Meet the Travelettes: whether based in Europe, snapping photographs in Asia, helping refugees in Jordan or volunteering in rural Romania; the Travelettes challenge the notion of a conventional life and chase their passion of travel around the world. Each of the 10 girls that compromise the Travelettes team do more than tell stories; they impact change, run their own websites, volunteer and can be found all over the globe.

Each month, we turn the spotlight on one of our girls and the passions that define their work. This time round, we’re talking to Caroline, who lives in Berlin where she works as a freelance journalist.

Caroline! Who are you?

Hola hola. I’m 24 and spend my days doing freelance writing, blogging and social media work. So life can get pretty unpredictable and is often spent on the road (or on trains, rather). I grew up in western Germany and moved to London for a journalism degree straight after high school. These three years there shaped and inspired me like little else and although most of my memories now consist of working my ass off in three (!) jobs, I’m so grateful for all the times I felt lost, not good enough or overwhelmed because that seriously taught me how to kick ass and not give up (so cheesy, but I promise it’s true!).

I’m super impatient, have a deep love for falafel and am terrible at looking after plants despite loving them dearly. I live for spontaneous photo shoots that don’t follow any rules and there is no other place on earth that fuels my productivity as much as airports. I’ve actually considered more than once to just stay and miss that flight because I know after take-off, writer’s block will be my guest again…

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How did you get into traveling?

While growing up, I would always visit my friends all over Germany and then Europe, so there was barely a summer holiday spent at home. I think my first solo travel adventure was Scotland and I’m actually still really good friends with one girl I met there. Other than that, I can’t remember a decisive moment, it’s just always been a part of me and of the way my parents raised me. We moved around quite a lot, so I never became that attached to a place. A couple of years ago, I’d save up for a trip to the US for six months, today it’s more about coordinating dates and making sure I a) have enough work and b) the Wifi connection will be good enough.

And Travelettes?

I was sitting in my tiny room in Hampstead, London, probably procrastinating from uni work when I sent the email to Katja. That was a couple of months before graduating and I was busy planning what would happen afterwards: Beirut! I’ve been a huge fan of Katja’s photography for ages but somehow knocking on her door for Travelettes never crossed my mind. When I did, she responded saying “Why don’t you just join the team?”, and that was that. I couldn’t believe my eyes and you can guess my answer. The first time I met the whole gang wasn’t until two years later, when we all headed to London for a Travelettes weekend and did a little too much vintage shopping.

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Your top three trips?

That would easily be that month-long trip to Canada with my brother where both of us fell in love with Vancouver and I secretly made the pledge of moving to British Columbia one day… something Kathi will understand I’m sure! I loved the nature (obvs), the warmth of the people there and just how simple life was. Number two would be my trip to Lebanon which opened my eyes to a lot of different issues in the Middle East and also had a huge impact on my journalism and the topics I want to cover. Thirdly, last August I spent two weeks interrailing through Eastern Europe with my best friend where we just had a lot of crazy experiences that would have been little disasters had we gone by ourselves.

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And your most cherished moments?

During a weekend trip to the Isle of Wight, my friend and I were trying to find our hostel (at the other end of the island) when it suddenly started pouring. By the time we found a bus stop, we realized the next bus left in five hours. Whohey. Then, during a school trip to Prague, my girl gang suddenly thought it would be very funny to take off our shirts on a boat and throw them through the air – needless to say, that attracted a couple of dodgy … other boats. Teenage girls are the worst! On a recent trip to Istanbul, a friend from journalism school, who I hadn’t seen in a year, and I did a little interview series where we talked to young Turks about the refugee issue, Erdogan and their perception of the EU. That was in February this year, unfortunately, things have gotten a lot worse since.

Around NYE last year, I spent a week in a hut in Norway (phones off!) with friends and we had such a chilled time reading, eating, sleeping, watching the snow fall from the inside – and just forgetting about the rest. Highly recommended! During a road trip along the Portuguese coast, I was singing along with Paul Kalkbrenner’s Sky and Sand when I got pulled over by the police for driving on a one-way street – the wrong way. The officer was super angry, I was pretended not to speak English and he was kinda forced to let me off the hook. Of course, I didn’t turn down the volume at any point! During the US trip I just told you about, we did a day-long hike in the Grand Canyon and just as we were on our way back up, a huge thunderstorm started to come in and we were already seeing ourselves getting soaked to the skin (would have been bad, we had to sleep in the car that night because we were super broke), but the thunder only started the second we stepped back out of the canyon.

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You just mentioned journalism. What’s your advice on getting in?

Ha, I’m only at the very beginning myself. To be honest, I have been lucky because things worked out relatively smooth (and quickly). I did tons of internships and freelance writing during my degree. If I had to start all over, I wouldn’t do a journalism degree and instead get a traineeship at a paper or online medium. Anyway, by the time I graduated, I already had a portfolio with a substantial amount of clippings and letters of recommendation. I kind of stumbled into “one last internship” in Berlin at a big media organization, struck gold and ended up working in and for the best team I could have wished for. In fact, I think if that hadn’t happened I probably would have given up numerous times already.

Although having moved on in the meantime, I think it is substantial to have a mentor (or more) who already works in the field and can give advice on next steps. My general advice would be though to just write, get your stuff out there, make mistakes, stay humble and then eventually specialize and become an expert on something, be that Snapchat, Greek economy or hilarious dating columns.

And most importantly, don’t be afraid to be bold. Especially with writing, a lot of it is about being vulnerable and sending stuff that means a lot to you to people who may or may not see the potential. That’s flipping scary but a great school. Also, the industry is changing at an incredible pace, print publications increasingly need to produce additional content tailored to social media channels and not everyone is capable of that. So try and jump on that train.

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How glamourous is it really being a freelancer?

Ha. There are only wrong answers to that questions! Sometimes I’m pinching myself because I struggle to believe how lucky I am getting to see, taste, smell and photograph the places I visit. Recently I was in the nicest ever hotel with the comfiest mattress but couldn’t sleep all night because my brain was so busy trying to sort out stuff. Generally, I love having the luxury of spending about half my time in an office where everything is structured and then use the rest of the time for projects I chose or pitch. That balance is vital because having that bit of stability ensures I can pay the bills so even if it’s a slow month for other articles/shoots etc, I can still plan.

How has your perception of travel changed since you started doing it for a living?

I’ve really been getting into slow travel recently because I’ve become so tired of wanting to cross off cities and countries off my list as quickly as possible. My idea of traveling is still backpacking, being broke, staying at dodgy hostels and sleeping on night buses. That’s what teaches you important lessons and enables you to connect with other people.

I’m also a little skeptical by the endless sugar-coating and romanticizing of everything travel. I do think it’s a great privilege we shouldn’t take for granted, but simply “quitting your job and traveling the world” isn’t gonna solve all your problems or turn you into the happiest human being, and it’s also not necessarily gonna make the world a better place. Traveling can (and perhaps should) be bloody uncomfortable sometimes and I love it that way.

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Where do you feel most at home?

Actually in Berlin, for the first time ever. It’s such a weird, beautiful feeling and my gut says that even if I leave for a few years, something will ultimately drag me back. But there are always other places. I spent last week in Basel with my best friend and Basel is the complete opposite of Berlin, it’s quiet, clean and settled. But really the best thing about this trip was being with my friend, having black coffee on her balcony with the laundry dry above our heads. That was home.

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We know you love reading: Got any book recommendations for us this summer?

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary German literature lately (don’t ask how much money I’ve spent on books this year…) but my all-time favourites in English are:

1. Julie Myerson – The Story of You
2. Nickolas Butler – Shotgun Lovesongs
3. J.D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye
4. Bernhard Schlink – The Reader

Also, if you’re into (creative) writing: Get 642 things to write about.

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What destinations are on your bucket list for the rest of this year?

Iran, Iceland, Israel. Iceland might be a little tight but I’m hoping to finally make it to Israel in autumn.

And what is your actual next trip?

I’m actually flying over to Frankfurt tomorrow for work but then in two weeks, two of my closest friends from Berlin and I will head to the Austrian Alps and do a 7-day hiking trip. Again, phones off, adventure mode on. Can’t bloody wait!

 

Thanks Caroline!

To read more about Caroline’s adventures and follow her stories around the world on Twitter and Instagram, check out her contributions here!