Hi, my name is Steph and welcome to 'The Pink Backpack', my little corner of the web! I’m a 30-something global health 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 once accidentally kicked a shark in the head while scuba diving. I mean, in what world do these things actually happen?!
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 an ode to my outhouse.
I'll pretty much try anything if it will make a good story and I'm especially drawn to the unique and unusual.
Read from my roster of favourite experiences so far, or check out my highlight reel below:
-Living in a Medieval village in Switzerland
-Backpacking Africa solo by land (over 4000 miles through 10 countries)
-Staying in a 100 sq. foot Bunkie on a farm with goats!
-Living on a Greek island during the pandemic
Why start a travel blog?
I’m originally from a town in 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, but not before embarking on an epic 3-month journey through India.
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 even 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, and 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?
While you won't find luxury travel information or detailed itineraries here, you CAN expect to find a mix of storytelling and honest truths of destinations I have visited...and of course the occasional ridiculous tale from the road (because let's face it, my life is a series of misadventures).
I write about destinations and adventures I've 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 her hands a little dirty.
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, and most certainly do not have a 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 for one year to conduct my doctoral research.
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, though to be honest 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. You may also want to read my post on about how I afforded to travel as a PhD student, which details the specific combination of strategies that worked for me to travel to 50+ countries and 6 continents on a budget.
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, so joining me on a backpacking journey across Europe for a few months wasn't an option.
Flash forward nearly 10 years and now most of my friends are 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, healing and transformative.
In total, I've explored 53 countries and 6 continents, but who's counting?
For more info on where I've gone, you may want to check out my 2016, 2017, 2018 or 2019 annual travel reviews.
[c*vid obviously derailed travel for 2020-2021 but I am working to create some annual updates in retrospect, stay tuned!]
I've travelled solo through most of Europe, India, Colombia, and Ethiopia.
In 2018 I backpacked solo across 3500 miles from South Africa to Tanzania and then overland around the largest lake in Africa....and guess what?
I was completely safe, I was not lonely and I had the adventure of a lifetime.
New to travel?
If you're still with me...well bravo for getting through all that!
Let me tell you my friend, travel (especially travelling 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:
How to plan your first solo trip
How to take photos of yourself while traveling solo
How to pack lighter in 5 steps
The ultimate women's backpacking list
The best women's daypack for travel
10 ways to Avoid Culture Shock
The Do's and Don'ts of Hostel Etiquette
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!
For business inquiries, please contact me at [email protected] or see my work with me page.