a group of people posing after a workout

Make Human Connections While Travelling and the World Becomes Your Oyster

For entrepreneur Beverley Cheng, the people she met while travelling helped to shape her path. Are human connections the most important thing you take home from a trip?

What if you show up in Madrid on the busiest day of the year, without your luggage, or a phone, not knowing a word of Spanish? This happened to Beverley Cheng, founder of Born to Sweat, a platform which encourages the strengthening of the body and mind through fitness. What started off as a challenge on the streets of a Spanish city, became a foray into the world of entrepreneurship and discovery.

Being born into a household with parents that lived in lots of different countries, Beverley caught the travel bug young and fell in love with exploring the world. Creating a life where she could travel as much as possible in adulthood shaped many of her career and life pursuits. After her trip to Madrid, she awakened her own entrepreneurial spirit and found a way to merge her love of travel and business with a passion for fitness through her ‘Sweataways’ — a trip where you can get your sweat on while experiencing a new country.

two women running side by side
Fitness getaways are popular choice among travellers to strengthen their minds and bodies while travelling | Courtesy of Beverley Cheng

Fitness retreats or tours where you are hiking, trekking, cycling or moving your body through yoga and exercise classes are emerging as a popular travel choice. These trips allow travellers to experience the benefits of a getaway alongside strengthening their minds and bodies. By focusing on developing a positive mindset, individuals can journey further and connect with other travellers and discover the world in a completely different way.

We chatted to Beverley about travel, entrepreneurship and her trip to Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2019: Sri Lanka.

How do you stay healthy while travelling and deal with jet lag, being on planes and running around?

BC: As soon I get on the plane, I make sure I know the time of the country where I’m landing and adjust my sleep or how long I stay awake based on that. As for working out and eating, I exercise consistently anyway, but when I’m going away on vacation, I’ll make more of an effort to do everything I can up until departure to prepare my body for travel – which means moving a lot and eating well.

Once I’m on vacation, I simply try to walk as much as possible but also have this mindset: it’s okay to take time off to enjoy your life and holiday. I would much rather embrace the culture and local food than miss out on any of it in order to squeeze in another workout.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve experienced while travelling that led to something positive for you?

BC:In my third year of university, I moved to Spain for an exchange programme. I arrived in Madrid during Christmas, at the time of a local festival. My luggage hadn’t come, and my taxi dropped me off somewhere downtown because there were all these parades happening so he couldn’t drive through the crowds to my hostel. It was 10 pm, I didn’t know a lick of Spanish, I had no phone and needed to figure out how to get to my hostel on the craziest day of the year in an incredibly busy city.

After reaching the hostel, and feeling completely out of my element, I cried. Having never been in a city like this before on my own, the first few days were so hard, I was so unsure of this experience and scared. But, I stuck with it, and it became the gateway for me to meet people from around the globe. Madrid exposed me to entrepreneurs for the first time, which will always be the place where my seed for entrepreneurship was planted. Had I not stuck it out and pushed myself to meet all the people I did, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

four women in a black leggings and crop tops stand against a white wall with their arms up in the air
Beverley took a chance and put together a team to bring her vision for the Ultimate Sweataway to life | Courtesy of Beverley Cheng

What was it about the people you met that changed things?

BC: Many of the students I met were all from University of Southern California. We were at this Spanish school together, and they had all these ideas about the things they wanted to do. I remember this one girl, she wanted to start her own fashion line – then I’d meet another person who also wanted to start a business of their own. Their mentality was so different from mine, the world was their oyster, and that’s such a different way to look at your life and what you can do with it. That mentality slowly started to seep into my way of thinking, and it made me realise you don’t have to have a typical nine-to-five if you don’t want that. It took me a while to get to where I am now, but that trip definitely affected my outlook.

What was your last trip, and what made you want to travel there?

BC: My last trip was to Sri Lanka, a country that wasn’t really on my radar, but I got inspired to visit after meeting someone while travelling somewhere else entirely. I was flying back from New York to Toronto, the flight was delayed, and this girl from Sri Lanka who was on the same flight started chatting to me. She asked me if I’d ever visited and shared some pictures with me. I had no idea it was so beautiful. From that moment, I had to go to Sri Lanka!

As luck would have it, I was going to Bangladesh for a wedding already, and it seemed like the perfect time to visit. We tacked it on to our trip and were there for a week.

Sri Lanka is Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2019, so more people will be going there soon enough, what are your tips?

BC: Everything about Sri Lanka is beautiful. Everyone is friendly, good-natured and willing to help you. Use tuk-tuks for a quick and fun way to get around. Spend a few days in Ella. It’s a little bit of a party town, but they balance their colourful bars and restaurants with incredible trails for hiking. And from Ella, you can visit the iconic Nine Arch Bridge you’ve probably been seeing in your Instagram feed for a couple years now.

a girl with her arm up waves across the landscape
Discover Sri Lanka’s Nine Arch Bridge | Courtesy of Beverley Cheng

You need ten days for sure. We only had a week, so I would definitely recommend more days if you want to explore more thoroughly. If you’re on a time crunch (like us), you can rent a car, that’s more of an expensive way to do it – but you can also take buses and trains to get around from city to city. I would definitely recommend trying to hit all the major cities on the coast – I wish we’d had more time, I would have visited Weligama, instead, we just drove through it. It’s an adorable surf town along the highway, and I’d heard really good things from the people we met.

If you can, stay in one of the beach huts in Tangalle, it’s such a spectacular beach, so serene and peaceful, and unlike anything else you can experience in the world. I would advise going now, before everyone else does!

Travel to: Sri Lanka

You work with people to strengthen their bodies and minds through fitness, but many hold themselves back from travelling because they don’t feel capable. What would you say to someone suffering from a bout of insecurity?

BC: If you never try it, then you’ll never know. If you keep waiting for that perfect moment (whatever it looks like to you) to come, it will never happen. This applies to everything in life, including travel, working out, careers, and even relationships. Don’t wait “until the time is right.” Just go for it. If you fail at something, that’s so much better than just saying you didn’t have the guts or confidence to try something outside of your comfort zone. There’s peace in knowing.

I stress this so much to my friends or people who ask me for advice: why would you ever wait until you are ready? I’ve always just gone for what I wanted and hoped for the best. It’s worked out really well for me so far. If I kept waiting until I was prepared, I would never get to where I want. I’ve seen so many people go through this in so many aspects of their lives. If you do this one area of your life, you’ll start using this as an excuse in other parts of your life.

How can travel help you to embrace a mindset that doesn’t limit you?

BC: What inspires me most while travelling is meeting people and hearing about how they got to where they are, wherever that is. A lot of people you meet along the way, have something that they love doing, ask them about it! Connect with the people you meet on your travels because everyone has their own story and something inspiring to offer you.

a woman with sunglasses stands in front of a yellow van with graffiti on it
Travel can help you create a positive mindset | Courtesy of Beverley Cheng

How has travel shaped your passions and day-to-day life?

BC: It’s not something I can put my finger on, but as a whole, travel impacts the way you experience and perceive your day-to-day life, so it can have an impact on everything. I have a brother, we had the same upbringing, but he never travelled as much as me, whereas I explored so many different places. I just felt there was such a clear difference between how we approached things, travel helped me to mature. I experienced the busy streets of Hong Kong, my low moments in Madrid, and learnt about the world, those experiences made me appreciate and value what I have so much more.

My brother recently started travelling a lot, and you can see how much it’s changed him. If you don’t go out and explore beyond the boundaries of one country you hinder yourself. You never get to know, and love, the person you could be.

If you could go on a tour to any place in the world, where would you go and what would you do?

BC: I want to free dive with blue whales. I’m not sure where (perhaps Hawaii) because you need to be in the right place to see them, but it’s the one thing in the world that I really want to do.

Content Editor for TourRadar. Sahar has a hunger for stories, adventure, and culture. When she's not writing or travelling, Sahar can be found flexing her metatarsal in a dance studio.

a girl sitting in front a market stall eating a meal on a low set table
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