Since I met Sanna in September last year, she has managed to isolate herself for months in a cottage in the deep Swedish forests and self-published a translation of an English novel. And as of our meeting – months of volunteering in a castle near the Scottish Highlands have come to an end. This is a girl with many adventures in her baggage. Adventures she has been sharing with…herself.
”I am an introvert. It definitely comes more naturally to me to do this on my own. There is so much to gain from doing things this way. Being present, immersing myself in what is really happening, what is around me. My parents travelled with me during my whole childhood so the longing for other countries just kept growing. And this way, I never have to adapt to other people’s wishes and desires.”
Sanna has tried travelling with other people before, and it has worked to some extent.
”I think the perfect solution is what I’m doing right now: Travelling by myself but crossing the paths of some people I know along the way.”
It all started in 2014. Choosing the profession of translating, she enabled herself to work anywhere in the world (read about “digital nomads”). By coincidence, Sanna found a translation conference in Iceland. Before she knew it, a ticket was bought.
”It was just an impulse. I went…and then there was no going back.” Sanna smiles, and I love how she mirrors my own conclusion after my first trip alone back in 2011. She starts telling me about how she now has become more aware of her carbon footprint. ”I think twice about flying, I prefer getting to places by train or bus, when possible.” It suits her next travel plan well, a plan which will become reality this autumn. ”I want to reach East Asia overland, so I am actually taking the Trans-Siberian Railway, and then I’ll head over to Japan and eventually end up in Thailand where my father lives.”
Sanna seems fearless. She admits to probably not being as scared as she should be but changes her mind a little. Situations such as drinking in dodgy areas or following strangers around, she instinctively avoids. ”Although”, she adds, ”I have ended up in situations where I was aware of my gender and the fact that I was the only tourist around. It is easy to feel like people might try to take advantage of you, you know?”
We talk a bit more about fears and I am curious about the most uncharacteristic thing she has ever done: improvisation theatre. Once again an impulse – this one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In her pause, I think about how bravery only exists when fear is present. And while other people would probably call her brave for all the travels, her natural shyness makes the actual answer understandable.
”These past couple of years, so much has changed within me. One of the most important things I have learnt is that most people you meet are really nice if you just dare to talk to them. On my travels, I have found this courage that I never had back home. Here, I don’t have to be ‘the shy one’. Also, one of my biggest struggles is being present wherever I am. During my stay at the castle, I realised that I was actually living here and now instead of planning the next part of my journey. Planning, by the way, is also something I am doing less of nowadays. In the past, I used to make sure I knew exactly where to stay and what to do and book everything in advance, but gradually, I have learnt to let go and allowed more spontaneity into my travels. Over the past few years, I have had so many magical adventures that would never have happened if I had tried to plan everything from home.”
Before we have to leave, she gives her advice to those who are curious about travelling solo:
“Do it! Just act on impulse before you get the chance to think twice.”
If you want to know more about amazing people, memories and places, visit her homepage.