bit more aggressive when it was down to pitching.

AA: When it was announced that we would have a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with Canada, how did you react to the news?

TD: I have not seen my parents for over 2 years now so I cannot wait to hug them. I am sure I am not the only one [who feels the same way], plenty of people elsewhere have been stuck and have not seen their families as well. My excitement this time does not even stem from the thought of travelling – even though travelling has played such an important role in my life – but rather from the thought of being able to hug my parents.

Listen to the full podcast on Awedio: SPH's free digital audio streaming service, to find out more about how Thuymi stayed positive amidst the various challenges and the opportunities she received as a result of the pandemic.

Download the podcast.

For more, tune in to 12 to 1 with Adrian Abraham on weekdays from 12PM to 1PM.

This interview was broadcasted on MONEY FM 89.3 on 1 November 2021.

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