Tripper of the Week: Yen Phan

Yen Phan is a solo traveler, dessert enthusiast and Gogobot Community Manager that believes every day should feel like vacation! Meet Yen, our Tripper of the Week...

1. Tell us a bit about your background.

I've had the travel bug since 2008. A 2-week vacation to Bali for my close friend's wedding turned into a 6-week travel adventure throughout Asia. I only intended to go for the wedding in Bali and maybe to fly to Singapore or Malaysia for the 2nd week, but a friend mentioned the Beijing Olympics was coming up, so I decided to take a chance with work and ask for 6 weeks off instead of 2. My 6-week travel adventure included 4 countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Then, five months later, I was off on another 2-week solo trip to Maui. I had one of the best times there, and decided everyday should be like a vacation - so I moved to Hawaii.

2. You're living in Honolulu and all about sharing the "Aloha Spirit." Can you tell us about what the aloha spirit is and how you're passing it along to travelers?

My "Aloha Spirit" is about welcoming, sharing, and respecting the land, nature, people, and culture. I fell in love with Hawaii and I want travelers and visitors to feel the same way. It's something about the beauty of the islands, the curiosity of life, and the love of all things that makes my Hawaii experience unique and memorable. Part of my Community Manager job at Gogobot, a social travel website and mobile app, is all about sharing travel experiences and giving free travel advice. I write about the Oahu destination, sharing tips and postcards on happy hours, cultural events, street festivals, and unique local things. Check it out here.

3. You've done a bit of traveling on your own. What was your experience like and what is your advice to other solo female travelers?

The first time I traveled solo to Asia, it was scary. I've always traveled with a friend or a group of friends, and it was within the US or to English speaking places. But being in new places and not speaking the language, it took a lot of bravery and strength to just go for it. You can't wait around for others or let fear get to you, 'cause you'll never accomplish anything. Traveling on your own, not only do you learn about the places you visit, but you learn so much more about yourself. It's one of the best life experiences I've had. You'll also realize you're not the only solo female traveler, you'll meet so many other travelers and new friends along the way that are similar or doing something amazing.

4. Of all the places you've traveled, where would you most want to live long term?

Like I mentioned before, my 2nd trip to Hawaii was to Maui. It was such a chill, fun, and laid-back vibe. I also loved the mountain trails and beaches. I wanted more of it and was determined, so I moved to Oahu 6 months later. Oahu has a great mix of everything. A little city and country, best of everything. The more I travel to other countries and cities, the more I can see myself living in different places. I love Thailand -- the people, culture, and food! I tell everyone that I would move to Thailand just to eat and drink tea all day long! My most recent international trip was to Europe for 2.5 months. I trekked through 5 countries: Spain, England, Scotland, Monaco, and France. It was an amazing experience, and Barcelona was one of my favorite places. I could see myself living there… such a chill vibe with lots of beautiful beaches. For now, Honolulu is home.

5. You're a self-described dessert enthusiast... what's the best dessert you've discovered on your travels?

The most memorable dessert I ate was in Rome. It was my first international trip and first time traveling alone. It was a hot and humid July month. Growing up in the Bay Area, I didn't experience humidity that often. But boy, I remember eating gelato 3 times a day just trying to cool off. I think I gained about 5-10 lbs by the time I got back to the States.

6. Do you have any travel plans on the horizon?

My Gogobot "Wish List" of places to visit is constantly growing! I'm going back to the Big Island for camping, manta ray night diving, hiking to the lava flow, and star photography at Mauna Kea! I really want to visit Alaska for the aurora borealis and Utah or Arizona for photographs of the canyons. My Oahu adventure-traveling friends and I are planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand this December! But hey, I do live in Hawaii, so I'm on vacation every day!

Thanks, Yen!

To connect with Yen, check out her Tripping profile. She's got plenty of the aloha spirit to go around!

This was an interview by our Community Manager, Taylor. If you are a Tripper and would like to be interviewed, connect with Taylor via her Tripping profile here.