About Me

“The trick was to surrender to the flow.” – Phish

Who am I?

Hello! I’m Laura Nalin, a 28-year-old Pittsburgh native who has been living and working abroad since 2013. While participating in a travel writing program in Lima, Peru in 2010, I instantly became interested in the prospect of traveling long-term. After nearly seven years living in Chicago, I moved to Seoul, Korea in 2013, Auckland, New Zealand in 2016 and currently based in Saigon, Vietnam. I hope to inspire others who are interested in this lifestyle – anything is possible.


Why did I create this blog?

I started Willful and Wildhearted because I wanted to keep my friends and family back home up to date with my travels. Over time it has morphed into an informative space that enables me to write about my experiences dealing with expat life, travel tips and teaching English abroad while continuing to serve as a little corner of the internet for me to reflect and grow as a writer.




A bit about myself:

  • I’ve been in a few food-related competitions including a spicy pepper challenge and tater tot eating contest
  • I have an Advanced PADI Open Water Dive Certification
  • I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years
  • I have a deep appreciation for music and often make playlists related to my journeys
  • I’ve been carrying hot sauce in my purse long before Beyonce sang about it
  • I love the Pittsburgh Steelers more than most people love cat videos. I’ve brought my Terrible Towel with me to 11+ countries
  • If I had to pick three bands to listen to on repeat for the rest of my life they’d probably be Bela Fleck, Feist and the Grateful Dead
  • My favorite albums of all time are Paul Simon’s Graceland and Air’s Moon Safari


Get to know me through my writing:


I’m an advocate for responsible travel:


I love taking photos everywhere I go:


Let’s Collaborate!

My goal is to create a space where people who are just as passionate about travel, expats themselves or those beginning an adventure abroad can feel welcome. With that said, I love meeting new people and would love to connect with anyone who is interested in writing for Willful and Wildhearted or has interest in hosting a guest blogging opportunity for yours truly.

Let’s travel vicariously together. Come find me over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at lauranalin88@gmail.com or head over to my Contact page. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Sandra
    April 17, 2015 / 6:55 pm

    Hi Laura, I found your blog on the alumni fb page and finding it very interesting. I was hoping you can answer so questions for me. I’m about to start my tesl course soon. I was born in Peru but looking to start my teaching abroad in South Korea and then traveling to Peru. One of my questions is, do you know if it’s possible to live in Korea with your partner if the employer provides housing for you? Do you have or know of someone who’s partner has either flown abroad with them or joined them to live there also? Thanks.

    • April 18, 2015 / 11:49 pm

      Hey there! That was actually my original plan as well, but I liked Korea so much that I decided to stay another year. There are plenty of employers who are willing to hire couples and will also provide housing for both people. I know a few people who have done it, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t have personal experience, but my advice is to tell your recruiter you’re interested in that type of set up and they will help you! If you don’t choose to go through a recruiter, you can search for couple-friendly jobs. Hope this helped! Good luck!

  2. August 20, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    I love the picture(s) of the Terrible Towel since my (late) father was a Steelers fan.

  3. October 14, 2015 / 1:24 am

    Hi Laura! I came across your blog and wanted to say hi and let you know I ‘m loving your blog! Your pictures are awesome and love reading about your Japan experiences (I was born and raised there…I may be a bit biased!). Looking forward to seeing more! xo

  4. Wow, I’m glad that I was able to know you from this section. Thank you so much for sharing about you behind this blog. You’re just so lovely and have a great travelling spirit, no wonder that you’ve been to different and amazing place already. Your photos are always stunning and whenever you smile, your positive spirit can really transmit to your reader.

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