Unable to stay in one place for too long, 27 Year old Polina Kocheva left her home in Bulgaria when she 19 and has been traveling the world since. She has spent the last four months traveling through South East Asia and is currently chilling and working by the pool side in a coworking space in Bali.
Connecting traveling women from all around the world is this Traveler of the Month’s forte. This adventurous nomad is the founder of Femtravelers – a platform for women travelers to meet up, exchange reliable information and chat about anything travel related. Her mission is to inspire and empower more women to travel solo or even take the leap towards full-time travel.
Other than travelling, Polina has a passion for art and design, and has worn many hats as a creative: illustrator, graphic designer, web designer. She enjoys vlogging as a hobby, and has tried her hand at animation and photography. She always caries her trusted moleskine and sharpie with her to sketch away her surroundings.
This energetic and lively gym bunny also enjoys hiking, skateboarding and is learning how to surf.
We asked her a couple of questions and this is what she had to say:
At what age did you realize that travelling was a passion of yours?
I left my country at age 19 and moved to the Netherlands to study, and that’s when I first fell in love with the feeling of being in a new country and exploring a new culture.
At age 21, I went on a spontaneous roadtrip to Belgium with friends, and we couchsurfed there for a few nights. I loved the experience! Soon after that I travelled to Venice and couchsurfed there, this time alone. It was scary at first, but my host was great and made sure I had a great time. That’s how I got addicted to couchsurfing, and travelling in general.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
Hard to choose just one. But I would say my 2 month trip around Europe in summer 2012, because it changed my life. I travelled using only couchsurfing, and stayed in the houses of more than 20 strangers. One of the cities I visited was Barcelona, and I instantly fell in love with this place. Two months later, I spontaneously moved there, and I’ve been living there for 4 years now.
Which countries have you traveled to?
Greece, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland, Norway, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, Bermuda, Guatemala, Belize, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
What’s the biggest reward you get from travelling?
I can’t choose just one, so I’m gonna go with 3.
1. The friendships. I form amazing friendships on the road, and I have an explanation why it happens.
I believe that living a routine life numbs as down, and hinders our ability to be open and truly connect with others. Travelling and experiencing new things, on the other hand, puts us in an excited, energetic, open state, and forming friendships becomes so much easier.
2. The Adventure! Being put in situations that I would never experience otherwise; discovering new things; overcoming challenges.
3. Slowing time down. Yes, travelling actually makes time pass slower.
Let me explain. I spent 2 years working a 9-5 job, every day in the same city, same office, same routine – and I watched these years fly by, which was quite sad. When I look back, this time seems like a few months instead of years, since it passed so quickly and uneventfully.
Travelling has the opposite effect. Right now I’m in Bali, I’ve been here for less than 2 months and it already seems like a lifetime, just because so much happened and I made so many memories.
What do you think about the common perception out there that anyone who travels long term isn’t interested in settling down and trying to escape life?
This perception is actually funny to me, because I think it’s the opposite. To me, settling down is escaping life.
When I was settled down with a 9-5 job, I felt like I was missing out on EVERYTHING – on new countries and cities to explore, on new amazing people to meet in these places, on adventures to be had. I felt like I was escaping life – or rather, life was escaping me.
Of course, it depends on how you define life. For me, life is the opposite of routine. Life is a story which keeps progressing as new things keep happening. Once the new things stop, then the story stops as well. And this is what happens when you settle down and form a routine.
No, I don’t ever see myself settling down.
I know that for most people the concept of “life” includes a career and a family. I am convinced I can have these things without having to settle down.
We are living in an amazing age. Travelling is becoming easier, cheaper and more accessible every day. More people are working from their computers; more and more jobs are become remote. We are always connected to our friends and family, no matter how far apart we are physically.
Yes, we can have a career and a family without settling down.
Do you think travelling can change a person’s preconceived ideas and discrimination they can have towards other cultures?
Yes, definitely. When I travel, the one thing I find everywhere is kindness and hospitality. This has convinced me that I can’t have preconvinced ideas about an entire culture before experiencing it myself.
What is your favorite destination and why?
Hands down, Bermuda.
Everything about this island is magical. The pink sand beaches (which you usually have all to yourself). The bioluminescent water that glows around you as you swim at night. The Bermuda shorts that everyone wears. The colorful houses with white roofs (which collect rain because there is no other freshwater source on the island). The mindblowing amount of stars you can see at night. The fact that you are standing on a tiny strip of land, surrounded by nothing but ocean for thousands of miles…
What makes this island even more special is that I get to go there with my favourite peson in the world 🙂
What advice would you give to women that wish to include travelling in their lifestyle?
Travel solo at least once. You might just get addicted to it.
Don’t count countries. Travel slow. Fully experiencing one place is more rewarding than catching a glimpse of 10 places.
If you want to become location independent and work while travelling, there has never been a better time than now. It might take time so start now. The best way to learn how is to surround yourself with people who are already doing it.
Where to next?
My next destination is actually my current home, Barcelona. I’ve been travelling for the past 6 months in Bermuda, Bulgaria and South East Asia. It’s been incredible, but I’m missing my city and loved ones. So now it’s time to go back home for a few months… and then, who knows?