Kristin Addis left her day job in 2012 to pursue her dream of traveling the world solo. Six years later and she’s one of the most influential female travel bloggers the world over, having hitchhiked alone through China, climbed some of the planet’s tallest mountains, safaried through Africa, and much, much more. We caught up with Kristin recently to chat about her top safety tips for traveling alone as a female (or male), her favorite memories from traveling, and her advice for those wanting to chase their own passions. Here’s the interview…
Hi Kristin. So, your key focus is female solo travel. What’s the #1 best thing about going it alone?
I find I can say yes more. I often get invited to do more cool things, particularly by locals, because when they see me alone, they take an interest in my reasons why, we strike up a conversation, and often it results in a beautiful friendship. So many times there has been room for just one more and that person has been me and I attribute that to the traveling solo.
Safety is always a concern for guys or girls traveling by themselves. You have 31 security tips on your site. What are your top 3 picks?
Know your surroundings. Ask your guest house or hotel concierge which areas to avoid and if there are any scams to look out for in that particular place. 2. Don’t get intoxicated. So many issues happen because of this for Men and women alike. 3. Don’t walk around alone at night, regardless of sex. This is when most muggings will happen.
How did it feel taking that first leap of leaving your job in finance to become a travel blogger?
It was terrifying! I agonized over the decision for about a year before finally doing it. It’s not easy to leave behind comfort and security for a dream, But I’m so glad that I did it!
After the hindsight of experience, what’s a ‘dirty little secret’ about travel blogging you wish you’d known before you started?
That there are always going to be shortcuts and ways to fake it. Now I have the benefit of knowing that people who do these things don’t stick around for that long, but it can be demoralizing to see people growing so quickly by faking influence or taking shortcuts. I just have to remember that it doesn’t pay off in the long run.
Any advice for women looking to flip their life and take a chance on a dream?
A leap of Faith doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Save up enough money first, have a plan in place for how you are going to earn, be willing to put in the work, and have enough savings to get through the beginning when your dream doesn’t pay you yet.
What about people who simply want to ‘dip their toe in the water’ and try travel for the first time? Where should they start?
You can always start close to home! You don’t have to go all the way to the other side of the world to have an amazing travel experience. Some of my favorite experiences have been in California, where I’m from.
Reading your story it seems like you’re always fighting to balance out the dream of travel versus the necessity of business. Have you mastered that now? Or are you still learning?
I wouldn’t say I’m fighting to find balance, it’s more of learning to navigate my personal life with my business life. That’s been the harder balance to strike. To set healthy boundaries between what are working hours and what are just play hours. On the road, it’s actually easier but when I’m at home, the key is having a separate office and bedroom.
What’s your key takeout for finding balance in your life?
Being a lot more efficient with my time. I’ve done a lot of study to help with this, including Essentialism and The Four Hour Work Week. Both books have been really helpful in this regard.
You’ve traveled to a lot of amazing places, where’s your favorite and why?
I can’t answer that! So many places are so wonderful for different reasons. However both South Africa and Indonesia have a very special place in my heart. Though both places are so different, I love them for similar reasons: such a wealth of beauty and activities to do and I have made wonderful connections in both places.
What about somewhere with a ‘bad’ reputation, that turned out to defy expectations?
I can think of a perfect example of this: the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, has a reputation of being a very dangerous town and most people told me to get out as quickly as possible. However, I met a Portuguese woman on the bus ride over from South Africa and she told me that perhaps I should give it a chance. That night, I was invited out dancing at an art gallery and the music was so good, and so were the people and the vibes. It was one of the most fun nights I’ve had traveling.
What are your top 3 must-have travel items for hitting the road and why?
The packing cube, because it makes it so much easier to bring more clothing by compressing everything and it helps a lot with organization. I love my Pacsafe wallet because it has the RFID blocker and I can clip it into my purse. I also love the wire mesh bag protector for the peace of mind it gives me. I have had all of these items on every trip I’ve taken.
And finally, what inspires you to get out of the bed in the morning? What is fuelling the fire in your life right now?
After leading my first BMTM branded tour in Peru and finally getting to hang out for a prolonged period of time with the readers of my blog, it finally gave me an opportunity to really understand who my readers are not just on paper but in person. I always thought that they were probably cool but I was just so delighted to find out exactly how cool, Smart, and funny. When I know that’s who I’m writing for and connecting with, I wake up every day excited.
To find out more about Kristin’s travels, including her insights into navigating the world, head to Be My Travel Muse.
By Tim Hawken
Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading to his website, or following him on Instagram and Twitter.