Having Traveled Over 50 Countries, This Digital Nomad Has Shared Some Of Her Incredible Experiences Of Cultural Immersion And The Importance Of Responsible Traveling
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29th Jan | 12 min read

Table of Contents

    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we are featuring Linn.

    Linn is an avid traveler, always aiming to travel better and leave a positive impact on locals, animals, and nature. Through her travel blog, Brainy Backpackers, she helps other travelers to travel more responsibly. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook. You can also connect with Linn on GAFFL

    Linn A Digital Nomad

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    Traveling Has Always Been In Me

    My parents were backpacking South America in the 80s when they got pregnant with me, so I grew up listening to insane backpacker stories like when they sold their passport to get money for food, got robbed at gunpoint, or when they hiked the Inka Trail completely unprepared (this was way before the trail was controlled like today.)

    Living in Norway with an Italian dad made for long road trips to Italy every summer, sleeping in the car or staying in cheap motels. I guess it’s always been in me. But studying a semester in Seville really lit a spark in me and there was no way back! I believe traveling is the only thing that makes you richer. I know it sounds cliche, but that’s my (and so many others’) reality.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    How Often I Travel And Activities I Enjoy

    Whenever I can. I prefer nature and outdoor activities be it hiking, scuba diving, or anything in between. Other than that, it gives me a lot just chatting to the locals and to other travelers. It’s the best way to learn about the culture and discover off-the-beaten-path places.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    How I Pick My Travel Destinations

    I want to go everywhere. So unless I’ve been saving up for a bucket list trip, like when I went to Peru to hike the Inka Trail, which had been my dream since I was a kid, I often just look up for the cheapest flights I can find and end up in unexpected destinations - and without any expectations, it always turns out great!

    When I worked full time, I usually went on 3-5 week-long trips once a year and then shorter trips around Europe on weekends and public holidays. When I travel full time, I usually stay until I feel like moving on. That could be days or weeks or months.

    Before I go to a new destination I read blogs and guidebooks, especially if it’s a culture I’m not used to so that I know customs, dress code, etc. But often, I go without any idea of an itinerary and just chat to people when I arrive and go with the flow 100%. Those are the best trips.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    How I Pack For My Trips

    I usually pack the night before I travel, and keep in mind the dress code for the destination. I try to pack light but usually end up with some things that never get used. I never leave without my lip balm and my camera. A sarong is also usually in my hand luggage as it’s super versatile.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Blanket on cold flights, towel on the beach, cover head and shoulders when entering temples, you name it.

    Favorite Memory Of Meeting New People Or Exploring With Locals

    Though I probably could have pulled up 20 great meetings with amazing people in Iran, there’s one that’s pretty unique.

    I met Mr. Emami on the plane to Iran and we chatted along about traveling and beyond. He gave me his number so I would have a contact in Iran and asked me to call once I’d fixed my Iranian sim card. I forgot about him for a while before I sent him a message (though I didn’t expect an answer - my western mind was talking!) He called me straight back up and wanted to know if I was well where I was, and where I was going. I told him my next stop and he was excited to let me know he had a friend there that could show me around. I met up with his friend and we hit it off really well and spent several days hanging out, Mr. Emami called regularly to check up that I was treated like a Queen. He also happened to know the owner of the desert oasis I was going to next and made sure I was treated well there too. I never met Mr. Emami on my travels through Iran, but he always looked after me, and even now, a whole pandemic later, he calls me once in a while to chat. I’m convinced our paths will meet again.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Another unforgettable travel memory is all the way back to when I backpacked Australia in 2006-2008 when my friend and I met this dodgy-looking guy from Tasmania, Doc, traveling around in his van. He was heading up to Mossman Gorge to hang out with his Aborigine friends and asked us to tag along. We were a little skeptical at first but as we had our own van, we concluded with leaving if we didn’t feel comfortable.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    We ended up having the adventure of our lives! This dodgy-looking dude stopped seeming so dodgy and became a really close friend. Doc took us to visit amazing people he knew along the coast and we ended up living with the native Rainforest People for over a month and learned so much about their history, their ancestors, natural medicine, and tracking. We were smoked in a traditional ritual to make the ancestors protect us in the rainforest, and had a complete cultural immersion with new friends. This was way before this place became a tourist trap and one of the most authentic experiences with local natives I’ve had during my travels.

    Read more: The Best Budget Travel Tips For Backpacking Australia

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Impact Of Solo Traveling On My Life

    It was freedom! The feeling of making friends wherever I went and though I traveled solo I didn’t feel alone. Of exploring new places, going beyond my comfort zone, and learning that what you see on TV and what it’s really like doesn’t align at all.

    Back in the day, I never thought I would be able to travel solo in my entire life. I went to Australia the first time with a friend and on the second trip we separated and I went solo for the first time to Thailand for a visa renewal.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    That’s when I realized I wouldn’t be alone even though I traveled by myself. I met so many amazing people, some of them I still keep in touch with.

    When I went back to Australia it felt like going home because I had so many friends everywhere that I had met before but I still traveled by myself down the coast catching up with people here and there.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    In Thailand, I ran completely out of money but my grandmother decided to give her grandchildren a good amount of cash for Christmas and that saved me (she had no idea I was broke and stranded in Asia.) I invested the money in a Working Holiday visa in New Zealand as I wasn’t ready to go back to Norway.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    After a year and a half, I went through some personal challenges and decided I needed to get back to having my own living room and TV. That was what I missed the most. I’d been living out of my backpack for years and was tired.

    I tried the A4 life in Norway, which, because of the fabulous wages, gave me the opportunity to travel quite a lot even though I worked full time. But I didn’t feel at home there anymore. It was as if I’d outgrown the life in Norway, so I tried Spain again, which is much more relaxed - and then there’s the temperature! Even living in Spain I’ve traveled all around the world and throughout Spain! I think traveling has just become a part of me, like an arm or a leg, and now I’m off to a nomadic lifestyle again and never felt better about it. I really missed the freedom of being where I want when I want the last few years in Spain. And where the journey continues, no one knows.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    How I Managed Funds To Work And Travel Abroad

    In my first years of full-time travel, I worked in hospitality where I traveled, simply walked into bars and restaurants asking for work and it mostly worked out fine. That way I funded my travels easily. Now, on the other hand, I want to work from my laptop so that I can be completely location-independent.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Luckily, my blog is making some money and I also started a destination hiking blog for Andalucia that’s bringing in some money. On top of that, I work as a VA and will work as an independent contractor. There’s no denying it’s been tough as I started treating my travel blog as a business just as the pandemic hit. And as with all travel blogs or travel-related businesses pageviews and income tanked overnight. I tried and failed a few different projects last year, mostly because I wasn’t passionate about them. But I’ve grown a lot and learned so much through that and through courses that I’ve taken. While my direction might be another in a year or two, I’m always gonna be true to my passion for slow travel, the outdoors, and helping people to travel in a responsible way.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    How I Evaluate GAFFL’s Role In Finding Suitable Travel Companions

    I think GAFFL plays a huge role to solo travelers, especially those who are new to it and might find it scary at first. But I also believe that seasoned solo travelers find value in sharing costs and meeting other travelers when they want to. As a solo traveler, I sometimes feel like being by myself while other times I really just want to hang out and share the experiences with like-minded people. And in the times you want to hang out, it’s awesome to have a platform that can connect you with other solo travelers.

    What Inspired Me To Start My Own Blog

    After traveling and living abroad for so many years, I’ve seen both the positives and the negatives of tourism. Unfortunately, the negatives play a bigger and bigger role and affect local people at the destinations, animals, and nature itself. I really wanted to make a difference and help people to make better choices when traveling. I believe that if I can help people explore this planet in a responsible way, they will spread it on to their circle of people too, and together we can make a difference.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Traveling On A Budget And Managing Costs

    Usually, I’m on a tight budget when I travel. I’m a pretty messy traveler, so I don’t do well with budgeting, etc, but I stay in hostel dorms when I can, spend little money on food (cook in the hostel when possible,) and often travel by public transport.

    For me it’s not important where I sleep, I’m more about experiences and connecting with the locals and with other travelers. That’s when I learn about the destination and get ideas about where to go next. It’s also a source of hilarious travel stories and lots of laughter! And guess what? It’s for free!

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    My Bucket List And Number Of Countries I Have Traveled

    I haven’t counted, but I believe it’s well past 50 by now. I definitely have a bucket list, and it’s growing quicker than what I manage to tick off places. But that happens when you like to slow travel and when you return to the same places again and again. I think the top of my bucket list right now, is Galapagos and the Easter Island (both childhood dreams) and all the Stan countries have made a huge jump the last few years because of the insane hiking opportunities!

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    What It Takes For A Full-Time Traveler To Sustain Travels

    Flexibility and an open mind to go with the flow. Depending on what they do for a living, have multiple sources of income so that if one fails, the others will keep you afloat. We all saw when the pandemic came how fragile your income can be if the industry of your niche collapses overnight.

    It’s also important to manage work-time and fun-time. A lot of people I meet think that digital nomads don’t work and that’s so wrong. Most of us work a lot more than 9-5. It’s just that we do it in exciting places where we can explore in our time off. To be able to do that without getting burnt out, I think it’s important to make a clear schedule for yourself so that you work what you need to and at the same time enjoy your time off properly.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    As a travel blogger (and hiking blogger,) I find it challenging to “turn off”. If I’m out on a hike, I need to record the trek, take good photos of the trail, views, waypoints, and anything else that’s important to include in a thorough hiking guide. If I’m traveling, it’s the same, I always have to make sure I get the pictures I need, go to the places where I want to write about, and so on.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    Sometimes it’s good to return to a place I know well and “turn off” or stay a few days extra. I think this is easier with slow travel. If you travel too fast, it can get exhausting and it’s ok to have days where you do nothing. Just as you would have if you lived in a house in your home country.

    Advice To The Readers

    Go with the flow! Instead of making a tight itinerary, try to make space for things to happen. Make space for meeting new people, going places you didn’t know about, and connecting with the locals. You never know what experiences you’re missing while you’re rushing to your next destination on your list. And always leave no trace and consider the consequences of your actions to make sure they don’t hurt in any way.

    Lessons Learned Through Traveling

    I wish I was more conscious of the consequences of my actions. Especially when it comes to animal tourism. I participated in so many unethical activities including animals and I didn’t always realize. Sometimes I did and felt bad about it but often I was sure it was a good thing.

    Linn A Digital Nomad

    I’ve definitely learned that what goes around comes around. After traveling, I’ve been much more open to giving to strangers without expecting anything in return. When you need it one day, a stranger will save your day! So pay it forward to someone else that needs it.

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL