Wendy and I met through a Facebook group of likeminded women. When she told me that she had left her 9-5 job in Miami to work remotely and travel for a year through Croatia, Serbia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali, it seemed like we'd have plenty to chat about. As she expands her brand, Where Art Thou, she has also had an experience of a lifetime, as things unfold in ways she never could have imagined. Here's her story...

Wendy, it’s great to catch you during your travels. Where are you right now? What did you have for breakfast today?

Hey Carolyn! Thanks for taking the time to follow up with me. When I saw your website I loved the idea. Thanks for the opportunity to share my travel story.

Right now I am in Canggu, Bali and am currently having coffee and a smoothie bowl with fresh fruit and granola toppings that honestly looks like art on a plate. It’s so pretty!

Awesome! So, I know you are traveling with We Roam, a professional remote work program. Tell us everything. What has been/is your itinerary?
We Roam is a travel-while-working program that curates trips around the world for select remote workers who want to pursue their love of travel, without putting their careers on hold.

Late last year, I found out about this program and thought it was an amazing opportunity to travel with a group of like-minded professionals. Every month we travel to a new country.

I applied in late October of 2016, went through the interview process and got accepted to come on board. What’s nice about We Roam is that you can select your start and end date. So I started in August in Split, Croatia and since then we’ve traveled to Serbia, Thailand, Vietnam and this month, Indonesia.

And is the work you’re doing only related to art? What are some of the jobs you’ve held?

The main purpose of this trip for me was to focus on my art brand- living the brand and spreading the word but in between I’ve taken on some freelance graphic design jobs.

How many people are you traveling and working with? Is everyone doing something different?

We are a group of about 30 from all over the U.S and a couple of other countries like Brazil and Israel. Everyone works on something different, although a majority work in the tech industry like software engineering and coding.

Belgrade, Serbia.

You’re from Miami, FL, trained in interior design, and have taken a hiatus from your 9-5 to pursue your passion for travel and art. What’s the story? Why the break?
Yes, I graduated with my Masters in Interior Design from Florida State and ever since then I’ve been working in corporate design in Miami, FL. I loved my job actually but travel has always been my first love.

When I found We Roam, I brought up the idea to my job but they weren’t on board with the whole working remote idea especially given the time difference. I could have let that stop me right there and to be honest, I thought about giving up on the idea of traveling several times. The decision to quit my job to go travel didn’t come easy.

I weighed out my options and talked about it with several people. I could either stay safe at my 9-5 job or completely change my life, go out into the unknown and travel the world. As you already know, I decided to go with the later. I took a leap of faith, followed my heart and decided to come on board We Roam without a full time job.

How did you decide that you would pursue We Roam? Were you considering other adventure options?

I decided to pursue We Roam because I really liked the idea of traveling with a group of professionals. I knew it would be great networking and I also liked the fact that work was a very important aspect of the program. Even though I was coming into this without a steady job, I still wanted to focus on my own personal development. Before We Roam, I considered Remote Year but they were asking for a full year commitment which was too much time to be away from home.

Hanoi, Vietnam.

What has been your most memorable aspect of your trip so far?

The most memorable aspect of my time on We Roam has been the volunteer days that we’ve spent with kids. In Belgrade we volunteered at a local childrens’ orphanage. In Thailand we volunteered at another childrens’ home and in Vietnam we volunteered in a kids school and actually got to teach a class (something I’ve never done before). All of these were amazing experiences and my heart has never felt happier. Even though, we don’t speak the local language, somehow we were able to communicate with the kids through smiles and laughter.

And what’s been challenging?
Getting into a daily routine has been a little challenging. It takes about a week to get familiar in a new city and then about 2-3 weeks to get the hang of it. Then by the 4th week, just when I think I finally have a routine down, it’s time to start packing for the next country.

Is there anything you specifically miss or don’t miss about the States?

This might sound weird but I miss Target!

I miss the convenience of being able to go to one store for all my essentials. Every month, it’s a struggle because I’m not familiar with the area and worse, I don’t speak the language. Aside from that, I miss my family and friends of course but thanks to WhatsApp and social media I can stay in contact with them.

Split, Croatia.

In reading the articles you’ve written on Where Art Thou, you’ve gotten in depth on a variety of things: galleries, children art classes, museums in Thailand, a whole range–– what are you working towards with your brand?

Right now, I’m living the brand, Where Art Thou? And as I’m living my brand, my hope is to inspire others to do the same: to look for art whenever they travel.

It doesn’t have to be in art museum or art gallery, it could be street art or art found in your local cafe. Wherever it is that you are, i’m sure you can find art. Art is everywhere! My goal is to create a brand that people love to support and wear. I’m working on getting merchandise like hats, shirts and jewelry up for sale on my website. But first, I’m building the story behind the brand. A story that will inspire people and hopefully love to wear.

In considering this pretty epic trip, which perhaps have given you more insight into your own interests and passions, what do you think is next? Is it interior design? What aspects of your time with We Roam do you anticipate bringing into your Miami life?

This trip has been filled with inspiration and aspirations. Traveling with We Roam has taught me that there is a huge digital nomad community out there. When I get back to Miami, I would love to open up my own coworking space/ cafe and take ideas from all the different coworking spaces I’ve been to and all the coffee shops I’ve visited. This would integrate my corporate design knowledge and art skills all in one. And I would finally realize my dream of designing my own commercial space while keeping with the whole art theme.

Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Art aside, what are some of the crazy quirks of travel you’ve experienced? Any transportation woes, amazing meals, standout highlights or lowlights?

Oh gosh, there are so many travel highlights, like the time I bathed Elephants in Thailand, that time I got lost in Split but ended up finding some awesome street art, taking Muay Thai classes in Thailand by a professional fighter! So many amazing stories, so little time.

I’m fortunate to say that the highlights outweigh the lowlights but I will share my most recent travel woes to Bali last week because it’s definitely one for the books. As you know, there’s an active volcano on the island of Bali, Mt. Agung. So our connecting flight from Malaysia to Bali was cancelled. There were no flights flying into the Bali airport due to the smoke clouds so the next best bet was to take a 10-12 hour bus ride from Surabaya (the island next to Bali) and drive all the way to Canggu, Bali.

We left Hanoi, Vietnam on Saturday morning and after a full day or travel, we arrived to Surabay around 9pm, just to get on an overnight bus ride that ended up taking 14 hours. It was the longest and most exhausting travel day ever. It took 5 modes of transportation: car, plane, train, bus and a ferry just to get to Bali!

Around 4am we got into a bus accident that left a huge crack on the bus’ windshield. Then we got lost which made our bus ride even longer. I think that by the end of that bus ride everyone hated everything and everyone. But after a shower and a nap, we were all back to normal.

I imagine a lot of people consider taking a break from their 9-5 but most never will. What advice do you have for them?

I believe that things have a way of working themselves out. That God (or the universe-whichever one you believe in) already has a plan in motion for you. You just have to take a leap of faith and believe that everything will be ok but always have a backup plan just in case.

Quitting my job was one of the scariest decisions I’ve made but I knew I had enough savings to last me for 5 months. Just when I was starting to get scarce on money, God put this job opportunity right in front of me. I’m happy to say that I got a remote job for a furniture dealership in NYC where I can continue to focus on corporate design and travel at the same time.

So if traveling is something you really want to pursue, then take that step to make it happen, as scary as it might be. You have to want it more than you fear it.

Check out Wendy Recinos Where Art Thou for more from her time with We Roam and onwards!

Split, Croatia.