My life motto didn’t come easy, but it’s this simple: If you’re trying too hard to love what you do, then you’re not doing what you love.
I was born on the island of Flores in the Azores (Portugal), in 1978. Actually, I was born on the island of São Miguel and then a few weeks later flew to Flores with my mother (so technically I started to travel before I was one-month-old).
I started “writing” at the age of 4. As a child, I was very active and restless, but whenever I found a pen or pencil, I would start “writing” on any piece of paper I could find (and by “writing” I mean filling line after line with very tiny circles) and my mind would be elsewhere. I distinctly remember feeling that peaceful.
At 15, I wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to save the world. I wrote a few pieces for the local newspaper about the state of things, local politics, and human rights. Later I “crashed” my older brother’s radio show project and joined their group — I was the only girl and I had no idea how I sounded like (I refused to hear the tapes) but I loved the solitude of the open mike; I felt like such a big shot for sharing the music of Nirvana and Radiohead with people that hadn’t yet left the 1980’s (music style wise).
To make a long story short, between then and about a year ago: I left home to study and moved to another island at 16; I moved permanently to Lisbon at 19 to study Journalism (but majored in Portuguese Studies instead, with a minor in Portuguese Culture); I had a son (who, at the date I’m writing this, is 16); I went on my first solo trip ever to Dubai in 2012 and ended up meeting my husband.
Between graduating from College in 2004 and the last months of 2013, my life is pretty blurred and pastel-colored, work wise. That’s almost ten years of numbness! My 15-year-old self was pissed off. I know it because she kept haunting my dreams, and she was disappointed. But in that period of time, I had to do what I had to do, and I needed the steady paycheck more than anything else. I never stopped writing, though; I just didn’t publish it profusely (apart from a couple of personal blogs I had at the time).
When my son grew up, we began to travel more together. Our trip to Barcelona was unforgettable, but the trip to Rome in the Spring of 2013 was really the eye-opening one (and that’s an understatement). We were walking back to the hotel from the Vatican and he asked me “is it worth it?” I thought he meant the site, so I made an absent-minded remark about the Sistine Chapel and how crowded it was (without even noticing that I had been glued to my iPhone screen for the last ten minutes, scrolling an infinite list of unread emails from work). “No. Is it worth it to be this miserable because of a paycheck?” I felt I had just been punched in the stomach. We hadn’t enjoyed our trip at all (in fact, I hardly remember Rome) and for the first time in fourteen years, I didn’t know how to answer his question. All I knew was that staying at that job for the paycheck was no longer an option; I planned my exit and took the leap of faith six months later.
— Sandra (at Tripper) (@TripprBlog) April 19, 2016
I don’t have the illusion that you can see a destination as it’s supposed to be seen. Even I’ve stepped into many tourist traps in the past, thinking I was experiencing something unique and typical.
Travel is an experience. Period. You affect your destination and it affects you — for the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve been an advocate for this in the past years, reacting with my share of eye rolls towards abusive behavior by foreigners, and then I started Tripper in 2014. I wasn’t new to blogging, but I was completely unaware of the immensity of travel blogs out there — a lot of them born under that premise that you can do it too. And this positivity mass hysteria of “you can do it too” can turn travelers into selfish, self-absorbed people (with or without a blog to go with it), instead of turning them into curious explorers and enlightened people. The number of futile listicles and “top things to do in” out there is painful (to be fair, there are a few that add valuable information which benefits both the traveler and the destination). The idea that Southeast Asia is good and cheap for white people to go party is shameful (that’s why crap like this happens). There’s something very wrong with this concept of the world as your playground or a place where people are on permanent display for you to see the “other” side of the world.
It took me almost one year to make peace with the traveler, the blogger and the writer I wanted to be (I was pretty sure of which one I didn’t want to be), so I took a step back and started from scratch in April 2015 — tweaking the content, redesigning the site, and redefining what brand I wanted to build and grow. The idea for Tripper started as a project for a mobile travel app, but the market is so saturated with things we don’t need that I didn’t want to add one more to that right now. It isn’t completely dismissed; it’s simply on hold. I decided to focus on other projects for the time being, like publishing my first travel book “Lisbon Guide for Urban Explorers”.
I don’t care if “Lilliput” is the hip place to travel to right now; if I have no interest in visiting and if I can’t be able to pour the whole of me in the post I’m writing, then it’s not worth my time or your time.
The “C” in UNESCO = Culture, our tool for building a harmonious society, based on knowledge of others, tolerance & human dignity
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) January 6, 2016
I write about cultural travel to offbeat destinations; I think it’s because of my Islander personality. I write stories about the people I meet when I travel, how they express themselves through their art, how proud they are of their city’s cultural events. I write stories about the customs and traditions, about History and heritage. Occasionally I will share the best tips I’ve learned on the road, and for a few months, I invited other bloggers to share their tips about their current hometowns. I know that as I grow as a traveler and as a writer, the blog grows with me.
Now that I introduced myself properly, it’s time to get to know you too. Drop me a line anytime at hello[at]tripper[dot]pt or come and say hi on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you need more inspiration for cultural travel beyond Tripper, check out this Pinterest group board.