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Rikka – Deviating the Norm

From Germany to New Zealand, Rikka from Deviating the Norm has done and seen some pretty incredible things on her travels. Find out what she learned in Thailand and what she jogged next to in Iceland!


Why do you love travel?

Travel allows me to “deviate the norm.” It relieves me of my daily routine and forces me to see, do, and think things I normally would not back home in the USA. I try new foods and activities, make unexpected friendships with other travelers and locals, and consider perspectives about people’s identities, behaviors, and cultures I never did before.

Travel is a journey of self—it gives me the opportunity to develop who I am in new ways while also confirming whom I have always been. By pushing myself beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone, travel helps expose false limitations I’ve set for myself and identify my true limits.

Travel helps dismantle my biased vision of the world and replaces it with a more accurate one. Before I go anywhere, I recognize I have a preconceived notion about what the destination will be like. The best part is getting there and finding out its so much richer, full of beauty and catastrophe, in ways I never could have imagined.

Travel is affordable if you put in a little extra time and effort before you leave. I was able to pay for all of my flights with frequent flier miles built up using a few travel hacking techniques. I also found accommodation for free everywhere I went through couchsurfing and housesitting. These experiences not only cut down on costs but also provided me with more enriching experiences than if I had paid in full.

What destination is top of your bucket list?

Iceland, New Zealand, and Thailand were all at the top of this list—but since I’ve visited all three (among others) in the last 7 months, my new top bucket list destinations are definitely Argentina or anywhere in Africa. I want to visit Argentina mainly for its landscapes and culture and Africa for its wildlife and people.

Where is your most favourite place you have travelled to?

My favorite place was a farm I visited in Bavaria, Germany. It happened to be the farm on which my maternal grandfather was born and grew up. Visiting this place was really special because my grandfather died before I was born. I had the chance to meet and bond with his siblings and other relatives still living there and in nearby towns. My visit helped my family back home in the USA to reconnect with them and I had the chance to learn about my family history and see old photographs I had never had the opportunity to see before.

What is your most favourite memory or experience whilst travelling?

Ahh—there are too many! Perhaps it was the sensation of flying I felt when I learned how to SCUBA dive off the shores of Ko Tao in Thailand for the first time. Maybe it was jogging next to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon with enormous ice sculptures leftover by the receding Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland. Or possibly, it was chatting with a group of Maori guys in New Zealand about stereotypes after they picked me up while hitch-hiking to Christchurch. When every day is different and the world and its people so beautiful, it’s difficult to choose one favourite memory or experience.

What is your favourite photo from your travels?

There’s a photo this Czech Republican guy took of me as we were ascending the steepest part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit climb. We had almost reached the Red Crater. Behind me were the absolutely stunning Emerald Lakes and all around us were the volcanic wasteland valleys and huge mountainous Tongariro ranges dusted with snow from a storm two nights before. The trek so far had been extremely difficult since we were trying to do the entire 3-4 day circuit in just 2 days. I had about 8 blisters and the tendonitis in my feet was on fire. But at this very moment when the photo snapped, I was happier than I can ever recall being in my life. My heart was bursting with wonder over the brilliance and beauty of this rock we call Earth. It was in this moment I thought to myself “This is why I came to New Zealand.” It’s moments like these that make travel worth every penny, every ounce of effort, and every blister.


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