A huge part of travel for me is the people I meet and the friends I make in the places I get to experience. Some of, well most of my best friends are people I have met while living overseas or travelling and the number one thing we have in common is that we get it. Get what? The whole travel life. The coming and going frequently, the moving towns often and regularly. The face that we will rarely if ever live in the same place for long. And the feeling of saying goodbye/reuniting with each other. So, when I meet people who share this passion and understanding I immediately want to know more about them and where their adventures have taken them. I find myself drawn to these sorts of people even if I've never even met them in real life, enter Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. The whole wide World of blogging has given me the opportunity to (virtually) meet people I would never have if it wasn't for this passion project I have.
June's feature is Stephanie from the Budget Bucketlist. Born in The Netherlands, Stephanie has had one goal in life, to "make the Earth her throne". Ditching the regular 9 to 5 life in search for something bigger and bolder than she knew, 6 years ago she set off to explore every corner of the globe, and has done a pretty damn good job of it so far. She's visited nearly 70 countries so far and learned 8 different languages along the way. Keep on scrolling to find out more of the many reasons she's this month's WanderWomanWednesday.
Alright, tell all these wanderers about yourself…
I’m Stephanie. In another dimension I had a life a lot of people were jealous of. A set of cum laude bachelor and master grades in my back pocket, a long-term relationship, a well-paying management job directly at entry level, a comfortable apartment in a posh city, a car, nice clothes, “stuff”… Many people expressed their desire to trade places with me… and I wondered why. Sure, all these things shaped a very definite and clear comfort zone, and I guess I was happy. But what does happy even mean when life just rambles on routineously, and you can’t even remember if a certain event happened yesterday or 3 weeks ago, because every day looks exactly the same? What excitement can life bring if you can look around you and know precisely what life will look like the next 10, or maybe even 20 years? Stick that ‘comfort zone’ where the sun doesn’t shine, I don’t need it.
Following crowds was never really my thing. I had always made an effort to break away of anything considered normal and never really ‘fitted in’, whatever the context. So why not step out of this version of life society had carefully laid out for the masses? Every exam of life has a different answer paper, so why copy-paste somebody else’s answers? Right. So I broke up with this man whose love was questionable to begin with, gave notice to the house, sold my stuff and gave the rest to the homeless... then I booked a 1-way ticket to Latin America. This was in 2014. Six year later I’m still on the road, full time, having checked off almost every continent and a total of 66 countries (most of them I visited for many months and on several occasions)… experiencing all that I learned from books on a practical level, seeing alternate realities unfold behind third-hand stories, feeling boundaries and stereotypes melt away by understanding (which isn’t always the same as agreeing)… traveling in an extremely low-budget and adventurous manner, hitchhiking, camping, couchsurfing and entirely blending in with locals. This, THIS is the true meaning of happiness. At least for me: a 10/10-score on my personal answer paper
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a full-blooded metalhead. No, I’m not talking Linkin Park or Queen. I’m talking the evilest, darkest, heaviest satanic tunes coughed up out of the burning abyss of hell kinda metalhead.
Did you always want to travel/what made you start?
My mother reminded me that as a child I told whoever listened that I didn’t want to be a princess or fireman, but a captain on my very own ship to see every single country in the world. My nautical skills didn’t develop on quite the same level as my desire to travel, so to say, but here I am: putting that desire into practice (over-land).
How do you decide where to travel to?
I don’t really. I just wing it. I just hitchhike / roam in a certain (entirely flexible) direction and usually spend loads of time in every country I happen to cross. In the rare case I do have my mind set on a certain destination, it’s usually the result of an entirely spontaneous brain fart of ca. 3 milliseconds… and as I loathe people saying they ‘wish’, ‘pray’ or ‘hope’ for something, I in fact immediately turn it into a practical objective. It simply has to happen from that point on.
Do you have any top tips for anyone who has decided to quit their jobs to travel the world?
Stop thinking / doubting / pondering or staring yourself blind on ‘what-if’s’. Just fuck it all and do it. Life will turn out fine. Really.
Top 3 bucket list places you’d love to visit?
All 129 countries I have yet to see. And I will if I live long enough, just watch me. Honestly, there’s not one country not on my to-do-list, but some places I’m prematurely excited about without clearly identifiable reasons are Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Canada.
What is something you wish you could share with your pre-travel life self?
Go now. Not in 2014. Now! Right after having your diplomas in your pockets (as they do make your life a whole lot easier). Don’t waste precious, young, fit lifetime slaving away in an office to serve objectives that aren’t even yours, there are other ways. And stop listening to objections of people who don’t know what the fuck they are talking about as they never tried it themselves to begin with - and because they don’t have the balls to go out and do it, they don’t want you to have it either (really, all those people who are asking you when you start ‘real life’… answer them “the second I packed my bag”). Break away, eliminate external noise and follow your own path.
Best & worst travel moment?
Worst: Definitely an armed robbery where I barely escaped a drug addict gang rape (which is fine, as I did and learned a lot from that experience).
Best: Literally everything else. Even the hard or complicated moments were good, as I really learned how to step up, take responsibility and deal with / fix bad shit on my own, as there is literally nobody around to help you because they’re in another continent. Amazing boosts for personal development.
Have you ever visited a country before that made you think “I could live here for a while?” And did you stay or go, and why?
I honestly never really thought that, as my travel objective lies in the journey itself, in the continuous movement and change of scenery… not so much in specific destinations. I did end up staying periods of time in places, usually related to inspiring (short-term) work opportunities or more often, men. There’s always a time limit of a bunch of months though before my entire being starts itching and I have to go again. I just feel spending too much time in a place that I already know robs me of the opportunity of discovering places I do not know yet. It makes me very restless.
What is one place you’ve travelled to that you would love to live in?
See above answer: none. There are many places I love. So many that pinning yourself down on just one seems a very drastic, illogical commitment for a nomad.
Do you think social media has changed travel, and if so, how has it changed?
Definitely, it just marks the digitalization of all facets of society, in this case in the tourism branch. I guess as a travel blogger I’m part of that development. I must admit I personally hardly read other people’s blogs nor actively follow their social media (but that also applies to pre-social-media travel sources like Lonely Planets, which I avoid) – I only create, I don’t consume. I personally hold the belief that a pure experience capturing the essence of traveling is a 100% uninfluenced one. Why would I go out there to copy somebody else’s exact experiences, to brag with photos a zillion people made before me? I usually don’t even research a place beforehand. I just go and see what happens.
Famous last words for all the wanderers out there…
Make the Earth your Throne [Metallica]
To find out where Stephanie is in the World and what she's up to be sure to click on her social channels below and give her a follow!
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