Every month we like to introduce you to an inspiring female traveler to hear creative stories from all over the world. This month we are proud to introduce Rita Maria – and if you’ve been a long-time follower of Travelettes you might remember her, as she used to be a regular contributor to our very own blog!
Rita is not a typical travel writer though – and now she’s turning her stories into a book! Rita travels entirely without social media with just her camera and notebook in tow; she abstains from sharing her experiences in real time. But let’s hear her tell us more about that herself!
Hi Rita, good to hear from you again! First, please tell us a little bit more about your project Traveldelic?
Traveldelic is a collection of notes from the past eight years of my accident-prone life. It includes silly, practical and personal tips to surviving your early twenties on the road. If I did it, anyone can do it.
I booked my first round-the-world ticket as a curious, naive and sensitive 18-year-old girl. I had no fear, just a backpack full of wanderlust that could not be filled in stillness. For me, traveling has been an adventure, to say the least.
You don’t just share these notes online, but also turn them into a book – can you tell us what the main intention behind this is?
For the past few years, I have traveled without social media. I have tried to fully immerse myself in the present moment and to simply enjoy everything traveling has to offer: the sights, the smells, the food, the company of friends and strangers, the highs and lows of becoming a young woman and just the beauty of the present.
Traveldelic is a project about the silly things traveling has brought to my attention, almost like a trip back to the previous adventures. It’s also a collection of moments captured on film. The project’s purpose isn’t to guide, merely to inspire. I hope that the simple sentences and whimsical photographs encourage young travelers to start exploring the world and living life on their own terms.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been to?
I think South America might be the only continent where I still haven’t been. I’m trying to learn how to speak Spanish before I go. Una cerveza, por favor!
In the past year, I have traveled to Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and to the US. I recently returned to Copenhagen from Southern California.
You go completely off social media for your trips. Why?
Long story short, I desired to be where I was and with whom I was, fully. I wanted to enjoy this precious time of traveling without too much baggage, something that often tends to get heavier as we proceed in our life’s journey. To me, traveling is and always has been about complete freedom. I left home at a very young age, knowing that the following years would most likely mold me into the person I will continue being and altering for most of my life. Undoubtedly, I’m not the same person I was before.
Today, I’m grateful for the years I spent writing love letters to my sweetheart, sending postcards to my beloved friends and calling my grandmother from my old Nokia 3310. I also feel lucky that I found a partner who enjoyed exploring the world in the same way that I did, one moment at a time.
Do you think we spend too much time on social media when we travel?
We’re all different. What might work for you might not work for me, and vice versa. As a result, I think you should just do whatever floats your boat.
But to answer your question, yes, I think I spent too much time on social media while I was traveling as a youngster. While watching the sunset, I noticed that I spent more time taking a photo of it than actually enjoying it. Sometimes I would see teenage girls taking selfies at the beach with their backs turned against the coastline, completely missing the fall of the sun below the horizon. I also noticed my constant need to seek perfection, which got worse with social media usage.
Perfection, what a waste of individuality.
What’s the benefit, then, of switching off your phone or even deleting your account when you travel?
I think the benefit is your opportunity to slow down, breathe and be. When I was on the road without a phone or social media, I had fewer responsibilities and I felt completely unfettered. It was just me and the world of opportunities.
At the same time, I personally desired to live a more calm and balanced life. I wished to embrace traveling with my undisturbed presence. I didn’t want to feel like I had partially wasted the opportunity many people don’t even have, the possibility to travel. I owed my undivided attention to the art of traveling itself.
Back to Traveldelic – some of your notes are very personal, while others are really hands-on practical advice. Which ones do you think are the most important for first-time travelers?
I’m just sharing bits and pieces of my personal experiences. I hope that if you are a first-timer, you are able to take on the more practical tips and not make the same dummy mistakes as I did. I also hope that young girls are mentally strong enough to not let social media alter their sense of self or negatively affect their self-esteem. As a young girl, I wasn’t able to fully separate the two: real life and social media. Social media was a relatively new concept, and my world view became distorted by the constant, excessive information and images of people on a “permanent vacation.” Today I see social media differently, like for example as a tool to inexpensively market one’s business or as a chance to reconnect with old friends who will hopefully still accept your proposal.
I would also love to hear what traveling has been teaching to others. I would be especially interested in hearing how Millennials see traveling, with social media or without.
You write, ‘Ask strangers for their stories‘ – what was the best story you’ve heard?
I will probably have to answer the story about the friendship of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, told by Patti Smith herself.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start traveling soon?
There is something that I can share. It might not be right, but it might also not be wrong. It’s just what I believe. I believe that if you want to find your place in this world, you have to be courageous. You have to be fool enough to travel somewhere new every day of your life. You have to travel through books, through photographs, through your imagination. You must go to dreadful places and glorious places and let them all wrestle inside of your inner fantasies. Vulgar one moment, eloquent the next. You must lurk in the corners of continents, sunbathe in the strawberry fields, climb into observatories, wear flags like hats and sniff cultures like perfumes. You must live from one catastrophe to the next and from hysteria to silence. You must let the craziness, foolishness and madness of your mind mingle and you must make them your life’s message. You must let the trust wash away your fears. And out of the remaining love, you must remake your world. That is how the whole world becomes your place, and you can stop looking.
And finally, what can we expect next from you?
I hope to continue working with writing and photography as long as I possibly can. The opportunities for growth and development are endless. I would also appreciate the opportunity to work with creative individuals, contributing to interesting projects that make a genuine difference.
The book will hopefully come out in December 2017 – I will let you know!
Thanks, Rita, for your time!
Thank you, Kathi, for your questions.