And the winner is….

I understand you all have already been eagerly waiting to listen to who has won my across the world giveaway…and today, the wait has ended.

We got a large number of entries and it had been very difficult to narrow it down. It took me considerably longer to learn the entries than I originally thought and it took even longer to narrow down successful. There were a whole lot of good submissions but, ultimately, there can be only 1 and I had to choose successful.

And that winner is…

Heather T. from California.

Heather, 26, attended Carnegie Mellon University as a Materials Science and Engineering major and currently works as a Senior Consultant for IBM. Inspired by the life span and death of her mother, she made a decision to begin treating her life with urgency. Heather filled her leisure time with singing, salsa dancing, scuba, amazing friends, and as much adventures as she could easily fit into. At twenty-six, she’s recently put on grad school in order that 1 day, hopefully, she’ll be making a notable difference with a sophisticated degree in public areas Policy.

In her own words, listed below are ten factual statements about her:

  1. I’m a scuba diver
  2. My sister is 10 months younger than me. For just one month, each year we are *technically* the same age.
  3. I make homemade artisan ice cream in flavors like sour cream, mango jalapeño, and sweet potato.
  4. I earned my degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University before going for a job running a business.
  5. I’m used to active a whole lot. I’ve moved a lot more than 20 times (I’ve lost count). I visited 5 elementary schools 1 middle school, 2 high schools and three colleges.
  6. I’m learning Spanish. I’ve always loved the language. Growing up in LA I was surrounded because of it and always wished to learn. I’ve been taking lessons but I’m excited for more practical experience!
  7. I’m extremely allergic to cats and strongly dislike them. Technically allergic to dogs too but I’m a dog lover therefore i don’t mind so much!
  8. I haven’t eaten junk food since I was 16. I saw Super Size me in senior high school and gave it up instantly. Soda too.
  9. I won’t shop at Wal-Mart.
  10. I’ve a huge family. My father is among 5 and my mom was among 14. And I’ve 9 siblings.

She’ll be leaving the following month and we’ll be getting updates from her journey. Heather will be starting in SOUTH USA before heading to Africa then Southeast Asia and looping back again to Europe before grad school! I’ll feature her every month to talk about what she’s been up to!

Here’s her winning essay:

At 16, after a decade of separation, I met my mother. She had previously been incarcerated in federal prison and I barely remembered her.

My mother was wild and warm. Onetime, she picked me up wearing bright green shoes, blue pants, a red top, and her hair newly dyed purple at the roots. Puzzled, we stared at her.

“Mom, what exactly are you wearing?!” we asked.

“What? My shoes match my pants, my pants match my top, and my top matches my hair.”

In January 2015, she was presented with three months to live when she was identified as having Stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to both breasts, lungs, liver, bones, spine and brain. My mother was tough, so she lasted 8 months. I saw the pang of regret in her eyes that only originates from a life unlived. She always waited, believing there will be more time to satisfy her life.

My mother had the energy to create anyone laugh and she could talk anyone into just about anything. She taught me to live more and take risks. Over the 7 years we shared, she became my best friend. We talked each day. She completed part of me I never knew was missing. She was the most memorable person I’ve ever known. Even after all of the pain in her life, she knew where to find joy in life and she taught me to accomplish the same. I am so thankful each day that she found me and saved me from who I was becoming.

Personally i think cheated most days over the small amount of time I had with her. When she passed, something awoke in me. Half a year after she passed, I took my first trip abroad. I visited Spain with my sister. Four months later I spontaneously traveled to Iceland and got scuba certified therefore i could dive between your continents in 0°C water. 8 weeks later, I got an urgent break from work, therefore i traveled to London, Paris and Geneva on a whim. 5 countries in a single year. I was on a roll. Earlier this season, I took a solo visit to Colombia and in per month, I am headed to Berlin, Prague and Budapest. Travelling is currently the best hobby, especially solo travel, gives me the chance to use of my shell.

Every day Personally i think chained to the work that I worked so difficult to earn. I dream of removing and travelling for a protracted time period. This trip will be the perfect possibility to do so. I’d share my adventures through travel blogging and photography. I believe my perspective as an individual female black traveler is basically missing from the travel blogging domain.

Life is short and beautiful and I wish to take full advantage of it. I’d much favour my mother here upon this earth, however in her absence, I’m glad to have discovered how lucky I am to really have the adventures before me.

(Heather and her mother)****

Many thanks to everyone who entered. I wish I possibly could have picked you all but, sadly, I didn’t spend money on Bitcoin or any other weird cryptocurrency, so I’m can’t!

I am hoping this contest inspired you to do this, plan a vacation, and dream big. I wish you well on your own future travels and hope my book How exactly to Travel the World on $50 a Day can help you discover ways to travel cheaper, better, and smarter!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

As this is actually the last post of the entire year, see you in 2018!

— Matt

P.S. — I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel Follow the Facebook event for updates. <

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And the winner is….