I was recently introduced to the work of Melissa Hei, an up-and-coming Instagram phenom based in Singapore. Certainly, Melissa is many things – dedicated runner, X-Phile, nail polish aficionado, avid traveler and, by trade, web designer – but it’s her dedicated Instagram account @girleatworld that’s put her in the spotlight. Her feed, which features endearing photos of local food taken with landmarks around the world has recently blown up and even been featured on Business Insider.
Melissa has travelled to many countries, but the practice of photographing her food didn’t start until she traveled solo for the first time. “I didn’t feel like taking pictures of myself,” she said, “and taking pictures of just buildings or food started to get boring real fast. So, I took pictures of food in this format and it got positive feedback from my Facebook friends!” It’s thanks to these friends’ encouragement that she started her @girleatworld Instagram feed.
So far Melissa’s favorite food is the Pho in Saigon, Vietnam. “For three dollars,” she says, “you get a full meal, and there is nothing like eating it on the side of the street for breakfast while watching the city come to life.” She had a little more difficulty choosing her favorite place, but ultimately settled on Shibuya crossing, for now. “I was there this past week and Shibuya crossing blew me away. The amount of people present at that crossing at any given time is insane, yet the place remains somewhat organized and clean.”
So, how does a young woman afford to visit so many countries? There are a few factors involved:
“First, I live in Singapore, so income tax is low…. In Europe I did budget traveling by staying in six to eight-bed hostels [dorms], sincetravelingvelling solo. They usually only run me about $10 to $25 per night. Also, [I] always look out for great flight deals. I flew to Germany for $500 less than regular price thanks to an awesome deal. I’m also pretty good with my money.”
Perhaps the most important thing that Melissa has done, and the thing that escapes so many would-be travellers, is prioritize. “Travel is a priority,” she says, “so I save up by not shopping much, cooking my food, taking public transportation [instead of] taxi, et cetera.”
This post is part of a series on people who’ve prioritized their passions, including travel, to build the life they want. To read more, check out Easy, Lucky, Free: Living The Dream.