Wanderlust isn’t about running away from it all, it’s about experiencing the outside to discover the inside.Anonymous
Unexpected encounters & conversations with such ‘Wanderlusters’ – who do not travel as mere ‘tourists’, but as ‘travelers’ – who imbibe and absorb their experiences into their soul, immersing themselves unquestionably into the process of becoming, are more than worthy of filling up your heart with great joy & indecipherable gratitude.
A little less than a year back, in Mar’2018, I had very serendipitously stumbled upon one such inspiration whose perspective of life, did somewhere made an impact on mine, whose name I didn’t know, until we bade goodbye. Her name is Nadine Yochim.
We had met on a train somewhere near Ulm in Germany. The moment our eyes met I had felt an instant connection. It’s true that we don’t meet people by accident, but there is a reason why they cross our path. We quickly exchanged brief glances and tender smiles. Her face was radiant and glowing with light. I saw her rucksack and a trekking stick tied at the back of it. She said she had been trekking around Germany and Austria for the past two years. I just grew very curious to know more about what motivated her to go trekking for so long and her experiences thereby.
And this is what she had to say – ” I went to University but I didn’t learn anything that I wanted to learn. While trekking I meet different people and through them, I got an opportunity to work in farms and also in hospitals helping midwives, delivering babies.”
We parted ways in roughly 10 minutes of our meeting. But, we kept in touch on Facebook, with the hope that we will catch up soon again and exchange more stories and experiences about travel & life. And most importantly I couldn’t have shied away from the fact that I felt immensely compelled to write about her and share her story with you.
So without much ado, here I am sharing with you, all that I could gather from her about her experiences of travel & life, in the form of this interview. I hope you too are able to draw as much inspiration as I did or more.
Would you like to tell us more about you and your family background?
Yeah sure. I am Nadine Jochim. I was born in 1993, in a Franconian town. My mum and dad got married when I was in my mum´s womb. My father had a construction company and my mother used to work as a doctor´s assistant at the X-Ray. 3 years later, my brother followed, and I had to get used to being ” not the only child”.
When I turned 6 my parents got divorced. This was quite hard on us, as we rarely saw our father after that. He remarried and had two more boys. We were raised by my mother and stepfather. There was much value on punctuality, manners, and readiness to help others.
While growing up, I became very passionate about nature and animals. And then when we moved to a beautiful landscape in the south of Bavaria as I turned 14, for the first time I had to make new relations and friendships. It helped me untighten my roots and made it easier for me to travel or restart in a new home in the years that followed.
Where do you live and what have you been doing off late?
Currently, I live in the south of Stuttgart( in Germany) and have accomplished the first year as a nursing student with an anthroposophic background ( the plant-based alternatives and the holistic view on health and disease has always been my area of interest).
Being a nomad for the most part of my growing up years, I challenged myself to return to a settled life, follow my calling and best-use my talents to serve other people. I am gaining new experiences in steady relationships and community life. I am trying to integrate my learnings from the road, into my life every day and in every human encounter.
How did you get started with traveling? What inspired your wanderlust?
One word that inspired or got me started with traveling was – ‘ Couchsurfing’.
While working in a tax consultancy in Munich at the age of 19, I had started to offer ‘Couchsurfing’ for travelers. The first traveler I had, stayed for some weeks and inspired me immensely- He introduced me to so much more than the world had given me. I started to reflect on my daily decisions, turned to a vegan diet and dived into spiritual development and yoga.
Also, while I was still studying the urge to travel grew immensely. I started a second job to save up for a flight to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. During all my travels, I did a lot of couch surfing myself, and it always helped me to discover remote places, know more about the local culture and also reduce my travel costs.
Can you share some of your experiences related to Couchsurfing?
While offering my couch I used to hear a lot of fantastic travel stories related to Couchsurfing that inspired me to do it myself.
Recounting on some of my own experiences would be nothing short of a delight.
- In Paihia, Northern New Zealand, I stayed with someone who worked at a kayak rental company at the beach. I could rent a kayak for free. He took me to a friend´s hot tub and also on a traditional Maori Canoe. We stopped at an island at sunset, caught ourselves some mussels, shared some wine, made a fire and enjoyed being completely in that moment. The next day we went on a sailing trip on his boat.
- In Brisbane, I stayed with a nudist massage therapist. This was probably the most critical Couchsurfing stay. He was quite sexually offensive. My bed was next to his bedroom and one night he brought sex toys to my bed. My one-week long stay with him, not just made me stronger but I also learned to become more aware and clear of my personal boundaries and stand up for myself. I gathered the courage to say ‘No’. And when he stopped, I felt safer and more in control of the situation. This experience certainly widened my horizon.
- In Seoul, I had student accommodation completely to myself because the CouchSurfing host was a professor. I felt quite lost and lonely in that place, because she was never around, except for one evening when her son made some time and took me around the city.
These were some of the incredible experiences I would have never had without Couchsurfing.
How often do you travel? Which are the places you have been to? What are some of your favorite places you’ve visited and why?
I travel at least once a year, but I have also traveled for 2 years continuously at a stretch. So far I have been to the UK, Ireland, Scottish Highlands, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, South Korea, US (Nevada, California, Oregon, Arizona, Utah), Italy, France, Spain, Czech, Hungaria, Portugal, Bali and Singapore.
Some of my favorites places are –
- Cinque Terre hiking in Italy for its beautiful natural landscape, food & off-track routes.
- Antelope Canyon in Arizona for its incredible energy, the beauty of mother earth, the strength of the elements (wind & water).
- Mt. Shasta in California which is known as the root chakra of the earth and also famous for its panther meadow and the high point of energy.
What’s your travel style? How do you plan your trips?
It’s usually backpacking, wild camping in a one-person tent or couch surfing in cities. And I have joined my friends in a van a couple of times. Most of the time I prefer to have my own space in my tent and be much more out in nature. I need time alone, so I stop socializing for a brief period to recharge.
I refrain from planning everything in advance. On my last trip to Bali, I hadn’t planned anything but just the flight. I used the airport wifi in Bali to find out where the weather was good and decided where I wanted to go. First I went to Canggu. I picked a hostel online and a driver took me there. Then I planned one day at a time. I did feel quite fragile and unsafe but at the same time, I also felt free and enjoyed the spontaneity in the process. It opened up space for experiences with people I met along the way and also doors to information that I wouldn’t have received otherwise. Everything was so flexible and kind of flowing smooth.
I pick up my accommodations basis recommendations from other sources but mostly basis my intuition. The hostels or sleeping spots depend pretty much on its cost. I try to travel cheap. When I camp wildly in the places I have never been to, I walk around with open eyes, see where I feel safe and comfortable. Usually, I feel safe when there are no other humans around :).
How and when did you first start to travel solo? Did you go with a group of strangers or absolutely alone? Tell us more about the process of preparing yourself for it? How did your family respond to the idea of it?
I was 21 when I did my first solo travel.
Couchsurfing always helped me to go solo because I was never alone technically. Additionally, on my initial travels, I also visited friends and family in New Zealand and Australia.
Couchsurfing.com is one website I can recommend to the first-timers. For me, everything developed from there. Experiences of hosting before traveling can fill you up with a lot of inspiration.
My intuition always helped me to be safe. I had great support from my foreign friends who traveled a lot before.
My mother reacted with fear and my father was proud and curious :).
Which was your first destination as a solo traveler and why? How long was your trip ? What did you take back with you, after the trip ended?
My first destination was Fiji, where I couchsurfed with a family. The entire trip was for 4 months where I traveled through Fiji, Newzealand, Australia, and Seoul. I had picked New Zealand and Australia because I have family there who I never met before. I picked Fiji and South Korea because it was nearby or on the way.
I took back a treasure – of new friends and experiences, self-confidence and self-love, freedom and strength. I also attended my first vipassana meditation course in Australia. This became a big catalyzer for my inner development.
What is the best and the worst experience you have had during your solo travels, that would always remain with you?
Best experience – When I had to spend 3 days and nights all by myself on Maria Island in Tasmania, I developed a strong connection with nature and animals around my camp. There were no other people around as far as I could see, hear or smell. I fasted, swam every morning in the ocean, meditated, did yoga, patted wild wombats, observed birds, kangaroos, and snakes. I was one with the wind, the water, the fire, and the earth.
Worst experience – Staying in Seoul without knowing any Korean was the hardest because it was also the last destination of my 4 months long trip. There were too many impressions for me already. I had started to feel scared, lonely and homesick.
What steps do you take to make sure you are safe on your travels? Have you been in a situation where you felt unsafe? What did you do?
My intuition and gut feeling are my biggest help to keep me safe but also stay free from worries and fear. I don’t question it.
Once on my way to visit a Kali temple in Bali, two strange and aggressive looking men had stopped me to ask me some random questions about where do I come from, etc. My skin started to burn and vibrate, my gut, and heart were on fire and I could feel some kind of electric energy. I drove off as fast as I could. I believe it was the Kali energy I wasn’t ready for, which might have worked as the protectors of her temple without even knowing it.
What were the biggest challenges that you have faced on the road, being a solo female traveler? What did you do to overcome them?
Truth is you have to deal with sexual assaults or attempts every now and then but usually, I have also found a way out. Intuition has always been my biggest help. I have survived them all by either asking other women for help or by standing up for myself and saying what’s okay and what’s not.
For example – There was one Couchsurfing host who started texting a little weird. I got suspicious and told him I have a boyfriend and am not interested in any sexual activities. He replied back saying that he expects something in return for the place that he had given me out to stay. So I canceled and booked a hostel.
Another time I felt unsafe in Bali when two people started chasing us for money. I was with a fellow male traveler on his motorbike. We just drove off quickly as fast as we could. If I would have been by myself and without a motorcycle, not sure how I would have ended.
Once on a nudist beach in Australia, two men came up while my Couchsurfing host was swimming. They came really close and one even started to touch me, before I could even say anything luckily my host came back and told them to leave me alone, I’m glad and grateful that I wasn’t all by myself because they were really rude.
Tell us more about your choice and intention of travel? What are you really looking for, when on the road?
I always look for inspiring forms of living, communities, cultures. I am also very hungry for personal inner development and inspiration – True encounters between humans to grow, learn, share and explore.
I have stayed on a piece of land in Tasmania which is open to rainbow gathering travelers. There everyone was authentic. We shared everything – material goods, the work that was supposed to be done, money as well as our talents – any art forms, massages, stories, music and most importantly love. There I fell in love with an Italian tattoo artist. I have had spent a lot of time in a Tibetan Buddhist center in the past and he too had stayed in one before. So we shared our spiritual experiences and asked a lot of questions. We lived the moment intensely and forgot everything around us. We had only one week together but every second was full of life and true emotions. Also, everyone gave room and silence to the others when they needed it. We also had a fire bath by the river.
I had 12 hours stopover at Singapore airport between Bali and Australia. I was traveling solo. I felt lonely and couldn’t wait to meet my relatives in Sydney. Before the flight, I imagined I would meet a nice guy, to share my time with at the airport. When I got on a bus for the sightseeing tour, there really was one guy my age and seemed very appealing to me. We started talking, had dinner together, went to the airport cinema, got close and even met, 2 months later in Melbourne, where he lived.
When I was In Bali, once I had felt very sad because locals were trying to fool me to get more money. And then I met a French girl called Aurelie. She had very different kind of experiences to share with me. I spent a day with her on her scooter and she inspired me to learn some Balinese words and ask people on the side of the road whether they need help. She would also have dinner with Balinese families. I followed her recommendations and my time on Bali changed for the better. I am very grateful for this encounter.
Do you have any travel regrets – things you did or didn’t do?
I do regret that I planned ahead so much in the beginning. It’s a gift of freedom if you can decide hour by hour where you go. Go with the flow. It opens you to unknown possibilities.
What’s your biggest worry or fear when you are on the road?
My biggest worry is that I feel I hurt my family and friends when I leave them behind, though I am always moderately connected. I don’t have any rules or commitments for being on digital detox completely. I answer messages and call my family and friends when I feel it. It is important for me to keep in touch and be there for my friends even if it’s only on skype when they need me. But of course, there are times when I switch my phone off. For example on Maria island and also when I went for a Vipassana retreat for 10 days.
Can you share a few things that you keep in mind, while you travel, that enhances your overall experience and ensures you take back much more? What enables or smoothens your experience on the road?
We are all teachers and students in equal measures in every encounter and situation. Being present and true to my own needs and desires, makes my experiences far enriching.
When you travel solo, you are on your own completely. There are no reasons to complain. You are responsible for your experiences and what you make out of it – good or bad. For example, I would always say “no” to hang around late in the night in a pub or wherever with other travelers instead wake up early morning to see the sunrise. This is something like “joy of missing out” – I like really being the creator of my own experiences, make my own choices.
Once I was traveling with someone in a van, I had met on a trip, in the US. His chaos all around was very upsetting for me. And also the fact that he sometimes treated me like a child because I was younger, made me really angry. However, we learned so much from each other while we were together. When I look back, I would not want to ever miss that kind of experience.
At Lake Tekapo I met someone from Ireland and we shared 3 days together, we developed a strong friendship and he introduced me to Vipassana. I am still endlessly grateful for the time I spent with him and this invaluable gift. Today there is no way to contact, we did not exchange numbers or anything. It was a big lesson of being present in the here and now and then letting go to be open for the next experience.
What’s your take on responsible tourism?
I see how most cities or countries look the same… same fast-food chains, shopping centers, etc. To travel responsibly, I minimize my flights and support local shops or restaurants. Often I pick up trash other hikers left behind. I carry my own water bottle, cook for myself, respect local rules and culture, offer help to locals, book eco-tours, decide whether to visit any place at all or not ( for eg great barrier reef in Australia) – it’s better to leave nature alone to recover. I also hitchhike, buy regional seasonal food, share authentic (nonedited)photos and spread messages and wishes of the locals ( for eg. Not climbing Uluru).
Why do you think one should travel solo? Any tips for female(or male ) solo travel beginners?
I think it is important to experience the feeling of “doing it alone, without help’. Being a solo traveler you will also get to know more strangers or fellow travelers that would open you to new experiences.
I think it’s the little things in the process that boost your confidence on the go. For example, making my way from Seoul airport to the student accommodation and finding the host without my mobile phone, without knowing any Korean or having Korean cash yet was tough but I managed it and I am proud of it.
Whenever I felt insecure and lonely I had to get in contact with strangers, choose between going out alone or talking to strangers. This was not always easy when I felt like curling up in a corner because I was sad. Still most times I met someone or saw a poster with some activity that made it easier to meet people.
Have you ever felt lonely traveling solo? If Yes, How do you combat loneliness?
Yes I have and usually, the next unknown friend is not far away and you can spend a few unforgettable days with them. You learn to connect with the here and now. And if you meditate, you’ll never suffer when you are alone.
What inspires you to travel? How far do you think traveling has changed you and your view of the world? What are your learnings from travel and life otherwise?
I travel primarily for change, progress, and freedom. I learned meditation, got introduced to Buddhism and different cultures only through my travels. All the experiences form who I am right now. I wouldn’t be at the same level of self-love probably if I hadn’t traveled as much. It would have been harder for me to let go. But now it’s easier for me in everyday life to “switch into travelers mode” and see my home with the eyes of a traveler. This makes me grateful and happy.
What are your plans for the future ( the kind of travel or work that you have planned for yourself )?
At the moment I don’t feel like traveling much or far. I am happy with my new challenge to settle down, find a home, care for my partnership and build a family. We will probably travel together and I am looking forward to sharing new experiences with my loved ones.
Tell us more about the book that you are about to publish.
In Tasmania, my cousin introduced me to a renowned healer – Helena Lettau, who is also the author of the book – “THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE REALITY”. Through this book, she has shared her spiritual and paranormal experiences and insights. She did also some scientific work on hypnosis and past life regressions. She and her book inspired me so much, I offered her to translate it to German, so that my friends and family could also benefit from the information.
You can purchase the book from the following links.
Do you document your experiences anywhere?
Sometimes I use a journal (handwritten), sometimes I share photos and short texts on Facebook. Mostly I trust that my subconscious and my body absorb all the information and the experiences which cant be captured in any other way.
Where can we find you on social media ( only if you want fellow travelers or people who are inspired by you to get connected with you )?
Nadine Yochim on Facebook
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