1. Okay, Miss Alexis, what was the specific incident that got you to this interview?
I honestly found this interview by accident on a Facebook page I follow – Wandering Women Travel Bloggers. Tina posted in the community that she was looking to connect with travelers who would love to be interviewed about their travels and adventures. She is building a resource for female travelers to help them connect with local women to help them plan their adventures.
2. What has earned you the right to be an authority on this topic?
I have been a traveler my entire life. I did my first international trip when I was 3 years old when we immigrated to the United States. And since then, travel has been a large part of my life and my passion for travel has only grown. In 2017, I circumnavigated the globe on a ship with Semester at Sea for my university study abroad semester. And since then, I have been traveling 4-5 months out of the year. I also moved to Indonesia in January 2020 as an expat to teach English at an English learning institute.
3. What is your brand, your topic exactly about? Why is it important?
I created The Soul Traveler Diaries as a resource for travelers to find their voice and feel empowered to share their narrative. My goal is to help travelers master the art of travel through storytelling. I want to encourage the travel community to not just share the travel tips and travel guides, but to share their authentic and vulnerable travel experiences – the good, the bed, the ugly, and the fucking crazy. Through the power of our words and our stories we can share our travels with the world.
4. How are you implementing this on your travels?
To help me with my anxiety and depression when I travel, I carry a journal with me to help me process my thoughts and feelings. But, I also found it so helpful for me to document my adventures as I was traveling. I have been journaling my travels for over 3 years now and have found it so helpful. But my stories were never shared with anyone other than my family.
On my blog and social media posts, I honestly had no personality in my stories and my travel experiences. I was sharing travel tips and advice, but there was no person behind them. In April 2020, in the middle of COVID-19 and the world in isolation, I decided to make an investment in myself and changed that.
So, with the inspiration of Glo (@glographics), I decided to create an Instagram series – A Traveler’s Story – to share my travel stories. I began sharing stories of near-death experiences, love and happiness, stupid decisions and mistakes, and so much more. I dug into the vulnerable and authentic side of myself and my travels that is not shared with the travel community.
I found that my audience loved the vulnerable and authentic stories of my adventures more than the travel tips and guides I was trying to put out. Sharing a story was more impactful that travel tips that you can now find in every corner of the Internet. But, sharing your personal story about your travel experience or adventures, gives the destination more value and more memorable for you and your readers.
So, I now find myself changing my direction on my blog and social media. I am sharing these stories to encourage others to share their own and to inspire the community to go out and experience the world for themselves
5. What if people took advantage of your tips and steps you are providing? What will happen, how will their travels change?
Sharing our travel experiences through a story will absolutely change the way we look at travel the same way social media has changed travel. Social media platforms, like Instagram, changed the travel industry and changed the way people planned their destinations and adventures. Sharing our travel adventures will do the same thing. We change the narrative from a monotone, list of places to visit or food try, to a powerful story that hooks the community and encourages them to go out and experience those places and food and adventures for themselves.
By becoming a travel storyteller, you put the power back into your words and the experience.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
But it is worth so much more than that. It is worth the endless happy moments remembered, the countless tears shed, and the infinite memories created. Those memories and stories are worth sharing.
When did you start traveling?
I always knew I wanted to travel the world.
My family introduced me to travel at a very young age. When I was 3 years old we emigrated from Canada to the United States, and when I was 4 and 5 years-old, we traveled to Sicily, Italy to visit my dad’s family. We took numerous road trips across the US as a family and we even did a family cruise to Mexico and Honduras.
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a wildlife veterinarian who lived and worked on conservation and rehabilitation centers all over the world (seriously, I don’t know where this ambition comes from).
I visited Spain and France with my high school language classes and traveled through Europe in university. But, it wasn’t until I studied abroad with Semester at Sea in my final semester at university that I was truly bitten by the travel bug. I spent four months circumnavigating the globe on a ship that was my home and my school all in one.
And in the 2.5 years since disembarking from my study abroad journey, I have traveled almost non-stop. I would travel for weeks, if not months at a time, exploring new places and enjoying places I had already explored. I traveled for 4-5 months of the year and would work the other months to pay for my next adventures.
I am very thankful for my parents providing me with the opportunity to travel the world at such a young age and for my ambition and passion to continue traveling that has led me to the life of full-time travel.
Do you remember how you felt when you traveled alone for the first time?
When I was 11 years old, I flew on my own for the first time. And I was so nervous and scared. I knew my mom would be waiting for me at the airport when I got home, but the 6-hour flight from England to Canada was so daunting. Since then, I had traveled back and forth between Colorado and Detroit on my own to head home during school breaks. I got used to the idea of traveling on my own and navigating airports.
But, that nervousness that I had felt at 11 years old came back tenfold when I was preparing for my first international backpacking trip. I was so anxious and not sure if I could do it. I planned out my trip to start off with familiarity by visiting family friends and my best friend.
My first stop was in Seattle to visit old family friends whom I hadn’t seen in at least a decade. I then made a stop in Hawaii for a week to visit my best friend. We had not seen each other in over 2 years and a visit to her was well overdue. Plus, why not go to Hawaii for a week!
By starting off my trip with familiar people and places, it really helped to ease some of my nervousness and anxiety. I also kept a journal. I wrote daily about my thoughts, feelings, and adventures of the day. This really helped me to process everything that was going on and to help calm my mind and anxiety.
Did it completely go away?? No. I had varying levels of anxiety throughout that entire trip. But, I am so glad that I went.
I challenged myself daily to overcome my anxiety and to enjoy where I was. I also challenged myself to step even more out of my comfort zone. I tried new foods, met new people, and slept in hostels or in cars while road-tripping through Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Is there a place where you have been and you would definitely not recommend it for women on their own and why?
To be completely honest, not really. I have been in very uncomfortable situations and walked through some really sketchy areas. But never have I felt that the entire place or city was not safe for traveling or exploring.
Each place presents its own challenges for different people. Some women have had amazing experiences in places that other women have had horrible or uncomfortable experiences.
The best advice I can give solo female travelers is to know your comfort level and to trust your gut – ALWAYS. If something feels off or uncomfortable, recognize that feeling immediately. Do not ignore it and get yourself out. Walk away, make up an excuse, and find a safe place – a cafe, grocery store, shop. Trust your gut and always have your wits about you.
What are your top 5 destinations and why?
The most memorable places I have ever visited are:
Antarctica – It is one of the most beautiful and amazing places I have ever visited. There are no words that could accurately depict the incredible beauty of Antarctica.
Turkey – This was my first big international trip without my parents or with a tour/group. I spent two weeks exploring Turkey with my partner at the time and fell in love with the culture, food, and language. I would go back and live in Istanbul for a couple of months, that’s how much I loved the country.
England – I love the English countryside. The quiet and serene beauty that you cannot find anywhere else. And I have such great memories of spending a couple of summers there with my English family.
India – I love the rich culture, food, language, and beauty. It is full of color, flavor, and adventure. I even attended (partially crashed) a Punjabi wedding while I was visiting family friends in India.
Chile – I also fell in love with Chile, especially Valparaiso, while backpacking through South America this past winter. The culture, the food, the street art, and the people. It has a vibrant and energetic vibe that fils me with a lot of energy and passion. I would love to live there for at least 6 months and dive deeper into the city and the beauty of Chile.
The funniest story that happened to you when traveling?
Well, funny you should ask. One of the funniest things that has happened to me was when I was traveling with my little sister through Europe on a Super Sibling Adventure. We were spending two weeks in Europe and one of those weeks on a Mediterranean cruise.
After disembarking for our cruise and waiting for our overnight train to Paris, we decided to share a gelato ice cream cone. And that’s where things got really interesting.
THAT TIME MY SISTER MURDERED GELATO
“Ice Cream!” I found myself saying out loud. My sister beamed with approval. A perfect treat for the long train ride ahead.
We strode over to the gelato stall facing the Grand Canal. We practically plastered our faces on the glass deciding what flavors to pick. In broken Italian, I ordered mango and strawberry on a sugar cone to share.
As I placed our payment on the tray, a delicious cone was placed in my face. My eyes grew large with excitement and desire. “Grazie,” I bowed to the woman barely tall enough to reach over the counter. She reminded me of our Nonna.
I passed the deliciousness to my little sister and her eyes burst with excitement. She immediately took the first lick and then a second and a third. Moaning in approval of our treat.
I finished putting away my wallet and turned towards the train station. We walked side-by-side passing our gelato back and forth. She was excitedly speaking and trying to lick at the same time. And then it happened.
As she took another lick, her tongue pushed the mango scoop right off the cone and it began to fall. We screamed as I attempted to catch the scoop in mid-air.
The cold and half-melted mango gelato smashed in my hands. We sighed in relief. I looked at my sister as I put the scoop back on the scoop. You know the look. That “don’t ever do that again” look.
We walked into the station, laughing and loudly expressing our excitement of the epic gelato save. I searched for our train to Paris on the timetable. “On Time.” Perfect.
I turned back to my sister and we continue talking. She took a big lick and the mango gave way again, wishing to be free rather than stuck on a cone. In slow motion, I fumbled to catch the mango. It bounced from one hand to another to another and splattered on the cement floor.
My sister let out a loud cry of despair and I cried inside. People turned and stared at our failed attempt to save our gelato. I picked up the splattered mango and threw it in the bin.
Disappointed and upset, we held a moment of silence for our fallen treat.
** You can find this story and so many other travel stories on my Instagram (@_thesoultraveler)**
Call to action
“You can do it!”
My mom texted me after living here in Indonesia for 1 month asking what was my favorite thing I had learned about myself. And my response was “I can do it!”
Not that I didn’t believe that I couldn’t live and work on my own halfway across the world. But, more so that I had just lived an entire month here in Indonesia and I proved to myself that I really can do it. I can reach my goals and dreams.
And you can too!! Whatever it is you want to do, you will find the way to do it if it is founded by a dream and driven by passion. You are going to get there one way or another. You will find the means and the finances and the will. And when you look back on that journey, and at times may have been a struggle as well, you can say that you did it and can still do it to keep moving forward towards your dreams.
I believe in you because You Can Do It! And your story is worth sharing.