Women Who Wander: Rio Jay

Introduced to Rio through Twitter by our first Women Who Wandered Kristin Wiggins, we collaborated with Rio on a travel Twitter chat. In the process, appreciating her zest for life, willingness to put herself out there literally and figuratively, and that she’s a native of Gabrielle’s favorite city on Earth. Get into our interview with Rio below and keep up with her on social media via @MsRioJay and her blog. It’s sure to have you wanting to buy a plane ticket. 


Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where have you been and where are you headed?

I’m Rio, a 20-something Londoner who quit her job 2 years ago to start a journey of self-love and discovery. I’m kind of a misfit, I dance to the beat of my own drum and I always have. I’ve visited 26 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. South America is really pulling at my heartstrings and I think I’ll tackle that bad boy next! Specifically Colombia and Brazil.

You moved to Spain alone to “love yourself.” Talk to us about what led you to take the leap and move to Spain, plus what you’ve been doing since.

I guess as a lot of young women do, I lost myself whilst in a relationship. Once it ended, I was in this kind of limbo where I knew I’d changed but at the same time couldn’t tell you who I used to be and thus didn’t know how to get back to her. All I knew is that I needed time alone to find her, away from distractions and everyone that was pulling me further and further away, and Spain was the perfect answer. Since then (2015) I’ve been on this amazing journey of self-discovery, quit the bullshit 9-5 life, backpacked South East Asia, volunteered in Africa, found my tribe and most importantly the old me, made improvements to her and grown to love myself, unapologetically.

Now living in London, what’s life like across the pond? How are you funding your life and travels as a self-professed 9-5 hater?

I didn’t actually appreciate living here until I came back from traveling. London’s cool, what I like about it most is that it’s on everyone’s bucket list, so I get to see friends I’ve made during my travels and show them the fun things to do in my city.

In 2014 I was working in the property industry and decided that I wanted to buy my first place so I started to save my deposit. June 2015 I left for Spain and got my first taste of ‘solo backpacking’ so when I came back to continue saving for my place, I decided to scrap the original plan and spend it on traveling and figuring out how to live a more fulfilled life.

I’ve been ‘funemployed’ since December 2015, visited 12 countries – 9 of which were new to me, lived life on my own terms, not slowed down for a second and most importantly not had to take a bullshit job I hated! I’ve also found what it is that I’m good at.

I actually started interviewing for new jobs this week (update: she got the dream job!) which I’m pretty excited about because I have a passion for what it is that I’m trying to do. I thought I hated working for other people but really I just hated the industry and companies I’d previously worked for.

What fears and challenges have sprung up because of your nomadic lifestyle? How do you combat them?

When I left for Asia my nan had just come out of the hospital for having a stroke and it made it really difficult to leave. You don’t want to miss out on making memories at home with the ones you love, having to choose between yourself and others, knowing that either way, you may regret the choice you make. That’s really hard. Ultimately you’re the only person who will have to live with that decision.

Travelling can also really put a strain on your relationships and it has in some cases. Don’t get me wrong, it’s strengthened a majority of them but you definitely have to work harder at keeping in touch and realise that by you leaving, if you were a big part of someone’s life they’ll naturally need to fill that void if you’re gone for an extended period of time, and that’s kind of hard for both sides to deal with. Make sure you check in with your friends and ask them if the changes you’re making in your life have affected them and how you can do better. I’ve been called selfish a lot since focusing on my wellbeing through travel and it’s not fair, but I understand.

What advice would you give millennial WOC who want to travel more, move abroad for work, etc.?

I actually wrote a blog post for those who are scared to take the leap. 

“Let go and let the universe work, everything happens for a reason. Trust that it’s the right decision for you, no matter what the outcome. Learn to rely on yourself, love yourself, only have yourself. Realise which friendships to keep and which to leave behind. Meet new people, have new experiences, do something you’ve never done. I promise you, it will be the best decision you ever make!”

If it works out or not is irrelevant at this point because honestly, you’ll never know unless you try. If your friends aren’t supportive or don’t get it, that’s fine, there are loads of us out there with our DM’s open ready to give you advice and a listening ear. Go spread your wings and soar!

Travel, particularly long-term has its pros and cons. Tell us both how those cons manifest for you and how you handle them?

The only real cons for me are having to live out of a 30L backpack – which is tiny and constantly having to pack and unpack but in the grand scheme of things, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat because it allowed me to see as many countries as I have.

The 2nd would be missing out on seeing my siblings grow and not being there for them. Leaving them is always really tough for me but I make sure to call, Facetime and Snapchat them as much as I can and really show an interest in their everyday activities. It’s also really important that they know I love them and me leaving is nothing to do with them even though they feel like their big sister is miles away and not physically present in their lives for long periods of time.

What can we expect from you moving forward and how can we be of support?

I don’t even know what to expect from myself if I’m honest lol. I plan on producing a travel series once I get a job and start making some money again. It’s really difficult to have big dreams on an unemployed budget but I know when the times right, I’ll be able to share everything I have with the world. I’m also in the process of starting my own travel company which I haven’t told anyone about yet but I’m really excited about that so keep an eye out for that. I guess just follow me on Instagram and Youtube @msriojay (desperately trying to get 100 subscribers lol). I’ve been quite slow on content recently but when it’s go time, y’all better be ready! You can also read about my crazy journey over the past 3 years at www.msriojay.co.uk

In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy would you like to leave behind?

I just want to be remembered as the girl who wasn’t afraid; afraid of what others thought, afraid of how life would turn out when she turned her back on the norm. Who took risks even when she wasn’t sure how they would play out and ended up thriving. I want to be the big sister I never had growing up. Continue to inspire people around the globe and be a poster child for living on your own terms, unapologetically.

Life doesn’t have to be played by the rules, matter of fact, it shouldn’t be played by the rules, unless they’re your own.

Just for kicks:

  • Favorite place you’ve been?
    Indonesia, The Philippines & Malaysia (I couldn’t just choose one, sorry!)

  • Must have item on a trip?
    Noise canceling headphones. I can sleep pretty much anywhere once I have these bad boys plugged in.

  • Airbnb or hotel?
    Surprisingly, I’m yet to book an Airbnb so I’m going to have to say hotel, although I feel this would change the minute I book an Airbnb.

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