My name is Savannah Grace, born and raised in North Vancouver, Canada. I’m the youngest and probably least adventurous member of a very adventurous family. By the age of 7 they’d already dragged me through 30+ U.S. states on various family camping trips. At age 14 I was pulled out of school, this time to backpack around the world for an amazing 4 years. I’m 22 now and couldn’t be happier with the experiences I’ve had. I’ve visited 98 countries thus far and because of these extraordinary experiences I was able to follow my dream of becoming a writer and have finally released my first book “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China”. I’m currently living with my Dutch partner in The Netherlands, where I continue to write and follow my dreams.
Q. This book is so much more than the title suggests, what message are you sharing and what do you hope to accomplish by doing so?
Sihpromatum, pronounced SIP-ROW-MAY-TUM means, “A blessing that initially appears to be a curse”. On my book cover it says, “How an unwanted journey forced me to see the world with open eyes”.
The reader will experiences new cultures and budget travel from a refreshingly unique perspective and walk away having learned something about Chinese and Mongolian customs and history. There are so many lessons I learn along the way about mankind, the importance of family and the art of appreciation.. It’s a tale of personal struggle and growth, family hardship and bonding and ultimately the power that the experience of travel can have in helping us all to understand and come closer to the humanity within ourselves and each other.
My two goals are to inspire people to have the courage to follow their dreams and to also help others see that despite our differences in race, religion and culture, we all have the same basic wants and needs in this life.
Q. What would you say is the biggest take away from this kind of trip?
Before traveling I was pretty closed minded and quite uninterested in the “big picture”.
The biggest lesson would probably be realizing that people are nice everywhere in the world. We all have the same basic wants and needs. We like to separate ourselves by class, religion and culture but the base of humanity is mostly all the same. We have emotions, care about our families and want to provide the essentials in life; water, food, shelter.
A world considered to be wrought with hunger, despair, corruption and danger turned out to be one full of love, family values and respect. And ironically, it seems that the less people have the more willing they are to share.
Q. What advice would you give to families wanting to embark on this adventure?
If you’re doing extended travel my number one advice is not to be too restricted by a schedule. Be open and free to new things and go with the flow because travelling shouldn’t be a quest or mission, it is a journey. Let all of your worries go and enjoy every second. One of my biggest regrets would be not living in the moment.
I would recommend starting in either Asia or Europe. Europe is more expensive but very accessible, people speak English and there is so much to see. Asia is safe, beautiful and cheap…
A few bits of advice:
- Do your research on the country, visas and vaccinations
- Plan around the weather such as when the wet and dry seasons occur.
- Take breaks when you get burnt out
- Bucket list. Have some personal highlights in mind so you feel enthusiastic about what you’re going to see and do
- Be respectful of the culture (clothing, etiquette)
- Try new things and don’t be afraid to get down and dirty
- Meet the people
- Start somewhere you have a genuine interest
Q. Was there a eureka moment or a time where it all clicked and that is when you realized the benefits of travel?
For me it became a lifestyle and part of who I was so I can’t say there was any real eureka moment. It would be like trying to define the moment you became an adult.
I had definitely expected and anticipated a moment that would make me gasp for air or a “BAM” feeling….but there wasn’t. Everything just happened, one step at a time, as if in a dream. Even when leaving our house and walking out of it for the last time, arriving at the airport, stepping on my very first overseas flight, and landing in my first foreign country… I was still just ME. The closest “aha!” moment was a few days into the trip when we were on an overnight bus to Yangshuo. When I fell asleep we were in a big, modern city, when I woke we were in the misty countryside with villagers plowing fields with the help of water buffalo. The landscape was so mysterious and unique that I was simply in awe, seriously contemplating whether or not I was still dreaming. It was a fairytale come to life.
In general, I was definitely having many moments of understanding and appreciation which I describe in my book every step of the way. I was constantly fighting with myself and my feelings about each situation I was thrown into. In the beginning I was trying to hate it but at the end of the day I could not deny the utter beauty and wonder of the places I was visiting.
Q. Are your aspirations to be a career author or have your travels inspired you to do something else?
When I was younger I had always written my thoughts and emotions down but it never actually “clicked” that I wanted to be an author. I was too intimidated by the idea and thought I could never create anything worth reading so I wasn’t even going to bother. People had always complimented me on my writing but I never fully put the idea in my head to be a writer until the trip.
Perhaps, after my memoir series “Sihpromatum” I will branch off and do travel journalism of some kind. For now, I’m just going with the flow and concentrating on writing. I can never predict where my life is going to take me so I don’t dare try, and yet I don’t imagine I will spend my whole life only writing.
Q. What advice would you give others who want to share their stories and follow their dreams?
I cannot stress enough how important I feel it is to follow through with your dreams. So crushed by society and its expectations of what we SHOULD do, I fear people don’t even have the urge to think “outside the box”. Having a dream and dreaming is such an important part of life. Fighting for something you love and achieving it is so much more satisfying than any amount of money. You wouldn’t want to be living with the regrets of “what if”.It is said, “later you’ll regret the things you DIDN’T do more than the things you DID do.”
As far as writing your story, if you are feeling sluggish and don’t know where to start, just START. I know this sounds like really unhelpful advice, but that’s what I had to keep telling myself. Thinking and stressing about doing it is harder than just DOING it. Simply sit down and start writing, even if it’s about nothing and you’ll be amazed how stuff just pours out of you. There are times where you will have a complete writers block and feel like you were never meant to be a writer and you ask yourself WHY you’re doing it…. Just tell yourself to shut up and go outside and find something beautiful to look at, get fresh air, go for a bike ride. Get the heck out of the house and feel alive again.
Don’t wait around for somebody else to say it’s worth publishing. Everybody is worthy, and now it’s more possible than ever to do it yourself. Don’t go halfway, you have to go all the way. It will be worth it.
Do your research, don’t jump into anything. If this is your biggest dream DO NOT let the doubts, discouragement or anything else stop you! But also don’t be afraid to take risks when necessary.
I hope that helps but nobody can make it happen except YOU!