P.S Don’t forget to click that subscribe button at the end of the page so you can keep up with all the latest Wanderbelle Interviews!
I hoped that with this series, I would find a way to encourage people to go out and see the word, live adventures and touch the stars that you read about in poetry. This series is for anyone who has a little bit of wanderlust in their heart and magic in their veins. Especially if you are a woman! I know that at least one woman’s story in my #WanderBelle series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart all across the globe xo.
Please, could you give us an introduction to yourself?
My name is Nastasia Yakoub and I am the creator of Dame Traveler, a travel brand with a mission to create a movement that inspires and empowers women to travel more, experience more and be more. I’m a thirty-year-old full-time traveller and photographer who is passionate about seeing and savouring the beauty of the world and its people. Growing up in Michigan, I never would have thought my job would be to explore the world… but I am so, so fortunate and happy that it is! I’m in so love with my Persian cat, Buddy, and I love any excuse to hop on a last minute trip around the world.
How did you decide to make the transition from a Registered Nurse to Dame Traveller?
My transition from Registered Nurse to founding Dame Traveler is actually a very random, but I truly believe it was fate. In 2013, I graduated from nursing school and quickly after starting my “dream job” on the Labor & Delivery unit. However, very soon after I started, I suffered from a very serious work-related injury that kept me bedridden for six months. It was during that downtime that I realized how little visibility there was of women adventurers. That’s how Dame Traveler came to be.
What started as an Instagram hashtag became a very popular Instagram handle and later a blog and continued on from there. With all the time I had, I started to teach myself the ropes of blogging and turned it into my full-time gig. Knowing that it was through a fateful accident that leads to me creating the first women’s travel community on Instagram is kind of mindblowing!
You mention online that your parents fled Iraq to come to the States in hopes for a better, safer life. Were you ever able to go back and visit Iraq again? If not, would you like to?
Yes! I am a Chaldean-American… meaning my family comes from Northern Iraq and practices Christianity. Fun fact – we speak Chaldean at home, which is a dialect of Arabic and is one of the oldest languages in the world. My parents came to America in the hopes to give myself and my sister a better life. I visited Iraq when I was one, so my memories of my time are minimal, needless to say! However, I hope to one day return.
How has travelling helped you grow as a person? Are there any particular trips which really impacted you?
100% yes. Travel has completely transformed me like it has for so many others. My first trip to Dublin was a whirlwind. I had always dreamed of going to Ireland ever since I was a little girl, but actually making it a reality and having my own two feet to guide me through this life-changing experience made my love for travel so clear. It’s pretty safe to say that I caught the travel bug the moment I stepped onto European soil. I’ve always felt like an “old soul,” so seeing the character and age of European cities’ makes me feel close to home. It’s amazing how our souls are naturally drawn to certain places.
How do you gain inspiration for your next travelling adventure?
Instagram is an obvious travel inspiration resource that I love! I could scroll for hours looking through tagged locations and through our hashtag series. With over 2 million #dametraveler posts out there, I easily find myself getting swept away and inspired by the places other travelling ladies have explored. Recently on the blog, we’ve shared how we use Instagram as a tool for finding amazing photo locations and hidden gems, be sure to check it out!
How do you finance your travel trips?
Being a full-time traveller, I’m lucky to work with many tourism agencies and hotels that want to collaborate with and sponsor amazing travel trips with Dame Traveler. Creating content, copy, photographs and social media posts for these companies and brands allows me to travel while also sharing amazing places and resources for the Dame Traveler community. That being said, I’m also very frugal and minimal when it comes to personal expenses. I always remind myself that as nice as it seems to own trendy, expensive clothing… they’ll never come close to the experiences travel brings. Keeping my own budget fairly conservative is so important to financing my travels!
Do you have any safety tips for young solo travellers?
A quote that I love so much is “fear is a waste of life.” Being a female traveller, it can seem overwhelming or scary to go to an unknown place. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that dropping our fears onto the floor and embracing the known is worth it every single time. So, if you find yourself fearful of going across the world, start small. Book a weekend trip to a nearby city, see how you feel, and then take a larger leap. You’ll find that your original nervousness will subside!
Other than that, I would tell young solo travellers to use their common sense and be well-informed about what scams or issues have happened to other travellers. Knowledge is power and will absolutely save you from a potentially harmful situation! If young travellers are out on their own, it’s always fun and wise to pair up with other female travellers too.
What countries would you recommend to first-time female travellers who may be a little scared to travel?
Wow, there are so many that come to mind! For the outdoor-lover, Iceland is incredibly safe and so epic. Japan, Thailand and Bali are a dream come true too. The friendliness and warmth of the people, in addition to the low crime rates and amount of expats around, make them a perfect fit for a new traveller.
What has been the best advice that you have been given (non-travel wise?)
Be kind – always. It’s important to remember that every person you meet is fighting a silent battle you know nothing about. We live in an imperfect world where our lives are shown as glossy and perfected, but the truth is, our lives are often anything but. To show kindness to others in this imperfect world we live in is the most important thing we can ever do. We’re all fragile humans, capable of joy, happiness, sadness and every emotion in between… why not make our united experience a more peaceful, kind one?