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Solo Female Travel: Living La Pura Vida with Camille Willemain

Yes, we are back!

This series was a huge success last year and so I’m excited to let you know I’ll be running it one more time. Seven more female nomads, seven more interviews. I’ve got some amazing interviewees lined up for you this time and I’m sure you guys are going to love it (missed last year’s series? Check it out here).

Today’s interviewee was one of my favourites to date. I admire her for her advocacy for pure and simple living, and the idea of living out your life without listening to all the outside noise and judgement. As many of you know, that’s a lesson I’ve tried to emphasise here in the past as well.

After 3 years out on the road she also has a few lessons in travel to share, but, I’ll let you read those and the rest of what she has to say for yourselves.

Say hi to Camille from This American Girl!

Introduce yourself! Who are you?

Ha, “who am I”, I ask myself that question every day. The answer is ever evolving. The easy answer is, my name is Camille, I’ve been living nomadically traveling the world for 3 years, I’m a full time travel blogger at This American Girl, a certified yoga teacher, a reiki practitioner, a beach bum, and apparently these days I’m also a snow bunny.

Tell us a bit about how you started a life of travel. What was your inspiration, how did you make it happen, and what were the hard things you had to leave behind?

I was kinda thrown into the world of travel. I didn’t exactly plan it, but I believe the best things happen that way. I was laid off from two different jobs back to back (I worked as a project manager in Internet Marketing), and kept going in and out of a relationship that had long met its expiration date. Getting laid off showed me that something clearly was not working and I needed a new direction. I decided to pursue my passion at the time, Interior Design, so my plan was to go back to school and get my Master’s. My friend, blogger from canyoustayfordinner.com, had just gotten a book deal with Random house to write her memoir, and told me she was going to Costa Rica to write the book for a few months. We ended up going together, and the rest is history. I got a taste of the travel life, and despite my mental struggle the first year, I knew there was no going back for me. At this point, my lifestyle isn’t even a choice. It’s a calling.

What’s the response been like to you going nomadic and breaking the ‘traditional’ mold of job, marriage and kids?

I’ve been called anything from ballsy, badass, and inspirational to selfish, spoiled, and entitled. I practice detaching myself from external judgement, be it negative or positive. It’s not easy, but if you put yourself in the spotlight, it’s essential. I feel strongly that this is the right path for me at this point in my life, and that keeps me going. My family is super supportive and proud, which makes life so much easier. When people tell me that I’ve inspired them to follow their dreams, it’s a really thick icing on the cake.

One of the biggest concerns about solo female travel is safety. What’s your experience with this, and what advice can you share for staying safe on the road as a female?

I think the most dangerous place in the world is the USA, haha. But seriously, everywhere has a potential for “danger” and it all depends on where you go and the energy you put out there. Most of the time I feel safe. I have lots of safety tips for women in this post.

Share one of your life philosophies. When, how, and why did you come to believe in it?

The difference between happiness and unhappiness is simple: gratitude. See how wonderful everything you DO have is, and you’ll be instantly happy. So often we fixate on what we wish we had, how things could be better, what’s wrong with our situation. That causes us suffering. A simple change in perspective allows us to be instantly happy. Seeing happy, generous, loving people living in poverty in Cambodia, Laos, and Nicaragua, and witnessing the effects of gratitude in my own life has instilled this belief in me.

Bren: 100% truth right there!

Bathing in the holy water at #tirtaempul #bali #indonesia #nomadlife #travel #wanderlust A photo posted by This American Girl (@thisamericangirl) on

Tell me the one book you’ve read that has inspired you and/or your travels more than any other.

Honestly my fave travel book has got to be The Beach, I love the writing style and he so perfectly depicts the Southeast Asia backpacking culture. However, I wouldn’t say it’s inspired my travels. The book that has inspired me most in life is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. A disillusioned intellectual meets a gorilla in a warehouse who teaches him about the story (and destructive myth) of human culture through mental telepathy. Sounds out there, but it’s the realest thing I’ve ever read. It proposes a brilliant solution for healing the destruction we’ve caused ourselves and the earth: live and let live. It’s basically my bible and I recommend it to everyone I meet.

How do you address your fears about certain locations or countries? Do you avoid certain places based on being a woman and how do you deal with blatant sexism on the road?

I’ve never avoided anywhere as a woman, but cat calling and sexism is a real problem especially in Latin America. I’ve tried ignoring, responding with anger, responding with sass, responding with sarcasm, and honestly none of it seems to stop them. So, my advice is to hold your head up high, not feel any shame for someone elses’ behavior, and respond in whatever way makes you feel most empowered.

People always think travel is glamorous and full of smiles all the time, but that is far from the truth. Tell me the one (or two or three) things you hate most about the traveller’s life (or miss about a traditional life).

Haha, ok, honestly I love it all in its own way. You’ve GOT to have a sense of humor or you’ll go crazy that’s for sure. The worst by far is food poisoning. It depletes my energy, breaks my spirit, and leaves me crying for my mom. This is why I travel with my own water kefir, and I never get food poisoning anymore. More about that here!

Crazy #saigon at night #vietnam #adventure #travel #nomadlife #backpacking #southeastasia

A photo posted by This American Girl (@thisamericangirl) on

We always say that travel changes people. Looking back now, what is the one thing you don’t like about your old self that you managed to change through travel?

For a long time I rejected who I was before travel. I saw myself as an improved version of my former self. Though my yoga practice is all about accepting the interconnectedness of everything, and embracing myself at every stage of life. I’ve grown tremendously through travel, and I suppose the thing I’m most proud of is the way that I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own happiness. I, and only I, decide that. It doesn’t depend on how nice my boyfriend is, or how available my friends are, or how good my job is. It’s my own choice. A very empowering discovery indeed! 🙂

You seem to have a love affair going on with Costa Rica, and recently wrote a book about the country! Tell us a bit about that and what it is about the country you love so much.

Costa Rica is the best place in the world to simply be. It has such unbelievable nature, a really easy lifestyle, and it’s so active and healthy. You’ll have to read my book, which has an entire chapter entitled “What Makes Costa Rica So Special” to find out more 😉 You can read more about my book here.

  Ooommmmmm #pavonesyogacenter #meditation #yoga #yogateachertraining #pavones #costarica   A photo posted by This American Girl (@thisamericangirl) on

Ok, some fun questions. Who’s your celebrity crush? 

I’m sooooo out of the loop with who celebrities even are these days that it’s tough to answer that. Do bloggers count? hahaha

And which country, in your opinion, has the most handsome men?

Portugal. Easy.

If you could choose one musician to serenade you for an hour, who would it be?

Matt Corby. Ok, maybe he’s my crush.

Imagine a Hollywood studio wants to make a movie of your life. Who plays you and why?

I play myself, because I’m an original 😉 And I’m actually a trained theater actress since age 5. True story.

When’s the last time you cried?

The other day on the bus. The moment I put my headphones in and look out the window, the waterworks come, haha. I love it. It feels really good. They’re usually tears of gratitude and happiness for my life.

You’re allowed to ask the universe one question and it will be answered 100% honestly. What would it be? (Bren: I’d ask who killed 2pac).

I ask the universe questions all of the time, and when I turn off my mind for long enough, sometimes I even get the answers 🙂
But I still don’t know who killed Tupac… assuming he’s actually dead….

Complete this sentence: If I was granted three wishes today, I would have lunch with ________, I would spend the day in ___________, and I would go to bed at night with ____________ (just to cuddle, of course).

I would have lunch with my best friend from college who I last saw a year ago in Bali, I would spend the day in the El Nido Palawan, and the last one I’m keeping as my secret 🙂

Ok, let’s get serious again. Are you a nomad for life? Why? Why not?

I never say never, so who knows, maybe one day I’ll settle down. But I do know that I’m a lifelong explorer. Travel has been my outlet for discovering myself, and I don’t see that ever changing. At this point I envision myself having a home in Costa Rica that I can always come back to, leading travel/yoga retreats all over the world, and continuing to travel to and blog about my adventures all over the world.

And lastly, for those still on the fence about their first solo trip, what advice can you give them?

Ask yourself this question: What would you do if fear did not exist? What would you do if you could not fail? What would you do if you knew that the universe was always there to support you?

Then go and do that. Whenever you get scared, ask yourself those questions again, and remember that when you trust, you have nothing to fear.

I’m going to miss this place #anbang #hoian #vietnam #beachlife #beachbum #nomadlife #wanderlust

A photo posted by This American Girl (@thisamericangirl) on


Want to read more about Camille’s story? Be sure to head over to her blog at This American Girl and connect with her through her social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, if you have any more questions for her, leave them in the comments section below!

Enjoyed this interview? Check out the previous interviews in the series here.

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Note: The posts on this blog may contain affiliate links. Please check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

4 thoughts on “Solo Female Travel: Living La Pura Vida with Camille Willemain

  1. hi Bren, great post – i too follow this american girl for some time now, and she has def made me want to not only travel but relocate to costa rica, even if only for a few months. Her attitude towards life and meaning behind her travel is truly inspiring, thanks for including such a detailed post about her.

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