After the death of her father, Jinna Yang turned her seemingly perfect life upside down. The 20-something New Yorker ditched her high-paying job, luxury apartment and long-term boyfriend to travel the world with an unexpected companion: a cardboard cutout of her father. Yang joined HuffPost Live to talk about her journey.
Yang admitted that her father's death caused chronic depression, and that she needed something to jolt her out of her fast-paced lifestyle. Inspired by travel photography on Pinterest, Yang bought a one-way ticket to Iceland. She brought an image of her father along to fulfill one of his life's goals.
"He never really got to travel, and I know that it would have been one of his dreams," she explained to host Josh Zepps. "So I thought that just to have him here in spirit and just to showcase his story, and also just kind of serve as a creative project for myself, I decided to get this cutout made."
First, she needed to work out the logistics of carrying the cutout. "I'm budget-traveling, so I'm not going to pay an extra seat for this six-foot life-size cutout," she said. So Yang figured out a way to score the cutout so that it could fold into a more portable shape.
"It's not like I was running around the airport with this huge life-size cutout. I had it folded up and under my arm so it was a little less strange when you saw me in person," she explained.
Jinna Yang and a cutout of her father at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Jinna Yang and her father at the Colosseum in Rome.
Jinna Yang and a cutout of her father in front of the Louvre in Paris.
Jinna Yang and her father in London.
Jinna Yang and her father in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Jinna Yang and a cutout of her father in front of the Skogafoss Falls in Iceland.
Jinna Yang and a cutout of her father in front of Paris's Eiffel Tower.
Yang and her "father" traveled to Paris, London and throughout Italy and Iceland. Wherever she went, other tourists asked questions.
"It was fun. People smiled, people pointed and laughed and were like, 'What's going on?' Some people were confused," she admitted. "But it was just lighthearted fun. They thought it was cute and funny, and a lot of people came up and asked, 'Who is that? Is this person famous?'"
Once she told them who the cutout was, "they were just really supportive and thought it was a cool idea."
The journey was empowering for Yang.
"Just the fact that I was traveling, I immersed myself in a new culture. I learned to just sit by a lake, or the river in Paris, I would sit there for just an hour and a half, and just be alone, be by myself, have a cappuccino in Italy, eat spaghetti in Florence," she said. "It was just the most life-changing experience, and it really just showed me that I can be independent and I can do this on my own. I can make a commitment to change my life in a positive way."