For the second interview in our Featured Explorer series, we had the honor of talking with Kristin Addis of the travel company and blog Be My Travel Muse. After graduating college and getting four years into a career in finance, Kristin remembered the feelings she had during her first experience traveling solo: empowered and self-reliant. She quit her job, ended her lease, packed a bag, and headed to Bangkok, Thailand where she started Be My Travel Muse.
Kristin’s blog is now the largest solo female travel blog in the English-speaking world. She shares travel tips and resources for around 50 countries that she has traveled to, and leads small adventure tours for women several times a year. Her vision is to help other women feel that same sense of empowerment that she does when solo traveling. After reading this interview, you’ll likely be inspired to book that solo trip you’ve dreamed about.
What was your first experience traveling solo? What inspired you to take the leap, and what advice would you give to other solo travelers now?
My first experience traveling solo was when I moved to Taiwan to study Mandarin at 21. I can't really say what inspired me to do it. I think I just wasn't ready to enter the workforce after graduating a year early from university. I wasn't ready to be a full-fledged adult quite yet! I applied for a Mandarin enrichment scholarship, got it, and went without knowing what I was really getting into. I actually found it really difficult for the first few days, but that was my first taste of understanding what it was like to be totally self-reliant, traveling and living on my own for the first time. It was so empowering and I am really glad I did it. So, even if it seems difficult, stick it out and give yourself a chance, is what I'd say to anyone who chooses to solo travel and is worried, or finds it somewhat difficult at first. It'll work out!
Tell us about a challenging time that you had with something while solo traveling; what was it and how did you work through it?
There have been many times that were challenging. Traveling alone is still real life and you're going to come up against challenges. One of the toughest was when I went to a remote part of Indonesia where, at the time, almost nobody traveled independently and most of the tourists were on a tour. I really didn't want to take a tour for the trip to work. I wanted to do things on my own. I went to the only hotel in the area and was told that they were full. There were no more buses that day, so I just started walking with nowhere to go. Then I randomly saw another tourist walking towards me on the road, and I asked him if he was checking out of the very hotel that I was trying to check into, and he was! I walked back with him, and they were willing to give me his room. That was just one of many things that were difficult about that trip, but every time that it seemed like it wouldn't work out, someone showed up and made it all okay, and that's been my experience many times over, in many places around the world.
What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself while traveling?
Traveling, especially independent in the way that I do, teaches you a lot about your ability to problem-solve. I've noticed that when things go wrong, I'm a lot quicker to find a solution than many other people, because I am used to having no one else to rely on. I don't waste time crying over spilt milk, I get right to figuring out how to fix it. I love how quick and sharp it's made me, and how much of a can-do attitude I have now thanks to traveling alone.
What has been the highlight of your career?
A big highlight was taking my first tour group, as part of my BMTM Adventures tour company, to Peru. Afterwards in our group chat, everyone was sharing how much the trip meant to them and I was amazed by how life-changing it was for so many people! I never expected it to be so rewarding to finally be able to hang out with people who read my blog. It was so touching that they enjoyed it that much and that it meant so much to them. That meant so much to me as well!
How do you think the pandemic will shape travel for years to come?
At every step of this pandemic, I have tried to predict what would happen and I have been wrong every time. I think if anything it has taught me to be willing to let plans change, to surrender, and that despite it seeming like people will fear each other, people still want to bond, stumble over foreign languages together, and meet each other. That won't go away.
To learn more about Kristin, and to stay up-to-date on her latest adventures, view her website.