Kiersten gave up her career in corporate finance to become a world traveller. Since then, she’s travelled to 50 countries knocking some big adventures off her bucket-list. We caught up with The Blonde Abroad, just before she was about to set off on another adventure…
Hi Kiersten! We saw you’ve been very busy on your travels recently… Yes! I’m just in the middle of unpacking and repacking for my next trip actually.
For people who don’t know, you gave up a job in corporate finance to follow your dreams of travelling the world? Was this a difficult decision to make? Yes that’s correct! Leaving my career in finance was difficult, but then not difficult at all. I knew I wasn’t happy and needed to be doing something else, but it was a bit scary to leave a career I had worked so hard for, and I had bills to pay.
I was always a creative person and passionate about photography and story-telling, so it was a natural transition into blogging so that I could share my journey with other women and to inspire them to follow their own dreams.
Your blog is now extremely popular and has won many awards, but what would you say to someone who wants to start up a blog? My advice is to stay true to what you’re passionate about – if you are thinking about starting a blog, or taking your blog to the next level, I encourage you to really find your niche and something that you would be interested in blogging about five years from now.
It’s funny that there are so many parallels in just about every industry, but as an entrepreneur or for any new business owner, there’s a saying that it takes at least 2 years for a new business to become profitable. But that success is not guaranteed.
I imagined my blog in that way where the first 2 years were going to be challenging and that I would potentially fail. And by fail I mean nobody would read my blog. I worked my butt off, learned from the criticisms as well as the compliments and was open to evolving my brand to better connect with my audience. There’s no sugar-coating the experience I had in my first 2 years blogging, or the amount of unpaid time I put into my brand. My advice is to clearly define your goals.
Moving aside to your travelling now and you’ve visited over fifty countries in five different continents. Where has been the place that you want to return to the most and why? One of my favourite cultural experiences was in Cambodia. I got to stay out in a rural area, explore the countryside and really connect with the locals. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at the Epic Arts Centre in Kampot, which was developed for local disabled children as a haven to establish their own community and receive artistic education. It was an amazing experience all around!
I also would love to return to Southeast Asia and Australia, because that‘s where I took my first big solo trip over 4 years ago.
Is there anywhere in the world that you don’t want to visit?
Actually, not that I can think of! Of course, there are places I wouldn’t visit at this time because of unrest and out of concern for my own safety. But, otherwise, no.
What advice would you give to someone travelling on a budget and what location would you begin at? I think that almost any destination can be travelled on a budget – it’s all about planning and priorities. If you’re more passionate about history, then skip the bike tour, and pay the museum admission fees. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, go skydiving and skip the museums. Just be sure to know what you want to do so you don’t spend any unnecessary money!
South America and Asia have always been awesome budget destinations for backpackers and student travellers. I also loved Iceland and Panama!
Back to your own adventures now, and you’ve seen some amazing sights as we can see through your Instagram. What has been your scariest encounter so far? Just a few months ago, I was able to take a trip to China. Those who have followed me for a while may know that I am deathly afraid of heights. But at some point during the trip, I agreed to go to the top of Mt. Huashan, and take the “deadliest hike in the world”. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time!
Also on your site, you showcase your foodie experiences and festivals too, so what’s the best meal you’ve had from over the world? I’d have to say my favourite destination for food and wine is the Istria region of Croatia. They have the most amazing cuisine of fresh seafood and farm to table ingredients, along with world-class olive oils and wines. So delicious!
Talking of food, how do you maintain health and looking so glamorous when you travel? I wish I could say that I had a plan, but I really just try to make as many healthy choices as I can, while still enjoying all the local dishes of wherever I am! I love bread, but also really enjoy fresh fruit and veggies. It’s all about balance when you’re constantly eating on the road.
Finally, if you were to get stranded on an island on your travels, which one person would you choose to have with you and what three things would you choose to have, if you could only have three?
From a logical standpoint, I guess I’d want a survivalist on the island with me! Maybe Bear Grylls or one of the guys from that Dual Survival show. Bonus points if they’re good to look at.
I have no idea what I’d choose to have. But, let’s say, a bottle of rum, a barrel of sunscreen and a satellite phone 😉
Keep up-to-date with Kiersten’s travels here: www.theblondeabroad.com