In April 2013, Samantha Starling decided to do quit her job and change her career into a real traveler. She wanted to experience the real world, while escaping the real world. She wanted to learn to appreciate the little things in life and meet people.
She likes to share tips and stories in the hope that she can inspire people to get out there and explore this fascinating planet that we live on and that’s why she founded Totally Sam’s World.
Here’s our interview with Samantha:
Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
Oh, hi! Well, my name is Sam and I have been addicted to travel for as long as I can remember. When I used to go on holiday as a little girl, I always got this overwhelming sense of adventure and desire to explore new places. I also used to cry whenever I had to go back to the UK! I think travel is good for the soul, it opens your eyes to new cultures, gets you talking to people you wouldn’t usually cross paths with, it enables you to step out side of your comfort zone and test yourself as well as teaching you independence. In my opinion, travel brings us together as a community and provides us with understanding and empathy towards other people, animals and the planet.
Can you tell us something about the culture in your country?
I’ve been living in Australia now for 3.5 years, and I am just in love with how the majority of Australians are so passionate about supporting local businesses rather than big corporate companies. They look out for each other, and have a great sense of community. I also love that they are very “green,” always trying to look for new ways to support the planet, and combat global warming.
What surprising aspect of culture do you love about your country (or your specific town/city) that travelers may not be aware of?
The Aussie culture is pretty relaxed. I feel that they tend to want the best lifestyle for them and their families, rather than working every waking hour. Obviously work is important, but they work to live rather than live to work. I find that really refreshing, and I’m sure any travelers who visit will too!
Growing up in your country, what’s something that you believe makes it unlike anywhere else in the world?
Okay, so I grew up in a small town in Hampshire, UK. It’s been voted the most desirable place to live in the UK for a few years now; it’s a really beautiful area and I was very lucky to grow up there. Hampshire is around 40 minutes to London, and London is a very special city to me. It’s full of history, art and culture, and I’m in love with how diverse it is. I grew up very open minded, and I am thankful for that.
Talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you? Which family values are valuable to you?
Family is very important to me, and although I’ve been away for almost four years, we still all have a very strong connection. To me, it doesn’t matter how near or far you are from family, what matters is that you are there for each other whatever time of day. Family doesn’t need to be blood, although my blood relations are obviously very special. I am lucky enough to have a ‘family’ here in Australia, we share Christmas together, and all stick by one another through the fun and also tough times of being away from home.
How important is spirituality and religion in your daily life? What do you do to celebrate the two?
Personally I am not religious, so I do not celebrate that in my daily life. However I’m open to learning and understanding religions, especially when traveling. I would say I am spiritual; I try and celebrate gratitude on a daily basis, focusing on positive aspects of life; what I have rather than what I don’t have and I feel like this really makes a difference to my mood and outlook in life. I am also fascinated in natural remedies, holistic treatments, spirits in the afterlife and the zodiac. A bit of a mish-mash but as I said, I’m pretty open to it all!
Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo, if you can.
I’ve actually danced since the age of four and I believe that it is one of the most powerful creative outlets; dance can really bring people together, tell a story, reflect a mood and give you an insight in to a belief or culture. I try and make it to a local dance class everywhere I go. So far, I’ve danced local styles in Spain, Australia, The Cook Islands, New Zealand, Thailand and Cambodia. I’m hoping to learn Belly Dance in Dubai next year and head to Central & South America as I know how to dance Cuban Salsa and it’s a dream to the Tango in the Streets of Buenos Aires!
Languages not only give us the power to communicate, but also can unite us across cultures. What’s something you love about the multitude of languages spoken in your country? Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.
In both the UK and Australia the native language is English so I’ll share with you two funny paragraphs I wrote on my blog last year!
G’day mate! How ya going? I’ve been heaps busy this arvo. Went to the bottle-o to get a few cold frothys for the barbie at the beach. My mate Bruce was meant to be helping me out but he’s crook in bed at the moment, so Ned came instead. He’s a bit of a Drongo though, so I told him to rack off! Went to Woolies where I stocked up on snags, chooks, rissoles and salad for the sangas. Then rushed back home to wash the ute and whipper snip the hedge, it’s bloody out of control! Anyways, I met this chic called Renee in the surf last week, absolutely stoked coz she’s a beaut but the other night I was off her coz I found out she was rooting Dave-o from the veggie store. I asked Bruce if it was true and he said ‘bloody oath, mate’ and I was like ‘faaaaar out, Brucey’! I was pissed. But good on him for telling me, he’s fair dinkum he is. A good mate to have. So she’s not coming to the barbie anymore now I know she’s a skank!
Hello there, how are you today? I’ve been super busy this afternoon. I had to go to the off licence to get a few cold beers for the BBQ at the park, which is rather weather dependent. My friend William was supposed to be helping me but he’s poorly in bed at the moment, so Adam came instead. He’s a bit of a wally though, so I politely told him to go away. I headed to Sainsbury’s where I stocked up on sausages, burgers, chicken and salad for the sandwiches. I then rushed back home to wash the beamer and strim the hedge, it’s out of control at the moment! Anyway, I met this girl called Sophie in Weatherspoons last week, pretty excited because she’s a stunner, but the other night I wasn’t a fan because I found out she was shagging Alex from the office. I asked William if it was true and he swore on his life. I couldn’t believe it! I was so pissed off. But I’m glad he told me, he’s very genuine. A good friend to have. So she’s not coming to the BBQ anymore now I know she’s a whore!
If I had a superpower I would choose to be able to speak any language in the world, it would be so useful and the locals would love it!
What local spot in your city/town do you love most? Why is it personally important to you?
I love the beach, I always wanted to be by the ocean and now I live just a stones throw away. The beach is my happy place, I try and go most days as it brings peace to a busy life. My mood is always better on days I visit the beach. Where I live in Byron Bay, is the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland, so we welcome the sunrise first, it’s pretty magical to watch the sun appear over the water in the horizon. The best things in life and most definitely free.
Who is the most inspiring person in your life? In which ways does this person inspire you?
I’m pretty lucky to have a few inspirations in my life but I would have to say that my Mum is the most inspiring. Although my life is very different to hers when she was my age, she’s taught me that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. She’s always given me the very best she can and has always supported me. She’s taught me that love is the most powerful tool in this world and that emotional strength comes from within, even when you don’t believe it’s there.
Have you ever met a stranger during your travels who made an impact on your life in a certain way, or maybe it was you who helped someone else? Share the story!
This is a tough one as I have met so many amazing strangers. A stand out would be a girl I met here in Byron Bay. I wasn’t in a very good place at the time and we had a long chat; it was as if we had known each other for a lifetime and like she knew exactly how I felt. She told me to stay where I was because Byron Bay is a very healing place. At the time I thought she was talking rubbish, but over two years later, I’m the happiest I have ever been. I don’t know if it was a subconscious shift in mindset or if the aboriginal people really did know that this land is healing; whichever it was, I will always remember our conversation and believe it was a pivotal point in my life.
Unfortunately, stereotypes exist in the world. What are some common misconceptions you’ve heard about your country? What is considered disrespectful in your culture that visitors should be aware of?
I would say it’s the same for both the UK and Australia. We have a reputation of being drunk and rowdy when we go overseas. Sometimes this is true, but not everyone does this. Give us a chance to show that we respect other counties, other people and other cultures. Not all of us spend our annual leave drinking moonshine in Mallorca or Bali and upsetting the locals!