Name & Age? Stephanie Kempker, 27
Where's home? Originally: Lowell, Michigan, USA
Now: Mexico City, Mexico
Forever: Bangkok, Thailand
What was/is your last/current trip? I left the US over 3 years ago, and have lived as an expat ever since.
What got you started? I took my first overseas trip EVER to Thailand. It was meant to be a week... I just never went home.
How do you pay the way? For the first two years of my expat adventure, I worked in an office, in positions related to medical tourism. Now, I am a freelance writer and social media and marketing consultant.
What's always on your packing list? A canga (the Brazilian version of a sarong), my camera, an eye mask, and my iPhone loaded with podcasts and headphones for listening
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? Caldera Canyon in Boquete, Panama. Just gorgeous.
By land, by sea, or by air? Sea!
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? Hostel for the vibe, but a private room for privacy.
I love camping!
What's your travel pet peeve? Other travelers who get annoyed when locals don't speak English.
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? Depends on where it is. Far off the tourist trail, locals are curious. On the tourist trail, people are either indifferent (because there are a decent number of solo girls) or intrigued ("Wow! I wish I could travel by myself!")
While Instagram makes travel look like an endless vacation of sunshine, rainbows, and perfect selfies - that's not the truth. Sometimes being abroad is difficult, unpleasant, and even scary. Sometimes you might even cry for "home". I've been quiet this week, as Tuesday I was admitted to the hospital (a less than pleasant experience though I'm trying to be smiley here) and since release have been on painful bedrest. Today - I'm finally feeling better. Next week, I'll have a series of posts with advice about handling health scares while traveling. Have you ever had a health scare abroad, or do you have any foreign healthcare questions? Please share in the comments or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). #riodejaneiro #travelinsurance #expatlife
What scares you? In travel or in life? ;) I'll stick to travel. Sometimes when the room door doesn't lock properly, or there isn't a lock on the windows... or a creepy guy follows me at night. Then I get a bit scared.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I do what I can to control the situation (for example, in the case of door worries, I put a bottle in front of the door so it falls and wakes me if someone tries to open it)... and take some deep breaths and believe in myself and also the good of the world.
Worst memory: My worst memory is probably the harassment in Rio de Janeiro. There were some days I didn't even want to leave the house. It got overwhelming.
One unforgettable memory: Seeing a sloth in the wild in Panama. It's always been a dream of mine!
Bravest memory: I'm afraid of the dark, and I did a night safari float in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Pitch black darkness, floating down a forest river with nothing but the guide's tiny flashlight to light the way. Eeeek!
Culture shock moment: I accidentally wore two different colored shoes all day in Bangkok and no one pointed it out. I felt SO embarrassed and when I asked my friend why no one told me, it's because she said she didn't want to embarrass me
Best reason to talk to strangers: You never know who will become a best friend!
How are you different while traveling? I am more outgoing and more patient
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? To leave
Three things you've learned on the road:
- You never know what anyone else is going through
- Always dress in layers (or bring additional layers)
- Carry wet wipes
What keeps you going? The thrill of seeing beautiful new places and meeting new people, learning their stories, and growing as a person in my understanding of the world.
What's next? My next adventure is marriage in 2017! But I still solo travel several months out of the year and will continue to do so... forever!
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? Working too many hours in a job that doesn't thrill me, spending too much money and time shopping, and probably drinking too much.
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? If you can speak English and you have a college degree, you have at least one highly sought after and marketable skill (teaching English) in 99% of the world. Don't be afraid to take the leap.
Even if you don't want to quit your job and travel the world, use your vacation days to the utmost and challenge your fears while following your dreams. Don't be afraid!
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? If someone I love became very sick or needed my help in some way.
Follow Stephanie: myqle.com