THE EYE OF THE VAGABOND - Girleatworld, eat up the world

Melissa, a Singaporean traveller, has become a viral sensation with her pictures of food around the world. Her instagram and website girleatworld is a fun and delicious way to discover our planet. She’s accepted to answer few questions.


How did you start @girleatworld ?

I was in Rome with my good friend Serena. She insisted on taking my picture in front of the Coliseum, while I insisted on eating my sandwich because I was too hungry. The resulting pic was a funny one of me pigging out in front of an iconic background. Since then, I thought about doing a collection of pics like that, of me eating in front of famous places, but the next time I went to Europe I was by myself and a bit shy about asking strangers to take a picture of me. So I took the food pics by myself in front of whatever iconic backgrounds I happen to be in.

One of my friends (who owns @nycars, a popular Instagram for cars) convinced me to create a dedicated Instagram. I only got around to it after my Japan trip in May 2014 — about 8 months after I started taking these pictures. And that’s how the @girleatworld Instagram was born!


How do you travel so much?

The question on everyone’s mind. I am not rich and no one is funding my travels aside of myself. I have taken a few sponsored trips (less than five) but most of my travels are still self-funded.

There are a few factors that allowed me to travel as I do:

First, I live in Singapore where income tax is low so managing finances is easier. Singapore is an awesome hub for travel with many airlines coming in and out to various destinations, so it’s also easy to get cheap flights. We also have tons of budget airlines in the region, often direct flights too!

Second, I am fairly responsible with money. Travel is a priority for me so I save up by living within my means – DIY stuff when I can, cooking my own food, taking public transports over taxi, walking when possible, etc. When not traveling for work or sponsored trips, I always travel budget. I also save money by staying in 6-8 beds hostels when I am travelling by myself. They usually only run me about $8-25 per night depending on the city. If i can’t fly budget, I wait and look out for flight deals. For example I flew from Singapore to Germany for S$990, which is $500 less than the regular price thanks to an awesome sale by Lufthansa.

Third, this no longer applies to me but I used to work in a role that sent me to different places and I would try to maximize this by flying in early and/or flying out late. I work as a User Experience designer.

What are your favorite destinations to eat (or maybe some specific adresses) ? 

Japan is my favorite country for food. I love everything about Japanese cuisine - so much thought and care go into the making of a dish. Every detail has a purpose, down to the texture and even colors. My favorite thing to have in Japan is onigiri, which is a rice ball with different fillings, sometimes wrapped in nori (roasted seaweed). I love the tuna or salmon-filled ones!

What is your favorite picture and why ? 

This shot from Paris is memorable. I was super jetlagged at that time, and since I woke up early I took one of the first trains to eiffel tower. It ended up being a great decision since the place was empty at that hour and I was able to take my time and eat my macarons in peace. During the day, the place is so packed by visitors that it's hard to get a good photo.

Where in the world do you plan or would you want to eat next ? 

My immediate travel plan is to go to India for a wedding, which definitely will be an interesting experience! I love Indian food too, so I'm looking forward to have some authentic food. Aside of that I'm going to Bali at the end of the year to spend New Years there. Bali has always been a favorite of mine for a chill out destination, and since I grew up in Indonesia I also speak the language fluently. So it's just going to be an easy travel.

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Check out her website