Actress and independent filmmaker Yin Chang has joined a Contiki media trip to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague for 9 whirlwind days through Eastern Europe. Having only traveled abroad with her family before, this is Yin's first experience joining a tour and traveling solo. We asked her to answer a few Contiki questions before her departure. Check out why she strongly believes young women need to travel, what her favorite travel rituals are, and what she's most looking forward to on her first Contiki!
Give us a brief background on who you are and why you’re excited to travel with Contiki
Hey guys! Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out this Q&A! My name is Yin and I’m first and foremost a passionate human being who loves her family and close friends. I love great food and great company. I make a living as an actor and have recently dived into directing my first project called “STRAIN” that I wrote about bullying inspired by my high school experiences. I am also first-time producing the anti-bullying project along with a wonderful team of producer friends. It’s been a non-stop whirlwind for the past 7 months since “STRAIN’s” initial inception. Needless to say I was very excited to have recently learned about Contiki and am thrilled to be traveling with them. This will be a much needed break for me to clear my head!
Tell us about your previous travel experiences. Who have you traveled with and where have you gone before?
I’ve traveled to several beautiful countries with my family since I was a kid. My Mom and aunts were world travelers growing up, thanks to my Grandpa who is a world traveler himself. My Grandpa is a remarkable and overly accomplished artist with a huge imagination, so travelling and exploring the world came to him naturally. Thank goodness my Mom was bitten by the travelling bug as well!
Coincidentally my family is traveling the same exact day and time that I am traveling to Europe! Normally they travel to Asia or Europe during this time of year but this time they’re going to check out New Orleans as my Grandpa is visiting from Malaysia.
Growing up my parents would take me to Italy, Greece, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and China for vacations with my aunts, uncles and cousins. My mom truly believes in traveling as an eye-opening education that you can’t receive elsewhere.
I was very lucky in the aspect that my parents brought me up as best they could which meant traveling luxuriously. Though it was amazing of them to do so, I have to honestly say that it’s hard for me to remember our travels to Europe because I was so young. With that being said, I want to travel to those countries again and of course explore other countries as well.
What appeals to you most about Contiki trips?
It seems to be safe for young women. I’ve been wanting to backpack on my own but haven’t had the guts to do that yet so this is definitely a good stepping stone. If you’re a social person, love making new friends and love to travel then it seems like this trip would be ideal.
One of my bigger goals with traveling is to visit third world countries and be involved with their locals whether it’s helping their children or senior citizens. One of my best friends mentioned helping out at an elephant sanctuary in Asia, interacting with animals on that kind of level is now another traveling goal of mine thanks to her suggestion. I know it will be a profound life-changing experience where I will look at myself, my country and our world differently.
Contiki tours seem like a sheltered way of traveling where I’m sure they’ll only show you the best of the town. It’s a vacation for sure. I think it’s important for everyone to experience trips like Contiki tours at least once in their lifetime.
For me, it’s a great way to break out of my shell when it comes to socializing. It’s a wonderfully safe way for me to travel on my own with a new group of people and explore the cities together. It will be a great way for me to experience all types of traveling—with family, independently with new friends and altruistic travel.
What experiences do you look for when selecting a destination for travel?
I am open for anything! When it comes to traveling I think it’s best to keep an open mind and ride whatever wave comes your way.
What are you most looking forward to seeing in Budapest, Prague, & Vienna?
I’m excited to check out the food and architecture in all the cities. I can’t wait to visit the museums, Royal Palace and Church of St. Matthias in Budapest. Though I’m not a party person I am a bit curious to check out their nightlife, I hear it’s awesome!
As for Vienna, I can’t wait to check out the Hofburg Palace, the State Opera House and the Swarovski Shop. I’m super excited to have dinner at the Schonbrunn Palace and attend a Mozart concert!
For Prague, I’m specifically eager to try their local knedliky and learn the traditional Polka dance! I can’t wait to check out the Hradcany Castle, Cathedral of St. Vitus and have lunch on a cruise along the Vltava River!
Though I’m not Christian I am fascinated with their architecture of the churches. From the pictures I’ve seen, the churches in all three cities are beyond stunning.
I’m also excited to try out the optional excursions that are available!
What do you feel are the benefits of going on an escorted tour like Contiki?
Most definitely the safety issue, especially for young women. It’s also great to have local Contiki tour guides to show us their cities through their eyes. I’m also excited to know that there will be time for us to explore on our own.
Have you ever traveled solo before?
The closest I’ve come to solo traveling was flying to Malaysia and New Zealand alone. But both times I’ve had family there to greet me. So this Contiki trip is my very first trip alone without any friends or family to rely on. I will be honest—I am quite nervous as I have NO idea what to expect except to hope for the best. I’ve been crazy busy in pre-production and finally wrapping the shooting phase of my anti-bullying film that this trip is actually a much needed escape to clear my mind.
Why do you think it is important for young women (such as yourself) to travel the world?
It’s so easy to get stuck in a habit-forming routine. I am going through a bit of that phase right now. I need something that will shake my daily routine and open my eyes to what the world has to offer. But I specifically want to do it on my own. Though I’m nervous it’s important to push myself to try new things especially if it scares me. I know I’ll come back with a fresh new perspective on life (as cliché as that sounds). I am sure there are lots of young women out there who understand what I’m talking about.
You learn so much about yourself through traveling. It will also make you realize how short life is and how much of the world there is to explore.
To be quite honest, it’s also much easier to travel when you’re younger. The older you get, the more responsibilities are stacked on top of each other– like having kids. With that comes more financial responsibility so it wouldn’t be as easy to pick up and travel alone without having to worry about anyone else financially.
I encourage every young woman (and man) to break away from their normal everyday lives and go on an adventure overseas. Who knows, it might give you that courage to quit your job and dive into your true passion after you return home. Or it might make you realize how independent and brave you really are so you wouldn’t have to rely on anyone. Or you might have such a profound experience that you’re forced to take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities.
The experiences will all be different for everyone but I am confident that it will all be positive ones.
Do you have any favorite travel rituals? Do you collect any souvenirs while on the road?
Food. I MUST try authentic dishes that are local to each culture. Local dishes are infused with so much culture and history, it’s truly a story in itself. It’s probably more of a habit but I’ll consider it a ritual 😉
As far as souvenirs go, I’d love to bring a piece of culture and history that is unique to the specific country. Or a souvenir that reminds me of something specific that happened during the trip.
What do you hope to learn about yourself on this upcoming Contiki trip?
I hope to learn that I’m as independent as I believe myself capable to be.
About Yin Chang:
Yin Chang made her film debut as “Mei Kwan” in Walt Disney’s PROM. Aside from her movie, she is most recognized for her role as ‘Nelly Yuki’ on CW’s Gossip Girl. Chang stars in Lifetime’s new original movie The Bling Ring as “Natalie Kim”, inspired by a true story. Prior to that, she has made numerous appearances on TV shows including NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Love Bites, and ABC’s Six Degrees.
Chang is featured in several publications such as Variety and a spread in Seventeen. She was selected by NYLON Magazine as one of the 45 Young Hollywood stars of the next generation. Hudson Jeans noted Chang as one of the 14 rising young stars of the “Young Hollywood Generation”. Mochi Magazine selected her as one of the 25 prominent young Asian American influences under the age of 25. Chang has also been featured on popular media outlets with the likes of E! News and AOL’s Cambio News.
Chang, born and raised in New York, is the eldest of three daughters. She is of Taiwanese and Chinese, Malaysian ancestry.