She’s An Introvert Who Loves Meeting New People: Here’s Why Natasha Left A Career In Finance To Solo Travel Around The World!
Published by GAFFL
Last updated - 12:49 AM
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"Solo travel is the best way to find out who you are, who you can be, and what you’re made of. In our non-travel lives, we can get complacent and too comfortable with who we are, but travel challenges you to go beyond that version of yourself- so, embrace it". - The Boho Chica  

Natasha is a third culture kid, an Indian born and raised in Dubai, who found that travel was a natural fit for someone like her who is perpetually between cultures. She found travel in her early 20s unexpectedly- never having traveled before that and changing course towards it after initially being on a different life path, and blog about it on TheBohoChica.com. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and connect with her on GAFFL.  

Why I Travel

I probably didn’t realize it at the time but looking back now, I guess I was looking for something bigger than myself and the world that I knew and lived in, when I started traveling in my early 20s. I was getting my Masters degree in Finance and I kept asking myself, “What else is out there? Is this all there is to life?” and I had this feeling that this could not be it. So I decided to literally take myself out of the comfortable and familiar and find out for myself.

That curiosity continues today and it’s what makes me travel- I am eager to learn how people live in different parts of the world, why they live the lives they do, what motivates them, what makes them happy, what is important to them in the societies and cultures they’ve built. The more I travel the more I realize that most of us are wrong about other people and cultures- the truth is much simpler, and we’re more alike than we believe. And the differences? They make our world far more interesting- there is so much we can learn from the diversity in our cultures. 

I also seek out nature when I travel- for me, it’s the perfect escape from city life in Dubai. I’m happiest on a hiking trail somewhere in the mountains, whether it’s the town of Mestia in Georgia, along the coast in Montenegro, or a trail in Arctic Sweden. 


Making It In Travel Media Was An Uphill Battle

I admit I didn’t have a solid plan of action when I quit my job. I did have savings from a couple of years of working full-time in Finance, so I gave myself a year to test out whether I could actually make it in a career in travel media. 

One of the biggest challenges I faced was feeling and being unseen. If you’ve noticed, the travel industry and travel media is largely white. It seemed at the time, that as a Brown, desi travel writer, I had to adhere to some kind of style guide that promotes this whitewashed idea of what travel is and what it looks like- that comes from a place of privilege and entitlement that I didn’t have. So my overall growth has been slow (but steady) because I refuse to give up my voice, just to stay visible all the time. 

But I am grateful that I had the good fortune to meet some amazing people in the industry who lifted me up and hired me for my first few big campaigns. That made me realize that my work was speaking for itself, and that my (quiet) voice was being heard by the right people. 

My family didn’t have real concerns about the career change. To be honest, I think they understand that I’ve always been someone who wasn’t afraid to take risks. I make decisions impulsively, but it’s because that allows me to overcome my fears. I’d rather live with regrets of having made the wrong decisions than with the regrets of inaction and wondering, “What if?” 

My family was concerned about my safety when I first started traveling alone. I often travel to remote places to hike, or small towns that might not have great internet (or at least didn’t when I went a few years ago), and so they would panic when I told them I’d be out of touch for a few days or weeks. But eventually, they understood that it was something I needed to do, and that I was being smart about it and taking steps towards being safe at all times.

I'm An Introvert But I Still Love To Meet New People

As an introvert, on the road, I realized that I actually love meeting new people- it’s only that I prefer small groups over big ones, and deeper, meaningful conversations over small talk. This might be surprising to people who think that introverts do not like to meet new people- it’s a common misconception- so I wrote about what introverts are really like.

In fact, making friends while traveling is actually easier for me than at home, because there’s already something that we have in common- our love of travel, adventure, nature or hiking. I often stay in hostels when I travel alone because it’s a great way to meet people. 

I’m still in touch with the friends I made on my very first trip- a volunteer program in Bangladesh. They’ve visited me here in Dubai and I’ve visited one of them on my trip to Copenhagen. That was my first international trip ever- so I’ve shared some fond memories with them, from navigating the crowded streets of Dhaka and staying in a little riverside village, to sipping on seven-layered tea in a small town in the countryside and my very first hike in a forest. 

Over the years, I’ve kept in touch with many fellow travelers that I’ve met, always offering to show them around if they’re in Dubai. I believe there’s something called the “bond of the road”- it’s easy to pick up right where you left off!

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How I Choose Where To Travel Next & The Usual Length Of My Trips

Usually, I’ll have my eye on a couple of destinations that I want to visit in the next year or two. Then, it’s a matter of which place calls to me most, working out the budget and seeing what fits best, and understanding the kind of assignments and content I can create out of it. But mostly, it’s a voice in my head that says persistently: I must go to Iceland (or Greenland or wherever) next. 

I do about 4-5 trips a year, usually a majority over the summer. It varies- it can be every month for a few months, or every 2-3 months. The length also varies- I’ve been on solo trips for as short as a week, to as long as three months. But these days, it’s usually around 20 days at least. 

My Best Travel Experience

It’s unbearably tough for me to choose just one- but I’ll talk about my recent experience in March this year on my trip to Greenland. I am obsessed with the Arctic and Greenland was a life-changing trip. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what it was like to strap on snowshoes in Ilulissat and trek on a frozen sea to get close to massive icebergs- so close that you could touch them, feel their textures and see their colors. That was pretty surreal- it made me tear up while my eyelashes froze, so it was actually quite funny! The cherry on top- we got to see the Northern Lights at our lodge that night. 


My Scariest Travel Experience

In a small town in Nepal, I found myself alone in a guesthouse where I heard anguished screams late in the night. I was pretty terrified about spending the night there- so, I packed my backpack and ventured out into the pitch-dark town looking for another place to stay, all by the only light from my flashlight. Luckily, I did find another place, but that experience taught me to choose my accommodation more carefully, especially in remote towns that you can’t find a lot of information about online. I also wrote in detail about how I deal with fear on the road. 

Biggest Challenges To Traveling Solo

Unlike a lot of digital nomads, I actually have roots here in Dubai, where I live with my husband. I’d probably travel more if I didn’t miss him so much when on the road- but after years of traveling and the privilege of seeing so many places that I couldn’t have imagined I would get to see, I am equally grateful for a person to call home. 

One of the biggest challenges of traveling solo is navigating places where you don’t speak the language. Without the comfort of a fellow companion, you have only your instinct to tell you who to trust, what situations are safe, what to look out for etc, and more so as a woman. 

My Advice To New Solo Travelers

Solo travel is the best way to find out who you are, who you can be, and what you’re made of. In our non-travel lives, we can get complacent and too comfortable with who we are, but travel challenges you to go beyond that version of yourself- so, embrace it.

Leave all your preconceived notions and biases behind. Go out into the world like an empty notebook, and fill the pages as you go- you’ll be surprised by the stories you end up with. Believe in the goodness of people, and you will see that there is more kindness in the world than you were told.

Always trust your instinct. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help when you need it. There is courage in that as much as there is in being self-sufficient. If you’re a woman traveling solo for the first time, you might find these solo travel tips useful. 

Be grateful, humble and respectful, and recognize that travel is a privilege, not a right. That will enrich your interactions with other people, no matter where you go.

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