This Seasoned Solo Traveler Has Traveled Across 30 Countries In 5 Continents And Shared Her Remarkable Experiences Of Meeting New People And Cultural Immersion
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GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

Steph is a photographer and travel blogger, and the founder of ‘A Nomad’s Passport’.
24th Jul | 10 min read

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    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 Steph, a solo female traveler who usually spends at least 4 months a year traveling.

    Steph is a photographer and travel blogger, and the founder of ‘A Nomad’s Passport’. Originally from Germany, she used to live in Australia and usually spend at least 4 months a year traveling. She is a passionate solo traveler who loves exploring hidden gems and the outdoors in the form of climbing, hiking, and scuba diving.

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    Who Inspired Me To Start Traveling

    I started exploring my own country as a kid and therefore it feels like traveling has always been a part of who I am. However, it is the stories of my grandfather that inspired me to travel beyond the scope of a normal holiday. He traveled all of Europe on a bike when he was younger, and I loved hearing his stories. Hearing his tales always inspired me to do something similar. Therefore, I did not even have to think about it when I got the chance to travel while studying. Ultimately it felt like I was doing what I was always meant to do, so I kept going.

    Most of my first trips abroad were for conferences that I attended on my own, so I was used to solo traveling when I started going on multi-month trips. I think it allows me to form deeper connections with the locals and that it makes it easier to immerse myself in a new culture. Looking back at how everything happened is actually kind of amazing because inadvertently every single twist of faith led down a path that is similar to my grandfather’s. I guess the desire to learn while exploring new places and to travel might be in my blood.

    My Travel Frequency And Activities I Enjoy

    Usually, I travel at least four months per year, but I plan to travel full time. Due to my two businesses that depend on traveling, it is unusual for me to go a month without at least a short trip to another country.

    It is hard for me to describe what I usually do, as I tend to travel with a rather unplanned itinerary. I love asking locals for recommendations or just strolling through the streets until I find a hidden gem.

    If I am in a city, I love eating local food and interacting with locals to learn more about them and their lives. I also tend to explore places with a rich history and amazing architecture. However, I am just as happy in the middle of the Outback where I can climb and hike or on a diving trip in the middle of the ocean.

    Ultimately, I strive to do and see it all, so I can learn as much as possible about every single place I visit and about all the precious places on our planet. I am the kind of person that would rather scrap the rest of my plans for a trip than miss out on something amazing.

    How I Pick My Travel Destinations And How I Prepare For That

    I love planning trips even if I am not going somewhere, so I tend to have a list of things I want to do for my top 10 countries. I spend hours looking through travel guides and reading travel blogs. Therefore, I tend to be spontaneous when deciding where to go next and basically just board a flight whenever an opportunity arises to visit a place I really want to see. Hereby, some of my trips are 3 or more months long, while others are mere weekend trips.

    The Packing Manual I Follow

    These days I rarely travel with more than a backpack and a daypack, so I tend to pack lightweight clothes that can be worn in layers. There is no use in having a big suitcase when you can have so many different outfits by mixing and matching your clothes. My must-have while traveling is my camera gear as my photos allow me to share all the amazing places I got to see with others.

    Safety Precautions That I Take

    I think the most important part of solo traveling is to be aware of your surroundings and to do your research in advance. Every city in the world comes with its own unofficial safety recommendations on what to do and what to avoid, and it is especially important for solo female travelers like myself to follow them. Safety is a subjective thing and if you do not follow the rules, even a country that is considered safe can be dangerous.

    Countries I Visited

    So far, I’ve been to 30 on 5 continents, whereby most of them are in Europe and Asia. I tend to look for off-the-beaten-track destinations like the hidden gems in Australia, but I do tend to visit famous tourist attractions as well. If possible, I visit them early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

    Favorite Memory Of Meeting New People

    I have so many memories of talking to locals that I will always cherish like talking about the meaning of life and happiness with a monk at Wat Pho in Bangkok, but the most fundamental one was in Sri Lanka. I was at a café and started talking to the owner that was watching a rather popular American late nights show. We started talking about world politics and at one point he started talking about the Sri Lanka civil war and how it still impacts the people living there. It was only one conversation, but I learned a lot about the country, its people, and also about life itself.

    What Inspired Me To Start “A Nomad’s Passport” And The Travel Apps I Use On My Trips

    I started out as a traveling photographer and at one point I was asked to write about a trip. I really enjoyed doing it. It made me realize that travel writing was something I would like to pursue, so I started my blog. It allows me to reach more people than social media would.

    Through my website, I can give people all the information they need to plan the trip they have always dreamed of while also talking about traveling in a sustainable and ethical way. I hope that ‘A Nomad’s Passport’ helps people find amazing places they did not know about while simultaneously conveying the message that it is our duty to protect all the incredible wonders of our world. Because what is the use of having an audience if you do not use them to make the place better for everyone.

    I actually spend a lot of time on Google Maps to check out which attractions are marked. Doing so is a good way to find hidden gems. Aside from that, I tend to go with the flow and take detours whenever I feel like it as I work my way through my list of places I want to see.

    Traveling On A Budget

    Most of the time I travel on a budget. I love seeing how little I can spend while still having an amazing trip and doing everything I want to do. These days, I actually write travel budget guides wherein I disclose my own expenses and daily budget, so other travelers can learn more about the costs of exploring the places I have been to.

    While traveling, I have a small notebook in which I write down every single expense. Doing so allows me to see how much money I have spent per day and how far below or above my intended budget I am. If I am in danger of exceeding my budget goal I tend to shop and cook myself to save costs instead of eating out and walking instead of taking any form of transport.

    Cool Stories To Share

    I am a solo traveler at heart, but every now and then I tend to plan trips with groups of strangers. One of these trips was a 3 weeks-long road trip in Australia.

    There were 10 of us in a minibus with a trailer and it was amazing. So many things happened during that trip and thinking about them still makes me laugh all the time, but the one thing that stands out is how amazing it can be to travel with strangers that end up becoming good friends. Planning a trip that long with so many strangers was a crazy idea, but it was an amazing experience.

    I actually traveled through Vietnam with one of the women I met during the road trip and while on Cat Ba Island a local told us, that we were there during the perfect time to seebioluminescence. I always dreamed of seeing it, so that evening we and some people we had met that day left town and walked 2 km to the beach that was supposedly the best one. We did not see anything as got closer to the beach, so we thought it wasn’t going to happen. But we decided to keep going. And the minute we stepped into the water we were more than rewarded. Just like that all of us were swimming in a sea of stars and to this day it is one of my favorite travel memories.

    Challenges I Faced To Traveling Solo

    The main factor that stopped me from traveling more was studying. There was a time in my life when I planned to go into politics and merely take photos as a hobby, so I invested a lot of time into getting my degree.

    Life had other plans for me, so I am going to spend more time traveling in the future with the goal of eventually traveling full time. Due to the current situation in the world, I do not know when, but somehow, I am going to make it happen.

    I actually never faced a lot of the fears that a lot of people traveling alone are confronted with. It never crossed my mind that it would be terrifying to explore places on my own because I always had an example of a solo traveler in my family. If my German grandpa could travel on his own through Europe right after the war – albeit with a fake Swiss flag on his backpack – I could do it too.

    Therefore, my biggest challenge was the financial aspect of solo traveling, learning how to take photos of myself and how to stay within the limits of carrying on only traveling with 5 kg of camera gear and electronics.

    It is so easy to meet new people as a solo traveler, so you never have to be alone if you do not want to be. And as you talk to new friends your itinerary sometimes manages to fill itself because you join people on day trips.

    Advice For Solo Female Travelers

    My main advice would be to do what feels comfortable. Trust your gut instinct when choosing the destination of your first solo trip and then again while traveling. Some countries are better than others for the first trip, so pick the first-time solo female travel destination that appeals to you the most. Do your research and go into it with an open mind. Stay at hostels if you want to meet fellow travelers and don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. Solo travelers tend to be a social bunch so you are bound to find people to hang out with.

    Other cool travel stories you might enjoy! 

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