Steff’s Career As A Digital Nomad & Solo Traveler Started Ten Years Ago Out Of ‘Necessity’
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17th Jun | 6 min read

Steff went on her first solo trip in 2011 and has been hooked on traveling ever since, which is why she started working remotely as a translator and copywriter 2 years ago. She loves beaches, diving, dogs, beer, and random games (like asking would-you-rather-questions) which is why she combined them with her love for traveling and started documenting them on her Instagram account and travel blog

Why I Started Solo Traveling

It basically started out of “necessity”. I initially planned to go to Thailand with 2 friends when I was 19 in 2011 but both ended up canceling our plans and I ended up going alone. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened.

How I Choose Where To Travel Next

I absolutely love summer and the sun, so my travel plans definitely do evolve a lot around the weather. Apart from knowing the visa regulations and checking how much flights and hostels roughly cost, I usually don’t spend more than 10 minutes looking up potential places I could go to. This gives me enough freedom to explore and be spontaneous. I do always make sure to book the first night when arriving somewhere new.

I Try To Travel Often

During my studies and before working remotely, I usually went on 2 bigger trips that lasted for 3-weeks each every year. I also tried to make use of long weekends and squeeze one or two city-trips in. They were all on the budget/backpacking end which always included staying in hostels and exploring a new city/area every 2 or 3 days. 

Since I started working remotely, I spent my summers based in Munich, Germany, and my winters in Bali, Indonesia. This allows me to explore Europe as well as Asia.

I’m honestly up for any kind of activity, from exploring new cities and food scenes to hiking, diving, or going on road trips. It’s always about the balance for me.

I've Traveled To 50 Countries So Far

I checked off country number 50 (Slovenia) in August this year. I honestly love exploring tourist spots as well as hidden gems, although I tend to stay away from crazy, overrun party places like Cancun in Mexico or Palma de Mallorca in Spain. 

One of my favorite ways of meeting locals is and always will be through Couchsurfing. Especially in the US, I met some amazing people that I’m still in touch with, even after 8 years. I got to spend a night on a sailing boat in Honolulu, stayed in a super amazing apartment overlooking the harbor and sunset in Honolulu, went stand-up paddleboarding in Waikiki, and caught a wave while doing it (thanks to my host) all while making a great friend that ended up visiting me in Munich last year. 

Hostels will also always be one of my favorite places to meet people. I met an Australian girl in a hostel in Chile, and, although she left the next day, we managed to meet up over and over again in Bolivia and Peru over the next two weeks. We became such good friends that when I came to Australia 3 years later, we continuously met up and basically explored half the country together.

How I Pack For My Trips

I absolutely love traveling as light as possible and usually always take a backpack because it allows you to be a lot more flexible. My luggage usually consists of about 15 t-shirt/tops, 5 dresses, 4 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of long pants, a towel, and my cosmetics. I always put each “category” of clothes in a packing bag because it makes staying organized soo much easier. 

Absolute must-haves are always my camera and laptop, Imodium (because there is a 99% chance you’re going to need it at least once haha) and antihistamines, and one warm jacket (because bus rides in Asia or South America are incredibly cold).

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Safety Precautions I Take When I Travel

I always like to say that common sense goes a very long way, especially when you’re traveling solo (as a girl even more so). Most people you meet are as sweet and welcoming as it gets but I made it a habit to keep these 2 things in mind. 

  1. Don’t walk home at night (even if it’s a 5-minute walk) and not even when you’re with 2 others. Most people I met that got robbed had it happen to them when it was dark and late, and they were walking home. Especially nowadays, Ubers or taxis are so easily available, that it’s just not worth the risk for me. 

  1. Don’t leave your valuables unattended and be mindful of your belongings/surroundings. Growing up in Germany, I used to sometimes leave my phone on a table or my purse a bit open (so that you could reach in while I was walking). I had to learn this one the hard way by having not only my phone but also my camera stolen.

How I Document My Trips

I started off with a basic camera but soon realized how much I love documenting my adventures and upgraded to a Sony Alpha 6000 with a so-called travel lens (18-200mm) that has an incredible zoom. The camera is absolutely fantastic for landscape shots. 

My personal favorite (especially when traveling solo) is my GoPro, however, because the wide angle lets you take awesome photos and videos of yourself but is also the best for any adventure activities. My favorite video is probably of my Bungee jump in New Zealand. I’m pretty scared of heights and the footage does a fantastic job of showing that on my face. Watching me jump and seeing the pure joy afterwards always puts a smile on my face.

If you want more photos, you can always check out my Instagram (@wouldntyourathertravel)

How I Manage My Costs

Yes, I usually always travel on a budget. During my studies, I never spent more than 1000€ for a 3-4 week trip (for accommodations, buses, activities and drinks) and I got really good at finding crazy cheap flights (like 360€ for a roundtrip from Germany to Brazil or Germany to Thailand). Although I’m not on such a strict budget anymore, I still like to keep track of my expenses and usually always spend a lot less when I’m abroad than when I’m at home.

I learned that one of the biggest expenses is usually beers/drinks because it’s easy to lose track of them. They can and do add up to a nice sum pretty quickly, however, so keeping track of them will help you a lot if you’re on a strict budget. 

Using an app to keep track of your expenses every day is also a great way to keep an overview.

Some Things That Prevent Me From Traveling More

Apart from Corona this year (:D), I’m always a bit torn between wanting to stay in Germany (during the summers) where my family and friends are and wanting to go out and explore. 

Biggest challenge of traveling solo is definitely feeling lonely sometimes.

My Advice For New Solo Travelers

As cliché as it may sound, just GO on that trip you always wanted to go. Don’t wait on any friends, partners, travel deals or the “perfect” break from your job because at the end of the day, those are all excuses. It is sometimes scary to find yourself halfway across the world by yourself, but never once have I regretted going on a trip and I fully believe you won’t either ☺

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