How Living in New Cities Helped Me Find My 'Purpose'

living in new cities

At Behere, we’re constantly inspired by the amazing women in our community. We’re thrilled to feature some of their stories and share how they’ve made traveling while working possible. From unconventional roles, to starting businesses abroad, these women have made exploring new places a priority. They share their biggest learnings, favorite memories, and advice for someone thinking about living in a new city for a month.
Today’s Behere community feature, Carrie, is a consultant and writer from San Francisco. Carrie spent the summer living in new cities across Europe, snapping amazing photos and writing her book. She booked her time in Lisbon and Split on Behere, and although she’s returned home, she’s already planning her next adventure. Read her story below!

You’re able to work remotely, what is it that you do?

“While I primarily work as a consultant helping companies with operational challenges, I’m 
also a writer. I’m currently working on my first memoir about travel, love, and the difficult process of trusting yourself (working title “Bamboozled”).

Six-years ago, I was laid off from a job I enjoyed. At the time, it seemed like I had everything – I had spent 15 years working long days for – and should have made me happy. I had a promising career, a condo in San Francisco, and a partner that wanted to make plans with me. And yet, something was missing. Instead of taking the safe path, and against others’ advice, I took the severance from my layoff to pursue a lifelong dream to travel the world solo.

My story is about coming to terms with what we think we want, versus what we really want– as well as my misadventures from Reykjavik to Tokyo and many points in between. 

carrie lisbon

In addition, I’ve been brainstorming new business ideas on how I can help other women transition from their “safe path” jobs, into more entrepreneurial and creative pursuits. I think it’s vital to share success stories and experiences of women living life on their own terms. I met many of these women during my time in Lisbon and Split.”

What was the most important thing you learned while living in new cities?


“I think living in a new environment helps us discern what we think we want, versus what we really want at a lightning-quick pace. Where ever we are in life, it helps right-size our boundaries to shut out less of what we don’t want, and open us to more of what we do want.

Because we can’t rely on our regular structures, environment and assumptions, we have to rely on our instincts and intuition. We’re forced to live in the moment and listen to our own inner voice, versus researching the pros-and-cons of every decision.

For example, if I’m exploring a new, unfamiliar city I have to make split-second decisions on whether a certain street may be safe to walk down at night, or whether a person I meet has good or ill intentions toward me. At home, I have more resources to research these things. I may have friends, family, or coworkers providing me input that runs counter to my gut instinct. But the
more I make decisions with limited input, the faster I’m able to make them and have more confidence that they are the right decisions for me.

On the opposite side, I found myself more open to different opportunities than I would have been at home. I connected more deeply with people at restaurants, in classes, in public spaces than if I was at home among familiar friends.

I learned to say ‘yes’ to things more quickly and definitively because I realized those opportunities were unlikely to re-present themselves. Once I was able to right-size my boundaries to shut out what I didn’t want, open up to what I did, and trust my instincts, I found myself in a travel flow where I seemed to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, hearing the right message.

I experienced so many moments of synchronicity, I feel like I could write a separate book on the topic! Maybe it’s my sequel.”

How did Behere help on your journey?

“Behere helped provide access to communities where I could really feel connected to a place 
and its people. As an experienced traveler, I could have piecemealed flights and accommodations for myself, but I wouldn’t have had the in-depth experience I was seeking without Behere’s help.

carrie croatia

The founders and their amazing team were instrumental in connecting me with people and organizations within the community that shared my interests. As a result, I was able to walk Lisbon’s winding streets with a fellow photographer, continue my meditation practice in Portugal, talk Croatian design with a former NYC fashion industry professional, and even tour an eco farm in a kaštela outside Split.

The options Behere provide are flexible, enabling you to be able to participate as little or as much as you like. There is no one to define what your time in that new city should or shouldn’t be – just resources and people to help along the way. I loved feeling the flexibility to explore and play in my new surroundings, knowing the Behere team was supporting and encouraging my journey.

Plus, their entire team is inspirational. It’s easier to feel inspired when you are surrounded by inspiring people.”

We love hearing highlights from our communities adventures, what was one of yours?

“There are too many memories to choose from!

But if I had to choose just one, it was speaking at my workspace in Split’s, ‘Sofa Series’ event about the power of travel. Beyond being able to speak about my passion, how it started and came together was the perfect application of all the travel lessons I had learned on the road, especially the ones about trusting yourself.

I had gone to Montenegro for three days to relax and write. While I had the opportunity to extend my stay a few extra days – and some intriguing incentives do to so – I had a gut feeling I had to return to Split. There was a party at my workspace that I felt I couldn’t miss.

I should mention I’m not the most naturally outgoing type, so I would be happy to bypass a networking social for a glass of wine with a friend if I was home.

At the party, I had a conversation with the founder, Tanja, and somehow the idea came up that I should talk about my book and travel experience at their kick-off Sofa Series – at the end of the week, no less.

While my initial thought was, “Wow, I would love to share my travel experiences,” it was also joined by thoughts of, “What am I getting into? I have never done this before.”

At home, these more “rational” thoughts may have outweighed the loftier ones, but I decided to trust that I was there for a reason and said yes.

I had prepared notes to talk about how travel helps clarify our self-concept, leads to better decision making, and helps us strengthen our intuition. Now I was being put to the test in not only living it but sharing it with others.

The day of the event, I was nervous. I was used to speaking to clients in a business suit and with PowerPoint presentations, but not to people halfway around the world about my passion! My fears soon dissipated when handed a glass of wine and comfy seat on the sofa.

split carrie

For the next hour or two, I had a dialogue with the most interesting and insightful group of individuals – who also shared their travel experiences, fears, and aspirations. Sometimes as a solo female traveler, I’ve felt like an outsider and that there’s not a place where I comfortably fit in, but among that group I felt at home.

It marked the close of my Croatian experience, but beyond that, it marked a feeling that one can have a sense of belonging and home in a place as far away as Split. And that if we share ourselves openly and honestly, there are always opportunities for genuine connection wherever we roam.”

How did living in new cities affect your work?

“Living abroad improved my creativity and problem-solving skills exponentially.

The break from my daily routine ushered in a flood of new ideas – from novel ways to approach my book to an entirely new business idea. My ideas finally had space to roam and develop. I saw new connections between the various – and at times competing – aspects of my work.

The best part is my creativity hasn’t waned since I’ve returned home. Perhaps it’s because traveling helped me recognize when I’m in a rut and what I need to do to break free from it.

For example, some of my best ideas came while hiking through Marjan Park outside Split. Alenna, Behere’s Split City Host, encouraged me to hike the park with her at day-break one morning, which was 4:30am.

split hike

Anyone that knows me knows I don’t get up at 4:30am for anyone or anything! But at the end of it, I was refreshed, renewed and refocused. I had so much energy to tackle the day and pages of new ideas to act upon.

Now I know when I need inspiration or to view a problem from a different vantage point, I need a long hike. Which is another benefit of living abroad and setting your own schedule. It becomes a little trickier to block your calendar for a 2-hour walk in the middle of the day at a traditional 9-to-5 job – and yet so much more productive at times than 2-hours’ worth of conference calls.”

Finally, what’s your #1 piece of advice for someone thinking about living in a new place for a month?

“Beyond just making the commitment to yourself to do it; travel light.

I mean that mentally, emotionally, and physically. That’s not to say don’t be prepared; but leave behind any expectations about how you think the experience should be.

Allow your best plans to bend, shift, and be arranged. Experiencing a new place is about finding flow and freedom –not checking off a do-to list or seeing certain sites just because you feel the obligation.

Living abroad also allows you to reset some of the less-savory habits and patterns you’ve accumulated. Make a resolution to leave these habits back home. For me, that was creating a new morning ritual that did not include reaching for my cell phone upon waking.

Finally, pack less than you think you need. Pack your bag then unpack a third of it. It makes saying ‘yes’ to last minute excursions easier when you don’t have to schlep (and possibly pay for) that extra suitcase. And I promise you will not miss the shoes, that shirt, the books you left behind.

In fact, you may feel liberated to discover how little you really need to be happy.”

Do you run a business or work flexibly? (If not, we’ve got you covered with our Free Resources). Do you also dream of traveling but feel overwhelmed with where to begin? Booking on Behere helps make traveling to a new city seamless, learn how here.

Connect with Carrie on Instagram @carriewithacamera.

Images and words courtesy of Carrie Breinholt.