Name: Selma Kjartansdóttir
Age: 25 years old
Thank you for your time today Selma!
Would you be able to start with a quick introduction about yourself?
My name is Selma and I’m from a rather small town in the north of Iceland, where I’m now working and finishing my university degree in anthropology. I first went backpacking to Asia some five years ago and since that I’ve been seriously hooked on traveling, but I feel best when somewhere abroad, making my way through a foreign country and exploring all the pretty little places and people that the world has to offer.
So far I’ve been to about 56 countries around the world – as well as living in few of them, but I was an exchange student in Greece and Poland and last summer I was living the good life in Turkey – while working as an activity guide by the Mediterranean sea.
Now I’m having a bit of a break from the vagabond life style, but in the meantime I’m going to share my previous travel photos and memories on my Instagram account.
Where are you in the world currently?
For now I’m living in my home town, Akureyri – or The capital of the north as we like to call it. It’s a nice little town with pretty much everything you need so it’s always nice to come back here and take a break from the life on the road.
Where do you plan to get to this year?
I hardly ever manage to make proper plans so it’s hard to say. Actually I make plans, but I make so many plans that it’s often impossible for me to follow them. But my dream for the summer is to travel down the Balkan countries – including a party cruise in Croatia!
Then my friend is getting married in Mexico by the end of the year so it would be a dream to be able to make a quick visit there. But I need to see how much free time I’ll find this year to go to all the places I have in mind!
What has been your all time favorite place?
India. They say that either you love it or hate it – and I’m definitely one of those who loves it. For me India is like nowhere else. It’s full of life and you can be sure to see something new and exotic everyday. Last year I was lucky enough to attend a three day wedding ceremony which was an unique life experience and privilege that I’ll never forget.
I dream to go back there once again and spend some months in the country side, study yoga and meditation, volunteer and simply enjoy being a life. Hopefully that dream will come true.
Could you share us your all time favorite photo you have taken traveling?
So many photos to choose from, but this one if one of my favorites. Not because it’s the best one I’ve taken, but because it’s from my first solo backpacking trip where I spent 5 weeks traveling through Egypt, Israel and Palestine.
I think I’ll never forget the moment when we were landing and the flight attendant welcomed us to Egypt. So many feelings and thoughts started running through my mind and all of a sudden I felt like everyone at home might have been right – that I was making a mistake by going alone to such “dangerous” countries!
But I wasn’t and it turned out to be one of my best trip ever!
What is your top backpacking tip?
Travel light, because without the heavy bags you are free and it gives you the opportunity to be spontaneous and go wherever the road leads you, but in my opinion the adventures happen when you don’t have too much planned.
And have some back up cash in your backpack, US$ being the best option. You don’t want to be stuck in a small Chinese mountain village without money and no one speaking English around you. Also you don’t want to be stuck on a small island in Laos without any money or food – on Christmas day! Believe me I’ve tried both and it’s better to have that spare cash in case the ATMs decide to stop working in remote places.
Which thing should every backpacker carry with them? – Saying mobile phones isn’t allowed, be creative 😉
Their backpack, of course! But personally I would never travel without my camera either. For me it’s important to have some memories to look at after my trips. Lot of my photos are of random things that nobody will enjoy looking at, but they mean a lot to me because each thing has a whole story behind it. This way I use my camera to remember moments that otherwise I would forget.
Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for anyone undecided about travelling?
My all time favorite quote is “The biggest mistake in life, is being afraid of making one” so my inspiration is simple:
Don’t think too much and just go. Go where ever you’ve always wanted to go. And if you don’t find anyone to go with you, go alone. You will be surprised how much people you will meet on your way and in the end I’m sure you will wish for moments where you are actually alone, because it rarely happens.
If it’s your first backpacking trip then many people will probably tell you to go somewhere it’s easy to travel, such as Europe or SE-Asia. But my advise is to go where ever you want to go, because no mater where you decide to go there will be someone who can help you out if you find your self in trouble or don’t know the right way.
Just use your common sense and you’ll have the time of your life!
What has been your favorite food whilst away?
Indian food and friend noodles. And fresh fruits, as it’s hard to find in Iceland. That’s why I always use the opportunity when abroad to eat a lot of fresh fruits from the local markets.
Actually I tend to eat a lot when I’m away from home because I love to try new things and experience the local cuisines – also because food in Iceland can be quite pricey so better enjoy while you can, right?
What has been your favorite activity whilst away?
Are bus rides an activity? Anyway, this is one of the things I love the most about traveling, the long bus rides. Yes call me crazy, but there is just something magical about listening to your favorite music while staring out the window, watching all the small villages and towns pass by while soaking in the local lifestyle.
To see people living their daily life, kids running to school, farmers working on their fields, women carrying the groceries back home, slow walking animals causing traffic problems… I just simply love sitting in a bus and enjoy the moment.
Also the excitement about arriving to an unknown place soon and experience new adventures in a new place.
Thank you for your time Selma! What a brilliant interview, you have seen so much of the world!
We appreciate all your backpacking tips and inspiration, and your photos are amazing!
We look forward to seeing where you get to next.
Make sure to follow Selma and see more of her adventures on her Instagram: pretty.little.places