Born in Phoenix and now Bali-based, Alexandra Saper aka. @thewayfaress is living the dream as a full-time travel writer, photographer and influencer on the Indonesian archipelago. In our latest edition of ‘Meet The Globestrutter’, she shares her fave trips of all-time, where she’s planning to go next and the secret to taking amazing travel pics – strike a pose!
What’s your best trip ever?
My most impactful trip ever was a two-week solo trek I did through the Nepal Himalayas on a route called the Annapurna Circuit back in 2016. I was completely unprepared and went during monsoon season with no guide, no porter, and no idea what I was getting myself into.
It was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done – I got lost, injured, and suffered severe altitude sickness – but I overcame each and every day by the strength of my own two feet, along with the hospitality of local sherpas who’d welcome me into their homes each night with endless bowls of dahl and rice.
Favourite place in the entire world?
What’s on your bucket list?
The answer is “literally everywhere” but if I had to pick a few specifics: a liveaboard diving trip in Raja Ampat, Indonesia; a deep Amazon trek in Ecuador; diving in the Galapagos; swimming with Great Whites during the Sardine Run in South Africa; a road trip through New Zealand; a cooking/wine tour through Paris and Italy; and a long-distance trek in Kyrgyzstan.
Your favourite travel buddy?
For a long time, I mostly travelled solo, but in 2019, I met Andi from @destinationchaser through Instagram when she was traveling through Bali. We ended up traveling together for five months through 11 different countries around Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and into Asia.
We’ve been through the toughest, roughest and most disastrous travel experiences (car rentals in France, spending three weeks on a commuter train through the Siberian wilderness, and traveling around China for a month will put you through the ringer), and we’ve supported each other and created beautiful travel photography that I’ll cherish forever.
Three of your favourite travel pics and the stories behind them?
1. The Great Wall of China:
This was taken on my 28th birthday, just a day after reaching the last stop of my Trans-Siberian Railway adventure: Beijing. Andi and I had the Wall to ourselves in this abandoned area, watching the most stunning sunset, eating our dinner with chopsticks in our tent, and then camping overnight to wake up to a gorgeous hazy sunrise. It definitely set the bar ridiculously high for all future birthdays!
2.Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, East Java, Indonesia
This spontaneous adventure came after a friend texted me one night that he’d landed in Java and I should come meet him. After a few back-and-forth messages, I booked a flight, packed a backpack, and left the next morning. The days were non-stop adventure – braving an unpredictable rainy season, trekking barefoot (because I forgot to pack shoes), and navigating loads of travel mishaps along the way.
For so long, I avoided traveling to Venice because I’d heard the worst – it’s dirty, too touristy, too busy, overhyped and overrated – but when Andi and I were invited to Venice for a campaign with City Sightseeing Italy, I completely fell in love with the city. Andi and I woke up early to have the morning lights and Venetian streets to ourselves, ate exorbitant amounts of pasta and gelato, laughed and danced and photographed our way through those winding cobblestone streets, and absolutely soaked in the centuries of magic and grandeur and extravagance piled onto that tiny (sinking) Italian island.
Your best tips for taking great travel pictures?
Wake up early: You’ll get the best light, avoid the crowds, and have an added dose of peace and quiet to foster creativity.
Play with depth and framing: Typically, a travel photo will include a subject standing in front of a busy landscape in the background. Adding some foreground textures and color can help create a sense of depth and framing to help the image feel more fluid and special. Try placing a leaf or some flowers in the foreground close to the lens to create a blurred look, or play with other textures like a scarf or hanging lamps.
Be creative and original: It’s usually obvious when people have visited a destination simply to recreate trending photos and post it all to their Instagram for likes. Give yourself time to really engage with the local people and culture, allow yourself to be present, and soak in your surroundings to create a more authentic photo.
If you could take a round-the-world trip right now with just three stops, where would you go?
Tahiti for the underwater adventure and nature; Japan for the food, culture, and city life; and New Zealand for an epic road trip.
Finally, what does travel mean to you?
Since my first solo international trip at the age of 15 (a summer in Paris to study French at the Sorbonne), I’ve continued traveling – often solo – around the globe, driven by a curiosity for new cultures, people, landscapes, foods, and experiences. But even more important was the personal growth I experienced from facing and overcoming challenges, connecting with diverse people, and being exposed to different ways of living around the world.
My goal with The Wayfaress has always been to inspire others to pursue their own adventures around the world, and to embrace the challenges, growth, and people encountered abroad. Travel and adventure is incredible in itself, but if you return home unchanged, with nothing more than a passport stamp and some pretty photos, then you’ve missed the most important part.Follow @thewayfaress on Instagram to keep up-to-date with Alexandra’s adventures!
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