Ladies We Love is a monthly interview series with women from around the world that provide us with inspiration through their travels and personal stories. This week we got to know travel writer Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse.
An investment banker turned travel writer, Kristin Addis has been traveling the globe nonstop since 2012 documenting her adventures on her popular blog Be My Travel Muse. Kristin has traveled the world mostly alone, hitchhiking on every continent except for Antarctica (including over 2k miles in China), disappearing into the wilderness on week-long treks in Alaska and Kyrgyzstan, and traveling solo in South Africa and Mozambique – and hitchhiking there too. She recently also authored the popular book, Conquering Mountains, How To Solo Travel The World Fearlessly, with the intention of encouraging women to travel solo.
1) HOW DID YOU GET UP THE COURAGE TO LEAVE YOUR CAREER AS AN INVESTMENT BANKER?
It seems like it was a courageous act but to be honest, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was so burnt out. I would’ve left the industry anyway to do something else. The question was what? I got certified to teach Pilates, thought about getting into real estate, and finally just decided that what I needed to do was get away from it all and give the dream I had had ever since I was a child a try – writing. It’s funny because the two things seem like a complete opposites!
2) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE BE MY TRAVEL MUSE?
BMTM exists to encourage other people to travel solo, especially women. I think that too often, we are told that it’s too dangerous to go out there alone and that’s totally bogus! Solo traveling is the most empowering thing I have ever done and it taught me so much about myself. It made me more resourceful, helped me get to know who I really am and what I want without anyone around who knows me and can influence me, and made me more of a doer. These are skills that every woman deserves to develop in herself.
3) YOU HAVE SAID YOU ARE MOST LIKELY TO APPEAR IN PHOTOS AFTER NOT SHOWERING FOR A WEEK! HAA! TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL STYLE.
Ah yes I’ve made that joke because in contrast to a lot of perfectly manicured Instagram shots I tend to see, I am usually in my photos very in the moment without makeup or a dress on. I love going on multi-day hikes out in the wilderness. The more remote I can get the better. There’s something amazing about that complete isolation from other humans and just to be deep in the nature, and out there, there are most definitely no showers! So I’m not usually going to the Eiffel Tower or Mykonos in a dress to take my photos. It’s just not me! Sleeping in the tent for a week and hitchhiking around Patagonia though? Totally me!
4) YOU MOSTLY TRAVEL SOLO. IS THIS BY CHOICE? ANY TIPS FOR WOMEN WANTING TO TRAVEL SOLO TOO?
At first I traveled solo because there was no one else who could take off on such a long, open-ended journey with me. I was not very into the idea initially. Frankly I was terrified. But now I actually love the freedom and have come to find that I meet so many other people out there that I never have to be alone unless I really want to be. My tip for women who want to travel solo is to head somewhere that is sporty, with a shared interest like scuba diving or rock climbing or surfing. It attracts other solo travelers as well and you’re less likely to be surrounded by only couples.
5) YOU’VE HITCHHIKED YOUR WAY AROUND THE WORLD. CAN YOU GIVE OUR READERS SOME HITCHHIKING TIPS?
Smile! You only have a few seconds to convince whoever is driving by to pick you up. Looking like someone who will improve their day with a nice bright smile helps a lot. Also, trust your intuition. If someone offers you a ride and it doesn’t feel good, don’t take it. But to be honest after around 40 rides now this has never happened to me.
6) WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT TRAVEL BLOGGING? WHAT IS THE HARDEST ASPECT?
The writing and the photography are so much fun for me. But I also really love that this gives me a chance to connect with other people. If I inspire anyone, I’m stoked. The hardest aspect is never really knowing if the decisions I make today will help me reach more people tomorrow. This is such a new industry, and everything that I do is something that is being tested for the first time. So you just have to take a lot of leaps of faith and hope it works out. That can be nerve-wracking.
I have published two books: Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, and A Thousand New Beginnings. Conquering Mountains is a how-to guide for solo female travelers with everything I know about how to get over the fear, how to save up, make money on the road, and maintain one’s budget while out there, plus how to stay safe, what to do about healthcare, how to meet people, and advice and case studies from dozens of other solo traveling women. It has literally everything I know from five years of doing this in it. The other book is a memoir from my first year of traveling alone in Southeast Asia. It’s excerpts from my blog and my diary chronicling everything from taking off on day one to falling in love (and out of it) and finding my strength again. They’re kind of complementary but each stands alone as well.
8) WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF GIVING EVERYTHING UP TO TRAVEL LIKE?
It took me about a year to actually do it. I’d had a shoulder surgery and I was laid up for months, oddly happy just to not to be at work. But showed me how important it was to make a change, and to do it while I still had health on my side. I really did agonize over the decision, though, because there was a lot I was leaving behind. Not just a job, but a relationship and a life. But the desire to go became too overwhelming to stay, so even though it really scared me to do it, I just had to buy the ticket and go. I just had to keep telling myself, I will not let myself end up living in a cardboard box. So far, so good!
9) WHAT ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR TRAVEL CAREER ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF THUS FAR?
I’m the most proud of the document that I keep where I save all of the lovely emails and comments that people have sent, saying that my site encouraged them to go or just gave them the push that they needed to travel alone. A lot of them have no support at home and nobody understood their dreams, but they felt like they had found a confidant in me. I still can’t believe that, so I have to save it in plain black and white so that I can remind myself of why this is important, and to never forget the original goal, which is to be a support system for others, not just myself.
10) DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WANTING TO BREAK INTO THE TRAVEL BLOGGING INDUSTRY?
Hone in on your unique gifts. I think it’s great to conduct some market research and see what else is out there in the industry when you’re starting out, but after that, stop paying attention to what other people are doing. There is something unique and special about you and that is the very thing that will make people connect with you. Figure out that thing and make it your niche.
11) FAVORITE QUOTE
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky – Rabindranath Tagore
12) RYAN REYNOLDS OR RYAN GOSLING?