We’re back with another Travelette of the Month interview! Each month, this is where you can find out more about the ladies behind the website. Even though every Travelette is unique, bringing her own perspective, travel style, and point of view to the team, they are all sharing their passion through writing and photography.

This month, we find out a little bit about Vanessa Graf, a mountain-enthusiast from Austria who started travelling the world in her teens – and didn’t stop.

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Vanessa, what’s your travel story?

My family didn’t travel much when I was young, but somehow, I always had it in my head to leave home and explore the world as soon as I finished school. I think it was because when my mother was 18, she moved to France for a year, to be a nanny – she is still in love with France up to this day, and I wanted to have a similar experience to hers. The opportunity to do so came earlier than my high school graduation, though – when we were 14, my best friend and I discovered an article in the newspaper about studying abroad for a semester. We begged our parents to let us go, finally got a yes as an answer, packed our bags, and headed over to the US for a semester. She ended up in Minnesota, while I was staying in Oregon. After that, I never thought one second about staying in my hometown – I finished high school and left.

Girl Always Gone Long Distance Relationship Travel

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Travelling India.

Where did your travels take you?

I first took off to Romania for a one-year volunteer program, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. That’s when I really started to travel – I hitchhiked through all of Eastern Europe, and even down to Istanbul. I spent the summer after that making my way through Central America, and then moved to the Netherlands for university. It’s been like this ever since: In my free time, I travel, and when I study, I do it abroad. I ended up not liking the university program in the Netherlands and completed my undergrad degree in France instead; currently I’m doing a double masters degree between Germany and France.

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Paris, in my first year of studying in France.

And how did you start to write about your travels on Travelettes?

I started writing for the Travelettes only this year, when I was in my last year of my undergrad studies. For this degree, we had to spend two years in France and then move abroad for one year – I decided to live and study in Kyrgyzstan during that time. I’ve been reading Travelettes for what feels like forever now, and noticed that there wasn’t anything about Kyrgyzstan on the site yet, so I sent in a guest post. A few weeks later, I was asked to join the team as a regular contributor.

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Somewhere in the Kyrgyz mountains.

Which are your favorite places to travel to?

I haven’t seen everything, far from it, but even though I’ve been to many different countries and continents, Eastern Europe always draws me back in. I love the energy of Belgrade, the wild and beautiful countryside of Romania, the diversity in Bulgaria, the atmosphere in Zagreb, I absolutely adore Macedonia and Bosnia, and I cannot get enough of the Baltics. I travel to at least one Eastern European country each year, and the more I go, the more I want to come back – next one up is Ukraine, a country I have visited several times already, but cannot really imagine getting sick of. Besides, I’m also a huge fan of Istanbul and Morocco.

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Belgrade, where the two rivers Sava and Danube meet.

What do you do when you are not travelling?

Well, I’m technically a full-time student, but I started writing and photographing for different media outlets about a year ago. It kind of got to a point where it’s the reverse – I write and work as a photographer almost full-time, and try to complete my studies on the side.

I’m also an avid hiker – whenever I have free time, I can be found on some peak in the Austrian Alps. In the last couple of years, this has even influenced my travel decisions – I kind of started to follow mountains around the world. I’ve hiked in the Himalayas before, but I haven’t made it up higher than 4000 meters – my dream is to tackle one with 6000m once. And then – 7000m, 8000m, Mount Everest? Seems a little far-fetched, but a girl can dream, right?

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

Looking over the Austrian Alps after a strenuous hike.

What are your travel plans for the next year?

This is the first time after five years that I live close to home, so I want to take advantage of this and spend as much time with my friends and family as I can. They are all very supportive and I feel so lucky to have my girls in my life, whether it is on Skype, FaceTime, or Whatsapp – but I’ve missed them dearly. No matter how much I love to travel, coming home to them, and to my family, is always a pleasure, so I want to enjoy this year with them as much as I can. Next year, my studies will take me to France again, and I’ll be back living in one of my favorite countries, which I’m already excited about.

Other than that … I guess a beach holiday wouldn’t hurt?

Travelette of the Month December 2016 Vanessa Graf

You can follow Vanessa around the world over at her Instagram @vavavama or write her an e-mail at vanessa@travelettes.net . She also writes a German-language blog about mountains, books, and feminism over at Vann Dann.