It’s not the first time we’ve heard of ’round-the-world travel becoming the ultimate rabbit hole… But Alexandra Baackes takes it to a whole new level. In 2009 she left New York for a two-month trip, a jaunt that inspired her to embark on full-time travel in 2011. …Three years later, she’s still on the road, traveling the world as a truly global citizen. Throughout the course of her adventures, she’s rediscovered solo travel (after traveling with someone for a long time), uncovered some of the world’s best scuba diving spots, and has documented it all on her fabulous travel blog, Alex in Wanderland.
We spoke with the author about her travels and some of the more interesting characters she’s met while traipsing through her own Wanderland.
The Trip Tribe: What was the biggest transition from traveling with someone to traveling alone?
Alex in Wanderland: I have experienced a mix of travel styles throughout my wanderings, from traveling solo to doing a student exchange to traveling with my family to being hosted on press trips… and beyond! However, I did spend about three years of my life traveling primarily with my boyfriend at the time. Transitioning back to being a solo traveler after we broke up was painful and terrifying and lonely… and ultimately, completely liberating.
I think the biggest transition was learning to enjoy the pleasure of my own company. I used to not even grasp what that meant when I heard other people say it. These days I get kind of wistful for being alone when I spend too much time traveling with others! While I am extremely social I truly treasure the quiet times, it’s when I can hear my own thoughts most clearly.
TTT: Your Earning Abroad series is pretty unique and very cool. What’s the most outrageous job you’ve come across?
AiW: I’ve met a few different nomads/expats who have funded their lifestyle through seasonal pot farming in the US. It pays well enough that they can go farm for a few months and then jet off to spend the rest of the year lying on a white sand beach somewhere in Southeast Asia. While I’d love to interview them for my series, I’m not sure they’d be willing to be quoted!
TTT: Clearly you’re a big scuba diver: Any secret spots to share?
AiW: A spot that is still truly a hidden gem in the diving community is Coiba National Park in Panama. It’s part of the same Pacific reef system as the Galapagos Islands and the Cocos Islands, yet no one goes there! Well, a few intrepid, experienced divers do – and they have the magical all to themselves.
Over on the other side of Earth, Koh Tao is one of the busiest dive destinations on the planet. Most shops stick to the sites on the West side of the island, but my favorite is over on the East side – Shark Island. Convince your dive shop to take you there and you’ll be rewarded with sightings of a resident school of butterfly fish, as well as turtles and the occasional whale shark.
TTT: Besides your own, what is your favorite blog(s)?
AiW: My favorite blogs are those that are first-person narratives sharing intimate looks into other travelers’ journeys. I don’t want to read another list of the top five attractions in Dublin, I want to know about what inspired you to choose Ireland as your destination in the first place or the guy/gal you quite possibly fell in love with over one too many pints of Guinness. There are several blogs that I think are doing this quite well – Camels and Chocolate, Angie Away, Sarah Somewhere and Cubicle Throwdown.
TTT: Describe yourself in 6 words.
AiW: Loyal. Creative. Adventurous. Curious. Tireless. Compassionate.
About Alexandra Baackes
Alexandra Baackes is a travel writer and blogger with a passion for aquatic adventures. A New York native with a background in design, she’s spent the past three years living nomadically and sharing her stories of hopping across the globe. You can find her spilling secrets on Facebook, and posting photos of fried rice and festivals on Instagram.
This piece was originally published June 2014.