Several Antiguans know of Alyssa Derrick’s Global Gyal travel blog and vlog. What they may not know was what was motivating her to travel around the world.
Her story is that when she was 24, almost 25 years old, she decided that each year until she hit 30 years old, she would live in a different region in the world and document her journey on her blog and then vlog, called Global Gyal.
Her first stop, New Zealand in 2018, followed by Australia in 2019 and 2020, then Ghana in 2021, then Colombia in 2022, back to Antigua for 2023 and continuing to South East Asia in 2024.
Catching the travel bug
A graduate of an International Relations program at York University in Canada, she saved up to go to South Africa in 2016 to get the travel abroad experience she had missed during her time as an undergraduate. While there she met a string of travelers who kept mentioning New Zealand as a must see. It was therefore cemented in her mind. New Zealand was where she wanted to go next. She returned to Antigua for two years to save up funds for her travels there.
As serendipity would have it, six months in, on an afternoon boat cruise in St. Kitts, she met a group of Caribbean women who were all living in New Zealand. This would turn out to be the West Indian network that she relied on during her time in New Zealand when she arrived on February 1st in 2019.
(Alyssa at the Tongorirro crossing in New Zealand)
Alyssa’s time in New Zealand opened her mind to the rest of the world. Growing up in the Caribbean she remarks that “besides the UK and the US…once you’ve conquered the US, you don’t need to focus on anywhere else”. However, going to New Zealand taught her that there’s so much more to the world that she didn’t know. It was then she decided to make the travelling thing a real thing and see how far she could take it.
Impact of COVID-19 on the timeline
In building her Global Gyal brand, Alyssa was ready after New Zealand to check out Australia for a couple of months then move onto South East Asia and explore countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. However, when COVID-19 lockdowns began, she was stuck in Australia for another year as their borders were closed with some of the most severe border controls in the world. That didn’t deter Alyssa. She worked as an au pair in Australia saving money and once the border controls loosened a bit, she made her way to Ghana for a year and then Colombia the year after.
(Alyssa in Sydney, Australia)
As a result of her unexpected year in Australia, the timeline for her quest to live in five unfamiliar regions of the world before 30 years old was now compromised. At the time of this article, Alyssa is 30 years old and has decided she owes it to herself to explore the South East Asia region that she was denied because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
To pivot or not to pivot
So, at 30 years old, where will Global Gyal Alyssa go next? For 2024 it will be in South East Asia. Beyond that, she will decide if she continues to travel and in what capacity. Thus far, her Global Gyal online presence has brought her a steady following in Antigua and Barbuda. Her ongoing work is to monetise her online presence so that it can support her travelling activities.
In each country she visits she is surprised at the Caribbean communities in each. These communities have acted as the bridges into the cultures and people she has sought to expose herself to in each new country and region.
The goal of Alyssa sharing her travels as Global Gyal is to challenge others to get out of their comfort zone and try something new - whether it is to visit a new country or try a new food - it’s just to challenge themselves and what they know. If she is able to inspire that, she feels like her job is complete.
(Alyssa at a coffee farm in Colombia)
Her most inspiring tale is from a traveller from Guyana who follows the Global Gyal vlog, gaining the confidence to move to Colombia while Alyssa was there and being interviewed by Alyssa herself on her vlog. Seeing that her online presence has informed and inspired others to travel and explore beyond their comfort zones, is most gratifying for Alyssa.
(Alyssa at the Black Star Square in Ghana)
If you ask Alyssa what she would have done differently when starting her journeys as Global Gyal, she would tell you she wished she started earlier. She observes that when you’re younger you’re more open to saying “yes” to a variety of experiences and that as she’s gotten older, she finds herself questioning if to say yes immediately or all the time. She also notes that she was very hesitant to start her blog then her YouTube channel because she had convinced herself that she didn’t have the skills to create a website, to write and to video edit.
Even now, she has to remind herself that if she doesn’t completely know what to do, to just start, learn along the way and continue, even if it isn’t perfect. Just start.
You can follow Alyssa’s Global Gyal journey on the following platforms or at her email email@example.com: