Why I Started Traveling Solo
I actually got straight on the road after college - alone because everyone else thought I was crazy! When my peers were jumping straight into corporate jobs, I knew that wasn’t for me and that I wanted to have some new experiences. So, I began by moving to London (I am half British). After that I swapped between travel jobs like tour guiding and backpacking through new continents.
I think I was mostly solo because I wasn’t as focused on finding someone to join me as I was on following my travel dreams. Besides, solo travel is the best because you can just do what you want all the time - you can make friends if you like, be alone when you like, move at your own pace, choose your own schedule, and not have to compromise with anyone. It’s the ultimate freedom!
I Travel All The Time
I still travel pretty much full-time! In the last few years of the c*vid generation I have spent a lot more time living in different countries (or, getting ‘stuck’ in different places), but usually only spending a month or two in one location or accommodation.
When I travel, I like to discover the true pulse of each destination. I like to try both the local and most well-known food, experience both the touristy activities as well as offbeat and unique things to do, and really explore the best of each place so I can share about it on my blog.
I also often travel for music festivals in different locations. I have a whole festivals section on my blog, where I have reviewed dozens of festivals all over the world. I just came back from a festival in Romania!
How I Choose Where I Want To Travel Next
There are a number of ways I choose where to travel next! Firstly, sometimes I will go to a location for a festival and then stay around that area and travel from there. For example, I went to Panama a few years ago for a festival and then ended up traveling around the country for over a month.
Next, I travel to destinations for jobs. I lived in Tulum for most of this year because my partner and I had a few different photography jobs for events and beach clubs. We used this time to work and travel around the area.
I also lived in Australia for over 2 years because it was easy to get a Working Holiday Visa there so that I could work there, save money, and also immerse myself fully into the culture.
Next, I love planning trips around places I have never been before. I spent 2 months backpacking around Southeast Asia in 2015, 5 months in South America in 2018, 6 weeks camping in southern Africa in 2017, and more. I haven’t been able to do much of this lately for obvious reasons but I hope that my next trip can be to the middle east - Egypt, Jordan, and more.
We tend to stay in places more long-term because we are ‘digital nomads’ and don’t have a particular home base at the moment. We rented an apartment in Barcelona for 2 months so that my partner could get his scuba dive instructor certification - which will not be another reason for us to decide on different locations!
How I Pack For My Trips
I generally stop off in the USA between trips (or need to come home 1-2 times a year for weddings etc) so I pack for each travel block from California (where I grew up and still store my things). My best packing tip is to use packing cubes (I use 3 - one big one for tops, one big one for bottoms, and a small one for undergarments and swim). I have tons of rubber bands and always keep my things rolled up if I am on the road.
I always try to make sure that I have plenty of solid-colored clothing pieces that can pair with some patterns and go with multiple different items of clothing I have with me. I use a hanging toiletry bag for toiletries and make sure to always carry face wipes, a phone strap with a cord (especially for anti-theft in Europe), a smaller backpack for day trips, and glitter in case of a spontaneous festival!
Best Memories Of Meetings New People While Traveling
I think one of my fondest trips was backpacking through Southeast Asia when I was 23. I went with one friend, and we were on a super-budget. After only our first destination (Bangkok, Thailand) we had already met dozens of travelers who we would end up meeting many times during our 2 months the backpacker community is truly close-knit and many people follow a similar route so you end up running into people a LOT during your travels and oftentimes becoming really close with other travelers.
I am still in touch with a lot of friends from that trip to this day. Some of the hostels in Southeast Asia are so social, fun, and unique, and being that age doing that trip was truly the perfect moment in time for me to look back on.
How I Make Income While I Travel
Funnily enough, I think I am the only person in this industry who DIDN’T ‘quit’ my day job to travel. I never even got one!
I worked 2-3 part-time jobs during college to save up, and went straight overseas and started working abroad. Since then, it has kind of been like weaving opportunities together into the web of my life. First were a few jobs in London, then a tour guiding job in Croatia (for 3 summers), then different work in Australia over a few years.
Doing these different travel jobs gave me the safety net that I needed to get started in the digital world. I was working tons of odd jobs while building my blog and traveling, so I had all the time I needed to work on my blog in my spare time until taking it full time. Even with that being said, I still work other travel jobs if I can find them - such as my photography stint in Tulum. I’m really all about collecting new and different experiences, so I‘ll probably say yes to any interesting opportunity that comes my way!
But it was extremely valuable for me to finally truly learn how to monetize my blog - and I am constantly still learning! There are always new skills to learn and new ways to improve upon your blog, which is what I am doing right now.
How I Adjusted To My Time In Australia
To be honest it was very natural! I’m all about having new experiences and getting to know new places, so I was really in my element after moving to Australia. I hated my waitressing job in Sydney (but loved the area), but I had a great time working as a walking tour guide in Melbourne. But even if I didn't enjoy some work, it was still a new experience and a way to save money for future trips. I don’t think going to UCLA made me more prone to jump into the corporate world - I just think I didn’t really know what I wanted and ended up finding it along the way!
My Experiences Backpacking In Africa & South America
I went to Africa in 2017 on a 6-week overland camping trip in a huge truck. It was INCREDIBLE! I’ll start with what I think is the coolest part - which is that I got a 70% discount on the tour because of my job with a tour company (the one I worked for in Croatia). Talk about the best employee discount option EVER! I could never have afforded an experience like that otherwise.
The trip was mostly camping, and we traveled from Cape Town up to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland (Eswatini now), and Lesotho on the way back through South Africa and back to Cape Town.
I was solo, but there was always a group on the trip and a few of us who did the whole loop. This was one of the most incredible and life-changing experiences I have had - living simply in some of the most remote and raw places in the world, looking for wildlife, seeing amazing views and world wonders, and exploring places I didn’t even know existed. It was magical. I ended that trip with a week at Africa’s Burning Man - Afrikaburn.
I met my camp through a random mutual friend that I had met traveling, and it was the perfect fit (still friends with them also). That was even MORE magical and my first ‘burn’ experience. I’ll never forget that trip.
South America was a 5-month trip in 2018 that began with the Envision Festival in Costa Rica. It was an indefinite trip where I had hardly any plans but to make the most of it. I ended up at a festival in Panama, sailing to Colombia, and then meeting another travel blogger for a hosted Patagonia trip.
This was probably the trip I worked with the most tour companies, tourism boards, hotels, and such - I felt like a true travel blogger! I also needed these work exchanges and a few sales of my photography to companies to keep myself on the road with the small-ish amount of money I had.
I spent almost 2 months working my way up to Argentina and Chile, spent some time in Uruguay (and a very interesting few days bussing through Paraguay), and up to Bolivia before flying home a week early because my parents invited me on vacation with them in Florida. Man, after backpacking in the cold for a while that sounded AMAZING. But I can’t wait to go back and see Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and more of Bolivia and Brazil.
How I Manage My Travel Costs
I wish I could say I had a foolproof system, but I really don’t. My mantra is to work with as many travel companies as I can (always providing the utmost value of course) and spend as little as I can while still making the most of the experience and doing the most important or unique activities in each area.
For example, it would be a shame to miss out on a wine tasting tour while in Mendoza, Argentina - so sometimes you need to splurge. I haven’t worked with any travel companies or hotels since c*vid, but I hope to start back up soon.
I also try to work as much as humanly possible while still enjoying my time in a destination and taking time to enjoy it. This isn’t very specific either, but I really just try to do what I can.
This is why I really enjoyed living in Barcelona for a few months - I was really able to have a schedule for work and play. I have also begun researching my SEO keywords before I visit a place so I already know which articles I want to write about that destination, which saves time also.
Why I Started My Blog
I already had the idea to start my blog when I was in my last year of college. I don’t really know where it came from, but I knew I wanted to move abroad and share my stories. I started writing for platforms like Elite Daily, so my articles were in a different style when I started out before I learned SEO and began to monetize.
I want to help my readers get inspired to plan and take their dream trips - whether that be during a 2-week work vacation or find ways to stay on the road longer. I focus on more unique + boutique travel experiences and guides for those who want something more interesting from their trips.
I could share the story about why I think I started solo traveling in the first place - which was during my 1-month study abroad experience with 2 girls from my sorority. We had a month of study and a month of travel around Western Europe planned. I very quickly learned that just because you are friends with someone doesn’t mean that you will travel well with them and that 3 is not a very good number to travel with when 2 people always side together! Ha! I think you can imagine what happened.
I was set on adventure, exploring every inch of each new town, walking until my feet hurt, discovering local spots, trying street food, and staying in 10 bed dorms to meet people. My travel companions liked going to nice meals, taking naps in the day, not having strangers in their hostel rooms, and eventually blocking me out of group activities. I started doing everything on my own - researching places, exploring them, and doing what I wanted without being bothered by them. This is when baby 20-year-old solo traveler Kimmie was born.
How I Think GAFFL Can Help Travelers
I think this is a fabulous idea because the things that can get expensive while solo traveling can usually also be easily split between people. If you aren’t a hostel fan, it would be awesome to have people to split hotels and Airbnb with.
If car rental is the cheapest way to get around a destination, it would be ideal to have others to split the costs with. But most importantly it always makes the experience that much more memorable when you have new friends to share it with.
My Advice To New Full-Time Travelers & Bloggers
Go online! If you can work fully remotely, you are golden. That’s all you need - a remote job that pays enough to survive wherever you are (or want to be). For bloggers - I would say diversify your income streams, know SEO, and have a strategy for your content creation and affiliate marketing instead of blindly creating constantly without a plan.
Lessons I Wish I Had Learned When I First Started Traveling
I wish I had started to share tips and experiences sooner because solo travel is truly an amazing experience that teaches you so much about yourself. Everyone should try it!
I’ve learned that you are only truly alone when you want to be, and that it’s not scary to say hi to a potential new friend. I’ve learned to take the same safety precautions as I would in my hometown, and to always remain vigilant. I’ve learned that there are people out there like you, even if your friends and family at home think you’re nuts… and that it is so, so comforting to spend time with these kinds of people.
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