I’m Samantha, a curious wanderer from Colorado now based in Seattle. I love to travel and have new experiences, preferably adventurous ones. As an adrenaline seeker, I enjoy rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, bungee jumping, hiking, and basically any other outdoor activity. I work remotely part-time in tech consulting, and I am grateful to be able to travel with such a flexible job. Last year I built out a camper van and lived in it for 4 months exploring Canada and Alaska, and now I’m backpacking in Southeast Asia. People are my favorite part of traveling. I love foreign languages and cultures, so getting to engage with locals when I travel is important to me. I hope to continue on and off traveling for as long as I can!
Why do you travel and photograph your journeys?
I take pictures when I travel and share them because I hope that my experiences can encourage other people to travel, especially solo women. Traveling is so essential to expanding our worldview, so ideally my pictures could inspire non-travelers to take that big step and put themselves out there. I also want to empower women to break out of society’s expectations of them and follow their own path, even if it’s not what others want them to do. Photography is fun for me, and maybe one of my pictures will touch someone and impact their life someday, which is all I can hope for.
What is your favourite thing or item to photograph?
I love landscapes, ideally views from high up, such as the sweeping views on the summits of mountains or volcanoes.
What’s your go-to travel hack?
When I go out to bars or clubs at night, I don’t like to bring a purse, so I keep just my phone and wallet in my back jean’s pockets. Then I wear a long-sleeve flannel shirt tied tightly around my waist to cover both pockets so nothing gets stolen.
Got any gear you can’t travel without?
A Nalgene water bottle. I hate paying for water, but there are tons of countries where Westerners cannot drink tap water. So I bring my own empty Nalgene so I can use it to refill my own water at hostels (where filtered water is usually free). The plastic bottles you buy in the country are flimsy and will wear out as they keep getting refilled, but Nalgenes are virtually unbreakable and are good for hiking as well as going out to eat at restaurants where water isn’t free (so you can sneak in your own).
What destination are you eager to go back to?
Iceland and New Zealand. I didn’t spend enough time in either of those and I want to go back to do more hiking and multi-day treks in the mountains. I’d also love to learn to ice climb.
How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?
I never go out to bars by myself, always with people I meet at hostels, preferably a group with at least a couple of guys. I don’t let other people get drinks for me and I will only drink something that I take straight from the bartender’s hand and then don’t set down until it’s empty. It also helps to keep location turned on on my phone and to make sure to check in with friends/family so someone always knows where I am. When I go mountain/rock climbing or on any more dangerous hikes, I tell my mom when I expect to be back and we agree on an amount of time after that where she should take action if I haven’t contacted her yet to say I’m back.
What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local?
Just walk around. When I’m in a new place, I usually stroll around the main part of the town on the first day and talk to locals in shops or restaurants. I ask for recommendations for that area and half the time I end up meeting someone who then offers to show me around for a day.
What’s your favourite word in another language?
Ananas. It just means ‘pineapple’ in French, but I find it really fun and satisfying to say for some reason.
When and where are you next travelling?
I’ll be going back to Seattle after Indonesia for a bit, but this summer I’ll set out again in my van and explore the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia, along with the Canadian Rockies.
Since Day 1 Travel with Jane has been about levelling the playing field for women in Australia. In 2020, we’re taking the fight global. Stay tuned to learn how you can support the women who tackle the gender divide here and abroad.