Timmerman makes travel her reality
Sam Timmerman, a Fairmont native, wholeheartedly agrees with the quote, “The world is too big to stay in one place and life is too short to do just one thing.”
At just 27 years old, Timmerman has been to more than 40 countries and currently lives in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
A 2010 graduate of Fairmont High School, Timmerman first traveled abroad while she was a high school Spanish student. She and some classmates went to Costa Rica for a class trip.
“I guess that sparked something in me, but at that point I didn’t realize what it was because I was only 17 and it was my first time out of the country so I was a little naive,” she said. “On a deeper level, it was my first taste of a different culture.”
Timmerman then went off to study graphic design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She traveled her second year of college when she studied abroad in Chile.
“I went through a study abroad program but I didn’t go with anyone from my school or with any professor I knew,” she recalled.
The following summer, Timmerman went on a backpacking trip through Europe with her sister, Morgan, and a friend.
“It was about six weeks and we went to 10 countries in that time,” she said. “That was the first trip that I had done all of the planning and research. We stayed in hostels and went on a budget.”
The following summer, the sisters traveled across Ireland and Scotland.
“The next summer, I graduated college and moved to Thailand to teach English,” Timmerman said. “I traveled all around southeast Asia. That was my first time backpacking solo.”
She was there from the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016.
Timmerman said she is often asked why she chose to teach English in Thailand.
“I really don’t have a great answer. I found a travel blog and this girl also taught English in Thailand. I knew there were opportunities to teach English here and I love travel and am willing to go anywhere so I thought, ‘Why not Thailand?’ I was intrigued by it because it seemed so foreign and new to me.”
Some other countries she has visited include Cambodia, Hungary, Croatia, Morocco and Ecuador. She has been to five of the seven continents, all but Australia and Antarctica.
Having been in Thailand more than six months this time around, Timmerman feels at home.
“I can’t even say Thailand has become a second home to me. I feel like just as at home here as I do in Fairmont, Minnesota. I just love it here,” she said.
When she decided she wanted to go back to Thailand, Timmerman found a work-away program, so she did graphic design for a couple and got to stay with them for free. She did that for the first six weeks, but found herself wanting more of a flexible schedule.
“I want to travel full time for the next few years. In order to make that a reality, I need to make money while traveling. I went to school for graphic design and it’s one of the No. 1 skills people need and you can do it remotely,” she said.
She currently has five different clients and her work load includes graphic design, writing, content creation and social media management.
“I love it. It’s so flexible and the best part is I can do it from literally anywhere in the world,” Timmerman said.
Before embarking on this trip, Timmerman launched her own travel blog, a long-time goal of hers. The website — She Adored Her Passport — covers a wide range of topics, including what to see in different parts of Thailand as well as other broader articles, such as: “7 ways traveling has made me smarter with my money,” “Common travel fears and how to overcome them” and “Why it’s better to live like a local.”
“I started my blog to help people travel, but also for my friends and family to keep up with me. On a deeper level, I just want to show people that it’s possible,” Timmerman said
While she has been staying mostly in Chiang Mai this time around, has also traveled to the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
At the beginning of February, Timmerman’s parents, Roxie and Jeff, visited for about two weeks. She calls it possibly the best memory she has with them. She has had other friends visit and has made friends in Thailand with people from Canada, Europe, and even another girl her age from Minnesota. Of course, she also has made friends with the natives.
“On every single trip I would say I’ve walked away with at least three really good friends,” Timmerman said.
The language barrier hasn’t proven to be much of a problem in Thailand.
“In the bigger cities, it’s never a problem because they know enough English to get by and I know quite a bit of Thai vocabulary,” she said. “I always try to learn a little bit of the language because it means so much to them (natives) to at least be able to say hello or thank you.”
As for cultural differences, most people in Thailand are Buddhists so most places Timmerman goes she needs to take her shoes off before entering.
“Thai food is amazing and super flavorful,” she noted. “There’s a wide variety of dishes but it’s pretty standard to eat rice at every meal. In Thai, ‘eat’ is literally translated into ‘eat rice.'”
Her day-to-day life abroad is pretty normal. Timmerman usually works from her laptop at different coffee shops in the morning, then takes time to explore different places in the afternoon. In the evenings, she will spend time with friends or just watch Netflix.
“When travel is your lifestyle, you do a lot of normal things,” she said. “But the cool part about being abroad is that when you have free time you can do cool things and see new places, but when you’re at home you get really complacent and you stop exploring because you think you can do it anytime.”
As for what’s next, Timmerman has just one more month left abroad, which she will spend in Vietnam, before returning for a friend’s wedding. Then she is likely to head to South America, which has a strong pull for her.
“I went there for my first trip abroad and I’ve studied Spanish but I’ve lost a lot of it from being in Asia because I never use it. I want to refreshen my Spanish,” she said.
Timmerman acknowledged that it can be difficult sometimes being in Thailand because it’s so far away. The shortest travel route is about 26 to 30 hours, and there’s a 12-hour time difference from Minnesota.
“I don’t know if there’s anywhere further from Minnesota,” she said with a laugh.
“I’ve really wanted this lifestyle and I wanted to make it happen so I’ve had to do it at all costs,” she said. “But I care as much about my family and friends as I do about traveling. Home is a part of my travels and I’m always circling back there. Minnesota is always going to be home and I don’t know what the future holds, but I definitely think I’ll have roots there and will settle there to some extent.”