Global Living: An Interview with Chelsi Larson

Time for another inspirational interview, folks. This time, it’s with my good friend Chelsi Larson, an American nurse living in St. Paul, Minnesota. I caught up with her after her 5-month, around-the-world trip that took her (and the love of her life) from Minnesota to Thailand to England and so many other envious places in between. Check out her story below!

Longing to Travel - Interview - Chelsi 4

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I will start by saying I have a wonderful family. I start with this because it is so much of who I am; I take minimal credit :). I had a country childhood spent climbing trees, milking cows, playing in the woods, and swimming in the creek. I did not spend time watching television or playing video games. I rarely spent time indoors. My dad is a hunter and farmer who treats nature with great respect and would call the outdoors both his haven and his church. My mother is an educated woman who loves to read, learn, and try new things. I grew up with parents and grandparents who loved what they did every day and most importantly, loved each other. With great admiration, I have aimed to do the same. To live and love with intent and happiness, that is what makes life great. I am now a nurse in a large county hospital. I live on a houseboat on the Mississippi River with my future husband. I like to read and spend time outdoors whenever I can. I like peanut butter and all things dairy. My friends, family, and patients are my greatest inspiration. I love road trips and all other types of trips, but especially road trips. I hope to learn Spanish and the harmonica someday. I value living simply, creatively, and with lots of love.

Longing to Travel - Interview - Chelsi 6

What inspired you to take an extended trip overseas?

I wanted to see what the rest of the world was doing out there. I didn’t want to live and die and not purposefully experience how other people are living; the different cultures, landscapes, traditions, hardships, joys, etc. I wanted to take time to be a witness to the world’s beauty. But my biggest inspiration was probably Michael, my partner in crime and future husband. Our work schedules can keep us apart for weeks at a time. During these times, we dreamed up a time when we would quit our jobs, live out of a backpack, and be a part of the world together. So, we made it happen!

What were your concerns before leaving home?

Of course, when you travel long-term as a couple, you wonder if you will even like each other at the end of it. Since Michael and I spent our three years of dating with some time apart with work, we never had the time to really get sick of each other or to only be stuck with one another. On this trip, we would have no cell phones, no other friends, no obligations, no distractions; just each other.. and countless adventures. It was wonderful.

What has been the most challenging part of being overseas for an extended period?

We enjoyed every minute of it. We were fortunate to not have any major worries back home. Our family and friends were well. We had great support and love. Had anything unfortunate happened back home and we were not there, that would have been challenging.

What has been the most rewarding part of being overseas for an extended period?

Being completely present in the moment. Being overseas without a cell phone, without obligations, and without stuff allowed us to focus on the now. When your mind doesn’t wander far from the now is when life really gets cool.

How do you fund your overseas experiences?

It was simple. We didn’t need an elaborate savings plan. We just lived more frugally. Don’t buy new clothes, try to carpool, cook your own meals; things like that. And if you don’t mind sacrificing certain comforts, travel can get pretty cheap.

What skills have you gained from your overseas experience(s) and how have they affected your career and/or professional development?

Like I spoke on earlier, I intentionally worked on the skill of being present, and this takes both time and intent. Focusing on this one skill brings many more into play. You listen better. You have more compassion. You develop a greater understanding. You learn. By being present, I am able to be more in touch with my patients’ experiences. I really hear what they are saying. I really feel what they are feeling. I am a better nurse because of it.

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What advice would you give to someone who wants to go abroad for 3+ months, but doesn’t know where to start?

Go! You need nothing more than a pair of clothes, good shoes, and a toothbrush. You do not need an excess of money. Many go with hardly any at all. But, just go! Despite what you think, it’s not all that scary out there.

What are some resources everyone should know about before embarking on a 3+ month experience overseas?

My advice would be to read one book about where you are going, but don’t make it a travel book. Let it be a book about their religion, a cultural icon, history, their agriculture, their politics, or a personal memoir. Something specific that you could really appreciate or learn from.

I know her personally, so trust me when I say that Chelsi is an incredible storyteller. So check out her blog and read up on her adventures around-the-world!

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