I’m Sandra, the Chief Shenanigans Officer at www.thesandrastories.com! I mostly travel solo or with one of my friends. I’ve also nearly completed a masters degree in Leisure, Tourism & Environment so I’m hoping to turn my passion into my work.
My first solo trip is now almost 6 years ago and I do not plan on stopping anytime soon!
TPM: What kind of traveler are you?
TSS: I usually travel solo and I love to get my adrenaline pumping. Ziplining in Asia, bungee jumping in South Africa, and rhino tracking on foot in Zimbabwe are just a few of the examples.
I try to stick to a budget, which can be hard. I mostly stay in dorms and travel using local transport. However, I do love eating out and discovering new cuisines, so that takes up a large chunk of my budget.
TPM: As a solo traveler… What has been your favorite place to travel, so far?
TSS: This is a really tough question. Vietnam will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first solo trip. However, if I could pick one it’s probably South Africa. I’ve been there on two solo trips and lived there for a while to do an internship.
TPM: Why did you decide to create The Sandra Stories website?
TSS: I started The Sandra Stories to stop my family and friends from nagging about it. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Over the last 6 years they have told me again and again that I should start a blog. Last year I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I love writing and storytelling so I’m not sure why it took so long to start.
My main goal is to inspire people to discover more and step out of their comfort zone. There is this weird, special status surrounding solo female travel that I don’t like. It’s completely possible to travel well and safe as a solo female and I want to show that to people. This stigma only increases the barriers instead of empowering females. I chose to combat that by exuding that solo female travel is a normal thing to do.
TPM: I read that you must have your morning coffee in order to function properly. I’m the same way when it comes to Sweet Tea. What is your favorite kind of coffee you have had on your travels and from where?
TSS: It must be the espresso in Rome. I loved that breakfast there was just a croissant and an espresso standing at the bar of the closest bakery. Although I always needed some extra snack to keep me going until lunch time.
A close second is the iced coffee in Vietnam. They use really strong coffee that has been brewed all day, add condensed milk and serve it over ice. Probably not so healthy but it’s delicious!
TPM: Where is your next travel destination going to be? Why?
TSS: Well that’s a bit of a mystery at this stage. I’m planning a short surf trip with my cousin later this summer. We only have a week so we’ll probably head to France or Portugal. I’m also planning to visit a fellow traveler I met in Africa. She lives in Norway and I’ve never been there, so I’m really excited to go there!
The next big destination on my wish list is Australia, but I need to save a little more before that’s an option.
TPM: What can’t you travel without?
TSS: Earplugs, a neck pillow, and a sleeping mask. These make overnight travel and flying somewhat bearable. I usually can’t sleep while in transit, so without these it’s definitely not going to happen.
TPM: How many countries/states have you visited?
TSS: I’ve been to 27 countries. Not bad considering I still need to turn 25, right?
TPM: What do you think is the biggest sacrifice you have done for the sake of traveling?
TSS: I’m still single and that might be related to my travel habits. My family and I recently calculated that I spend about half of the last 2 years abroad. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me, but not everyone sees it the same way.
In addition, I rarely spend money on concerts or big nights out. All that money I spend on the road has to come from somewhere. Again, I don’t mind this sacrifice, but not everyone understands.
TPM: What’s the best/worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
TSS: Best: Bring a change of clothes in your hand luggage and keep a digital backup of important documents. My luggage has always arrived, but my passport and bank cards have been stolen once.
Worst: “Place X is dangerous: just look at the news / my aunt told me / everyone knows that.” Anyone that hasn’t been to a destination cannot give trustworthy advice.
TPM: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about traveling solo?
TSS: You are stronger, braver, and more resourceful than you know. Stop hesitating, start doing!