Credit: Instagram/pangkim.adventure

Leaving the rat race behind to travel the world remains a pipe dream for many. But for Chia Kim Hui, 35, and Adrian Chew, 34, it’s their reality.

The couple, who quit their corporate jobs to become full-time globetrotters, kicked off their journey last November in Germany and hope to remain overseas for “as long as possible”, they tell AsiaOne.

After over 10 years working nine-to-five jobs — Adrian was in the IT field, while Kim Hui was a HR manager — both of them felt trapped and burned out.

“Every day it’s the same thing. We wake up and go to work. When we reach home, we’re already very tired. We can’t do anything that we like,” Kim Hui says of their old life.

Even though they would try to explore new places in Singapore on the weekends, it simply wasn’t enough to satisfy their wanderlust.

And so, after years of planning, they embarked on a new life — living out of their suitcases and planning their travel itinerary one destination at a time.

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From office romance to a lifelong adventure

The pair started off as colleagues at a logistics company about 10 years ago. Romance bloomed after Adrian helped Kim Hui set up her laptop, and the rest is history.

Both avid travellers, they would take around three overseas vacations a year before the pandemic hit, with the aim of experiencing new things each time.

Kim Hui fondly recalls their last trip before the pandemic — a summer trip to Norway where they got to see the midnight sun.

With a long bucket list that included items like seeing the Northern Lights, feeding reindeer and visiting a whale safari, they’d long entertained the notion of travelling full-time.

Since their marriage in 2015, they’d started saving and planning in earnest. Then, the pandemic hit and scuppered their plans, leaving them in limbo for two years.

In that time, Kim Hui left her job and set up PangKim Adventure, the couple’s travel blog which is named after a combination of their Chinese names.

When the news of Singapore’s first Vaccinated Travel Lanes with Germany and Brunei broke last August, they knew it was now or never. Adrian quit his job, and they put their plans into motion.

They’d already spent their twenties working, and didn’t want to have to wait till retirement to see the world.

“The thing is, when we grow old, we’re only left with that much energy to travel, and we can’t go far,” Adrian explains.

“By the time we are in our forties, I think after our trip, it will be very, very difficult for us to find a job again.”

Not rich, just thrifty

Since November, Adrian and Kim Hui have slowly made their way through Germany, Denmark and Norway.

While some of their followers have been living vicariously through their social media updates and leaving positive comments, they’ve also attracted some naysayers who labelled them rich and unrelatable.

However, the pair say they’re anything but.

“We are really not rich. We are just like regular typical Singaporeans,” Adrian says. “But we are more disciplined in the sense that we don’t splurge in Singapore on luxury items.”

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“The most expensive restaurants we’ll go to are Saizeriya, Astons or Sushi Express.”

For six years, they’ve been funnelling a quarter of their income to their travel fund each month and have accumulated a “substantial” amount that’s enough to last a year of travel, Kim Hui reveals.

For now, their plan is to draw on their savings for their travels, but they’re hoping that their blog and social media following will eventually grow enough to become a viable source of income.

If not, it’s back to the corporate world for them — if they can find jobs, that is.

When we ask if they had any misgivings about giving up their stable life back in Singapore, the pair responds with some words of wisdom.

“It’s not easy to live life out of a suitcase. It’s not easy to go to foreign countries with no friends and families. But to us, in life, nothing is really easy.

“Travelling full time is definitely not a bed of roses. But you get to experience wonders that you can never see in Singapore.”

This article was first published in AsiaOne.