Stamps On A Passport

Stamps On A Passport - How to Follow Your Bliss Instead of Traveling for Bragging Rights

Dear Reader,

Two weeks ago I met a man at a hostel in Bruges, Belgium. I spoke to him about Empowered Wanderer, explaining how I’d quit my full-time job to pursue my passion.

Apparently my description was intriguing enough for him to hop online and read my words.

A few hours later our paths crossed again, and he said, “I can tell you’re not the kind of person who travels for the Instagram posts, for the bragging rights, or for the stamps on your passport. You travel because you love it.”

First of all, I was like: "Damn homie you see me!”

But secondly, his statement provided this beautiful barometer of authenticity. I set out on this journey to pursue freedom, to bring unabashed joy into my life, and to grow and care for myself through wandering.

Additionally, I started Empowered Wanderer, to share this power, to inspire others to lead lives that felt in alignment with their passion, happiness and power.

It was never about how many stamps filled my passport.

It was never about how countries I could list on my Instagram bio.

Or continents I could traverse for my tinder bio.

Last night I sat awake until 2 AM stressing about money, about where I would go next, about how I could get to Prague, Austria and Germany in one week.

And suddenly I was brought back to that man’s comment. I realized, I was losing track of myself, of my passion. I was falling into the “stamps on a passport” trap.


18 countries, 20 states, 4 continents.

That’s what my Instagram Profile says.

I wanted my countries and states to match, by the time I turned back state side.

20 counties, 20 states, 4 continents.

That was my goal.

But why?

When the hell did THAT become my goal?

Somewhere along the way, I got caught up in other traveler’s Instagram profiles.

Profiles that said: 40 states, 50 countries, 6 continents.

If I could reach their level, we could collaborate.

If I could reach their level, I would make more money.

If I could reach their level…I would be successful.

It became a comparison, a competition, in the same way we compete with other women instead of empowering them, in the same way we compete with co-workers instead of collaborating with them. I was falling back into the unhealthy patterns I had left behind.

And just like that, I knew I needed to shift my mindset once again.


Why would I go to big cities, when I kept being called back to nature?

Why would I spend extra money to pursue sights I could come back for when I truly wanted to see them?

The answer was, if I was really being true to myself, I just wouldn’t.

So, I pulled my computer back out with a new mentality, with my original mentality: “Where do I want to be? What makes me feel good? What makes me feel alive?”

And just like that a $2 flight popped up. As if it were meant for me!

The flight was to Rome, a city I’d already explored. And just that, another big city. But then I started to unpack my options. 6 hours from Rome tucked away on the coast, was the small town of Genoa, a 10 minute train from Cinque Terre (one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been).

I realized I could spend the end of my trip hiking towering hills, winding in and out of vineyards, gazing upon the sea.

And a few moments later, my flight was booked.


I’d love to say everything has gone smoothly since I clicked “book”. But honestly, It’s kind of been a whirlwind of travel mishaps. Nonetheless, even with the struggle I believe I am heading to the right place, for the right reasons.

My mission is to wander this world, to breath in wild air, and step more deeply into my untamed soul.

Empowered Wanderer is unique, it’s not about checking the countries off a bucket list, about stamps on a passport, or about going to incredibly unattainable locations to post on IG.

Empowered Wander IS about WANDERING (go figure, right?) Sure, full-time and international travel are ways of wandering, but so is returning to the same park you’ve walked your dog at a million times and TAKING A NEW ROUTE…and everything in between.

May each of you follow your own unique bliss, and wander in your own ways, not to gain stamps on your passport, photos to brag about, or postcards from far away cities; but instead to fill your heart with joy and your soul with growth

I endeavor to lead by example and hope that you see the same spirit in my writing, as the man in my hostel in Bruges! And mostly, I hope it empowers you!

With love,

Annalise