Nara, you started to travel at 18: is there such a thing as being too young to travel independently? When does someone know she's ready to travel?
Yes, I was 18 when I traveled Europe alone and many people thought I was too young, not experienced, and not mature enough to do so. I don't think being young is that much different from a middle aged person traveling. If you plan to travel alone, you need to have confidence in yourself (that can be when you're 18 or 35 years old). Once you have confidence, traveling will help you grow your character, personality, and independence. When you're on your own, your begin to realize that everything is up to you, so you start to make smart decisions and that all comes with experience. I believe that once you have the confidence to travel alone, do it! Only because it will show you who you are as a person!! You get to know yourself very fast and well!
What top 3 pieces of advice would you give women 18 and under who want to travel on their own?
What has been your most meaningful travel encounter? Who did you meet who marked you the most?
Tanya: Wow, I met so many people while traveling that it makes it very difficult to find the most meaningful one. I've always most connected with solo travelers because they are so much more open than those traveling with friends. A shout out to Vinnie (Brazil), Marcel (Tanzania), Marie (Tanzania), Caroline (South Africa) and to the many others I met in the last 8 years.
Nara: I don't have a particular meaningful travel encounter or person who has influenced me the most, only because I have met many individuals who have all shared a small part of my travels that were meaningful in one way or another. Every travel experience has been very different and I have come across many interesting people that have influenced me in some sort of way.
One of your blog posts mentions solo travel to Africa. What was that like?
Tanya: I traveled to Tanzania solo last year and absolutely loved it! I was really excited to travel solo again after Brazil but I must admit that it was my first time in East Africa so I was a little nervous. What I loved the most was my experience with the locals in Moshi. They were all so nice and interesting to talk to and spend time with. The proudest part of the trip was reaching the Kilimanjaro summit but my experience getting there wouldn't have been the same without the people I met along the way. The scariest part of the trip was when I got altitude sickness. I was in the middle of climbing a mountain and I felt like my head was going to explode. It's the only part of the trip where I wished I was close to my family.
What is the most unusual place you've ever visited?
Tanya: Chinatown in Bangkok was an unusual place for me (I can't imagine China!). There were so many people in the streets, it was so chaotic. I guess it's not unusual when you're used to traveling in Asia but Thailand was the first country I visited on the continent so I guess that's why I found it unusual back then.
Nara: Fez, Morocco was by far the most unique place I have ever traveled to. I remember walking through the market streets, better known as the Medina and feeling overwhelmed, culture shocked and bewildered all at the same time. It was the first time I really felt like I was in an unusual place. I liked the feeling, not only because was it was a learning experience, but that it was first time when I knew how much I loved traveling.
Have you ever been disappointed by a destination?
Tanya: Hmm, I wouldn't say that I was ever disappointed with a destination but what I did learn over time is not to have high expectations when you travel because it avoids being disappointed. But nevertheless, I would say my most recent trip to South Africa. It's truly a beautiful country and although we had a great time, I felt like there was something missing. I hope to return in 10+ years and experience the before and after.
Nara: Madrid was a little disappointing only because it wasn't as unique as many other European cities I previously visited. I already saw so many palaces, city squares, and gardens, prior to this city that my expectations weren't very high. I do think if I visited this city during another time, I would have found it much more interesting. I believe it's not always the destination that makes it disappointing, but it's the time when you experience it.
What is your travel ambition? As many countries as possible, certain countries, a region, a travel theme?
Tanya: Honestly, with a 9-5 corporate job in the IT world, it certainly isn't about visiting the most countries. Given my limited vacation time, I would say my ultimate goal is to visit an exotic destination every year. By exotic, I mean countries that most people would love to visit but never make a priority.
Nara: My travel ambition is to explore as many countries as possible so I can share those travel experiences to encourage young people to travel.
To continue to share my personal experiences with others and of course, to give the opportunity to other young travelers to feature their travel stories.
You can read up on Nara and Tanya's adventures regularly on their blog, Offtrackbackpacking.com.
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