Solo female traveller Stephanie Huff is a self-confessed modern-day hybrid of Bridget Jones and Indiana Jones with a penchant for pink backpacks and a knack for mis-adventure. Originally from Ontario in Canada, Steph used some super savvy strategies to travel to almost 50 countries and 6 continents while simultaneously studying for a PHD.
Steph shares the good, the bad… and some downright insane stories about her worldwide travel adventures, including that time she got attacked by a chimpanzee in Tanzania, on her female-oriented travel blog The Pink Backpack.
Hi Steph, tell us about The Pink Backpack and how you started out as a travel blogger?
I own and operate The Pink Backpack, a solo female travel blog which features adventurous and offbeat experiences for women around the globe. I launched my blog in March 2016, after months of contemplation. It was initially just a space for me to share stories and stay engaged with the travel community when I returned to school, but 2 years later it has turned into a small business.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
I love how it has connected me with new people from all over the world, and how it provides me the ultimate creative freedom.
When did you first get the travel bug and how long have you been traveling for?
I first got the “travel bug” after a semester studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia in 2009. It was the first time I had traveled without my parents and I absolutely loved the freedom and independence I felt; I wanted more of that feeling so I continued to fiercely pursue travel.
When not on the road describe your idea of a perfect day spent at home?
When I’m not traveling, I am usually a huge homebody and need time to myself to recharge and catch up on work. A perfect day spent at home would be having coffee and breakfast while writing, or spending time with my family.
Name your 5 favorite places that you’ve visited so far
This is always a hard question because I love different places for different reasons, but I would say my top 5 favorite places that I’ve visited are Namibia, Western Canada, Iceland, India and Tanzania.
What’s your most memorable travel experience so far?
Recently I backpacked solo from South Africa up to Tanzania by land and that trip really stands out in my mind among all the others. I felt very empowered by the experience of doing it all on my own.
Any major travel fails you care to share?
So many! Where to start? I once had a 6-hour layover in Istanbul and somehow still managed to miss my connecting flight by sitting at the wrong gate #jetlagprobs
What place in the world would you recommend everyone should visit at least once and why?
This is a broad answer, but I think everyone should visit a country where the local language is different from your own. Navigating a language barrier truly opens your eyes to a new way of seeing the world, and teaches you humility, patience and how to problem-solve.
Based on your travels so far, where have you visited that you would love to go back to and why?
I loved Iceland so much that I went twice in 2017 and still can’t get enough. I would also love to return to Cape Town, South Africa.
Name your 3 carry-on essentials that you bring with you on every flight
Three carry-on essentials I always have with me for every flight are a novel to read, hand sanitizer (I wipe down everything), and essential oils (I suffer from chronic neck pain and love peppermint halo by Saje to make a long flight more comfortable).
What do you love most about coming home after a long trip?
I feel very privileged to be able to come home and drink clean water from the tap and use fast and functional internet. I also love coming home to cook in my own kitchen.
Where are you off to next?
I’m off to Rwanda and Uganda next and looking forward to exploring more of East Africa!
What’s on your future travel bucket list?
As I mentioned, I recently travelled from South Africa up to Tanzania by land. My future bucket list is to continue that journey North from Tanzania up to Cairo, through Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. I would also love to visit Madagascar before leaving the continent of Africa.
What advice would you give an apprehensive best friend about traveling solo?
I would suggest to new travellers feeling apprehensive to just take baby steps. Though it is important to get outside your comfort zone, you don’t need to sell all of your belongings and travel full-time, or to go on a round-the-world trip. You can travel solo to a neighboring town or state for a weekend away and build up your confidence from there.