Introducing Silvia from Heart My Backpack.
1. Tell us a little about the story behind your blog.
I’m a little obsessed with fashion blogs (especially from Scandinavia) and would love to have one myself, but I’ve been essentially living out of a backpack for the past two years so I wouldn’t have much to blog about after wearing all five of my outfits. So instead I’m writing about my travels!
2. What has inspired you to live the adventurous life that you do?
After finishing college I moved to Japan to teach English, mostly because I had (foolishly) majored in philosophy and figured there was no way I was getting a decent job in the U.S. with that degree. I ended up living on a remote island in southern Japan and pretty much hating it (it’s hard to fit in in Asia when you’re a foot taller than most people and have yellow hair).
After two years there I had saved about $45,000 so I decided to leave, but I guess because I had struggled so much while making that money it somehow felt tainted, like I could only spend it on something that made those struggles really worth it. For me that thing turned out to be seeing the world!
3. What was it like traveling through Iran alone?
Terrifying. Haha no, actually I loved it!
It’s funny that my blog has gotten the most attention from my posts about Iran – I think probably because Americans aren’t technically allowed to travel in Iran independently (I have dual citizenship and was there on my Norwegian passport) so hearing about an American woman’s time there without a tour is rare – but it was one of my smoothest, easiest trips.
Iranians are unbelievably hospitable, so complete strangers were constantly inviting me to their homes, showing me around, and making sure I was enjoying myself. In fact, I only stayed at a hotel for two nights during my two weeks in the country. It was really heartwarming, especially considering how wary I had initially been about going there alone as an American.
4. What misconceptions would you like to break down in regards to what most Americans think about the “less touristy” places you visit?
This sounds so counterintuitive, but I generally feel much safer in less touristy places. Like, I happily hopped on a plane for Iran and hitchhiked through the Stans, but traveling around Thailand made me nervous! I think it’s because in touristy places the local economy often depends on money from tourists and there are a lot of existing scams or resentments against “rowdy backpackers,” whereas in “non-touristy” places visitors are simply treated as guests.
5. Out of the 60 countries you’ve visited, what has been your favorite?
Nepal. Germany? Egypt!
That’s a really hard question to answer! One of my recent favorites was Tajikistan, because it has breathtaking scenery and the locals are so hospitable, but also because I had initially been unsure about whether or not it was a safe country to travel to and it ended up being one of the places that I’ve felt the safest. I love when visiting a new place shatters preconceptions like that!
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