About Steph from The Pink Backpack
Hi, my name is Steph and welcome to 'The Pink Backpack', my little corner of the web! I’m a 30-something year old researcher and solo female traveller with a knack for misadventure.
I‘ve been attacked by a chimpanzee in Tanzania, drove a 35,000£ car rental into a ditch in Scotland, got food poisoning 10,000 ft up a mountain in Colombia and nitrogen narcosis 120 ft below the ocean in Belize.
I’m basically the modern-day hybrid of Bridget Jones and Indiana Jones - my life is full of super awkward moments and crazy adventures. For your entertainment, I write about them here on my blog.
At my personal expense, you might enjoy reading about the time "I tried to be a fashion blogger".
Why start a travel blog?
I’m originally from a town in Ontario, Canada called London (yes, there is a London outside of England). In 2015, I left my cushy lifestyle in Western Canada to go back to school for my PhD in global health.
Before starting the program, I took a three month pause to "find myself" in the most spiritual place I could think of....India. I stayed in a yoga ashram, tried a silent meditation retreat, hiked the magestic Himalayas, slept under the Rajisthani stars and in the Punjabi Golden Temple complex.
While I didn't discover the meaning of the universe or my purpose on Earth, I did reach a new-found state of presence I was eager to hold on to. I launched 'The Pink Backpack' and my instagram account shortly after, as a way to still feel connected with travel and the most authentic version of myself I'd found on the road.
I never imagined these platforms would actually open doors for me to travel more, meet people from all around the world, get my writing published and help pay my way through school!
I am very passionate about writing and believe everyone who enjoys writing should start a blog. You (yes, you) have a unique story to tell! That's why I created a simplified guide on how to start a blog in 5 easy steps.
What to expect here?...and why should you stick around?
If you are looking for luxury travel information, or detailed itineraries, you won't find those here. I write about destinations and adventures I have personally experienced from the lens of a solo female backpacker, which means my content is typical budget friendly and geared towards the thrill-seeking traveller who isn't afraid to get their hands a little dirty.
You CAN expect to find a mix of storytelling, honest truths and authentic information on destinations I have visited and of course the odd ridiculous/entertaining tale from the road (because let's face it, my life is a series of misadventures).
My goal through blogging is to provide you with accurate information and real representations of destinations, so you have access to the information you need to travel safely.
My goal through solo female travel is to challenge the narrative on what women can and can't do on their own, hopefully inspiring other women (and men) to live their travel dreams too!
How can I afford to travel SO much?
PLOT TWIST: I'm actually not rich. I don't have a trust fund or sugar daddy.
It might surprise you that I travelled the most while in University, as a "broke student".
How did I do it? I took advantage of every single funded academic opportunity to travel that I could. I did a semester abroad in Australia, a clinical placement in England, an internship in Tanzania, and fieldwork in Kenya. In early 2018 I moved to Tanzania to conduct my doctoral research project for one year.
I'm basically an expert on student travel after 11+ years of university, which is why I wrote a post on how you can travel for FREE as a student.
As for my other adventures? I pay for my travels, just like anyone else…I work hard and save up money (TBH: I've done some pretty crazy things to afford travel).
I also travel as a backpacker, which means I am budget conscious and take advantage of deals when possible. If you are just starting out, take advantage of my list of travel discounts and freebies.
You might also want to check out my post on about how I afforded to travel as a PhD student, which details the specific combination of strategies that have worked for me to travel to 50+ countries and 6 continents.
Why solo travel?
I took my first solo trip in 2012 at the age of 24. A lot of my friends had just started their post-college jobs and were paying down student loans, so travel wasn't their priority. Flash forward 7 years and now my friends are buying houses, getting married and starting families of their own. If I waited around for someone to travel with, I would have never travelled at all!
Truthfully, after my first solo trip, I’ve never looked back. I love the freedom it offers. Solo female travel can definitely be challenging (read my rant in “Yes, I’m single. No, I won’t marry you”), but I also find it to be self-empowering and transformative.
In total, I've explored 51 countries and 6 continents.
I've travelled solo through most of Europe, India, Colombia, and Ethiopia. In 2018 I backpacked 3500 miles overland from South Africa to Tanzania and then overland around the largest lake in Africa....and guess what?
I was completely safe and I've never been happier!
New to travel?
If you're still with me...well bravo for getting through all that!
Let me tell you my friend, travel (especially to somewhere that is very different from home), can be overwhelming.
I totally get it...it's always scary to step outside your comfort zone, but I can assure you that it is so worth it. Travel will change you and the way you view the world.
If you're not sure where to start, I recommend trying the following resources:
That's all she wrote
Please feel free to reach out at any time with comments or questions and find me on social media @thepinkbackpack.
Cheers and thank you for reading!