Well, good morning, good afternoon, good evening from wherever you are on our beautiful planet. My name is Angela Carson. Welcome to ALWAYS GET LOST a podcast dedicated to all things travel and about life abroad. Thank you so much for being here.
This is one of the solo episodes with just me that will be on the channel from time to time. Although the majority of what you’ll be listening to in the future, are interviews. And the first ones I have lined up are really fun.
ABOUT ANGELA CARSON
I am 49 years old. I lived in three different countries with my daughter before she went off to university, Spain, the USA and India. I’ve lived in a total of eight countries and travelled 37. Now I fell into travel at a very early age. My first flight was when I was two weeks old. My father worked for United Airlines. And that was a pure gift. Because we never had to pay for flights, you just paid for the tax on the value of the flight. So we were always flying domestically. I didn’t start international travel until I did that on my own. But we went to Hawaii and the East Coast for summers. And it was wonderful to be shown that life so early on.
The first time I travelled internationally was to Mexico. I think I was 15 or 16 years old. 15 maybe. And I was okay, no joke, with my church youth group. Not with any of the leaders of the church youth group. It was just us kids, but one of the older kids could drive and we drove down to Tijuana, which is on the Mexican border with San Diego. The legal drinking age in the US is 21. But in Mexico, they didn’t care. So we would go down. I’d tell my mom, “I’m sleeping over at Kim’s house.” But really, we went down to Mexico, and we’d stay out all night drinking and dancing and just having so much fun. Oh my gosh, and eating Mexican food, which you do in Southern California anyway, but it’s different there.
MY FIRST INTERNATIONAL SOLO TRIPS
Those first trips, as stupid and silly as they were, they literally whet my appetite for wanting to submerge myself in different cultures and life just completely opposite to my own. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Mexico is the first country that I really travelled in depth. I went on holiday for a week down to Puerto Vallarta and I just went Loved it. I was attending the University of California Irvine at the time, I decided that I didn’t want that life anymore, that I wanted to come down to Puerto Vallarta and live a chilled existence. So when I went back home, I remember I had flown into LAX and was driving my Jeep Wrangler back to uni. And I just looked around at all the traffic and thought, what the hell am I doing here? And so I did, I dropped out of uni. I called my parents and they were not very happy with me.
I packed up my Jeep Wrangler and moved to Mexico. I drove down to Puerto Vallarta. I ended up staying there about two months. And it was just so nice. In the group of local friends I had, one of them was a travel agent. There were no surfing excursions so my friend would connect me to US uni students on holiday looking to surf. Back then in Punta Cana, there was nothing but an empty and gorgeous stretch of beach, which now has I think a Ritz Carlton on it. I would drive tourists back and forth to Punta Cana. I would rent boards for them for $1 a day, they would pay me $20 each. I only had to work one day a week, and by work I mean me having a beer, eating quesadillas, and reading a book on the beach while these guys surf, and that was it. I had enough money for me to live on. And I could pay for drinks for me and all of our friends when we’d go out dancing till dawn. It was a fun life for a 20 year old.
Unfortunately, it did end quite quickly. My apartment was broken into one night by a man who tried to rape me. He ended up going to jail. The police found him so that part was okay. He didn’t actually rape me, someone came in and stopped it. But when I went to do a road trip to kind of clear my head, I decided I’d go spend some time in Acapulco. I was attacked by bandits on a mountain road, shot at, and had to sleep in a ditch all night. The next morning I called home and my dad answered and I was like, “Hey, Dad, can you send some money? I want to pay someone to drive back up to Puerto Vallarta with me.” He asked, “Why?” I told him I lost my purse but he wasn’t having it. He’s like, “Angie, why?” I was like, oh my god, so this happened, and that happened.” Then he basically told me I wasn’t driving back to Puerta Vallarta but driving to Mexico City and he was going to come rescue me. And so that was it. We ended up having a crazy three days to drive back to America. That was my first time being an illegal immigrant because I was planning to live there. But I hadn’t done it legally. I just went down on a tourist visa and I was working illegally, which is a basic you know, like that. That’s a pretty common thing for some immigrants to have to do because they don’t have a legal visa.
MOVING TO SPAIN
After that I decided to, generally speaking, try and solo travel around countries that were a little bit safer. Now from there, I still had the travel bug and I ended up saving money and the following year moving to Europe. I bought a one-way ticket to Amsterdam. I didn’t know where I was going to end up I just wanted to travel and then figure it out by working small jobs. I literally had no plan. I told my parents I bought a round trip ticket but I did not, I bought a one way and I ended up going from Amsterdam down through Paris. Northern Spain. I travelled Spain for quite a while and ended up in a seaside village called Sitges, which is 25 minutes south of Barcelona. I ended up living there for years. I got married, my daughter was born there. And it was amazing. I started there as an illegal immigrant because I worked all summer without a proper visa. When I got married, I then became an immigrant, because I still was planning to live there forever, which is what an immigrant does versus an expat. But then when my daughter was born, I wanted to move back to America because my family’s just different. I wanted her to be around my family. So we did move back to the US. I ended up divorcing my husband within the first year of moving back. So it was just my daughter and I for about six, seven years.
But I just I wasn’t happy in America. I was travelling all the time. We moved back in 1995 and in 1999, for example, I went on so many international trips. My daughter was very young so she would stay with my parents. I went three times to Europe that year. One of them was a road trip from Germany down to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I did another road trip at Thanksgiving that year with my good friend Mark. And we went from London all around the southern part of the UK. But I just I kept leaving America and finding like my greatest joy outside of my life in the US.
MOVING TO SPAIN … AGAIN
We ended up moving back to Spain for about eight years. We thought we would live there forever, but then the economy crashed in 2008. By 2011, I wasn’t able to find work any longer. Greece, Poland and Spain were the three countries hit hardest by the economic crash. It was just impossible. I was a chief marketing officer or Director of Marketing Communications. And they were giving those roles to middle managers and cutting the salary significantly. My daughter was in private school and I didn’t want to put her back into public school. So we had to make choices. Basically, I sat down on the sofa with my daughter. I said, “Okay, mommy can’t find work anymore. Where do we go?” We literally opened up Google Maps on my laptop and started going country by country by country, region by region. And we identified seven countries that we both agreed would be countries that we would like to live in, did it very democratically.
WE MOVED TO INDIA
India was one of those seven, and that was the country that offered me a job first. So we ended up moving to India. I was 40 and my daughter was 15. She was about to start her IB program, the last two years before uni. I found a great school for her in Bangalore. I ended up working for an outsourcing company, which wasn’t the job I initially went over for, but I only worked part time. So I did random jobs like I worked for Guns and Roses as their head of social media for their India tour, actually touring with them across India. I started a blog the first day I moved and it became the number one blog. I had a newspaper column. It was all very crazy and I’m actually writing a book about those three years and what it was like for my daughter and I. There was a lot of good, but it’s not the best country for women. So there was kind of a lot of bad.
NOW I’M AN EMPTY NESTER
Then my daughter left to go to uni while we were living in India. I then moved to China. I was there for a short term project. Three months I lived in Beijing. Then I moved to Hong Kong, I ended up working for a very popular singer named G.E.M. who is basically like the Taylor Swift of China. And that was really fun. I then moved to Malaysia. And I was there that was kind of a rough. I moved there for a job. The job didn’t work out. They really tried to screw me over her and tried not to pay any severance and I had just relocated spent all that money. And that was really crazy.
After that, I ended up freelancing because I couldn’t find another job that was of equal salary. salaries in Malaysia are quite low. And while I was offered great roles, Chief Marketing Officer roles, it was a salary I couldn’t live on because I was paying for my daughter’s university by myself. My husband has never paid child support. And he’s never contributed to her education costs. So I was paying for her housing, her uni fees, you know, food and beer. And I was paying for mine too. But I ended up becoming a digital nomad. I was travelling around, and I have a YouTube channel, WanderwithAngela, which is a great gift, because I’m able to collaborate with lots of different hotel brands and properties. And so I travelled around, working by day and shooting video and then at night, I would edit my videos and do a little more work and it was great.
I’m now in Indonesia. I’ve been here almost a full year. I’m quite specialised now in hospitality marketing. So when I moved to Indonesia’s beautiful Riau Islands, I had been working with spas and hotels, and hospitality brands, but with COVID-19, that has become impossible and I’ve lost all of those clients. Luckily, I still have restaurant clients and they are on the uptake. I specialise now in food delivery websites and branding for restaurants. And I’m moving back to Kuala Lumpur! My visa is in progress as we speak. I’m so excited because I have been completely alone in this apartment that I’m in which has a beautiful view. I’m very happy about that. But it’s been quite challenging, having no social contact here and being so alone. So I am excited to move back hopefully in October before my 50th birthday. I will be back in KL back where I have friends and able to enjoy life a little bit different again.
THANKS FOR LISTENING
Well, if any of those misadventures of mine sound, anything like what you might want to tackle, or if you want to learn from my mistakes, stay tuned. I am not a planner and I am terrible with money. So you can imagine the mischief and mayhem that I put myself into because of those two faults of mine. I’m going to be sharing tips and tricks, travel guides. The interviews are going to be really fun. I want to talk about the fun of dancing till dawn and my goal is to keep it upbeat with friends who really have a perspective and something to share that will be a little bit different. And hopefully, something that will keep you listening week after week.
If you have stayed to the end, thank you. Join me next week when I’ll be talking about how travelling can’t make you happy but can help you find yourself. Thanks for listening to ALWAYS GET LOST. Have a great night wherever you are, and never stop wandering.