Below you’ll find some of my most frequently asked questions, including the “personal” stuff! Whether it’s “how to start a travel blog” or “how to earn money traveling” — it’s all here! To stay up to date on new posts, giveaways and exclusive deals, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. Happy exploring!
General Travel FAQ
I'm thinking of taking a solo trip. Where do I begin?Ready to see the world? Do it on your own terms! There are few things as liberating and exciting as traveling alone. Traveling solo changed my life and is the single greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.
Rather than making up excuses not to travel by waiting around for someone to join you, book that trip and go solo. Like me, many women will find solo travel to be empowering, enjoyable and a wonderful experience.
Being able to do what you like when you like is something that is often underrated. When it comes to solo travel, you can choose whether you want to sleep in, fill your day with activities or treat yourself to a day of getting lost in a beautiful city.
If you think traveling solo might be too much of a leap at first, consider joining one of my all-female travel tours, TBA Escapes!
Check out all of my guides and resources for Solo Female Travel here!
I’d also highly recommend joining my all-female TBA Travel Tribe on Facebook. It’s a great resource to chat with other ladies as you plan out trips and get their advice!
Is it safe to travel as a solo female traveler?Yes and no. This depends on what your definition of safety is. There are many places I would consider to be “safe” but there are other places I’ve been to that I’ve taken cautionary safety measures, or done more research on before going.
I feel like when people think a destination is "safe," they let their guard down and if that's a "bad" experience, they blame that they heard it was safe. Safe does not mean comfortable or you won't encounter different cultural norms that make you uncomfortable… and I think that’s where things get a little misconstrued.
Now, this is not me saying stop traveling or you shouldn’t travel solo as a woman—not by any means! In my experience, I’ve felt comfortable in most places I’ve visited and had a really great time meeting locals. However, when traveling around more conservative countries, I do make sure to dress more conservatively and respect their culture. I try not to flash my camera gear or valuables as well.
Here are some other safety tips to help you out during your journey!
As a general statement: yes, I think traveling solo as a female is safe, but you should do your research on a place before going.
Check out all of my guides and resources for Solo Female Travel here!
What are the safest destinations for women to travel alone?While there may be some destinations that are safer than others, the world is not as scary as some might think. With a positive attitude and general street smarts, there are plenty of places in the world where you can feel safe and secure on your own.
Check out this article here—10 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travelers.
How do I convince my parents I’ll be okay traveling solo?It’s common for those that care about us to be concerned with a solo trip. This concern is not limited to parents, but spouses, siblings, and friends may all have valid reasons to be worried about you traveling solo.
It’s also not just limited to solo travel, but loved ones that might be concerned with your first trip overseas—even if it’s part of a group or study abroad program. I’ve put together these tips to help you talk to those that might be concerned.
Where can I connect with other female travelers?I started my TBA Travel Tribe Facebook Group to help female travelers connect with other travel-loving women! This all-female group is a GREAT resource to ask fellow travelers for travel recommendations and to connect with other awesome lady-adventurers!
How do you make friends when traveling?My first travel experience was a study abroad program in Spain, so I somewhat had a built-in group for my first trip. Nowadays, it’s definitely hard to always have a travel buddy since I travel so much and most of my friends are either still in school or are working full-time.
If you’re staying at hostels, you’ll usually meet like-minded people there who are in the same boat and want to make friends as well!
Rest assured, even if you are traveling alone, you will always end up chatting with a stranger and making friends! It's way easier and less intimidating than you'd think.
Most of the time, on solo trips, I end up meeting people straight away. I typically don’t meet people prior to traveling, since a lot of the time I’m traveling without a set itinerary.
Should I study abroad?I think that studying abroad is one of the most educational experiences one can have in college. Whether you go for a spring break trip, a month language program, or an entire semester abroad, it's an experience worth having.
Check out my comprehensive guide on How to Find the Best Study Abroad Program and read 10 Reasons Studying Abroad is Worth It (if you're on the fence).
What things should I prepare for before a trip?There are a few major things to do before any trip—do you need a visa, have you gotten travel insurance, are you using a VPN?
Check out these 10 Important Things To Do Before Every Trip!
When's the best time to book flights and how do you find good deals?While there are plenty of theories and methods out there for booking cheap flights, I’ve found that it’s entirely dependent on your destinations and flexibility.
Check out my Top Tips for Finding Cheap Flights here!
Also, you can find all of my favorite travel resources here—including my favorite airfare apps and websites.
What travel websites do you use for trip planning?I plan 99% of trips through online research and some of my favorite travel planning tools.
You can find all of my favorite travel planning websites here!
What’s the Flight Tracking App that you use?It’s called App in the Air! You can organize flights and virtually explore airports. They even give you a time estimate for how long it will take you to check-in, get through security, and pass through passport control.
You get notifications for any changes and one thing that I especially love is that you can see how much you have flown year-to-date.
How do you deal with health/travel insurance?Travel insurance is a biggie for me. Because I bounce around so much, I like to use World Nomads. They're my recommended travel insurance for trips big and small!
Read More: Ten Reasons to Get Travel Insurance for your Next Trip
How do you prepare for a long-haul flight?Here are 5 Things to Do Before Every Flight to make the journey easier and my Ultimate Survival Guide for Long-Haul Flights!
PS, don't miss my Ultimate Carry On Packing Guide for everything I bring with me on a flight!
PPS, my guide on Which Travel Beauty Products to Check vs. Carry On is super helpful.
What travel reward credit cards would you recommend?There are countless credit cards that offer some pretty awesome perks—but how do you know which one to pick? I know this can be a really overwhelming thing as there are so many options.
I’ve put together this list of my favorite travel reward credit cards and their benefits.
Any tips for earning money while traveling?Of course!
Check out my tips on how to make money while traveling long-term!
If you're looking for a job that allows you to work abroad, check out some of my recommendations on the best travel jobs around the world.
What tour companies do you recommend?I own an all-female educational retreat and bespoke travel tour company, TBA Escapes. We've hosted over 100 women from around the world! We now offer once-in-a-lifetime trips to Morocco, Jordan, the Galapagos, and South Africa (with new destinations coming soon)!
I'd also highly suggest reading reviews and taking a look at this post—Important Things to Look For in a Travel Company.
Can you help me plan my trip?If you can't join us on one of our all-female tours, TBA Escapes now offers individual itinerary planning specializing in African travel.
While we're focusing on African destinations at the moment, we may be able to offer you itinerary planning for other destinations. Just head to the website and send an inquiry! (Please note this is a paid service)
If you aren't interested in hiring a professional service, the best I can offer is for you to use my guides as an outline and resource. There are thousands of articles on this website, so search to see if your answer is already here!
Don't see the travel tips you're looking for in FAQ or on the blog?Don't see travel tips for a destination you're traveling to? Want a guide for a destination I've shared on my Instagram? Your wish is my command! I share 5 blog posts every week and will do my best to create one based on your request! Please Note: Because I get hundreds of requests, you will not get a response unless I create the post! Submit your blog post request here!
Business + Blogging FAQ
How do you make money if you're always traveling?The Blonde Abroad is a multi-faceted business and has various revenue streams including affiliate programs, consulting, social media marketing, educational retreats & tours, custom branding, and website design, and digital content creation.
1) I work with tourism boards, hotels, airlines and travel partners where expenses are covered and I am paid for social media marketing or producing content like photography or videography. (You’ll always know if I take a press trip as I disclose it in the post). I accept these opportunities when it’s a destination or experience I’m excited for and I think my readers will benefit from my first-hand perspective of the trip.
2) I earn ad and affiliate revenue from my website. This way, the website remains free for readers like you!
3) I offer social media and influencer marketing consulting as well as content creation for brands that want to focus on authenticity and engagement. I began consulting out of my own love for social media and branding and enjoy helping create solutions for other companies.
4) In response to the countless emails and messages I get about my editing process, I developed my own Lightroom Presets. I created different collections with custom presets that I use on my own photos throughout my travels. These easy-to-use mobile and desktop presets will instantly add a beautiful aesthetic to all of your images.
5) I own an all-female educational retreat and bespoke travel tour company, TBA Escapes. We've hosted over 100 women from around the world! We now offer once-in-a-lifetime trips to Morocco, Jordan, the Galapagos, and South Africa (with new destinations coming soon)!
6) I also founded Quest Creative Agency, a digital creative agency specializing in branding for bloggers and custom website design and development. If you're interested in giving your brand a makeover or are looking for a one-of-a-kind custom website, enquire today!
How do you manage traveling full-time and running a business?Honestly, it’s a LOT of work, and a lot of very little sleep while traveling. After blogging for about 2.5 years on my own, I realized the only way to grow my business was to start building a team.
To travel full-time while managing multiple businesses, sharing daily blog content, posting daily to Instagram, managing a constant social media schedule, securing and managing partnerships, shooting and editing photos, and shooting and editing videos on your own will drive you insane.
It takes an army to raise a blog—I currently have a team of 8 people.
Luckily, I am managed by an amazing team of women at YMU Group.
I have an irreplaceable Managing Director, Lauren, who helps keep the business running at all times. She has been with The Blonde Abroad since 2014 and is the glue that keeps this business together. I wouldn’t be where I am without her!
I have a rock star Content & Community Director, Chelsea, who manages my social media communities and blog content.
I have a lead "Escape Artist," Caity, who runs all logistics and admin for my all-female tours, TBA Escapes.
I also have an incredible Graphic Designer, Video Editor, Web Developer and a talented team of Writers.
You’re literally living my dream. How can I be like you?First of all, thank you for your kind words! But you’ve got to know that my blog was not an overnight success and I’ve put countless hours into growing it and developing my team. For someone just taking a glance at my Instagram feed, they might think I’m traveling a lot of the time, but the truth is so much of it is working at my laptop—editing photos, creating content, replying to emails.
And yes, I have a team. I wouldn’t be able to do it all without them—there are only so many hours in the day!
If you’re wanting to pursue blogging as a career here are the things I would focus on:
Find your passion and niche; find out what makes you and your content different
Figure out your target audience
Build your website
Create useful content with gorgeous photos and graphics
Make use of social media platforms
Learn all about SEO
Network with others
Don’t get too caught up with numbers or focusing on the success of others
Understand that social media and blogging are always changing and you’ll have to adapt! I don’t focus all my time and energy on any one platform as they can change at a moment’s notice (or a new algorithm).
If you’re really wanting to take your blog to the next level, sign up for my Blogging Master Class here!
I want to start a travel blog. Where do I begin?There’s a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is, "just do it!" Sure, you need to figure out logistics like what your brand name is going to be, who your target audience is, and how you’re going to create content. But don’t let the fear of starting the blog and putting yourself out there prevent you from doing it at all! The long answer?
Check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Starting a Successful Travel Blog, which includes step-by-step tips on getting your website up and running!
If you’re interested in pursuing blogging as a business, sign up for my Blogging Master Class here!
What advice do you have for bloggers just getting started?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 3 years for a new business to become profitable, and success is not guaranteed.
I imagined my blog in that way, where the first 3 years were going to be challenging and that I would potentially fail. And by fail I mean nobody would read my blog or I would need to quit the blog and return to a full-time job to support myself. BUT 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.
So, my first tip 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 focus on something that you would be interested in blogging about five years from now.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned? Create engaging content! I think one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is creating content that you love, but with your audience in mind. Always ask yourself, would this help my readers? Or, is this something that my readers care about? Asking for audience feedback is one of the easiest ways to create content that they will love.
If you're just getting started, check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Starting a Successful Travel Blog, which includes step-by-step tips on getting your website up and running!
If you've already got a blog but are looking for insider tips to step up your game, check out my Tips for Brand New Bloggers!
And, if you’re interested in pursuing blogging as a business, sign up for my Blogging Master Class here!
Do you have any tips on growing a blog while working full-time?You bet I do! Blogging does require a lot of work and dedication, so it is not for everyone. And, if you’re hoping to turn your blog into a business, it can take a few years before you start seeing any money from it.
If you are dedicated and willing to put in the hard work you can create something worthwhile. I was still working full-time when I started my blog, so I know how difficult it can be to balance everything.
Even when my blog began to grow, I continued to work freelance to earn an income. The real art of blogging is the great balancing act of work and passion. Here are my tips on How to Run A Blog While Working Full-Time!
How do I become a better blogger?First of all, hone in on what aspects you’re wanting to get better at and grow. Does your site need some tuning up? Do you need to focus more on SEO? How is community engagement on your social media platforms? Are you taking the best-quality photos possible?
Here are several articles that will help you out:
Tips for Shooting Stunning Travel Flat Lays
10 Ways to Be a More Productive Blogger
10 Skillshare Courses Perfect for Bloggers
The Best Apps for Bloggers to Stay Organized
Tips for Brand-New Bloggers Wanting to Step Up Their Game
The Best Photography Equipment for Travel Blogging
Narrow down what you’re trying to become better at and start there! I know it can be overwhelming at first, so do it in small chunks.
Looking for more? My Blogging Master Class is launching soon!
How can aspiring bloggers set themselves apart from the crowd?I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: my blog was not an overnight success. The success of my blog has been a direct reflection of the effort I put into it—when I treated it like a job, that's when things really started to happen. I figured out who my audience is, learned SEO, upped my photography skills and focused on content creation.
To stand out, I truly believe you need to create useful content. There are so many pages and sites that share "inspirational" photos of traveling to a place...but that's just what it is: inspiration. It doesn't provide you with tips for visiting, the best time to go, how to get those shots, etc. So I prefer to create content that is of value and helpful to my readers—that doesn't just let them dream of a place, but actually allows them to make that dream a reality by providing them with the tools to make it possible.
Also, when you're building a blog, you're building a brand—so you've really got to hone in on what your goals are, your message, who your target audience is, what kind of content you're wanting to create and why. If you're wanting to stand out as a blogger, head over to this post for all my tips and tricks.
I just started my blog, can I get a shoutout or a feature?Congratulations on starting this journey! Unfortunately, I get so many requests for features and shoutouts that I can’t do them. But, I would highly recommend finding Instagram accounts that share photos similar to your content and using their hashtag, or looking for blogs to guest post on!
If you're using my Lightroom Presets, be sure to use #TBApresets and tag @TBApresets to be featured!
How long did it take you to become "successful?"I started blogging in 2012 and, I’ve said it before, I was not an overnight success!
Over the years, I’ve learned SO much about SEO, photography, website development, social media, and community.
In terms of "success," I had my first 6-figure year in 2014. I was ranked by Forbes as one of the "Top 10 Travel Influencers" in 2017. And had my first 7-figure year in 2019. Remember, this is not based solely on paid Instagram promotions. I run multiple businesses and have been doing this for nearly a decade!
There have been hours and hours poured into The Blonde Abroad brand across this website and all social media platforms because, at the end of the day, I truly love it.
You can listen to some of my interviews with A-Cup Podcast and The Business Method to learn more about my success as a blogger!
How do you choose which travel/business opportunities to accept?This is a personal choice. For me, the key factors involved in accepting a travel opp are travel time to and from (and pain of the flights lol), if there's any compensation, what the deliverables are and, of course, how excited I am for the actual travel experience.
99% of the time, I turn down "press trips" because it's just not worth the opportunity cost of working hard to go somewhere that I'm 1/2 interested in, to work my butt off, and then not get paid. I'd rather work on my own business and pay for the trips I'm really excited about.
Regarding business opps, the #1 factor is "does this interest or engage my audience?" If it feels icky or on the fence, it's an immediate no, no matter the pay. Then, would I use it/do I personally like it? Am I excited about it?
Sometimes I'll reduce my rates if I think it's an amazing brand or product that feels super authentic to share with my audience. Otherwise, I'm pretty firm on my rates for the same reasons as the travel stuff—I'd rather spend my time on my own business than promote other businesses.
How can I get invited on a press trip?In order for a destination or property to invest in you, you need to offer ROI (return on investment). That means your value might come from exposure from a large audience, high-quality photos or video, or some other skill or service.
Imagine yourself as a hotel manager looking for new ways to market your property. You might consider print advertising, online ads or working with a digital creative.
As an online influencer, you’ll want to provide a Media Kit outlining your full reach and audience demographics.
Who designed your website?My current site design was a completely customized labor of love! It took almost a year to fully design and develop it all—from the graphics to the coding to all the little gadgets and gizmos.
I actually have a Graphic Designer and Web Developer on my team and they’re absolutely incredible. It took me a year just to FIND a designer that understood my creative vision. I found the whole process very eye-opening.
I soon realized how many other people wanted a custom website but couldn’t find the resources to do so. So, I founded Quest Creative Agency with my personal team of incredibly talented individuals and, collaboratively, we offer professional branding, website design, and blog mentorship.
How do I add Ads to my blog?There's no plugin that will just add Ads to your website. Most bloggers sign up for an Ad Network that places ads on their website and pays them a revenue based on their pageviews.
I use AdThrive and love them, but they only work with higher trafficked websites. Media Vine is one of the most common in the industry.
I wouldn't consider Ads until you're getting significant traffic otherwise it's just an ugly Ad on your website and no real profit. I think a benchmark of 50,000-100,000 page views per month is a good starting point.
What do you use to design your graphics?I have a personal graphic designer on my team and she is AMAZING! If you’re wanting custom graphics for your blog or social media, take a look at the branding packages we have available at Quest Creative Agency.
How do I grow my Instagram following?I have a Blogging Master Class coming out soon, so stay tuned for details! In the meantime, here are some main things you can focus on:
1. Be consistent. The algorithm tends to reward accounts that post once a day.
2. Invest in learning about photography techniques, composition, and your equipment.
3. Learn Lightroom and use Lightroom Presets to give a consistent aesthetic to your feed.
4. Treat your IG as a business and focus on creating a community and sharing content that attracts your tribe. Research hashtags and find a good mix of low and high traffic ones to use.
5. Find accounts that repost/share the type of content you’re making and if they have any dedicated hashtags to share photos, use those!
Can I work / intern for you?We are currently not bringing on new interns, but we always love to hear from creative and motivated people that want to join The Blonde Abroad team. Feel free to send your resume to [email protected] and we will let you know if we have an opening!
Should I go to college? / Should I travel before or after college?It's a tough question. Depending on where you’re from, the “norm” might be for you to go to college immediately after high school. I remember hearing “gap year” for the first time and learning that New Zealanders and Australians are encouraged to take a year off after high school to travel. Talk about a difference in cultures!
My input is this: there is nothing wrong with going to college right away. College gave me some of the best years of my life. In fact, doing a study abroad program while IN college might even be better than a gap year after high school.
For example, let’s look at Semester at Sea. If I could do it all over again, I still would have studied business because it's given me incredibly valuable tools to run my own business. But, I would have done Semester at Sea. Everyone I know that did it still raves about it. I supported myself financially through college, so I couldn't afford to do an entire semester abroad, so I opted for a 1 month Spanish Language program in Spain and it changed my life. If you also don't feel like you can afford to study abroad, look into scholarships and research fundraising ideas to help you make it possible.
My best advice for college is to study something that will put you on a path for success and to do some form of study abroad program, join a committee or group of some sort, get a job so you can get some work experience and, most importantly, have a blast!
Or, when you graduate from college, take some time to travel. Then, you can enter the workforce with a better idea of who you are and you'll have some incredible things to put on that resume. You might have some ideas for starting your own business! :) Check out my comprehensive guide on How to Find the Best Study Abroad Program.
What major should I study in college to do what you do?While I majored in Financial Services, if I could go back and change my major I’d probably choose something like Marketing or Small Business studies to help better prepare me for running the business side of things!
However, if you’re wanting to get into the travel industry, majoring in Hospitality could open up some great opportunities. You also might want to explore taking some photography courses, graphic design, or web development!English and grammar courses are always helpful too!
What photography gear do you use?As a female traveler, there are a few things that are important when choosing photography gear.
The first is size—I don’t want to lug around a big camera or have a camera so large that it draws unnecessary attention to myself.
Secondly, I want a camera that is easy to use and has powerful features.
And, most importantly, I look for quality. Above all, I want a camera that’s shooting incredible images and has the capability to capture amazing video, which is why I shoot with Fujifilm X Series cameras.
Right now, I’m shooting on the Fujifilm H1 and 16-55mm F2.8 lens.
Check out my full list of Photography Tips to see what gear I use, how I shoot my photos, how I edit my photos, and more!
What camera lenses do you recommend for travel?It depends on what kind of photos you’re wanting to take! Are you focusing more on landscapes, lifestyle photos, or really close up detail shots?
Two of the most important things to look for in a lens are the aperture and the focal length. Aperture is usually referred to in f-stop (ex. f/2.8) and the focal length is usually in measurements of mm (ex. 35mm or 18-55mm).
I typically travel with 2-3 lenses so that my bases are covered; a wide lens (for landscapes), a versatile but powerful zoom lens (for lifestyle shots and everyday use), and a prime lens (for portraits and detail).
If this wording confuses you or seems scary—don’t worry! We all have to start somewhere! Check out my full list of Photography Tips to see what gear I use, how I shoot my photos, how I edit my photos, and more!
What lens filters do you recommend?I keep a circular polarizer on my landscape and everyday lenses (ex. 18-55mm lens) to help cut glare when shooting outdoors.
TIP: You need to spin the polarizer (that's why it's called a circular filter), to adjust where the glare is reduced.
At the very least, you should keep a clear UV lens filter on all of your lenses. It helps to protect your lens against scratches and dust. Plus, they're really inexpensive!
Who takes your photos?A majority of my photos are set up with a tripod and timer—I like to set up the shot beforehand and then go play in front of the camera. Photography is one of my biggest passions and I’ve got a bunch of tips here!
Sometimes, when I’m traveling with friends, I’ll have them snap a photo. I'll even ask a complete stranger for help! The trick is to become a good photographer yourself so that you can frame the shot, set your shutter to continuous shooting, and then anyone can be your photographer! ;)
Here are my tips on How to Get Awesome Photos as a Solo Traveler!
Which phone do you use?I have the iPhone XS Max and it takes amazing photo and video! Most of what I share on my Instagram stories is shot on my phone.
Here are my tips on The Ultimate Guide to Smartphone Travel Photography, and here are my Top 5 Photo Editing Apps for Travelers.
And, I edit my iPhone photos with my Lightroom Presets for mobile!
How can I edit my photos like yours?In response to the countless emails and messages I get about my editing process, I developed my own Lightroom Presets.
I created different collections with custom presets that I use on my own photos throughout my travels. These easy-to-use presets will instantly add a beautiful aesthetic to all of your images.
You'll find my Mobile Presets (perfect for anyone that edits on their phone) and my Desktop Collections (perfect for photography enthusiasts looking to take their photos to the next level)!
What do you use to design your Instagram stories?I actually design a majority of my IG stories in Photoshop! My brilliant graphic designer created bespoke graphics for me to use. However, Unfold is a great app to make pretty stories!
What camera equipment do you use for vlogging?I wish I had more bandwidth so that I could share more videos from my travels! It really is my biggest passion.
I shoot with a few things but mainly my Canon G7X Mark II (the new Mark III is now available!) and Fujifilm H1 camera with 16-55mm f2/8 lens and 35mm f/1.4 lens. I also use my GoPro Hero 7 Black for action shots!
I also recently got my hands on the DJI Osmo Pocket and LOVE it for traveling and capturing footage and for vlogging. It's got built-in stabilization so your footage turns out amazing every time.
Check out the full list of my vlogging gear here.
What camera equipment do you use underwater?I shoot with my Canon G7X Mark II in an underwater housing and my GoPro Hero 7 Black in a Super Suit (for scuba diving).
If you're just snorkeling, a GoPro is perfect and already waterproof up to 33ft (10m).
What drone do you recommend for travel?Check out my Beginner's Guide to Drone Travel Photography!
I personally shoot on the DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Hasselblad camera. The photo and video quality is AMAZING.
I will say, however, that my one beef with this model is you cannot rotate the camera to shoot in portrait. So, if you are most often shooting vertically, I would recommend the Mavic Pro.
If you're not shooting professionally and are just looking for a fun and lightweight drone to capture your travels from above, I'd recommend the DJI Mavic Air. It's super small, less expensive, and still offers RAW format photos and 4k video!
5 things you might not know about me...I have my black belt in Taekwondo. I'm allergic to figs & Neosporin. I'm terrified of heights. I'm a Gemini (through and through). And, I'm a massive Harry Potter fanatic (and a Hufflepuff!)
How old are you?I was born in 1988... so you do the math! ;)
How did you quit your full-time job and start traveling?It is definitely not that black and white. In 2010, I had moved to Los Angeles to work for a Wealth Management firm, but in 2011, I decided I needed to do some soul searching.
I had worked full time to put myself through college, so with 5 years working in Financial Planning by 22 years old, I was feeling pretty burnt out.
I only had about $2,000 saved up at the time and I didn’t know what I was going to do. But, I took the funds I had, cut back on all my other expenses and decided I would figure it out.
I decided to go stay with some friends in Australia for 8 weeks, then ended up staying on for another 6 weeks, traveling Southeast Asia (on about $20 a day), and ending in New Zealand (again, staying with friends).
During that summer abroad, I came up with the idea of "The Blonde Abroad," but I didn't start it until the following year. I wasn't ready to return to a corporate job so, instead, I returned to LA and picked up freelance work as a bartender and event staff for random events around the city.
Every single job I took after that went towards funding my next trip. I was on a TIGHT budget—like extremely tight, and taking whatever job I could get. And I did that for about a year.
Then, in 2012, while volunteering in Bolivia, I decided to start a blog. I had kept daily journal entries of my travels (some are still on this blog!) and then worked tirelessly, and frugally, for the next three years while I tried to balance blogging and freelance work.
Where and when was your first international trip?I never traveled internationally growing up—my parent's idea of travel was camping trips on the weekends, only a few hours from home (which I still love BTW!).
In 2008, just before finishing my sophomore year of college, I saw a flyer on my campus for an intensive Spanish Language Study Abroad Program in Spain for that summer. I had never traveled out of the country and had only been on one flight in my entire life!
Without even telling my parents I put down the deposit, broke my lease at my apartment, gathered what little money I had saved, and told my boss I would be back in July. I was ready for a change, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
After spending a month studying Spanish in Spain, I spent another three weeks backpacking around Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and England.
During my time abroad, I discovered a new sense of independence, experienced new cultures, and saw and touched history. I was hooked. I came home empowered, refreshed, and ready for something more.
Where did you go to college and what was your major?I went to San Diego State University and have my Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Financial Services with Certification in Financial Planning.
How do you stay in shape while traveling?My "secret" is 99% diet more than exercise. When I'm on the road, I walk a few miles daily, so I typically don't go to a gym or work out. I consider myself a "flexitarian"—meaning, I eat what makes my body and mind feel its best. My body is really sensitive to dairy, but I love me some carbs. So, pass the bread basket but hold the butter.
Ya feel me?!
When I'm home, I try to cook most of my meals and usually eat very clean, simple food that's vegan or vegetarian. I love seafood, but only eat it when I'm in a destination that has fresh, local and sustainable seafood.
I don't eat meat, chicken or pork, but will always try a local dish when traveling (even if it's something I consider weird like camel or crocodile) out of respect for the local culture.
For fitness ideas to try while traveling, check out my post on 10 Ways to Stay in Shape While Traveling!
Are you a natural blonde?I have super thin hair and I'm naturally a "dirty blonde." My hair naturally highlights in the sun, but I highlight my hair every 4-6 months to keep it looking fresh. I occasionally wear extensions so that I can style fun braids that are long and thick. I use Barefoot Blonde Extensions in Sandy Blonde and they match my hair perfectly.
Where do you get your hair done?In San Diego, my go-to guy is Brian at Belle Sirène Salon in La Jolla. While he focuses mostly on cutting (men and women), you can request an appointment, let them know I referred you to Brian, and he’ll be able to recommend the best “blonde” colorist!
In Cape Town, Bianca Moore at Eastside Cartel is the best blonde colorist in the city! Mario Ras at Eastside Cartel is also one of our dear friends and is my boyfriend’s go-to guy for men’s cuts.
How often do you travel?It might seem like I travel more than I do because I stretch my content to make it last longer. I usually create multiple posts on different subjects about the same place. And, I take so many photos I'm usually posting to Instagram long after I've gone.
I’ve actually made it a goal to travel less in 2019, both because of carbon emissions and because of all the stress it puts on me!
As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I’ve found that it’s better to travel slowly—really soak up a place and embrace it, rather than trying to cram in as many locations and destinations in one trip.
That said, I’m typically on the road about 6 months out of the year and spend most of my downtime in Cape Town, South Africa.
What are your favorite shops and brands?I love Lulus and Mura Boutique for affordable and cute clothes. Blaine Bowen has adorable print tees and beautiful jewelry.
My favorite brand is probably Free People, but I usually only invest in staple pieces with them as it can get pretty expensive.
I love Janessa Leone and Lack of Color for amazing hats.
And I have a few ONA and Lo & Sons camera bags.
Want more? You can check out my packing and shopping guides here!