Before reaching out about the Traveler Tuesday interview series I had not met Mo, but I have a secret fascination for Bali – from web retreats to yoga retreats (I don’t do yoga, but it feels like you must if you visit Bali!), it seems like a great place, to well retreat. So I caught some of her Instagram feed and said, I would be down with that for a month or two, and I knew wanted to get to know Mo more, one way you can see what life in Bali is like on her blog, Travelust 101, but let’s hear what she has to say!
Let’s meet Mo!
 When and how did you become a traveler?
In 2009 I took my first solo trip to Bali. After diving with manta rays and falling in love with the small idyllic island of Nusa Lembongan, I was hooked! I loved the sense of freedom and adventure I experienced from being on my own, conquering my fears, and doing things that fulfilled me. A couple of years later, I took another solo trip to Tulum, Mexico where I had a moment of clarity while sitting on a white sand beach staring into the horizon of clear, turquoise waters – that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life sitting in a cubicle! I was tired of being in a rat race, spinning the same wheel day in and day out.
So I returned to NYC which had been my home for 13 years and began to plan my exit. In 2013 I quit my 9-5 and set out on a 6-month backpacking trip to SE Asia. But 6 months quickly came and went, and I was not ready to return to my work life in the cubicle. So I decided to create a new life abroad and became a scuba instructor. I have been working, living, and traveling in SE Asia ever since.
 What kind of traveler do you define yourself as?
I’d say adventure. I love exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations far removed from popular tourist tracks. I also love nature, so I love signing up for anything that has to do with wilderness (e.g., trekking/camping) or the ocean (obviously scuba diving!) I am a big fan of solo traveling as well, as I love having the freedom to do what I want, when I want to. I occasionally enjoy traveling with others, but after a while, it can start to feel suffocating and exhausting when we have to coordinate everything and make sure everybody is aligned.
 Which country do you come from/call home?
This is a hard one to answer, as I was born in Japan, raised in the US, but have been living in Bali for the last 5 years. I spent the majority of my life in the US, but Bali is my current “home away from home.”
 What do you crave from home when you are traveling?
As a foodie, things that I miss about home usually involves food. Even though I can get most of my “comfort food” in Bali, there are still certain things I cannot get my hands on such as cottage cheese, Ranch Doritos or pumpkin pie. Oh, I’m also a sucker for Salt & Vinegar chips, which unfortunately is not available in Bali.
 Tell us about your blog
After working and living on some stunning paradise islands, I had many people tell me that I should write a book to document and share my life journey. A book seemed like I was somehow “flaunting” my life, which I was not interested in. But what DID inspire me was creating an online platform where I can share my travel tips, resources, and destination guides, and support other adventurous women to explore the world. I also felt that a website would be more interactive, and I would have an opportunity to connect with other like-minded women who seek self-growth and self-discovery through their love of travel. So I began Travelust 101 out of my passion for empowering women to push their limits, challenge the social norms, and expand beyond their comfort zones.
 What do you love most about traveling?
Ah, there are too many things I love about traveling, from experimenting with new food, meeting amazing human beings from around the world, getting exposed to a new lifestyle and culture, to discovering new things about myself. But as a scuba diver, I’d say what I love most about traveling is exploring the underwater world! I live for moments when I discover a new creature that I have never seen before – it lights me up like nothing else in this world.
 What do you dislike about traveling?
As a dog lover, the most difficult part of traveling is witnessing some of the horrific conditions that dogs live in out here in SE Asia. I once tried to rescue a sick puppy in the Philippines but was too late – he died in my arms, and I wailed like a baby that day. While I have an appreciation for differences in cultures, this is one thing that breaks my heart every day.
 How do you prepare for a trip?
Now that I live in Bali, I generally hop on my scooter and head to a beach, waterfall, etc. for a day trip after checking out directions on Google Maps. But when I was backpacking in SE Asia, I learned that having a flexible itinerary was key to having a great time on the road. I met so many other travelers along the way, who would tell me where to go and what to see. It was better than spending hours reading Lonely Planet and trying to figure out the itinerary on my own. Consulting other travelers and getting their feedback was much more fun and helpful! So I learned not to prepare a solid travel plan – be open to suggestions and go with the flow!
 You have won the lottery, now tell us where you want to live.
Oooh, good question – somehow Hawaii comes to mind, even though I’ve never been there. The photos I’ve seen of Hawaii are absolutely stunning, and I think it offers a good balance of water and land activities to make me happy!
 Travel essentials – 3 things you always travel with.
Lush shampoo bar, a windbreaker, and Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
 What is your favorite article of clothing?
I am a minimalist packer, so I don’t get attached to clothing – for me, clothes come and go – but one thing I have kept with me over the last 6 years of traveling is a yellow cotton scarf my brother gave me for my birthday. Not only do I love the scarf, but it’s also practical because I can wrap it around my neck on freezing airplanes or just to dress up a bit for a night out.
 Your single most treasured personal possession.
I’d say my laptop is my most valuable possession (it was pretty damn expensive!), but the most treasured possession would be the scarf I discussed above.
 Do you have a piece of advice for bloggers starting out?
Have patience, and if you want to be a full-time blogger, be prepared to work longer than your 9-5 job.
 What are three other blogs that inspire you?
There are many female travel bloggers that I admire and look up to, but if I had to pick only 3, I’d say Kristin from Be My Travel Muse, Glo from The Blog Abroad, and Chelsea Yamase from Instagram. Chelsea is more of an IG influencer than a blogger, but I love her beautiful photos, down-to-earth nature, happy vibes, and her genuine passion for making a positive change in the world.
 Your favorite travel resource on the web?
Lately, I’ve been using Pinterest quite a bit to seek out other travel bloggers’ experiences and suggestions if I’m researching specific destinations.
Mo’s Lightning Round of Favorites
Mode of Transportation: Car – love road trips!
Window or aisle: Window for short flights but aisle for long flights.
City: Bali, hands down
Travel Gear: a dry bag
Travel snack: granola bar
Book: I’m currently into Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.”
Movie: A Few Good Men
Song: Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
Quote: “Great things never came from comfort zones.”
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