Feature Friday | Naomi from Probe Around the Globe
Meet Naomi from Probe Around the Globe.
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?
My name is Naomi from Probe around the Globe and I live in the south of the Netherlands. I work full-time, I have a chronic illness called Crohn’s disease and I’m in a relationship, but I still travel solo. I love sharing my stories via images and travel stories. I started my blog back in 2006 in Dutch, but never went through with it. I recently decided to pick things up in English again and so far I love it. As a child, my parents always went on holiday to the same place. I got a job when I was 15 years old and with my first money, I went to London for a weekend with my brother. After this, more smaller trips and holidays followed. Some years I spend more than 6 months abroad, other years I only travel for a few weeks.
What is the most unique place you have ever been? Share with us an off-the-beaten path location that we may have never heard of! What made you decide to visit this place?
The most unique place I ever been to must have been Mongolia. The place is so isolated and the culture of the Mongolian nomads is nothing like my European culture. I traveled for a week in the Gobi desert and there was nothing, but desolation. It was a truly humbling experience to see how people can get by with so little. We even went horseback riding in Mongolia and there was nothing more calming than riding towards the sunset on the back of the little Mongolian horse. You can read more about my trip to Mongolia here and here.
A place you may have never heard of is Ieper or Ypres in English. This small town in Belgium has a great history going back to the Middle Ages. The city is known for its war history and I had such a good time exploring the city and discovering its history. My boyfriend convinced me to go there for a weekend and I didn’t want to go at first. I don’t really like the war tourism but I found the town has much more to offer. It was like a history lesson in one weekend. You can read more about Ypres here.
What is the most beneficial lesson you have learned from traveling solo?
I’m a bit anti-social. I have trouble functioning in larger groups and trying to be involved in a conversation in a crowd. This has given me many problems in my every day normal life. When I started traveling, I discovered a whole new side of myself. I taught myself to be open and interested in my fellow travelers and because of this, I have met some amazing people. The bond we have formed over travel still exist today. Even though some of my friends are hundreds of miles away and I haven’t seen them in ages, I still consider them my friends. When I find myself in an awkward social situation at home, I try to think of it as a travel opportunity. I imagine myself being in a foreign country and the people I’m with will be my new best friends.
When you decided to travel solo for the first time, were the people in your life supportive of your decision? If not, how did you overcome this?
Luckily for me, my family has always been very supportive of my solo endeavors. I moved out of the house when I first traveled solo, so I just told my parents I was doing it. Over time, they have been worried a bit more about my health and well-being. My dad keeps sending me links about the new Zika virus because I’ll be traveling to South America soon. I do have a habit of sending them a postcard on every trip. Their message board is starting to get really full now.
My boyfriend is nothing but supportive about my solo travels. He listens to my little insecurities and helps me get fit for my next trip. He was the one that said I should go chase my dream of traveling to South America. As he’s not able to come with me, he convinced me I had to do it for myself.
Have you ever traveled somewhere that you did not feel safe as a solo female traveler? If so, where?
I recently had to go to Cologne for work. With the New Year’s Eve attacks just a month past, I was curious about the situation. I traveled by train and arrived at the main train station in Cologne. I didn’t feel unsafe at all. I wrote a blog post about it. I am cautious though. I usually go out in the afternoon, eat something in the early evening and return to my hostel no later than 8 o’clock when I am traveling alone. Or I stay close to my hostel or accommodation when I go out at night.
In your travels, you have likely come across many kind people. What country has the most friendly locals?
I traveled through Tibet and this was such a memorable experience because of the people. Especially the women were amazing. Everywhere I went, they were looking at me. It felt like they wanted to connect with me, like they were curious for me. These women seemed so strong and gorgeous with their indigenous looks. I wasn’t comfortable taking pictures of the people, because I did not know the language to strike up a conversation, but I did manage to find some gorgeous women. You can see my photos from Tibet here.
If you could share one piece of advice with a large group of people, what would it be?
My advice would be: don’t let anything stop you from traveling. I own a house, but put money aside to travel. I have a full time job, but find time to go on longer and shorter trips around the globe. I have a boyfriend, but still travel solo. I have a chronic illness, but I travel when I feel good. I do not want to choose between travel and all the other things that are important to me. I do my best to make all my wishes come true and so can you. You do not have to follow the stereotypical images on Facebook and Instagram to discover your own passion. Traveling opens your mind, your heart and your soul and you can do this in your backyard or on the other side of the globe. You can do it on the weekend or during a gap year. Each experience is unique so you can decide, but make your own dreams come true.
One of my biggest dreams was to go to the Olympics and see my favorite athletes win a medal. Not only did I travel to Sochi when I was very ill, but I managed to get invited to the party and even hold one of the medals. Such an amazing feeling of accomplishment, like I had won the medal myself. Read more about my travels to the Olympics.
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]