Woman of the Week: Vera

Vera sits, smiling, next to three buckets of mushrooms.

I’ve often said that one of my favorite parts about travel is connecting with other wanderlust souls along the way and celebrating a shared passion. I happened to meet Vera through Workaway, a site for volunteers to connect with hosts on projects around the world (and which I used to travel in Korea). She was curious about volunteering in Korea, and reached out to me about my experience; after talking briefly I knew I wanted to feature her in this Woman of the Week series! I don’t want to spoil it but I love Vera’s philosophy on traveling and can’t wait for you to read this interview.


BIO

Age: 43

Hometown: Krasnoyarsk region, Russia

Current residence: Khabarovsk, Russia

Job title: Consultant for the selection of domestic staff

Place you’d visit again: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Destination on your bucket list: Oh! This list is constantly updated! In the near future it will be South Korea and Spain. Also on the list are Greece, Japan, Indonesia, India, Kamchatka and Sakhalin, Sicily and Nepal.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.

My mom inspired me to travel. I traveled always, whenever possible. When I was 20 years old, I dreamed of traveling around the world on a huge ship. But then I realized that this would be a superficial glance at other countries and cultures. To plunge into another life, to understand people of another culture, you need to live peacefully in the same rhythm with them, and not to run around tourist sites with a guide and a camera. There is not always enough time for a long stay in a foreign country, but I strive for this.

Vera stands on a platform, harnessed to a tree, with a young girl as they attempt an obstacle adventure course.

WHY DO YOU TRAVEL?

Traveling opens up the world and myself. I see real values. Going away all the vain, unnecessary, fake. The borders of the world are expanding, and I see many possibilities. There is a rethinking of life, a reboot. And, of course, the main thing in the journey is people who you meet on your way. This is the most expensive gift!

Vera stops to take a photo of some massive ruins sitting atop dry earth.

EXPLAIN WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK.

I work in an office with clients, picking up nannies and maids for work in families. Although I can plan working time myself, I do not have the opportunity to work remotely, and I cannot be absent longer than one month a year.

I also take some pictures, but I still have little experience and this occupation does not bring much income. I hope that over time, I will be less dependent on a permanent place of work.I thought about using my chef or artist skills on a long journey, but for now these are just plans.

I try to travel whenever possible: alone, with family or friends. When it turns out we have a few days off, we leave for short distances in our region, often with tents.

Vera walks across a city street at night with a young girl, through several cars parked on the street.

Earlier, a few years ago, I thought that in order to travel, one must have a certain amount of money. It was like this: we worked hard for a year, so that we could go to the sea for two weeks. I even tried to get a job in a travel company in order to be able to travel to other countries more often. So: it was my biggest delusion. 

After talking with experienced tourists, I realized that in order to travel around the world one doesn’t have to save money for a long time or be a rich man’s daughter (wife). The most important thing you need is desire! And then you will find time and opportunity, and the whole Universe will help you! And more: you will not have other, better times. If you want to do something – do it now! Of course, it is a pity that I understood this only when I was 40, but everything is just beginning!

Having understood all this and rethinking my view of travel, I discovered volunteering. And having tried it, I realized that it is very, very cool! This is an area where there are almost no random people, and every person I met on projects was amazingly interesting! And using volunteering as a way to travel, you have the opportunity to try yourself in unfamiliar activities. For example, I fed cranes and their chicks. And another project participant told me about her experience in building a school in Nepal.

I also want to say about the combination of work and travel: this is not always the main difficulty. There are also children who need to go to school. And you do not always take the children to the conditions where you would be happy to be with yourself. Have to look for a compromise. But in fact, my daughter is a wonderful companion, understanding and reliable!

SHARE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORIES?

I want to talk about Abkhazia. This is an unrecognized republic, which was previously part of Georgia. Now the people live there very modestly, but they love their homeland very much and have tremendous inner dignity. Abkhazians have a rich history, many ancient temples and fortresses. Abkhazia has a very beautiful, amazing nature, but there are traces of war and devastation. The pain of losing loved ones lives in every family. My heart is left in Abkhazia. 

And, of course, St. Petersburg! I can go back there an infinite number of times! This is a special atmosphere, architecture, culture! And of course, people!

IF YOU COULD SHARE ONE TRAVEL TIP WITH OTHER WOMEN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I want to say that you should not be afraid. The world is wonderful, bright, colorful, amazing and kind! And the opportunity to learn it is unlimited. 

At a time when you cannot leave your city, you can take travelers from other countries at home and receive travel energy from them. On the weekend you can go on nature or in a nearby town. And you do not need travel companies, you can do everything yourself. And you will succeed!

Vera stands next to a dark-haired woman and young blond child in a colorful classroom.

THANKS FOR READING VERA’S STORY!

Looking for more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.

I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:

  • 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
  • 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
  • and 30 Jobs to See the World.

After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.

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