Go to Sarah Paynter’s Instagram @gypsezza and you’ll find a diary, specifically, a ‘Wallflower’ diary, of Sarah Paynter’s travels to your dream destinations. From the snow-capped mountains of her home country, to the tropical island of Santa Teresa in Cuba, Sarah has traveled all over the world and convinces you to do the same.
You’ve seen most of the world by now, what made you start traveling?
I grew up in a tiny fishing town in the south of Australia called Port Lincoln. As any high school student, I knew that I wasn’t going to stay after graduation. I was leaving. So at 18, I moved to Byron Bay and lived with my dad’s family for a while. While living there, I decided to take a gap year, and this is when I caught the travel bug. My first trip was to Mount Hotham, and from there I went to the Whitsundays Islands. Talk about climate change!
All this traveling inspired me to major in International Tourism in college. I interned at the biggest event management company in the country, which came with the best perks. I got passes to all the festivals, and met a lot of extraordinary artists.
After 3 years I realized that the long hours, the mountains of stress, and the low pay wasn’t for me. I moved back to Byron Bay and started planning lifestyle and fashion events. A year passed, and my friends and I decided to plan the biggest trip of our lives. We set off on our journey to Central America. First stop was to California, then we ventured to Vegas, took a trip down to Mexico for a month, until we finally ended up in Columbia for the remainder of our trip.
At 23, I realized that I not only wanted, but needed to travel for the rest of my life. I went back home and worked three jobs seven days a week, determined to travel. Four months passed and I decided to take a three-month journey through New Zealand. During the final days of my trip, I bought tickets and went up to Europe to work on superyachts. I worked in Europe for 2 years then got bored, I felt that I needed to do something more productive. That’s how ‘Wallflower Diaries’ was born.
Why did you decide to start ‘Wallflower Diaries’?
It’s somewhere for me to inspire others and give them the courage to chase after their dreams as I did. I use my experiences to help others, because the advice and experiences I have had has helped me immeasurably.
Wallflower Diaries is my creative outlet. I’d love to add coaching down the road to my page, but I’m still too focused on traveling to do that now! I’ve done some one on one sessions with people, and they’ve turned out great. I’m doing both a holistic healing and life coaching course at the moment as well, so we’ll see where everything goes.
When did social media start to be a big part of what you’re doing?
Around a year ago, I started to really get into the whole social media thing. At first, I just had my WordPress site, which was hard to navigate on my own. Once I started to get into all the nitty gritty of algorithms and posting tactics, I built up my social media presence on Instagram and Facebook. And it really blew up from there.
When scheduling your trips, how do you do it?
For work it’s more spontaneous, right now I’m a personal assistant so I travel around a lot. As for my personal travels, they can be quite planned out. I just got back from a trip to Cuba with the family for holiday, next I’m going to Sri Lanka in July with some of my best friends and at some point, I’ll make it to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
Have you been able to monetize your social media from your website?
I have but it’s been a journey, working on the yachts took a lot of time away from me blogging. I was contemplating on quitting my yacht job to spend all my time on blogging but then I got offered this awesome job I’m currently at and I decided to take it. In the future, if the coaching works out, then I’ll focus on that and add adventure travels or have health retreats based all over the world.
There’s a lot of people that get stuck behind a desk 9-5, what is your advice for those people that want to break to the mold and experience the digital nomad life?
I would say that social media is a great way to open people’s eyes to a new world, but it can also create stress. I would definitely encourage people to find what their passion is. An important thing to remember is your passion isn’t something you can discover overnight. It’s like an onion: it has layers. If you love doing something today, that doesn’t mean that you’ll love it in five years time.
In today’s world, there is so much opportunity to work remotely that you can really do anything you put your mind to.
It can be hard to eat healthy while on the road. When traveling, do you follow any specific diet?
I’m typically very health conscious. I stay away from meat, although I do eat a lot of fish. When
I’m traveling, I try to stick to smaller portions and try a little bit of everything. In some countries, it can be quite difficult to be vegetarian and eat healthily. When I’m home I eat a lot healthier, organic smoothies, fruits, vegetables, and I stick to my small portions.
How did your parents feel about your decision to have a more nomadic career as opposed to the traditional route?
My parents said that when I was 17 months old I went from crawling straight to running, and I never looked back. I’ve been super lucky to have the parents I have, they’re always supportive of me no matter what. I hope that I can be that same support system for my future kids, and give them the opportunity to grow and find their own happiness.
Is there anything that you wish you could go back and do differently?
If I had the opportunity to go back, I would probably choose different jobs. On the other hand, I know that all of my decisions up to this point have brought me exactly where I am supposed to be. I would also like to go back and clarify what my message is and who I want to hear that message. I’ve learned that if you’re trying talk to everyone then you are talking to no one.
How do you define your message now?
I’m trying to reach the dreamers and the doers of the world, I want to not only inspire but empower them to reach their goals. I want them to find who and what makes them happy. Nobody should ever have to settle for what’s available, they should work towards whatever they want.
How do you choose who to collab with?
I’m really selective with who I work with, they have to be ethical. I love to work with smaller start-up companies because they have a more intimate energy. I’m drawn to someone who has a really good vibe about themselves and who is energetic and positive about changing the world
What’s your biggest challenge when managing the nomadic lifestyle?
Definitely time management, I’m very much a “yes” person, and try to get everything done at once. Actually getting myself to sit down and make myself focus on writing is a problem for me, too – I have huge FOMO.
It’s difficult, how do you say no to opportunities that come your way, whether it’s personal or professional?
I listen to a lot of podcasts with uber famous entrepreneurs, and I’ve learned from them that you have to say no to a lot more opportunities that you say yes to. This way it leaves you with room to accept better opportunities. It’s something I’m working on.
What’s the next adventure that you are looking forward to?
I’m fortunate enough to go to the Bahamas every few weeks, where I go fishing and snorkeling. Besides that, I’m excited about Costa Rica. I have a friend that’s an architect down there, and I’m staying with her for a few weeks just to relax on the beach and catch up on lost time.
What has helped you live this lifestyle?
There’s two that come to mind. The first is my creativity and the other one is my open-mindedness. I always try to accommodate others and be open and friendly to everyone I meet. Those little things could make a really big connection for you later down the road. There have been so many occasions where I met someone on the bus then they end up being such an important part of my life, it’s really something special.
Social media can have some negative impacts on people, have you experienced any of this, personally?
At first, it was a little bit too much. I was on social media and traveling all over the place. It wasn’t until I got back home to Australia that I could finally breathe again. On reflection of the last six months, I thought, Was this the person I really wanted to be? I decided that I wanted to do something productive, but wanted to impact people’s lives positively, not just show off.