3 Ways Asian Travelers Can See The World Without Letting Down Their Parents

by Haisu Qu

I grew up in an Asian household where I worked at my parent's store from the time I was 8 until I moved away for college. I saw firsthand how much my parents worked to create a better future for me and my siblings. You get this unexplainable guilt to do your best because your work is a reflection of their success.

However, travel has always been my obsession. It was something I couldn't have (visa restrictions), so it made me want it even more. I was confined within the US borders until I finally received my green card in my junior year of college.

My first trip was to Tanzania and Kenya in 2010 with a student group to help set up a computer center and student entrepreneur projects. I told my parents I was going to Argentina, and it was part of a school program. It was not.

When I came back for a week, I went straight to Hong Kong for my six-month study program at Chinese University of Hong Kong. I didn't have to sugarcoat this because it was actually for school. I just didn't mention to them that I stopped by Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

After graduating from college, I started working at a nonprofit organization and lived at home for three years. I knew I wanted to save as much money as one could from a nonprofit. Within the three years, I managed to go to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Amsterdam.

But, the short trips weren't enough for me. I ultimately wanted to do what my parents did. I wanted to leave the country and start somewhere new.

The plan had been brewing in my mind for a year. I didn't tell my parents I was leaving until one week before my departure.

Now, I know this might be absurd for some, but it worked for me. I know my parents better than anyone, obviously. My mind was set, and nothing they could say would have changed that.

If I told them in advance, they would have done everything in their power to stop me. I can't blame them because they only want what they think is the best for me.

A year and a half later, I am still living in Santiago, Chile. Here are three secret tips for Asian wanderers who want to quit their jobs and travel the world:

1. Make sacrifices.

As a first-generation immigrant, you will have to make sacrifices. For me, it was living at home. Having lived on my own for four years in college, moving back home was a big blow to my ego.

But, it was what my parents wanted me to do as their good Asian daughter. I complied because I knew I would make a bigger move later on.

2. Little white lies won't hurt.

My parents don't speak English, and they don't have Facebook (thanks, Buddha). My mindset is comprised of a mix of Chinese and American ideas. With that, I've learned to navigate my American idealism (freedom and individuality) with my Chinese narrative (family obligations).

I've learned not to mention things that would confuse them even more. That's why I told them I was going to Argentina when I went to Tanzania.

3. Give back.

I helped my parents with their store since I was 8 years old. I paid off my college tuition on my own without their help. I gave small portions of my paychecks to my parents.

These were my humble gestures of setting myself free, mostly from guilt. Knowing that I have paid off my dues as a daughter and can live independently from them, I feel that I can now move out and live on my own.