Another week, another inspiring solo female travel story. For those who don’t know, Women Who Wander is a travel series I have on my blog where other bloggers can share their stories of Solo Female Travel. It’s something I personally have not done enough of but reading all these incredible stories inspires me to no end! This week Amanda is sharing her story on how, after catching the travel bug at a young age, she has managed to land a dream job that open the door to the world of international travel
Amanda was born in Ottawa, Canada, and it’s the place that she calls “home” between international contracts. She is currently working for a local NGO in Sucre, Bolivia, which focuses on teaches young people trades while restoring the historic UNESCO city buildings. Amanda enjoys travel, reading, yoga, wine, and cheese! She plans to head back to Canada in the next few months to reconnect with old friends. To learn more about her international adventures, visit amandacoxdesign.wordpress.com or follow her on Instagram
Dreaming of Far Off Lands
I have always been a traveller. I think it’s in my blood. Other kids dreamed of going to Disney Land on vacation, while I dreamed of visiting Kenya. I wanted to see what the world was like. I wanted to experience new places, new people, new things. When I was a kid, my family would go on the normal sort of vacations. We would spend a week in Mexico on spring break, or visit the Caribbean during Christmas holidays. When I was in high-school, I started branching out on my own, and going to new places that Canadian families don’t often travel to on school holidays.
At 15, I travelled across the world on my own. Although I wasn’t actually going to be on vacation by my own, I did take a bus, two planes, and a train on my own to get from Ottawa, Canada to Gjovik, Norway for my first international camp and my first solo international travel. Before that, I was always a shy person. I was afraid to make phone calls to businesses or ask for help on the street. This experience on my own taught me a bit of independence. It was up to me, and only me, to get there in one piece – and I did it! It was a great feeling of accomplishment to actually arrive, and to say I had done it all on my own. After that, the sky was the limit.
Choosing a Future That Accommodates International Travel
I travelled through Europe on a bus tour at 18, and hopped around the Greek Islands on my own after attending another camp. I signed up to study abroad for a semester in Australia, and organized a road-trip with my mom in California on the way home. Furthermore, I registered for a summer design course in Italy, and road-tripped with my girlfriends across Europe for the summer. After my bachelors degree, I knew that whatever job I would do needed an international element. I chose a design degree that would allow me to study international development at the same time.
I carried out my research in Uganda, making my dream of visiting Africa into a reality. After completing my masters, I have worked for four different organizations on three different continents. Although the companies, positions, and countries were always changing, one thing stayed the same. I was growing, and learning about who I was. I was gaining experience and learning about new cultures along the way. Not all of my placements were perfect, but I don’t regret any of them because they made me who I am today.
Living and Working All Over The Globe
I currently work in international development, which means international travel is part of my job. It’s not the glamorous type of travel that most people hope for, where you get to jet off to Bali for two weeks in first class and stay at a beach resort. The type of travel I do is slow travel. I live for long periods of time (anywhere from three months to one year) in a “developing country”. I live like a local, with an apartment, bank account, local colleagues, and public transport to get me around the city. So far, I’ve only worked in cities, but many of my friends have done similar jobs in rural areas, which have different challenges. Through my luck and hard-work, I’ve been privileged to live, work, research, and study on 6 of the 7 continents (no Antarctica yet!).
With my current job, I’m in South America. Living in Bolivia has a lot of benefits and challenges. Learning a new language, understanding a new culture, and working in a new environment can take a lot to adjust to. However, learning about a new culture and meeting new people is always full of interesting lessons about history, language, culture, clothes, food, and every other part of life. It’s really exciting (but scary) to not have all the answers, and to be constantly learning about a new place. Fortunately, I thrive on this type of uncertainty, even though I was once a “type-A” organizer back in Canada (okay, maybe I still am a little bit, but I’m working on being more flexible)!
Making the Most of my Current Location
One of the biggest perks of my job is international travel. Although I don’t get paid a ton, I do get free flights, rent, and medical insurance provided by my company. This means that my home base is usually across the world from my hometown. Since I don’t get many vacation days, I make the most of what I get! I use holidays, long weekends, Christmas breaks and other opportunity to go on an adventure to a nearby city or country. Since I’m travelling locally, this can be done really cheaply. For example, a weekend trip might only cost $100 for two people, because each bus ride is only $5, the hostel is $10 per person for a night, dinner and lunch are $5 – $20 (with drinks) each, and visiting a museum or other attraction might cost another $5. This means that I can stretch my small budget to cover tons of travel!
I am currently in a placement where I was able to bring my boyfriend along, but my last three placements have been solo. That means that I learned how to navigate on my own in places like Ghana, Bangladesh, and Nepal. I took the opportunity to make new friends, or just travel on my own when the urge struck. It has given me so much independence. I would say my favourite aspect of my career is that it allows me to learn so much about myself and gain a confidence I never knew I had. Even if I never got any work accomplished, learning about myself is definitely worth the years I’ve put in!
Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories
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