Welcome back to our Sunday Inspiration series where we feature inspirational individuals living out their dreams in the worlds of food and travel.
Join us as we discover the passions, challenges, and motivations that drive these unique creators to quit their 9-5s and embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Today we are chatting with Sotaro (@creative_consciousness ), a New York native , traveling full-time through South East Asia. He left his career in hospitality to travel the world. He is a curious, free-spirit who lives life on his own terms. His drive and determination has led him to live and work in places across the globe from Bolivia to Cambodia. Please see our conversation below.
Food Inspiration Travel: We’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years now and we see you travel a lot! Where are you currently and how long have you been there?
Sotaro: “Yes, well, my first ever backpacking trip was in 2014 when I travelled for 7 months through South America, working my way from Colombia to Ecuador, Peru and then Bolivia. It was this initial trip which got me hooked on travelling, I loved the real sense of freedom which coursed through my body. When I ran out of money in Bolivia and began to plan my return to New York, I decided to stay put in southern Peru, where I began teaching English at a private institute to support myself. After about 7 months, my travel bug was itching and I decided I was going to return to NYC to work and save up as much as I could for my next travel. After 8 months of work and little play, I saved up enough and set out for South East Asia. I started in Indonesia and spent 2 months there. Then I made my way to Thailand, Myanmar; and now currently, I am in Cambodia. It has been almost 5 months since I left NYC.”
Food Inspiration Travel: What brought you to the country you are in now and how are you spending your days?
Sotaro: “So there is a typical South East Asia circuit many people take on this trip and I am following the route. Cambodia is my 4th country on this visit and I will be heading into Vietnam next week. I spend my time exploring and sightseeing mostly. I love to get on a motorscooter and just visit far flung places, off the beaten tourist route. From seeing the locals working on their farms or in their stores, to arriving at beautiful landscapes such as waterfalls, mountain sides and coastal towns. I also love to meet and socialise with the people hence why I choose to travel by myself. It is easier to meet new people and one is more approachable this way. The people I meet are often so friendly and eager to share a drink or meal with me.”
Food Inspiration Travel: Before you started traveling full-time, what was your occupation?
Sotaro: “Well when I graduated college in 2013, I thought to myself, what am I going to do next? I was working as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant. After a year of full-time work, I quit and set out on my first trip. When I returned to NYC, after my time in South America, I jumped right back into the same field since I had the experience and it was the easiest way to make money without settling down into a career. The service industry in NYC has a high turn over rate and one can always find work and quit when they please. It’s all for the tips since they constitute about 70% of a waiter’s income.”
Food Inspiration Travel: Who have you met during your travels that has made a positive impact on your life?
Sotaro: “It’s so hard to pinpoint exactly one person or a few that made an impact. I would say almost everyone I have met has had an impact on me… I travel with the philosophy that everyone you meet is your teacher. They all have some wisdom to share and as long as you have an open heart and mind, you will always gain something from somebody else. I can tell you about the first person who put me onto the travelling life. I met him at a hostel in New Orleans, he was a young French man who had been travelling the world for 2 years from Asia to Central America and everywhere in between. This was the first time I met a world traveler and I was so intrigued by his lifestyle. It was something foreign to me. It wasn’t spoken of in my high school or college circles growing up in New York. It was from that meeting that I thought, if this guy could travel 2 years across the globe, why can’t I? Meeting him changed my life forever and I owe him a lot for inspiring me to take the same route.”
Food Inspiration Travel: What or who inspired you to live abroad?
Sotaro: “In 2014 when I was making a return to Peru after a month of exploring Bolivia, I had someone special waiting for me. We dated during my one month stay in Arequipa and I told her I would meet her back in a Bolivian border town in a month. We travelled a bit together then I made my way back to Peru with her. Originally I had planned to fly back to NYC after a couple of weeks but when we had a farewell party for me with friends, I decided I didn’t want to leave and honestly felt I had nothing going for me really in NYC (chuckles) so I took that chance to try and live abroad for the first time ever. I spent a month mostly lounging around… and when I needed to work and make money, a Peruvian friend told me about an English institute that was hiring.They offered me a job on sight. Native speakers are in high demand at schools and in many places in South America, they will hire you if English is your first language.”
Food Inspiration Travel: What pre-cautions do you take when traveling?
Sotaro: “In terms of precautions I take when travelling, I have always been cautious and aware of my surroundings, something I learned I believe by growing up in New York City. People backpacking long term generally tend to have a good head on their shoulders and know how to problem solve because things happen all the time and it’s up to them to figure out a solution. It’s also a good idea to learn from other travelers who have been in the region and know the local culture. Learn from others the do’s and don’ts and you’ll be ready for whatever the world throws at you.”
Food Inspiration Travel: What is your travel philosophy?
Travel with love and light […meaning…] have an open mind and heart. If you close yourself off or are always worried and untrustworthy, it will close a lot of doors on your travels.
Sotaro’s #FITip on planning a year of travel: Make travel your #1 priority. Put it at the top of your list and put all of your efforts into fulfilling that goal. Cut living costs, don’t buy things you don’t need and live a frugal life. Also, don’t try to plan too much. Just buy a one way ticket and figure out your route day to day.
You can keep up with Sotaro’s adventures on Instagram @creative_consciousness
Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.
Sarah + Monty