Italy

Inspiring Women to Travel More, Do More and Be More: The Story of Dame Traveler Creator, Nastasia Wong

Written By Kaitlyn Showalter

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Roma 

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Roma 

 One of our favorite things here at Travel Italian Style is being able to inspire other travelers through our stories, adventures, and snapshots. When we are able to cross paths with other travelers who hope to inspire others in the same ways, it’s simply magical.

Allow me to introduce you to one of those enchanting people—Nastasia Wong.

Known to you as Dame TravelerLove Letter to Italy and Nastasia Passport, Nastasia is an inspiring soul. Her dream is to give travel a meaning, a story that brings hope and drive to other women around the world. 

Having already visited over 40 countries, she has learned that with each destination, her mind would expand and become more open to the experiences and adventures that were awaiting her.

What we love about Nastasia is even after traveling worldwide, Italy is still her favorite destination. Which is why, naturally, our CEO, Cassandra and Nastasia have connected. 

 Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Nastasia on the road from atrani to amalfi with friends 

 Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Nastasia on the road from atrani to amalfi with friends 

However, Italy was not her first destination. Her wanderlust started unplanned and it was her husband, Johnny, who introduced her to travel. He immediately showed her all the amazing possibilities that lie within the world.

"I discovered my love for travel when I met my now husband, Johnny. He took me on my first international trip to Dublin as a surprise after I revealed on our first date that I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland."

Johnny's surprise has now left Nastasia with a wanderlust soul forever. Just a few years later, Nastasia and Johnny would travel internationally once more, this time for their wedding on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. 

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Amalfi Coast 

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Amalfi Coast 

To an industry outsider,  a career in travel always seems straightforward.  For Natasia, and many others, it was heartbreak that morphed her into the person she is today.

When she was 12 years old Nastasia was diagnosed with an 80-degree Scoliosis curvature and was in desperate need of a spinal fusion. However, her real turning point came much later in her life.

After 4 years of challenging nursing school, studying, and taking her boards, she ultimately found a job as a Labor & Delivery nurse in Chicago.

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Amalfi Italy

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Amalfi Italy

While in an emergency C-Section surgery, she injured her already fragile back, stopping her from her newfound career for a nine-month bed rest. Unfortunately, her injury permanently ended her nursing career.

Her life was in shambles because she had worked so hard to get to that point in hercareer, only to discover that she had to find a new path.

With this injury, Nastasia found a blessing in disguise. She discovered her real passion emerged in finding the beauty that the world has to offer and inspiring women all over the world to feel empowered through her experiences.

"It wasn’t a specific a travel experience that inspired me to make travel my career in life, but more so a life experience."

While on bed rest, she realized that there was a real lack of female travel communities, so she decided to create one using her skills to blog and develop her own website. This is now the blog we know today as Dame Traveler!

DAME TRAVELER FEATURE | PHOTO COURTesY of @GiaLifestyle

DAME TRAVELER FEATURE | PHOTO COURTesY of @GiaLifestyle

After learning to start over again, Nastasia knew she could inspire others. And what better way to do that than through beautiful photos and writing?

She realized that what started as a simple way to focus on the outside world during a tough period in her life, turned into a way documenting her own trips and dreams to build a career. Now, she is also helping to shape other women's lives by inspiring them to travel!

While it is not always easy, she is grateful for everyday and loves the ability to see unforgettable sights, document her journey through photography, and then inspire others through her words. It is especially rewarding to see the following and love that others in the community share with the Dame Traveler platforms.

Dame Traveler Feature | Photo courtsey of @sara.bez | Puglia 

Dame Traveler Feature | Photo courtsey of @sara.bez | Puglia 

Whether it is solo or on the road with her mother or a good friend, Nastasia's goal in life is to travel, to enjoy life and to bring strength and joy to others. She is passionate about her work and showing the hope and beauty that travel can bring across the world. 

What's next for Dame Traveler? Nastasia shares that she is working to expand her brand beyond just blogging and social media. She already has some great projects in development—we can’t wait to see what she cooks up!

One thing we know for sure, is that whatever she does, it will be filled with love, light and inspiration.

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Florence 

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Florence 

The message Nastasia would like to leave us with is one she learned from our Bella Italia.

"Italians live a simple, beautiful life that is full of passion"

Italy has taught her that when in doubt, to always choose love and to  remember, "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

There is an amazing world out there and if we give it a chance and get on a plane, something magical may just happen. 

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Positano  

Photo Courtesy of Dame Traveler | Positano  

Meet Nastasia Wong:

40 countries into her journey, her passion for the world has led her to create a sizeable community of female travelers where her mission is to empower them to travel more, do more and be more. Whether sipping on chai in Istanbul or volunteering abroad in South Africa, Nastasia continues to find and share the beauty of this world, thus inspiring people to change the way they see and experience life.

Keep up with all of her newest adventures on Instagram:

@dametraveler
@lovelettertoitaly
@nastasiaspassport
@dametravelerfoodie
@dametravelerhotels


What is it about photos and blogs that inspire you to travel? Tell us below or share your travel dreams with us and let us make it into a reality through our Custom Travel Planning or one of our small group Women Tours. 


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Kaitlyn Showalter is the Public Relations and Media Marketing Strategist for Travel Italian Style. She is a junior at James Madison University, where she is majoring in Communications focusing on Public Relations and also minoring in Creative Writing. Kaitlyn’s passion for traveling emerged when she took a month long trip abroad to Italy with her entire family to discover her roots.

She instantly fell in love with the warm Italian culture, beautiful landscape, and incredible food. Since this eye opening trip Kaitlyn has continued to travel as much as possible and loves finding herself while being immersed in other cultures. She also has a passion for using social media in order to share experiences and effectively communicate travel stories to friends, family, and anyone who also loves to explore the world. She aspires to bring others the same joy she feels while visiting new cultures and hopes to give travelers the most authentic view of the culture they are experiencing. Kaitlyn cannot wait to continue to gain an even better worldly perspective through genuine travel opportunities like Travel Italian Style has to offer!

Traveling Abroad with Your Family: 13 Quick Tips To Save You Time and Money!

Guest Post By: Jenna Greenspoon and Lisa Korbin, Owners of Savvy Sassy Moms

Family vacations are such a special time and being able to take our families around the world is something we are so grateful for. We both began traveling with our kids when they were young, as young as 6 weeks old.

While traveling with young kids is amazing, preparing for the trip brings on lots of anxiety! What to bring and how much, where to begin?! Over the years, we have compiled a list to assist us in acclimatizing our children to time differences, climate changes, and combating boredom.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE | WOMEN'S AMALFI COAST TOUR 2015

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE | WOMEN'S AMALFI COAST TOUR 2015

1. Get plenty of rest before your trip. Often times a family excursion is exhausting, you may be on the go for most of your travel and you can’t count on sleeping on the plane with children in tow!

2. Preparation and organization are key to successful travel with children. Select travel bags that have multiple pockets, keep games and activities in the front compartments for easy access. Ensure all of your children’s favourite items are in those front pockets! And don’t forget to leave room for the additional clothes you are wearing that may need to be thrown into the bags.

3. Load up on dollar store items such as; no-mess crafts and activities, water painting, scratch away crafts, sticker books with loads of stickers and notebooks.

"Buying small inexpensive activities at the dollar store will provide entertainment without breaking the bank, since you’ve attributed all extra funds to the trip itself!"

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

4. Where are you traveling to? Consider what can be purchased there or ordered ahead of time to arrive at your destination such as diapers, wipes and other children’s items that you may need. This will save space!

"Ask your children to help you pack. This way they know where everything is and hopefully good packing skills will be instilled when they have to pack for themselves later on! "

5. Ask your children to help you pack. This way they know where everything is and hopefully good packing skills will be instilled when they have to pack for themselves later on! For the little ones, have them select 2 or 3 toys that they want to bring along so that they when they arrive, they know what has come from home.

6. Pack outfits in order to eliminate unnecessary clothing. Try not to throw anything in at the last minute, it will probably never be worn.

7. For young kids, pack their clothes in outfits as well and put them in big ziploc bags to save space in your suitcase!

PHOTO COURTESY OF SAVVY SASSY MEDIA

PHOTO COURTESY OF SAVVY SASSY MEDIA

8. Pack snacks that are easy to travel with and containers that are reusable and easy to clean. You will be grateful to have snack containers with you on your trip!

9. Dress in layers for travel. It may be hot in the morning but the second you board the plane or are in the car for prolonged periods of time, you may be cold. If you are traveling to a warm climate, you will immediately want to enjoy the warm weather and shed a few layers upon arrival.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

10. Bring travel wet-wipes to keep your hands clean. Your children will be touching everything and so is everyone else. Travel tissues are also a good thing to have on hand!

11. Do not wear anything white on the plane, in the car or at anytime with children on your trip!

12. Make sure that anything important, such as medications, are packed in your carry-on bag. You will never know when you will need it.

13. If you are traveling with young children, make sure to make any arrangements for items needed such as a crib or car seat, ahead of time. Call the place you are staying and be specific about what you need!

"Most importantly, remember the Italian mentality: Take a deep breath, enjoy your time with your family and have fun!"

 

Meet the Authors |
Featured Guest Bloggers: Lisa & Jenna 

With a strong foundation in childhood education and a driving passion for their work and families, Lisa and Jenna are both prepared and looking forward to the next phase of their lives as working moms. Using their experience as mothers and educators, they will do their best to share their knowledge, the love of learning, and a wealth of valuable personal experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in dedication to the pursuit of happy, healthy families everywhere and creating a worldwide (and web) community of savvy, sassy moms.

Be sure to check out more on Lisa and Jenna at SavvySassyMoms.com, an online style magazine for moms. 

How Italian Culture Changed Me For the Better

By Leora Kahn

A trip to Italy can change your life.

Don't be scared to let travel change you for the better.

In the spring of 2015, I was accepted to study business at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. To say I was excited was an understatement, but more than anything I was nervous. Nervous to leave the comfort and familiarity of my friends, nervous to miss out on memories being made without me, and nervous to be thousands of miles away with strangers. At that point I wished someone had told me that I had absolutely nothing to be nervous about. Those strangers quickly turned into family, and the whereabouts and activities of my friends back at school took a back seat. I was off visiting a new country each weekend, accumulating hundreds of priceless memories. When I returned home, the most frequent question I was asked was, “What was your favorite part?” To me, this is an impossible question. Everything I saw was incredible. Each weekend a new culture full of new foods, people, architecture, and customs. Favorite experience? St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland. But favorite country? Hands down, no questions asked, Italy.

"You may have the universe if I may have Italy." -Guiseppe Verdi

Towards the end of our program, a few of us took advantage of a long weekend and flew into Milan. From there we caught a train to Levanto, a beautiful city on the outskirts of Cinque Terre. For those of you that don’t know, Cinque Terre literally translates to the five cities, made up of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterossa al Mare, and Corniglia. Levanto in itself was breathtaking. We stayed at an apartment rented out by a family owned bed and breakfast. Our view from our balcony was beautiful and quaint and everything I could’ve possibly asked for. The first few hours set the stage for the rest of the trip. All of the locals I encountered wore their values on their sleeves. There were caring and gentle and familiar with us, complete strangers.

The first town we ventured to was Monterrosso, my personal favorite. We were determined to find a wine tasting, and what we found was more than we could have imagined. We climbed up a muddy pathway to the top of a hill, only to find an old woman baking and serving wine.

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

We ordered the best white and red wine I’ve ever tasted. Next was the famous Sciacchetra, which they prided themselves on because Obama himself tasted it at their vineyard (they immediately brought us his personal framed thank you once they found out we were from around DC). And finally, Limoncino which is crazy strong and delicious. Not to mention the never ending supply of bruschetta and pastries. So to answer the longing question, the view, wine, food, and company, made this without a doubt, my favorite part of Europe.

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

The next day we hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza for lunch. Later we visited Manarola and climbed to the top to see an incredible view and sip on phenomenal sangria and pina coladas. The moment I looked out over the beautiful town, I knew that I had been changed for the better. Never in my life had I been so relaxed, so at peace with myself. Traveling can be a pain with the details and planning, but the reward in the culture and the memories is beyond worth it. Whenever I feel stressed or anxious, I know to go to my happy places. Which are the beautiful vineyard in Monterosso, and the top of Manarola, with a sangria in my hand, surrounded by the beautiful Italian culture.

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

"Travel, not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along."

Take a trip with Travel Italian Style and experience the life changing Italy for yourself.

 

How has traveling changed your life? I would love to hear your comments below!

 


Meet Leora Kahn

Leora is the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Travel Italian Style and is a Marketing student at James Madison University. In the spring of 2015, she was accepted to study business in Antwerp, Belgium, which allowed her to explore Europe and open her eyes to new opportunities and experiences. Needless to say, she is now consumed with a passion to travel! Leora loves to document her travel stories through all types of social media in order to share with everyone the happiness that accompanies exploration.  Leora spent time travelling through 11 countries during her time abroad, while Italy was hands down her favorite due to the blissful culture, beautiful scenery, and tasty food. She cannot wait to visit again soon!