There are different ways to travel for an extended period of time. You can save up money for a while and then quit your job like I did, travel and work various jobs along the way, or find a more permanent job that involves traveling. For Nikki Satira, she chose to take advantage of an idea her partner proposed to work and travel in Yukon, Canada. For four months during the summer of 2010, Nikki explored various parts of the Yukon, British Colombia and Alaska. Since then she has been to Jamaica and looks forward to many more adventures around the world. Nikki is a published writer, poet, songwriter and musician and her love of nature, people and landscapes are reflected in her art. Nikki has already made some amazing travel memories and can’t wait to see what else the world has in store for her.
Who are you? How would you describe yourself?
I’m Nikki Satira! I’m a 22 year-old poet, writer, songwriter and musician. I’d describe myself as a very friendly, weird person – and when you’re both friendly and weird you tend to make a few people nervous. I’d also describe myself as stubborn and extremely easy going with a tendency to become very fierce only when I feel something is unjust! Nice to meet you! I’m in a band called Houses for Birds which features my unbelievably talented band mate and best friend, Katelyn, two ukuleles, crazy vocal harmonies and various fun instruments. I’m also a published writer and poet.
If you could define yourself in one word, what would it be?
What are you doing right now?
Sitting on the floor of my living room eating some food I made while simultaneously preparing for a show I’m about to play in two hours. I am also waiting for my awesome roomie to get home so I can shove the food I made into her mouth and make her stomach happy.
Has traveling made you more passionate about a career in environmental development?
It’s funny because before I traveled, I had a completely different idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I am currently studying environmental studies at University. Before I traveled, it made sense to me that I should get involved with an environmental NGO, some kind of charity or some kind of ecological initiative when I graduate . Not because I was passionate about it, but because it felt like the right thing to do. After I lived in the Yukon, I really developed an incredible sense of self and independence. It changed who I am as a person and allowed me to grow more than I could ever imagine. I wouldn’t say I am more passionate about a career in environmental development, but about life in general. I’m more passionate about being a good person and teaching others what I’ve learned. I’m more passionate about writing, music and telling stories through these endeavours. I’m more passionate about having fun, but at the same time living and changing with the new knowledge I learn every day. I just want to keep learning!
I have no pressing career goals and no expectations. I just have the knowledge of the kind of person I want to be; which is more valuable to me than any career goal. I do know that I want to educate people because I attribute a large part of my character to a few teachers that have changed my life. But before I even attempt to teach anyone anything, I want to know that I know enough and have seen enough to have something to teach to someone else. I do know that through my travels, I have seen so much indescribable beauty that has even brought me to tears on many occasions. I remember looking at the mountains for the first time in my life and bawling my eyes out. These are things that need to be preserved, and I wanted to be part of that preservation. Due to the nature of what I study, I have been exposed to so much ugly in the world. I am constantly reading about the millions of problems we have created every single day which makes me really want to focus on putting some beauty and happiness into people’s lives.
When did you develop the travel bug?
As soon as I stepped off of the plane from Toronto in Vancouver. The smell of a different place and the new sights and surroundings made me feel so good. It was different, and I felt stressed out and tired yet, it was the best feeling in the world to be in a new environment! I looked forward to every new place I stopped at from then on. I am itching to travel again, but am waiting for the right time. I am a firm believer that anything that we are meant to do in our lives will happen when they happen. That belief is what keeps me from stressing out about not traveling right now. I know I’ll go somewhere again sometime soon. I know this because it is something I want to do and anything you are driven to do, you eventually end up doing!
Do you have a travel mentor or someone who has inspired you to explore the world?
Not anyone in particular. I just am surrounded by well-traveled people all the time, and it makes me itch to see what they have seen and have stories to tell. I am in awe of other people who have traveled, and I have so say, quite often jealous! I use these emotions to channel the energy that will get me off my seat and go. Also, I really love the show Departures. The work of Justin Lukach, Andre Dupuis and Scott Wilson is very inspiring, and I definitely look up to them.
Where did you go on your last trip and what brought you there?
I lived and worked in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. While staying there, I also traveled throughout the Yukon as well as Alaska and British Colombia. Nobody really knows how beautiful those places are until they see for themselves. I was utterly moved by the Yukon and definitely taken by spell. What brought me there was actually my partner, Aaron. It was four months into our relationship, and he turned to me and said, “Want to go to the Yukon this summer? I can get us jobs there.” I’ve always had the philosophy of saying yes to every amazing opportunity that arises and so without hesitation, I said yes! Then this yes turned into planning and the planning came to fruition! Before I knew it, the four months of traveling had gone by. During my travels, I met the most amazing people and was truly inspired by the landscape. I also cultivated such a strong bond with my partner; we were able to travel together and experience each other’s high’s and low’s, which I feel is really important in building a strong relationship. He definitely gave me an opportunity that I will always remember for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to him and all the wonderful travels I got to partake in such as: driving up the notorious Dempster highway, visiting Canada’s preserved gold rush town, spending time in Dawson City, seeing whales and glaciers and the most amazing rainforests in Alaska, exploring North America’s smallest desert in Carcross, having nothing to eat and nowhere to go in Atlin, BC, and the list goes on. The history and beauty of every place I went to, along with so many enlightening experiences, will always be in my thoughts. I felt these experiences in my bones and they became a part of who I am. Forever, I will never ever forget my time in the land of gold.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel the Yukon or anywhere else on a budget?
Take the Greyhound bus! Work and travel! That’s the best way. I took a two day Greyhound from Vancouver to Whitehorse and while it was unbelievably uncomfortable, I met the greatest people on the bus and saw the most amazing scenery. Driving as opposed to flying is good monetarily but also emotionally. This is because it allows you to slowly take in what you are experiencing rather than plopping you into a new destination and forcing you to adjust super-fast (which can have an intense emotional toll on your body). You can also work and travel. There are many opportunities for work around Canada; you just have to know where to look. The place I worked at in the Yukon actually had job postings on craigslist!
Let’s talk about your poetry and your music. What do you write/sing about? Has traveling impacted your work? How so?
I write about the beauty and intricacies that I see in everyday things, whether it is the beauty of decay, the smell of libraries, or the belief in the Sasquatch. I also write social & environmental justice music for children. Everything I create has an important place in my heart and comes from my experiences, thoughts and philosophies. As I grow, so do my creations. While traveling, I got a couple of pieces of prose I wrote published in the local newspaper thanks to this amazing man Michael Brine that I met while in the Yukon. You can check out these pieces here, as they were also published in an online blog:
What’s the most important thing you have learned about yourself during your travels?
I learned that I am a strong person who craves adventure. I also almost died in a white water rafting accident so that experience really pushed me to see how short life is and how much the people in my life matter to me. I also learned that I am powerful, but at the same time very small and fragile. In fact, my travel experiences have really pushed me to see exactly how small I am and how vulnerable we humans are in nature. To balance that, we really need to fully respect nature. It’s an extremely strong force that we can forget about, especially with all the modern comforts of living in urban settings.
Has traveling changed the way you look at your everyday life? The friends you make? Your career?
Wholeheartedly, yes! I am a changed person. For a while after coming back from the Yukon, I suffered intense withdrawal and anxiety that I could not understand. It really affected me, and I was extremely depressed. The six months after I came back were the toughest in my life. I went through such an emotional changing process. However, from that experience, I now know how to deal with my emotions for the next time I travel. My travels have also made me realize what is the most important in my life. This includes: meaningful friendships, family, putting love into everything I do, and realizing that love matters more than anything else in this world. I have made a lifelong best friend that I care about so much (Katelyn), a wonderful person who is the love of my life (Aaron), and an incredible family that has shown me so much love and support through all of my endeavours. I would have never created these relationships without the experience of traveling. I would have never realized how much they mean to me either.
What are your future travel plans?
My fantabulous love surprised me with an itinerary he created that involves us driving across Canada. He planned every stop over, every landmark or attraction, mileage and gas usage. This is for when the both of us graduate University. I don’t really have anything planned between now and then, but I can say for certain that there will definitely be another adventure before then.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel but doesn’t think they have enough money to do so?
When most people think about travel, I think they get the impression that it is quite expensive. People are lead to feel this way because of the culture of travel in North America – the room service, heated pool, cute towel boy, tropical ocean-side and all-inclusive-resort resorts. This most certainly is the worst way to travel (by my standards at least). The goal is to think outside of the box and allow yourself to be open to the vulnerability of your own comfort and safety. Leave the metaphorical tourist trap map behind and prepare to get smelly, lose sleep, be cranky, and have the most rewarding experience of your life! It’s pretty simple actually. If you’re travelling somewhere within Canada or the United States, take a bus! If you’re going overseas, couch surf! Skip the hotel and stay at a hostel. Little things like that will go a long way when it comes to your money.
**Great tip: Sign up for WWOOF* where you can exchange your labour for free room & board, food and sometimes even a small allowance.**
What opportunities have you been given as a result of your travel experiences?
This one! Writing for Hopscotch the Globe.
To read more about Nikki and her wonderful adventures, visit her at:
Riding The Whitehorse – Adventures in the Yukon
Eating My Words – Poetry
High Voltage Living Creatures – Poetry
You can also find her and her music here.