At 14, Savannah started a long journey that 10 years after brought her to 100 countries visited, and two travel books – for now – about her experiences on the road. After the successful I grew my boobs in China, she just released the continuation of the family travel adventure, Backpacks and Bra Straps, focused on the travel experiences in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Nepal. In between the final editing and the last details of the launching campaigns, she had some time for an interview about her lessons learned and other interesting adventures. You can also find her on Twitter – @ – on Facebook and on Instagram – sihpromatum#. The photos were provided by the Savannah.
I am an entirely different person as a result of this trip. I sometimes shudder to think what my life would have been without it. I learned so much about the world, people, cultures, history and most importantly myself and my family. I discovered my strengths, pushed myself to achieve goals I considered impossible and learned that dreams are worth following! This is a world full of possibilities.
I learned to appreciate and be grateful for the things I have, which is something I try not to lose. I realized that I don’t NEED all those things I thought I needed when I was living in Vancouver, Canada.
How much did it take to realize the benefits of travel at a young age?
A definite a-ha! moment was coming into Yangshuo on my first sleeper bus, only 5 days into the trip. Looking out the window at the sunrise revealing the bizarre scenery really opened my eyes to the beauty of being abroad. It revealed the excitement travel could bring. Being on the top of a hill in Mongolia at White Lake looking out over the world was another awe inspiring moment, that was about 2.5 months in. Although I certainly had many similar moments that made me stop and think about the unbelievable experience I was being given, I was still trapped within on a roller coaster of female, teenage emotions. The entire trip was a process of learning and discovery for me and I’m thankful now to have had that opportunity.
How did you decide to write the book?
The idea of writing this book was put in the air early on in our adventure, as evidenced in my journal entries I’d written in Mongolia. Once our adventure started developing into something bigger than any of us had ever anticipated, we were constantly being told by fellow travellers that we needed to write a book. We felt that telling the story from my perspective as the reluctant, youngest member of the group was the most unique. I dreamed of writing the book for years before I actually started working on it. During the trip I was dedicated to keeping an extremely in-depth, daily journal. After the trip I had Mom type out my journals then I collected all the blogs and brain stormed with the family to get the base for the first book. After that I just wrote! It took me two years, from age 20-22 to write it. After being rejected numerous times by traditional publishers because of my inexperience and youth, I made the decision to self-publish. What a sihpromatum that was!!! I researched to no end, put all the pieces together; editor, cover design, formatting, printer and the very first proofs came into my hands in September 2012! What a moment that was to finally come face to face with my dream of 7 years!
What are your recommendations for other travellers coping with the challenges of writing? How did you start yourself writing? Do you have some favourite travel writers that inspire you?
If you are feeling sluggish and don’t know where to start, just START. I know this sounds like really unhelpful advice, but that’s what I had to keep telling myself. Thinking and stressing about doing it is harder than just DOING it. Simply sit down and start writing, even if it’s about nothing and you’ll be amazed how stuff just pours out of you. There are times where you will have a complete writers block and feel like you were never meant to be a writer and you ask yourself WHY you’re doing it…. Just tell yourself to shut up and go outside and find something beautiful to look at, get fresh air, go for a bike ride. Get the heck out of the house and feel alive again. Don’t go halfway, you have to go all the way. It will be worth it. But nobody can make it happen except YOU! I tend to read more classics than travel books. My author idol, though not a travel writer, is Diana Gabaldon, I love her writing style and the way she can make you see and smell the scenery around you.
What are your travel recommendations for 2014? What are your plans?
This year I went skiing in the French Alps and visited Cape Verde which was my 100th country! It was a wonderful trip to celebrate my 24th birthday. The rest of the year is fully booked with the publication of my second book in the Sihpromatum series, “Backpacks and Bra Straps”. I’m going on a book tour from October-December to and around Vancouver, Canada. We are planning our next major travels in 2015. Hopefully we will be able to manage a 4-6 month South East Asia trip since I have never made it to that region of the world.
What could be the challenges of travel in less travelled destinations, as a teenager and as a woman?
In some countries the mentality towards women and their rights are very different. It can be a challenge to submerse yourself fully into such different cultures and mindsets without taking offence or possibly insulting locals. Being informed is very important, especially for women.