Instagram is flooded with gorgeous travel accounts these days but Lost with Purpose is different and one of our favorites for many reasons. Each caption tells a story, some serious, some humorous but the all contain one important ingredient: purpose. Their feed is surely eye candy for those who love architecture, color, design and unique destinations. We loved interviewing Dame Traveler Alex who travels with her boyfriend Sebastiaan through uncommon destinations in Asia such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
Where are you based and what’s the best thing about where you live?
I’m a human snail—my home is on my back!
I’ve been living out of my backpack for the past six months, and don’t have plans to stop any time soon. There’s obvious benefits (and setbacks) to the backpacker lifestyle, but what I love most is that it makes me consider the true value of things. If something isn’t worth hauling around on my back for weeks on end, it’s probably not something I should spend money on.
So long, material lifestyle! My bank account totally does not miss you.
Where is one place you feel most like yourself?
Definitely solitude, wherever I can find it. Could be while running through a city early in the morning, sitting in an empty dorm in the middle of the day, or walking in a quiet forest. I’m a total introvert, so being alone offers respite from the hectic world of social interactions, and a chance to be whomever and do whatever I want. I may or may not have been a hermit in a past life.
Who or what inspires you?
People that truly defy expectations, step out of their comfort zone, and seek out challenges and adventures.
I’m often told that I’m brave for traveling the way I do, in the places where I go, but I don’t view it as courage, nor find it so inspiring. A kid that works and studies hard enough to make it to university, despite coming from a poor background–that’s inspiring. A girl in Pakistan that chose to defy social constraints and motorbike all around the country by herself—that’s brave. There were two Sherpas that paraglided from the Himalayas, then boated all the way down the Ganges to the ocean despite not knowing how to swim. As if they weren’t bossy enough, they said that the scariest part of their journey were the bugs and animals they encountered. Ha! Now that is badass!
How has travel changed you? What growth experiences have you learned from it?
It’s hard to say. I can’t tell if travel has truly changed me, but I do know that it’s inspired me to be a better, more hospitable person. I’ve met so many people in my travels that have given me everything despite having nothing themselves. If they can find it in them to help me, a random foreigner they’ve only just met, I should be able to offer the same to people I meet in the future. If I have a couch of my own anytime soon, it’s open to all of you, dame travelers!
Where has travel taken you so far? Where to next?
I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over the world, despite being only 25. I’ve been to 5 continents (Australia and Antarctica I’ll visit one day when I’m filthy rich), and lived in the United States, Thailand, and the Netherlands.
I’m currently six months into a grand backpacking adventure through Eurasia. The journey began with a flight from Amsterdam to Tbilisi, Georgia. From there, I traveled overland through Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Pakistan, China, and Kazakhstan. I’m typing this in a coffee-scented cafe in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and tomorrow I’ll be heading to an embassy to apply for an Uzbekistan visa!
What makes you come alive?
I love being in a new place, surrounded by new things, new people, new languages, and having absolutely no idea what is going on at all. It’s okay if I don’t know what’s going to happen next—at that point, life is like a challenging game, one that I’m determined to win.
…as long as it’s not a billion degrees, that is. In those cases, I’m the opposite of alive, and my life goals are reduced to finding ice cream and air conditioning. Screw challenges.
I don’t focus on the task at hand. Instead, I walk around, dilly-dally, do something else. Creativity will eventually strike, at which point I jot down notes on my phone. I use Google Keep to write notes on my phone, and my Keep account is filled with approximately one billion notes about all kinds of things from blog post ideas to business plans for world championship laser tag tournaments in abandoned historical sights around the world (totally going to make millions on that one).
Once I find a bit of time, motivation, and caffeine between traveling and generally lazing about, I sit down and craft my ideas into something more tangible.
Your most rewarding accomplishments to date? Go on #girlboss, Tell us!
Surviving this long, duh!
In more seriousness, I’m super proud of the travel blog that I’ve started with my partner, Lost With Purpose. I built and designed the site myself, manage the too-numerous social media streams, and somehow find time to write and do the photography for it while on the road.
It’s helped us meet all kinds of badass people, both online and in the real world. We’ve become somewhat famous in Pakistan because of it. And we’ve just had our first piece republished on a major news site in Australia! This all happened before we even hit the six month mark, and it’s pretty insane. It’s a lot of work to maintain it, but I’m loving the challenge, and it’s super satisfying getting comments and messages from people all over the world saying how much we’ve inspired them or helped their travels. The internet is grand!
What’s your best advice for aspiring travelers?
Pick a date of departure, figure out what you need to do to get to that point, and do it. It’s easy to postpone trips to “one day”, or justify dipping into your travel savings for something you really don’t need.
Don’t let yourself be sidetracked. “One day” isn’t going to come and hit you in the face, you have to make that day. Keep your fingers out of your savings until the day you’re buying a ticket, otherwise it’ll get easier and easier to borrow from them until you have nothing left.