"If I can do it, anyone else can get started, too."
Tiffany Lin, the creative mastermind behind "FollowTiffsJourney" on Instagram, spoke to Wide Open Roads about the overlooked accessibility of travel, drawing on her growth from the everyday woman to an expert traveler and hiking blogger. The California native dove deep into her traveling journey, telling tales of how she got started, what inspired her to keep exploring, how she balances her experiences on social media, and what it means for her to travel. But one of the biggest emphases that she continuously returned to was that if you really want to travel, it's more attainable that most would think.
Tiffany Lin: Expert Travel & Hiking Blogger
Lin told Wide Open Roads that one doesn't need a six-figure salary to travel. Instead, having the opportunities to travel depends on how you spend your time and focus, saying:
"I think in life, I feel like not a lot of people fully comprehend what it is to live within your means. If you are making six figures and you can go blow that on great things- go. Go on those fancy vacations and stuff. But if you have a tight budget, then live within your means... but you don't have to have a lot of money to travel. I might be limited on time, but with a full weekend, from Friday night until Sunday night, you can actually do a lot... I know it's totally doable and a lot of my hiking partners in the past, specifically my last couple of female partners, have worked full time... I have partners that I go hike with every single week, and if they can do it, so can you."
Social Media vs. Reality
Lin took us back in time before the outdoor industry boomed on social media, expressing that her love for adventure blossomed before it became glorified on the internet. "Let's be honest, a lot of people go out now for the 'gram [Instagram]," she said. "They go out to do these hikes because it's cool and because they can post about it on the 'gram. And as much as I love getting great photos out of my journeys and my adventures, I'm more about the stories behind them. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy the occasional road trips just to sightsee some of America's most beautiful, touristy spots, but I am very much more about the hike and the climb. To be able to get content out of it is great, but I'm not going to do something just to get the Instagram picture. Great for the people who do want to do that, but I very much want adventure out of everything, and then hopefully I have this better story to tell."
She talked about the autonomy she found in hiking, after her twin sister moved across the world for a year. In explaining how the outdoors felt more like a place where she belonged, Lin expressed her connection to nature and what it does for her, saying, "To me, the outdoors is really a place where I just felt like I belong. When I'm in nature, I feel very, as corny and cheesy and cliche as it sounds, one with nature. I feel very connected. I feel like I constantly have 1,000,001 thoughts running through my head, and it's a place that I feel like my mind can just be quiet. It's a place of peace for me."
Traveling Safely as a Woman
Diving into traveling as a woman, Lin admitted she feels like she's been lucky with her experiences. But even though her overall travels have been pretty smooth for the most part, she conceded that she hasn't been invulnerable to sticky situations and revealed how those problems actually didn't stem from outside, but rather online instead.
"I feel maybe I'm just kind of lucky or something being a female, at least like during my travels in person. It's been pretty awesome. I haven't had many issues being a woman in the outdoors, which I know a lot of people talk about as an important issue. But I just feel like I haven't personally experienced any issues being a woman in the outdoors this year. I feel like social media is actually where all of my hate comes more than my travels because it's online- everybody has a screen that they can hide behind."
As she continued explaining how cutthroat the social media world is, she also shed light on how she deals with the hate: "When people like to say something to me that's not true or it catches me off guard or something, I very much want to put someone in their place if they're wrong, and it has stopped a lot of people from saying mean things to me." Firmly, she added how it's not right to say anything you want just because you're behind a screen; people need to remember that there's still a real human being on the other side. But even after mentioning how she's comfortable standing her ground, Lin also talked about the importance of not letting the hate get to you by simply blocking those accounts and moving on.
Lin's online presence hasn't been only negative. She excitedly spoke on how amazing it is for her to embark on adventures and to have others come up to her, recognizing her from her social media account. Those interactions even led to new adventure partners, helping her build a community she truly admires, and also encourage her to keep pursuing trips in order to keep inspiring the average woman.
"I'm curious to meet people who I inspire and people who follow me. It's really sweet. When I do meet somebody in the mountains that follows me online, sometimes they do make it very awkward," she says with a slight chuckle, "But then there are the ones that tell me about how I inspire them and that just melts my heart to hear. Cause I'm literally just a girl loving the outdoors and sharing that love. And I hope to inspire other average girls to get out there because I was never like this. I feel like I've found who I'm meant to be, but I was never this person initially."
Nevertheless, regarding facing dangers as a woman while outdoors, Lin offered an interesting statement she learned from other female hikers: "I've had a lot of other female hikers that I've been out with say that they're not scared of animals, but actually are more scared of humans." During a road trip in the middle of the desert with another female adventure partner, Lin recalled when a few men came up to their car while they were sleeping. While the men were knocking on the windows and trying to open the car doors, Lin and her friend remained very anxious, quiet, and still, hoping that the men would go away. Although the men eventually left, Lin disclosed that she truly didn't know what the men's motives were in trying to get in the car, whether it was checking on them to make sure they were okay or possibly other malicious intentions.
Of course, that didn't stop Lin from continuing to travel as frequently as she does. Her inspiring courage was even more evident when she talked about how she actually enjoys exploring national forests over national parks. While tourists and hikers alike flock towards populated places like Yosemite, Lin enjoys the underrated beauty of the national forests because of how less-explored and more remote they are. And when it comes to her blog, she writes from the heart, hoping to put her readers as close to her experiences as possible. She writes in hopes of providing as much information as she can, so that someone starting out in travel can be as prepared as possible.
Although she hopes to inspire the average woman to get up and take traveling into her own hands, traveling can be done by anyone as long as they're willing to put their energy towards it.
"Live within your means... Even if you want to just go on a weekend trip or something, it doesn't have to cost a lot. I often sleep in a tent or in the car - talk about budget-friendly. There are so many free camping areas, if you just know where to look. You can just Google and find it. But you do have to put time into your research."
Do you have any tips on traveling safely as a woman or navigating the social media world in a healthy way? Share your advice with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
READ MORE: "Stay On The Trail": A Conversation with Jason Hagani, Photographer and Environmental Scientist
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