Feature Friday | Stephanie from Big World Small Pockets
Feature Friday with Future Friends
I strongly believe that people who love to travel are the best kind of people. This series will introduce you to some of the amazing women travelers with whom I have been fortune enough to connect. Women travelers who are overcoming adversity and crushing societal norms are a huge source of inspiration for me and I believe their stories will inspire you as well.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? When and how did you start traveling?
Hi I’m Stephanie, creator of travel blog Big World Small Pockets. I’m originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands (that’s a tiny Island off the south coast of England!) but haven’t really lived there since I was 18 and left to start traveling. Since my first adventure backpacking in Southern Africa at the tender age of 18, I haven’t managed to scratch the travel itch away. I’ve stood still at times to study and save, but have always flown off again as soon as I could afterwards! I’m currently working and traveling upside down in Australia, where I’ve met a lovely boy to adventure with!
Describe the moment you fell in love with travel in as much detail as possible. Where were you? Who were you with? What did you see, smell, hear? Transport us to that moment.
I was lucky enough to have been taken on many family holidays as a child, so I always blame my parents for my itchy feet if they start inquiring when I’m going to settle down! I can remember one trip in particular when we visited the Greek Island of Rhodes. I was probably around the age of 9. I vividly recall driving to a different beach each day in an open-top jeep we had rented. The feeling of the wind in my hair as we wound through those tiny whitewashed villages against the blue sky backdrops has never left me. It was the beginnings of an enchantment with freedom. Once at the beach, my brother and I would snorkel and spot fish in the calm, clear waters to our heart’s content. It was a trip of great discovery, a time when, as a child, I become aware and excited by the existence of new and different worlds.
Where is your favorite place in the world? What stands out about this place that makes it your favorite?
So many to choose from, but when asked this question, I can’t help but always give the same answer and that is Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. At only 1 sq km, this tiny drop of paradise sits in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Central America. I stumbled across it in 2011 when I was backpacking through Latin America. Enticed by the white sand, crystal clear waters and coconut palms swaying in the breeze, I planned on staying there a week, but ended up living there for a year! During that time I become part of this small island community, working in a café, renting a house and volunteering at the school. I also learned to scuba dive here and made many lifelong friends. That little island found its way through every crack in my heart and lodged itself there. Filled with happiness, I learned and grew so much in this beautiful place that it will be always have a special resonance for me. Everyone I know who goes here loves this place. The locals are so friendly, the nature so beautiful and the mangoes so sweet! It truly is an undiscovered Caribbean paradise for a backpacker budget.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from traveling? How has learning this lesson helped you in your life?
Traveling has taught me to become very self-reliant, independent and to be happy in my own skin. This is a powerful lesson indeed. When you are out in the world where everything and everyone is unknown and new, you are forced to stand on your own two feet. This could mean facing fears you have about meeting strangers, talking in new languages or discovering things you really enjoy in life rather than following the crowd. This automatically gives you more confidence and self-esteem. It reminds you that the only things stopping you achieving are your own fears or laziness – you are then less inclined to let these hold you back.
Have you ever traveled solo? If so, what was the best part of the experience? If you haven’t, why not?
I’ve traveled with friends, lovers and solo and all are different and special in their own ways. What I like best about traveling solo is the utter freedom you have; the uncompromised time and space to develop yourself, to follow your own path. Nothing will empower you more, or allow to discover more inside yourself and that is one of greatest gifts you can give to the world.
If you could give one piece of advice, about anything, to a large group of people, what would it be?
No one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time in the office. Simple, but true. I read this quote in a wonderful book written by Lama Surya Das many years ago and have never forgotten it. It is a great reminder of what is important in life and a great anchor for me when I need to make choices about what to do or how to spend my time and money.
Be sure to check in every Friday to meet other awesome women travel bloggers and future friends! If you follow a female travel blogger that you love, please send suggestions my way so that I can reach out to her! If you are interested in being featured yourself, please shoot me an email: [email protected]