Hello! My name is Melissa Ann Maida.
I am a nomad. I prefer the mountains over the beach … until I’m back at the beach and am reminded of how glorious sunrise yoga beside the ocean is. You can usually find me reading or writing in a local cafe or at the library, wandering in nature or navigating public transit in a big city. My hair is always a different color and usually wrapped up in a bandanna. I don’t wear make-up and rock a beat up pair of Birks. Everything I own fits in a backpack…
But this hasn’t always been my life…
At the start of 2014, I had a successful cosmetology career, lived in a nice house in a Las Vegas suburb, drove a brand new car, and was planning my wedding.
That Spring, my world turned upside down. My dad passed away on May 12th, his funeral was in Chicago on May 23rd, I opened a salon in Las Vegas on June 10th and my sister got married in Wisconsin on June 14th. The chaos of so many major life events, in such a short time, put pressure on my relationship. That July, I called off my wedding.
Picking Up the Pieces
Mourning the loss of my father and a failed 6-year-almost-marriage, I threw myself into the salon. My blood, sweat and tears went into every aspect of it and it showed. The salon gave me a sense of purpose and security. I loved doing hair, had amazing clients and my business partner was my best friend.
Overtime, I became comfortable with my new normal and learned to let go and enjoy my life again.
The time and financial freedom of self-employment granted me the opportunity to travel! Between 2015 and 2016 I went to Mexico twice, took my first solo backpacking trip to Europe, traveled for 3 weeks in Australia, and spent 3 weeks with my childhood girlfriends in London, Munich, Paris and the Netherlands.
Plus, I lived in LAS VEGAS! Until that point, I had never taken advantage of the crazy, wild, untamed city I called home.
I was on top of the world- making money, traveling, and living it up in Vegas…
Until I wasn’t…
My schedule at the salon was steadily booked which brought in an abundant income. I had moved into a three bedroom townhouse all by myself, still drove a brand new car and had the latest tablet, phone and computer (that I somehow justified needing by saying they were for the salon.) I was going out on The Strip all the time which meant new clothes, new accessories, fancy dinners and expensive cocktails.
My travel opportunities and the time I had to spend with the people I loved decreased as my obligation to maintaining my material possessions and new lifestyle increased. Over time, I had become bound to the salon that had once made me feel so free.
Every step I took tied me tighter to the material lifestyle I was creating. I knew if I kept going, one day very soon, turning around or changing direction would no longer be an option.
Indefinite World Travel
While backpacking through Europe I had met countless people traveling for months and even years at a time. They had walked away from their routines, their jobs, and their stuff– opting for a life of freedom, exploration and adventure.
At first, I wrote these long-term travelers off as gap year teenagers with wealthy parents. I was jealous of them. If they were in their mid-twenties or early thirties, I decided they must not have “real jobs,” they must not be as established as I was, their lives must not be as awesome as mine was. I judged them. Every time I made an excuse as to why I couldn’t travel like them, I met someone new who proved me wrong. Finally, I decided to JUST GO!
I spent TWO YEARS selling ALL of my belongings, paying off debt, saving money, building up airline miles, researching destinations, preparing to work on the road, dissolving my salon business and gracefully untangling myself from all other stateside obligations.
On April 4th 2018, with a one-way ticket to BANGKOK in hand and everything I owned on my back, I took off to indefinitely travel the world!