Name & Age? Sarah Graves, 31
Where's home? Los Angeles CA
What was/is your last/current trip? Yosemite in early July. Going to the Adirondacks in early Sept.
What got you started? Girl Scouts I guess. I've always loved being outside. I always played and spent as much time out side as a kid and loved camping with the Girls Scouts.
How do you pay the way? Online marking. I do SEO, which is a job that can be done remotely, so I don't need be in an office or a specific city.
What's always on your packing list? Tent, sleeping bag, and hiking boots. Everything else can be replaced or bought on a whim.
What’s the last thing that blew your mind?
Havasupai. Oh My God. It's the most beautiful place on Earth.
By land, by sea, or by air?
Land - so that you can stop and see everything along the way.
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? Camping always.
What's your travel pet peeve? People who don't respect the planet. People who litter or destroy the natural beauty of a place.
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? I'm not always solo. But when I am, people are very welcoming. I think they're intrigued as to why I'm out there by myself and curious to hear my stories.
What scares you? Leaving things left unfinished. There is an entire world out there to discover and explore and I want to see as much as possible while I still can.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I have a bracelet that someone special gave me that says "Never the less, she persisted". Whenever I feel like giving up or turning back or get down on myself, I look at that bracelet and remember that person and think about what they would want me to do or say to me if they were there right now.
Worst memory: Almost going into shock after accidentally hiking 18 miles. I didn't correctly plan out the trip and was low on food and water and was fighting the sun going down. When I finally got out and into the car, I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn't get warm.
One unforgettable memory: Playing cards with a local man in Fiji. We were on an island and there were no boats until the next morning. He taught me the local card game Hearts and we played for several hours to pass the time. Turns out his daughter died that night while we were playing due to a heart complication. He had no way of getting to her because there were no boats, so he sat with me and played this game (I think to take his mind off of it).
Bravest memory: Jumping off of a waterfall in Fiji. It was a good 10-15ft drop from the ledge to the water, but you only live once and it's the only chance I've had to have that experience.
Culture shock moment: Walking through the village in Havasupai. This is an Indian reservation. It's in the US, but doesn't feel like it. The locals here are so poor, their homes or so modest, there are wild dogs in the street, and yet less than an hour away are booming cities.
Best reason to talk to strangers: To learn about other's life experiences and get you outside of your bubble. Everyone's life is interesting in some way and there is something to learn from everyone. Strangers can give you insights and recommendations about the area you're visiting and also are a great way to open yourself up to a different kind of life.
How are you different while traveling? I'm less stressed, I feel happier, I'm more care free and open. I'm brighter and have more energy and are more curious about the world.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? It's hard to do both. I want to see everything and am always planning what's next, but I also get so attached to the places and people I meet on my travels. I wish I could visit all of them all the time.
Three things you've learned on the road: 1 - Even the best plans will get ruined. 2- The unexpected stops are often the most rewarding and memorable. 3 - There is more good in the world and friendly people than we are lead to believe.
What keeps you going? The thought of the next adventure.
What's next? Adirondacks, then Tulum! And probably a white water rafting trip in Nevada in between.
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? Oh god, I can't imagine that. I would probably be following in my parent's footsteps and would be working in something that had to do with math. In finance or accounting or something. I'd have way more degrees from school, that's for sure!
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Get out there and do it! The only thing holding you back is you! Start small if you can't afford something big. Just go for a walk in the woods or in your local park. It's amazing how being surrounded by nature can rejuvenate the soul.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? If a loved one needed me to be with them to care for them.