Feature Friday | Michelle from Sonderbarmii
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?
I’m Michelle, creator of Sonderbarmii, a 31-year-old legal secretary and based in Hamburg, Germany. I’m half-Indonesian and half-German, that’s why my family traveled quite often to Indonesia when we were children. I’ve always loved the atmosphere at the airports, buzzing with so many people and languages. I think, that’s when I started to love traveling because I got to see so many, new and exciting things!
What is the hardest thing you have experienced while traveling? What did you learn from this experience?
I think, the hardest thing for me was to be separated from my family, especially my brothers. We are quite close and I missed them terribly when I went abroad to study in Japan. On the other hand, I learned to be more independent and to trust in myself and my own abilities to survive in a completely foreign country by myself.
What is the most unique meal or dish you have eaten in a foreign country? What made it so special?
Raw horse meat. We have horse sausage in Germany and I don’t like it very much, so I was very surprised to find it raw on a plate in an Okinawan restaurant as a specialty. I didn’t think I would like it but surprisingly I did!
I guess growing up with an Indonesian heritage, I am less disinclined to try out weird foods. I’ve encountered quite a number of weird meals during my travels, including jellyfish, sea urchin (not a favorite!), crocodile or ostrich meats. I have tried a lot but can’t say I liked everything.
Have you ever traveled solo? If so, what was the best part of the experience? If you haven’t, why not?
I went to Japan by myself and found out that I actually loved traveling by myself. I don’t have to compromise with anyone else, I can go everywhere at my own pace and traveling solo means you are more open to meeting new people. If you haven’t tried traveling solo, you should do it. I think you will learn a lot about yourself because you will be forced to keep yourself company.
Even though I’ve been in a serious relationship for a few years now and we travel a lot together, I still like to go away by myself for a long weekend. It’s my version of getting some ‘Me-Time’, I guess.
In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception that most people have about travelers?
I think the biggest misconception is that many people think you have to be very rich to travel. I have a 40 hour work week and still manage to go traveling, most of the times with my boyfriend and sometimes by myself (I just can’t give up solo traveling for good and why should I?). My colleagues all think I must be super rich to be able to afford that, when in reality I look for the cheapest airplane fares and mostly use airbnb to find a cheap accommodation. It’s not that hard!
I’ve stayed in airbnb apartments in London, Paris, Valencia, Milan, San Francisco, LA and Tokyo and I’ve always had good to very good experiences. The places were clean, the hosts friendly and easy to communicate with, always ready with a tip for restaurants or sights to see and I get to have my own space. Usually these apartments were cheaper than hostels/hotels, too.
If you could give one piece of advice, about anything, to a large group of people, what would it be?
Let me say it with one of my favorite travel quotes:
When you travel remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable. – Clifton Fadiman
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]