Proud Of Our World Traveller
Today I interviewed my 21 year old, Carcross/Tagish Tlingit sister Haylie Grant in Carcross Yukon. Haylie lived with her mother and older siblings Katrina and Dakota for most of her life in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Haylie went to Christ the King Elementary School and to Vanier Catholic Secondary School in downtown Whitehorse. By the age of 17 she moved out of her mother’s house and moved in with her older sister, after graduating from Vanier. After graduating, she attended to Yukon College for a year. She took the Culinary Arts Course and passed her first year with an outstanding mark. Additionally, she was able to challenge her second year exam with a passing mark. Katrina (Haylie’s sister) was a snowboarder. At a young age she taught Haylie how to snowboard. She also taught me to snowboard when I was in grade four. Haylie was on the Yukon Women’s Snowboarding team, in Whitehorse, for about seven years.
She competed in the Arctic Winter Games and in other events for a year. I remember, while Haylie was doing a race, she hit a jump and landed wrong. She hurt her hip and, as a result, she is still taking physio until this day. She didn’t snowboard as much after that because of the anxiety of hurting herself again; but, I’m proud of her for starting to get back into snowboarding again.
After Haylie graduated high school and put away her dream of going to the Olympics, she became a waitress at the Yukon Inn in Whitehorse. She saved her money, for two years, for a journey across the world. Haylie has always wanted to travel growing up but was always waiting for people to be available to come on the trip with her. Her decision to travel alone wasn’t the original plan. She postponed the trip waiting for someone to be available but she got tired of waiting and went on a trip of a lifetime.
Haylie traveled to seven countries, in seven months. In two of the countries she traveled to, she was offered jobs. While she was in Japan she was offered a job to teach and coach snowboarding, during the winter season. In Vietnam, she was offered an opportunity to teach English to the kids there.
As a young female traveler, Haylie struggled with anxiety growing up. Haylie said, while being on her trip, she learned to deal with her anxiety because “you are never really alone unless you choose to be alone”. While Haylie was on her trip she contacted us almost everyday and sent us photos of her trip. During her travels, I watched how she grew and let her anxiety shrivel away, through our conversations.
Growing up with my big sister, I saw so much worry about being perfect and pleasing everyone around her instead of making herself happy. When she came back, I have never been so proud of my sister.
She went from stressing herself out and mentally abusing herself to make everyone else happy to saying f*** you I’m going to make myself happy. I have always admired my big sister for being my biggest mother influence. I shall always look up to her. Watching her grow has made such a big impact not just on her life but mine as well -- because no one pushes her around no more.
Having Haylie back home is amazing considering after her journey across the world, she moved back home for the summer in Carcross to live with our father, grandma and myself. I hope she is an inspiration for others like she is for my family. No one wanted her to go on her trip alone but I’m glad she did.
I am Haley Grant, I'm from Whitehorse Yukon, born and raised, I’m 21 years old. I'm currently living in Carcross for the summer. I just finished a 7 month backpacking trip of Southeast Asia. I went to school for culinary arts for a year after I graduated and worked and saved for my trip.
I went to Christ the King Elementary School, and then I went to Vanier Catholic School. I didn't really get into any team sports but I snowboard. I’ve snowboarded since I was nine; I still snowboard but I competitively snowboarded until I was 17.
I started snowboarding when I was 9 or 8 or really young, and then I started competitively snowboarding when I was 10 and I've gone to two Arctic Winter Games and one Canada Winter Games.
Culinary arts was really fun. I didn't really cook a whole lot when I was younger so I thought I would attend cooking school to help me get into it. I also a waitressed for a while. So I wanted to go into Culinary Arts school just to learn how to cook and then I did really good.
I met lots of friends. I definitely want to go back to college one day. I'm not sure what for. I tried cooking and it wasn't really my thing to be in a hot sweaty kitchen, but I still cook at home lots and I enjoy it and it was probably a really good life skill to learn.
It was amazing. Honestly, if there was a dream job that I could do, I'd probably be a Skydive teacher or skydiver. I want to go again. I was thinking about going again and carcross this year, this summer with some friends. It's really scary. The first job was super super scary but at the same time there's so much adrenaline and excitement and it's like a lifelong dream that I wanted to do.
It was really exhilarating especially being by myself. I just met so many people and I never really did feel by myself. And when I did I honestly enjoyed it because I was surrounded by people all the time and meeting new people. The times I was by myself, it was really good; took a lot of self reflecting time.
And then also it also kind of sucked and it did feel lonely at times. I just miss my family; I travelled for seven months and when I hit the three month mark, I had it in my head that I might go home and then after that I kind of just got over the homesickness.
I travelled to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore.
I was super scared and I planned everything else. And my cat my cabbie driver ripped me off like 20 30 dollars, something like that, and as a Backpacker, that's a lot of money as it was only supposed to be $10. I didn't know how to speak the language and he was trying to yell at me and tell me where I'm going.
As soon as I arrived at my hostel, they were fully booked even though I booked it like four months ago ,and as soon as I arrived in bed I called my family, I said “I want the first plane ride home. I'm so scared. Like what am I doing? This is overwhelming”, and all this fear and anxiety came over me, and then they said “Haley you're fine. You just got there. This is something that you've always wanted to do. You'll be fine”. Then I had a nap and all these girls came into my hostel room and they were like, “hey, we just arrived in Thailand for our first day of traveling. Do you want to come eat food with us?” I was like “Heck Yeah!”. I'm exhausted. But of course I need some friends, I'm scared. So I ended up making these friends that I still talk to, and we went out for food and had a good time. We spent a week together in Bangkok and honestly, after that I just wasn't scared of being by myself anymore because I just spent so much time with new people like.
I got vaccines done, I did lots of research. I decided to do southeast Asia because it's very backpacker friendly. I've known I wanted to travel since I graduated and I just started putting money aside and I kept on waiting for people to come travel with me.
But other people, were getting jobs or going to school and their time frames just don't work with mine. And so I just started saving up and then one day I was like, okay, I'm going this year. And so I started saving more and I didn't go out with my friends as much and I just basically worked two jobs and started saving for a year.
And yeah, how did you communicate?
I tried my best. Thailand was my first country and I tried to learn a lot of language before I got there, but honestly, I didn't really remember anything. Every single country I went to I only really knew hello and thank you. A lot of the people know English or we can get by; there's pictures and lot of hand gestures are made.
Towards the end of my trip I tried learning a lot more of the languages. But lots of hand gestures mostly and Google Translate.
Good experiences, I have so many but the major one was probably doing a two-week motorbike trip in Vietnam and the north of Vietnam. I've never ridden a motorbike before and I was so scared and these roads have these big trucks going down and they're so tiny and it was actually really beautiful.
I would like show up to locals’ doors and being like “hey, can you feed me some Pho I haven't eaten today” and they wouldn't know what I'm talking about; hand gestures and Google translator are your friends. That was definitely a highlight of my trip.
I went paragliding in Indonesia. That was really cool. I went on a hot-air balloon ride and that was really scary. It was really beautiful and loud. I think it's like one of the cheapest in the world for hot air balloons. I didn't realize when you're in a hot air balloon they throw down a rope and these seven little men come running after the rope and they try and pull you down and I wasn't expecting that and we got caught in a tree, it was really scary. But also so beautiful and worth it.
I went scuba diving. I was really scared of the ocean. I've never seen an ocean before and scuba diving was really beautiful with all sorts of creatures and like the corals and everything was so beautiful.
I definitely had some bad experiences. I had my phone stolen in Vietnam, but that was kind of my fault. I didn't wasn't taking safety precautions and I went out with some friends and it was really late at night and we were coming home and a motorbike or drove up beside me and took my phone out of my hand. I've also been followed home a couple times but I had friends. I was like “Hey, like these people are making me feel uncomfortable. Can you come home with me? Like, let's go tomorrow night or hang out and do something tomorrow night. I just don't feel safe. So can you come home with me and they came home with me” and everything was fine.
Honestly food was definitely a highlight of my trip. I'm a really big foodie so I probably ate four or five meals a day. All the food is really cheap in Asia. I had lots of good food experiences. I think my favorite was Vietnam with their pho.
I found really good pho. I'm not much of a spicy fan. There's lots of spicy food in Thailand and I'm also allergic to peanuts, so trying to get that by to people. I almost got fed peanuts once or twice but I caught it so it was fine. I also got food poisoning in Thailand and that really sucked but I just drank lots of water and I ended up being fine. Definitely not a highlight of my trip.
I got offered to snowboard coach in Japan, which is a lifelong dream of mine to go to Japan and snowboard. I met lots of people in Japan and they offered me a job to coach in Japan. I think I might take that this winter because why not? I don't think I'll ever get an offer like that again.
And then also I got offered a job in Vietnam teaching English just to little kids. It's a very popular thing in Vietnam. I just met people while traveling and they said “This is a really good job you seem very fitted for it, why don't you apply for next year?”
Were you ever mistaken for being Asian?
I think every single country I went to someone would try and speak to me in their language. Or they would be like, “where are you from? Are you Japanese? Are you Vietnamese? Are you Thai or anything like that?” And I would try to explain, not everyone knows what First Nations or native is. So I told people that I was either Native American or if they didn't understand that I would I would tell them I’m Eskimo and I'm from up North and they would usually understand what that meant. I don't know why but they usually knew what that meant.
One thing that was hard for me was anxiety. I had really bad anxiety at the beginning of my trip and especially being a solo like female backpacker. I was really nervous and then after the first couple of months I had to come out of my shell if I wanted to meet people. Or else I had to do something by myself, and doing things by yourself is okay, and it's really nice, but all the time it's not really, and so I'd have to go down to the common area of the hostel and walk up to someone and be like “hey, how are you? What's your name?” Totally out of my comfort zone. I think one thing that I really benefited from my travels was, I really worked on my anxiety and my social skills.
Are you planning for the far and near future?
I have a job in Carcross right now for the summer and it ends in September. After that I’m thinking about either going to New Zealand for a year and backpacking it or work. If not, I'm definitely leaning towards going to Japan and working for the winter and snowboarding. If that doesn't work out, I'm planning on going to the college and doing some upgrading and going to school.
Don't be afraid. Southeast Asia was great and there's lots of other places that are great and honestly, it's not as scary as you think. Just go out there and do it. You'll get over it. You'll be fine. You'll meet people. You will be alone only if you choose to be alone. Pack light, don't bring a big backpack. You can send things home. It's not that expensive. My pant family paid for me to send some stuff back home. I packed a really big backpack and I wish I didn't it's really heavy and exhausting to carry around.
How did you get offered a job?
Honestly, it's just like with anything in the world; just networking. I met these people in Thailand, I think we were watching a sunset and they heard my Canadian accent and they're like, “Are you from Canada?” Just simple backpacker talk. I told them that I used to snowboard and how I've always wanted to go to Japan and it's a dream of mine and they're like, “Hey, if you want to come to Japan, we're going there for a month and a half. You can come stay in our place with us in Tokyo. And you can come to Hokkaido with us. We're doing a weekend trip there. And we have a lodge and everything” and I was like “heck yeah, of course like the sounds great. If I don't have enough money for the rest of my trip this is like a dream like I'm gonna go”.
Then when I went snowboarding, they knew people that knew people and I there was like 20 of us all together that went on to Hokkaido and went snowboarding and they said “We know there's lots of jobs here in the winter for snowboarding and you seem to have fun. You have a good personality and you know how to snowboard.” They said they'll pay for my education for a snowboarding coach thing.
I was just in the right place and time.