A Millennial Globetrotter Shares His Backpacking Tips

10 Jul 2017 by Bryan Yeong

Journeying across the globe is a bucket list goal for many – but for 24-year-old Shane Tan, he’s setting out to achieve that right now. By July this year, he’d have been away from home for 10 months and counting, having visited at least 40 countries thus far. In between giving us wanderlust envy with his digital scratch map on Instagram, the globetrotter took time off exploring to chat with us about his travels and what he has learned along the way. 


A post shared by TANSHANE (@txxshxxe) on

Hi Shane! What inspired you to go on this worldwide backpacking adventure?

Not one thing in particular, actually. I’ve just always loved to travel and therefore, I decided to take a gap year and go to places I haven’t been to before.

How did your family and friends react to your decision on travelling the world?

Positively! I am very thankful that my family and friends are very supportive of this trip, despite it being longer than usual.

What’s the most common question people ask you when they learn you’re travelling long-term?

A lot of people have been asking me what’s my current occupation – that I get to travel extensively and simultaneously. However, I’m not working and am currently unemployed.

How are you managing to fund your extensive travelling?

I was working as a freelance graphic designer for 3 years previously and I saved up enough for this trip!

Are there any sacrifices you’ve made to go on this trip?

I would say it’s probably time. I am taking a gap year to travel while most of my friends are in university or in the working industry already.

The packing must’ve been insane. What are your top three essential items to bring overseas?

Yes, it was really tough choosing what to pack for a trip that had no concrete end-destination in mind! Apart from the obvious: passport, cash, and cards, I always make sure to pack a comfortable pair of shoes, a few sunglasses and a trusty camera to document my trip.

Which of these are you most excited for when visiting a new country – the food, the scenery or meeting locals?

They are all beautiful to take in, in their own ways – but if I had to pick one, it would definitely be the scenery!


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Out of all the places you’ve visited so far, which has been the ultimate highlight for you and why?

Japan, no doubt! I’ve been to Japan a couple of times before, but this trip was a new experience for me. I was there for a month and took the opportunity to visit seven different cities. Not only is the country rich in culture and always have the best food, Japanese people are one of the friendliest bunch I have ever met.

Do you keep mementos from your travels?

Yes! I [make sure to] buy a magnet from each city I visit and a keychain from every country.

What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about travelling?

My favourite thing about travelling is getting to see and experience new things all the time. I would say the worst part is having to repack my backpack on-the-go almost every other day.

Were there any challenges you faced while planning this entire trip together?

Definitely! Part of my initial plan was to take the train from Beijing to Moscow, but my 15-day visa in China was expiring and they couldn’t approve my Russia visa on time. Thankfully, I was quite flexible with my trip so it wasn’t really difficult for me to come up with a plan B. Eventually, I booked a one-way plane ticket to Czech Republic, before making my way through Europe.

On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the most, how much do you miss home in Singapore?

I’d say a 9… I was really homesick during the Chinese New Year period especially. The one thing I miss the most back in Singapore is definitely my dog, Rocky.


Day 160, Split — Final stop in Croatia, Good morning Splitttt!

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You also upload your own travelogues of each country you visit on YouTube. Do you shoot spontaneously on the go, or plan your destinations to film?

Yes, I do! I’m not a professional filmmaker though, and I’m still learning. As for shooting plans, it really depends! Most of the time it was spontaneous, but there were a few cities where I went to a specific location to film as I did my research and knew I wanted to fly my drone to take an aerial shot of the place.

What’s your best travel tip?

Sign up [for an account] at Couchsurfing! I love Couchsurfing as it helps you to connect with the locals quickly. I have stayed with a few locals during my trips and met some of them for dinner. Once, I even participated in a local event in Hungary! I’ve forged a couple of good friendships from Couchsurfing since, hence I highly recommend everyone to use it.

In your opinion, how should one be more careful to avoid dangerous situations when travelling alone in a foreign country? 

I’m quite thankful that I’ve personally never encountered anything dangerous yet… but to be safe, do try to avoid going out late and carrying a lot of cash on you.

In your opinion, what are some traits to have to be a good traveler?

Having an open mind, being flexible to last-minute situations, and being bold to try new things without compromising one’s safety.

Being a seasoned explorer yourself, how would you advice others who are planning a trip around the world?  

Remember to pack as light as possible! I’ve sent a lot of unnecessary things back to Singapore, which was very troublesome and time-consuming. And try to avoid winter season – the days are so short and you’d have to lug around heavy sweaters and coats.


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Any interesting stories that happened on your trip?

The most interesting thing that happened is definitely meeting Yavuz. I met him on Couchsurfing and he hosted me in Vienna, Austria. He is a broadcaster and he invited me to his radio show one night. I was his special guest for that night and we discussed about racism, feminism and LGBT issues in Asia and Europe live [on air] and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve done so far!

What is one important lesson you’ve learnt from embarking on this journey?

Being more independent. Stepping out from my comfort zone after a long time forced me to rely on myself more and trust my own decisions.

Photo Credits: Shane Tan 

Keep up with Shane’s travel adventures on Instagram and Youtube!

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5 Ways To Stand Out At An Audition

4 Jul 2017 by Bryan Yeong

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 3 months since we were introduced to our fresh faced finalists of this year’s Teenage Gorgeous You! With the grand finale happening soon, let’s rewind the tape back to the TGY! auditions held at Kaplan Wilkie Edge, and recap the winning qualities that our finalists thoroughly impressed us with. 

Being Persistent And Resilient

Don Amyn (1)

We were greeted by familiar faces at our auditions with returnees Don and Amyn giving TGY! another shot after missing the cut during previous attempts. But both hopefuls returned with newfound confidence and better knowledge of the audition process, sailing through the auditions with ease. You know what they say, “If at first you don’t succeed…” Don and Amyn are real-life examples of how persistence and hard work will definitely pay off! 

Having A Spontaneous Spirit

Opening up our TGY! auditions to walk-ins as well as pre-registered contestants, we were looking forward to welcoming impromptu sign-ups on the day itself. And boy, did we enjoy meeting brand new personalities, such as charismatic Maya, who blew us away with her trilingualism! Needless to say, she aced the round thanks to her quick wit and affable spirit, making it through as a finalist to watch. 

Being Game For Anything


Our female participants flexed their girl power at the auditions but the boys didn’t let the limelight fall solely on the ladies! Stepping up to the plate to prove their mettle, the guys shook off their inhibitions and engaged to the fullest. With their boyish charms and a sprinkle of self-deprecating humour, they kept us thoroughly entertained at their interview responses. Honestly, what would TGY! 2017 ever be without ’em? 

Letting Their Confidence Shine Through

(From left: Vivien, Derrick, Jessica, Syahira, Tyler, Chloe)

Besides getting to know our contestants better, we also put them to the test in front of the camera, where they were instructed to give us their best take on an #OOTD. Many (including 6 of our finalists above) rose to the occasion, delivering on-point shot after shot clad in this season’s trendiest – ripped jeans, street-ready kicks and all! 

Having Oodles Of Personality


Apart from glamming up the Kaplan campus with their Instagram-ready shots, our participants had to shake off any camera-shyness to wow us with their answers in a personal interview. We grilled them with questions that served to reveal their true personalities beyond the snazzy IG filters – after all, true beauty lies within and having a glowing character is undoubtedly, if not the most, vital criteria. Most of them, like the ever-bubbly Joyce , won over the judging panel with their engaging personalities and creative, yet thoughtful responses – just check out Joanne‘s answer as to why she joined TGY! 2017 below!

Who do you think will be the next Teenage Gorgeous You! 2017? Do you have a favourite finalist you’re rooting for? Let us know in the comments below!

More Teenage Gorgeous You! 2017 related stories: We Ask Youths About Matters Close To Their Hearts. Here’s What They Shared!How Many Skincare Myths Can You Debunk?8 Millennial-Approved Things To Do At [email protected]7 Ways To Style Your Sneakers Outside The GymMillennial Pickup Lines That Will Up Your Dating Game6 Types of Millennials You’ll Spot At A Cafe 

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How To Google Your Way To Better Search Results

3 Jul 2017 by Charis Chiang

According to the Internet, there are an estimated 2.3 million Google searches per minute, and you’re probably one of them. Whether it’s looking up the best places to chill or simply doing project research, we’ve compiled handy tips for you to navigate vast search engines like a pro.

Google’s main call to fame has always been its search engine – Google search. Fast and user-friendly, it remains the most used search engine in the world. But do you know how to optimise Google search beyond typing in words and simple phrases? We show you several easy shortcuts for a smoother (and faster) search experience.

1. Search Within A Website

google in-site

There may come a time where you need to search for content from a specific website. But instead of having to pull up said website to use their in-site search function, you can actually retrieve the results straight from Google by typing this shortcut in your browser: “<insert search subject here> site:”

For example: “interview”

This command retrieves specific content from your website of choice; in this case, any content with the word “interview” in it). 

2. Reverse Image Search

You may know how to search for images via Google’s image search function but did you know the reverse also applies? This function is available for major browsers such as Google Chrome, Fire Fox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Simply upload the image from your computer browser or right-click any image on Google and select “Search Google for image” to retrieve entries from related topics to the image.

3. Browsing For Alternatives 

This trick might come in handy for those who are searching for similar sites. Instead of trawling through the Internet trying different search phrases, simply type in “related: <insert website here>” and let the search engines do the work for you by sorting out alternative sites with similar content. This could refer to any types of websites, from your favourite webstores, to that highly niche research site. 

4. Using The Right Words

When you are using Google search, try to use words that will appear on the websites you are searching for. This will make it easier for search engines to locate informative sites. For example, use proper search terms like “how to relieve tension headaches” instead of typing in “my head hurts”, as most credible sites and articles would use formal language instead of casual tones like the latter, which are seen and used most in personal blogs/sites. 

5. Clear Out Irrelevant Search Entries

Doing a Google search on a jaguar (the animal, not the brand) might understandably pull up irrelevant entries. But you can narrow your search by applying restrictions to your Google search to eliminate unwanted info. Simply put a minus (-) sign in front of the word you’d like to leave out. In this case, typing “Jaguar -car” will leave out any car-related entries. Got more tips on how to level up your Googling skills? Let us know in the comments below!

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Celebrities, politicians and the Internet-famous are often thought to be the only ones who can make an impact on society. But the truth is, you don’t need a huge following to have a positive influence on those around you. As such, for the 7th and final challenge of Teenage Gorgeous You! 2017, we had our finalists participate in the ‘I Pledge’ challenge, in which they shared about issues closest to their hearts and pledged to spread good vibes and all-round Internet positivity. 


“I pledge to advocate against self-harming”

Amyn was 15 years old when he reached for a razor blade. Bullied from a young age, Amyn bore the emotional scars from years of name-calling and emotional abuse at the hands of cruel bullies. Seeing no way out, he started self-harming – the only outlet he thought was able to relieve his insurmountable stress and frustration. “It wasn’t that I didn’t have any friends. I just didn’t want to share my problems because I know that they too had their own issues and I felt it wouldn’t solve any of my problems. Besides, I didn’t know if they would listen to me wholeheartedly – I didn’t want my problems to be talked about with other people.” The self-harming continued even after he enlisted into the army. “Even though the bullying and name-calling lessened, I continued because it affected my self-esteem and anxiety levels.” It wasn’t till Amyn started to attend SAF Counselling Services at the recommendation of his platoon sergeant that he started to see a positive change. Becoming fast friends with two of his army mates also helped him tremendously, “The good thing about my friends is that they don’t do negative things. Instead, they encouraged me to channel all the negativity into doing something positive.” Under their good influence, Amyn rose through the ranks and was promoted to a Corporal. “I’m really thankful that I met my friends. If not, I think I might have continued to cut myself till now.” Having been free from self-harm for 3 years, Amyn finds himself much happier. “I’m surrounded by friends and family members who are really supportive,” he adds, “This is not the end. You guys can change yourselves [for the better], seek professional help or even talk to someone you can really trust. There’s no point in self-harm. It won’t help to [solve matters].” 


“I pledge to adopt, don’t shop”

“To this animal, his life begins and ends with you. You are trading your sadness for his happiness, giving him a life of bright colour, at the expense of your heart.” Chloe shares her rather poetic thoughts on what it’s truly like to own a pet and animal adoption. “Every pet owner can definitely recall the burst of excitement that comes with bringing home a new addition to the family… You’ll truly understand the meaning of love when you see how much it appreciates your attention. Your heart will be beaming with satisfaction at the fact that you’ve given this animal a place to call home.” Urging those who might be thinking of getting a pet to consider adopting an animal instead, Chloe interviewed volunteers from an animal shelter who gave insights on animal rescue and shelter life. The most important takeaway would be that rescue animals can be every bit as loving as a store-bought pet, and there’s no reason not to give an animal a loving home and a second lease on life! 


“I pledge to help those who need my assistance”

With playful mannerisms and sunny good looks, the fact that Derrick is a qualified nurse takes many by surprise. Dedicating his free time to taking care of sick patients over the years, Derrick has nursed his fair share of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases like stroke and cancer. He has even witnessed life and death situations. “Back then, I was in charge of taking care of a male patient who was paralysed. He wasn’t able to communicate with me, even if it was to tell me if he was in pain or whether he wanted to relieve himself.” Derrick shared, “One day, while I was getting ready for work, I received a call from his family informing me that he had just passed away. At that point of time, I felt very sad but I had to stay as professional as possible.” Instead, he controlled his emotions and comforted the patient’s family.

Bringing up his desire to inspire others to help those who need assistance, such as people with disabilities or the elderly, Derrick added, “We don’t know what it’ll be like in the future. [Right now], we are still young, mobile and able to take care of our daily needs independently. Who knows if we’ll need to depend on others’ help one day?”


“I pledge Internet positivity” 

Embodying the phrase, “there’s power in numbers”, Don brought back all his good friends who’ve lent him a helping hand throughout the competition. Each of them pledged to spread Internet Positivity in various ways: “To be kind and mindful that your words will have an impact on another person”, “To give back to the society in whatever way that you can”, “To let everyone know that they can be beautiful regardless of whatever shape, size and colour they are.” As for Don? “Believe in yourselves and don’t let anyone’s words bring you down. Focus on the good and don’t worry about failures. Instead, worry about the chances you have missed because you don’t even try. All of us have our own insecurities. Learn to embrace it and you’ll find yourself leading a happier life.” 


“I pledge to be confident of who I am”

 Lending her voice and creativity to this challenge, Joanna and her friend Tessa recorded a self-composed song titled “Less than Perfect”. “We wanted to do something different so we decided to do an original. This piece touches on the need to have self-confidence, in the hopes of reaching out to you guys, or to those who are feeling a little low. It is also a timely reminder to ourselves that we are perfect, just the way we are.” We’ll leave the lyrics below, so watch the video and sing along! 

Wipe away, those saddened tears
Don’t let a bad day bring you down
It doesn’t mean your life will always be this way
What’s that, they always say
You’re worthless, you’re no good
Don’t you listen, just listen to me

Push them aside,
Keep them away
Cause it’s you that matters anyways
Don’t you ever feel, less than perfect

Are what makes us humans
Keep your head held high and soar the skies
Don’t you ever feel, less than perfect

Look at the mirror, and what do you see?
Just a trampled, ugly, version of me
Make that count, just breathe, do you see what I see?
Close your eyes, just believe, there’s no bad you, just ugly dees
Forget them, make em’ scram,
Don’t you ever, feel, less than perfect


“I pledge to #StopHating and #StartLoving”

We’re all guilty of tweaking our photos, be it slapping on certain filters or photoshopping our ‘flaws’ away. After all, it’s all about what looks good on the Internet, right? Wrong. “The most important thing is to always be yourself, and be the change to spread positivity and love to yourself and the people around you.” Joyce shares, “[I didn’t know] how important it is to be yourself till i was older. I was always trying to be someone else because they are so great, so beautiful, so inspiring. Hence, intuitively, I wanted to be them. I wanted to be loved by the internet readers. But, this isn’t the way to go. All these while, I am trying to be someone else just because I felt so lousy about myself – It was tiring trying to live someone else’s life.” Joyce added, “I got bashed by hurtful comments on the Internet. And those comments can heavily affect a person’s [life]. Back then, the Internet had determined the ‘standard of beauty’ an influencer needs to have. And I, had nothing that matched that standard. So, I began to heavily Photoshop all my photos – to the point where I couldn’t even recognise myself just so that I can match up to that beauty standard.” 

Realising that living to society’s standards was not the way to go, Joyce decided to stop her extreme photo-editing and to start living life on her own terms. “No more trying to copy styles, no more trying to be [someone else]. I truly learned how important it is to be yourself, and not care about how others look at you. You call the shots and you determine what you want your life to be. People will love you for who you are!” She finishes, “Will you join me to #stophatingand #startloving? The internet is a safe and fun place and we shall not pen down hate comments but comments that can light up someone else’s life.” 


“I pledge to be myself”

For TGY! challenge 7, Vivien took the opportunity to share an issue close to her heart, about being true to one’s self and not being afraid of being judged. She had come across an online article titled, ‘Top 10 Regrets People Have Before They Die’. The one that affected her the most was also the top regret people had (according to that article) – that they wished they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, and not the life others had expected of them. “I believe all of us can relate to that on some level. And at times where we feel like we don’t fit in, or when we are afraid of being judged, we unknowingly allow society to control how we should behave or be like.”

Vivien goes on to encourage those watching to always stay true to themselves, which includes pursuing their talents and skills. As a dancer herself, Vivien had faced certain doubts, “I have had my fair share of ups and downs as a dancer. I often doubt my ability to “qualify” as a dancer. Most of the time, dancers around me are growing and improving fast – they dance well and look good effortlessly. On the other hand, for me it is just a constant struggle to do well, look good and feel good in dance. I was so afraid of how people will look at me.” Choosing to reenact a dancer’s POV in her video, Vivien adds “But like what Joanna (a friend of mine in TGY2017) said, ‘the love for dance never, never dies’. Although the thoughts of me being bad at dance or not being cut out for it still comes and goes, I’ve learnt to let go and enjoy the process! Be yourself and keep on doing what you love!”



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“I pledge to support female rights”

Gender equality is a huge topic to tackle and while we in Singapore are considered fortunate as compared to our female counterparts in other parts of the globe, there are conversations to be had and changes to work towards. Shira makes her stand passionately, “This is the face of a feminist. I will not allow myself to be shunned, objectified, belittled. Why should I succumb to nonsensical mindsets where I am not capable of many things, because of gender and colour? Why should I be kept unseen and unheard by the world when I have so many words? Us girls, will fight back. Don’t get me wrong, feminism isn’t a radicalised mindset. I pledge to support our rights worldwide.” 

More Teenage Gorgeous You! 2017 related stories: How Many Skincare Myths Can You Debunk?8 Millennial-Approved Things To Do At [email protected], 7 Ways To Style Your Sneakers Outside The Gym, Millennial Pickup Lines That Will Up Your Dating Game6 Types of Millennials You’ll Spot At A Cafe

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Easy Ways To Reset Your Body Clock

29 Jun 2017 by Bryan Yeong

The June holidays are over and it’s back to reality! If you’re finding it difficult to bid farewell to all-day binge-watching sessions, sleepovers with the BFFs and the freedom to snooze whenever, here are some handy tips to help you switch back to ‘school mode’, pronto. 

Readjust Your Bedtime

No more staying up till sunrise just because you know you can sleep in the next day. Make it a point to change your bedtime back to its regular timing, ensuring you’ve estimated enough hours of rest for yourself in preparation for the day ahead. It might take a while to accustom yourself back to your normal sleep timing, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you won’t feel comfortable snoozing any later.

Cut Out Napping

It’s not about the quantity of sleep you have, but the quality – and having spontaneous naps throughout the day is the easiest way to mess up your nightly sleep cycle. Sure, they can be irresistible – especially on chilly afternoons with rain pattering at your bedroom window – but don’t give in! If you’re in desperate desire of a snooze however, it’s wise to keep it to 20 minutes and below.

Stop Having Distractions

For all you nocturnal creatures of the night, we totally get it when you abruptly function best at dusk and launch into a storm of activities just as the rest of the family are preparing to hit the sack. Get rid of all distractions – put your laptop away, resist the urge for bedroom dancing, say ‘goodnight’ to your group chats – to shift your focus to be solely on getting a good night’s rest.

Stick To A Sleep Schedule

Switching up your bedroom timing is one thing, but sticking to an optimal duration of rest is another. Ensure you have sufficient hours of slumber each night (studies share that seven to eight hours per night works best for most), and refuse to allow any situation to result in otherwise. So that means no more late night movie screenings and supper sessions…

Avoid Late-Night Snacking

While we’re on the topic of food, putting away with late-night hunger pangs will also help you sleep better. Stay away from food, especially caffeine found in coffee, tea or soft drinks after dinner, as they can stimulate your mind to keep you up. Sleep it off instead – the last thing you’d want is insomnia the night before an important day to stay alert for!

Get In The Mood

Try as you might, but feeling your eyelids gradually getting heavy won’t be as easy without the right setting. Set your room to be the right temperature, treat yourself to a nice, warm shower, and cosy up in your sheets as your prepare to doze off into your dreams awaiting.

How are you preparing to reset your body clock? Let us know in the comments below.

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