Introducing the “Passport to People” Travel Interviews where I’ll take you around the globe, via inspiring, creative souls I’ve met while traveling!
Meet Stephanie Daggett, a full-time web developer and part-time travel photographer and blogger, who owns the eponymous stephaniedaggett.com. I met this radiant Iowan eight years ago when we studied abroad in Florence, Italy together. For Stephanie, Florence was the first time she had traveled overseas and she embraced the experience with open arms, traveling to as many European destinations as she possibly could. I respected how eagerly she jumped at any opportunity to see more, do more. When in Capri, she taught me that the island was known for shoemaking and inspired me get custom shoes made. In Florence, with our mutual friends, we indulged in gelato and pizza, walking in the piazzas with our favorite takeway treats. She even made an appearance in Boston, where we danced a hot summer night away together. Since her time in Florence, Stephanie has traveled all over the world, from Iceland to Cuba, Tulum to Paris, capturing these destinations through her favorite aperture—the camera. Soak in some of Stephanie’s dreamy, atmospheric photos and learn more about what has kept her feet wandering all these years later.
Hi Stephanie! So, what do you love most about traveling?
Traveling gives me more creative inspiration than anything else, especially when it comes to photography. I love seeing the colors, tastes, sounds, and dances of new cultures. I love talking to people who grew up with different backgrounds than I did.
We’re off to an upbeat start! Now, what defines a “successful trip”?
It’s the trips that make you a little nervous at times, push you to try something new, moments that make you so happy you can’t stop smiling. A successful trip is one that leaves you wanting to explore more places and meet more new people.
Looking to go to Iceland for a week? Check out Stephanie’’s 7-day itinerary on “Exploring Iceland.“
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what is on it?
I do! I love the idea of living life with happiness as the focus. I have so many things on my bucket list! Some of them are:
- Morocco for my 30th birthday
- Go to Carnival in Rio
- New Year’s Eve in Times Square
- Waltz in Vienna
- Take my dad to Alaska
- Buy a house by the Mediterranean one day
- Sail the Greek Islands
- Go dog sledding in Siberia
- Drive Route 66 in a convertible
- Stay in an over the water bungalow in Bora Bora
- Take my nieces and nephews to Europe when they turn 18
What’s your favorite travel destination and why?
It’s so hard to pick one place! Lat year, I fell in love with Cuba and it has become one of my favorite countries.
Cuba is beautiful, raw, gritty and filled with emotion at every corner. From the bright colors of the architecture, to the soulful dancing in the streets, Cubans put soul and energy into life, and that’s why I love it! I’ve never danced as much as I have when I was in Cuba. I’ve never left a trip feeling more inspired. I’m convinced there’s an underground uprising going on in Cuba that’s being expressed through art, dance, fashion, and cinema. Cubans are smart, talented, made of grit, and connected (more than they have ever been). You can see it when you visit places like the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC for short) – an old restored cooking oil factory turned art gallery/dance club. The striking and controversial work going on inside the FAC serves as an outlet to spark discussion and political change. Cuba is a must-visit!
Out of curiosity, what would be your last meal on earth be comprised of?
Street tacos from Mexico with a side of chips, guacamole and salsa picante; a shot of tequila; pizza from Naples,; mozzarella cheese from anywhere in Italy,;French wine; Guinness; my mom’s mashed potatoes and gravy; pecan pie; Crème Brule; a shot of Espresso; and fresh chocolate chip cookies.
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
I look at the people’s blogs who inspire me and edit travel photos. Always looking toward the next trip! I find a lot of my inspiration on Instagram. My go-tos are Conde Nast, Lonely Planet, The Discoverer, Aggie Lal of Travel In Her Shoes, Lisa Homsy, Mel Vandersleus of More of Mel, and Nastasia Passport.
What’s your in-flight essential?
My playlist – I create a new one for each trip! So many songs put me in the traveling mood, haha! But “Afrika by Toto” is a total classic.
Signature accessory while traveling.
I have a layered necklace that I wear with every outfit.
Best foreign word/phrase you know and why?
Dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”
It’s not just a phrase in Italy. It’s a lifestyle and a great one to live by!
What is the oddest thing you’ve ever seen?
I went to a park in Havana where there were sacrifices being done on chickens for religious purposes, and I was a little freaked out.
What’s your best travel-related investment?
My camera and lenses! I love taking photos while traveling.
Here are some travel photographs taken by/of Stephanie…
Aside from the basics (passport, ATM card, backpack), what three items are must-bring things for you on your trip?
Packing cubes are a lifesaver, a pair of cute white tennis shoes, and a journal.
What do you “know now” that you wish you “knew then”?
Learn your camera in Manual and take photos in RAW so you can edit them and have them forever! Invest in a good camera and a good travel backpack for it.
If you were exiled to one country for the rest of your life, where would it be?
I think I would choose Italy – it has ocean, mountains, and the most amazing cheese and coffee!
For things to do in Florence, Italy, check out “City Guide: Florence.“
Most overrated country?
England (sorry England – I still love you.)
What a true hidden gem of an establishment you’ve stumbled upon?
- Le Poem in Florence. Italy is my all time favorite boutique of all the places I’ve traveled. All pieces are hand made and the designer only makes a handful of each item and they are only sold in the store.
- Grand Hotel Baglioni rooftop restaurant in Florence. This place is never talked about, but it has one of the most breathtaking views of the city. At night, there is live music and an amazing menu!
Any strange travel rituals?
I always get up at sunrise to do photoshoots of the area! Best lighting at this time!
Best purchase abroad.
Custom made shoes in Italy, splurging on dinners, and always hats.
The most important skill you’ve learned on the road.
Trust yourself and go with the flow.
Memorable advice from a stranger?
It’s not necessarily advice, but I like to ask locals for advice on restaurants and activities. When a stranger says “You should go here…” this always turns out to be a great time.