Captivated by this entrepreneur's ambition to inspire women to “travel more, experience more and be more,” Nastasia’s wanderlust and passion to showcase women experiencing endless possibilities through travel is displayed in Dame Traveler. Paralleling to the LMDES mission of representation and empowerment of women, learn more about this extraordinary soul in our exclusive interview.
Current Whereabouts: Chicago
Spirit Animal: Buffalo
“The Buffalo once roamed across all of North America, and represents the sacredness of nature. Like the Buffalo, you have a wandering spirit and a deep appreciation for the blessings of the Earth. You will go far and see many wondrous things.”
Previous Job: Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse
For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about Dame Traveler.
I am in love with inspiring fellow young ladies to travel and experience every second of their lives to the fullest. I say experience, because experiencing life is a lot different than just living it. An experience tells a story, a story that we are able to hold onto forever and that story will be carried on over generations after our job here on earth is complete.
Travelers come from all walks of life — from fashionistas in Paris to mountain climbers in Peru — we all share one common ground: our love of travel. It connects us, unites us and, ultimately, brings us all together.
Dame Traveler is a movement to inspire ladies to not just travel and do more but to be more.
Through photos and stories, we want to highlight ladies who already travel a lot, and in turn, give advice and guidance to those who want to start.
What was your journey like getting to where you are now? Did you choose travel or did travel choose you?
I had a very strict upbringing so traveling never crossed my mind, let alone moving to a big city by myself. But in 2008, I took a leap of faith and moved to Chicago by myself without knowing a single soul. I ended up meeting my now husband, Johnny and he was already an avid traveler. I was so intrigued by his travel stories and had briefly mentioned on our first date that Ireland is my favorite country because I love Irish people! He surprised me a couple months later and took me to Ireland. That is where my wanderlust began. We traveled often together and once I became a seasoned traveler, I went on my first solo adventure to Dubai and Africa and the rest of my love affair with travel is history.
Tell us 3 places on your bucket list.
Bhutan, Jaipur, Beirut.
What do you do to challenge your underlying beliefs, paradigms and assumptions?
I have no fear of going out of my comfort zone to explore why I feel the way I do about things that just don’t feel right. I often ask myself tough questions and I encourage myself to answer those. I began to build a strong sense of self-awareness last year 2014 after hitting rock bottom in 2013 and it’s stuck ever since. It’s a liberating feeling and I am grateful to have awakened.
How does creating an honest perception of the world influence your work?
Dame Traveler has given me the opportunity to shine light on the beautiful world we live in.
I look at it as a way to break the barriers of the world we live in today and that shines through in everything I do for Dame Traveler.
When creating Dame Traveler, why was a focus on women ideal?
I chose the name Dame Traveler because I believe it takes a ton of courage to travel outside of our comfort zone and to immerse ourselves in a different culture. The reality is that a life of travel isn't always as glamorous as it seems. It takes guts to travel, especially as a solo female. Yet, there are tons of brave ladies travelers out there that do this every day! The definition behind the word 'Dame' in the dictionary is:
"the title of a woman who has been awarded of high ranking or of an empire."
And so, I wanted it to exemplify strength, fearlessness and courage. And I want to empower women to go behind fashion and makeup. Sure, they both have their place but its so much more important in the long run to do things than to buy things not only for our well being but for our future when we are old and gray, looking back on our lives and what we’ve experienced.
What can women be doing to be empowering one another, both in their everyday lives and on a bigger scale?
Support one another. Life is already challenging as it is. I believe in the power of kindness as it goes a long way. Be authentic and original. If someone inspires you, tell them. If someone supports you and shines light on what you’ve done, thank them.
It’s really that simple.
Solo-travel is something that so many individuals out there would love to do, but so many are afraid. Share with us why it can be such a life-changing experience!
I always had a dream of volunteering abroad in Africa and I could never find someone to go with me. Naturally, I could have let this dream slip through my fingers but I finally took a leap of faith in January of 2011 and booked the flight. I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering in an orphanage in Cape Town and the experience has forever changed my life.
Some ways to reduce anxiety about solo travel:
- do your research
- make smart decisions, while you’re there
- visualize yourself being there
- just do it!
Through travel, what have you learned about yourself?
I’ve discovered my undying love for the people of this world and my compassion for the world and its people shines wanting to make this world a more peaceful and connected place. Call me an idealist if you will, I am a dreamer but I am also a doer ☺
Nothing is impossible.
What would you say to those who proclaim “I can’t afford to travel.”?
If you want something enough, there is not such thing as “can’t”. The first step is the belief that it is possible. The next step is action. Start an adventure fund; drop cash in the jar whenever you can.
You’d be surprised how much you’ll save overtime. Write down your goal and look at it everyday. Go to a booking site and pretend to book that trip. You’ll be able to see yourself actually doing it and before you know it you’ll be on that jet plane en route to your dream place and it no longer will be just a dream.
What’s your go-to mantra?
This too shall pass.
We all go through obstacles in life, this is the mantra that has gotten me through every bump in the road and has only made me stronger.
Have you got a #girlcrush? Spill.
Both Dame Traveler and Las Morenas create communities for women who have a desire to see the world in different ways. Do you have any wise words for those afraid to take the leap?
No one can motivate you better than yourself. Change the voice in your mind and watch the world around you blossom.
Who or what inspires you?
The world inspires me. I surround myself with flowers, maps, globes, anything that makes me feel more connected to it. Colors, scents, languages. It’s all beautiful to me.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ticking off half of my bucket list and in the beginning to middle stages of my grand project (must keep this one a secret for now! ;)
What can we expect next from Dame?
Exciting collaborations, giveaways and a women’s world Instameet. Stay tuned!
Interview conducted by Storm Tyler. Storm is Style Editor at Las Morenas de España. As a lover of travel, writing, fashion, fitness and meeting new individuals, this Austin dweller is constantly fantasizing about her next great adventure that incorporates all of her interests. Storm is currently completing her last year as an International Studies undergrad while battling reminiscences of Spain.