Chatting with Kristin of Be My Travel Muse

written by Helen Fanthorpe

updated 21.10.2020

Kristin’s journey has taken her from a day job in investment banking to exploring the world, publishing two books and running a successful travel blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. As a solo female traveller in her 30s, Kristin espouses the benefits of independent travel to build confidence and empower women. Her practical advice and extensive resources help make travel more “accessible, adventurous and immersive” for her hallowed readership. We’re feeling inspired already.

Musings with Kristin

Q: Why is solo female travel so important to you?

A: Women are so often told that things we want to try are too dangerous or not for us. I know people mean well but it’s so controlling to try to limit us like that. Solo travelling has helped me conquer so many fears and have the most amazing adventures that I value that so much. I think all women should know what that’s like.

Q: What key life skills does travelling solo build?

A: Self-efficacy is probably the biggest. I am confident in my own abilities in a way that I couldn’t have been without having to handle so much on my own. I trust myself to make the right call and I owe that to all the times I did that and proved to myself that I could do it.

Kristin in Mexico

Kristin in Mexico © Private archive

Q: Do you ever get lonely on a long solo trip?

A: Of course it can happen. But sometimes travelling with the wrong person can feel isolating too. We often don’t know it’s a bad fit until we’re on the road with them, so there are always pros and cons. I do meet people easily when travelling solo, though. I pick activities that will help me meet others, book accommodation that is likely to be social, and sometimes I embrace the loneliness too. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Q: Do you think travelling independently opens you up to more meaningful cultural exchanges with local communities?

A: I do. There’s so often space for just one, or a local will take me under their wing. People are often fascinated when you show up alone, and they want to help you have an amazing experience. This has happened for me the world over. That’s not to say you can’t have amazing cultural experiences with others, but most of my meaningful ones have been when I was alone.

Q: Could you tell us about three of your most memorable trips?

A: I just wrapped one up yesterday! I spent three solid weeks swimming with humpback whales every single day in French Polynesia. I stayed with a local family there and I just love them so much. It’s a super authentic experience and I do it every year. This year I brought 14 Be My Travel Muse readers with me and it was so cool to be able to share it with them! I also really adored my trip to Mozambique in 2016. People really make a place, and I just met the coolest people there. Friends thought I was crazy for travelling there alone but I had an amazing experience with locals and the people I met on the road! Finally I have to rewind to the very beginning when I went to Thailand on a one-way ticket eight years ago and began my travel blog. I had no idea back then how beautiful solo travelling could be and I couldn’t believe how happy I was just a few days in. It was easier than I thought, a lot more fun, and I’m so glad that I made the decision to go!

In Thailand

Q: How has the recent pandemic impacted your travels? Do you think there are some positive lessons we can learn from coronavirus to take forwards into the future?

A: It has obviously impacted me greatly. I had to cancel and postpone some of my group tours, my international blog posts aren’t getting as much love as they once did, and I really had to pivot in order to keep my employees paid and my business afloat. However I have never appreciated any trip as much as I did going to Mexico and French Polynesia recently. The connections I made with people were much more meaningful, and I hope that when people can travel internationally again that they really learn to love and value the experiences. Worry about Instagram less, immerse yourself in the moment more.

Q: You recently enjoyed trips to French Polynesia and Mexico. Could you describe some stand-out moments from these destinations?

A: I was so happy in Mexico to find that people were really glad to have us back. They were in dire economic straits and the same was true in French Polynesia. We were welcomed back with such open arms and I was so happy to find that people really do still want to connect and stumble over foreign languages together just like they did before. I always believed that would still be true, but it was so wonderful to see it in practice!

Q: What three items do you always pack for a trip?

A: I’ve had the same eagle creek compression bag since day one of my travels. It’s probably the best 12 dollars I’ve ever spent! It helps keep my clothes compacted and organized and I bring it on every trip. I absolutely always have my camera as well, but I guess that’s to be expected, right? A good audiobook is also a must for me. Usually something that makes me think.

Feeling on top of the world in Alaska

Feeling on top of the world in Alaska © Private archive

Q: What would be your top three tips for women thinking about a solo trip?

A: Do it, do it, and stop thinking about it and do it! I’m half joking, but I think the most paralyzing thing about solo travelling is just deciding to go. If you’re a planner, then make a solid plan. If you’re not, then don’t worry too much about it. Make sure your finances are in order, you have a loose idea of what you want to do, and just go!

Header image: Swimming with whales in French Polynesia

Helen Fanthorpe

written by Helen Fanthorpe

updated 21.10.2020

Helen worked as a Senior Travel Editor at Rough Guides and Insight Guides, based in the London office. Among her favourite projects to work on are inspirational guides like Make the most of your time on Earth, the ultimate travel bucket list.

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