The travel world is made up of hundreds of different types of people from everywhere. People travel. More than you probably think. And in more ways than you might have realized. Over the years I certainly have learned of creative ways people travel that I never even thought about!
This feature is a place for travelers of all types to share their story. How do you travel? What type of upbringing did you have? What led you to decide you’d like to have travel in your life? Do you come from a family of travelers or are you the first one to really break the mold? What drives you to get up and go to work so you can fund your travels?
Hearing people’s travel stories is one of my favorite things to do when I am on the road. No two people have the same background or the same travel style. And there are so many different ways people work and save for travel! If you would like to be featured and share YOUR STORY please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And with that, let’s meet this week featured traveler –
Hi, my name is: Colleen Kinsey. I TRAVEL. This is my story.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from and where did you grow up?
My name is Colleen and travel first found me as an escape, but soon manifested itself into an addiction. I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa where most people don’t have passports and just leaving the state is a big to do.
Do you come from a family of travelers? Summer vacations? No vacations?
My family didn’t travel a lot, except for the token trip to an all-inclusive in Mexico or a cruise every couple years. I was really inspired by my grandmother. When I was little, I was fascinated by her stories from the road. I remember thinking, If my grandmother could travel the world in the days without internet, credit cards, smart phones, even a GPS, I realized I could make it happen.
When did you start traveling?
I was introduced to Europe in high school when we went on a school trip with our French class. I immediately fell in love with the adventure and experiencing new cultures. I kept going back when I could. I did the typical college study abroad and would use every excuse I could to go back and visit my friends.
After university, I got a big girl job out in the corporate world. I traveled for work every week and soon learned how to travel for free. Instead of flying home after a week at the client site, I would find a flight to another city for the same price. As long as the dollar amount was the same or less, I could be reimbursed. I began obsessively tracking my rewards points for hotels, airlines, and rental cars, so I could spend the least amount of money as possible.
Traveling on the weekends was great, but the appetite of my Wanderlust Beast only grew hungrier. I didn’t want to be limited to places in the U.S. I wanted to ride a camel while overlooking the pyramids, or hike to a hot spring in Iceland. The world was my oyster and I was determined to figure out how to open it.
What is your travel style? Do you maximize all your vacation time from a job? Do you just quit jobs to travel? Are you able to work remotely? Are you a weekend warrior who maximizes their time?
My grandmother, and inspiration for travel, passed away at the beginning of 2016. I was devastated, but it also gave me the motivation to make my dreams come true. I quit the job that was making me unhappy to pursue my travels. I began the process of saving money, learning skills that I could use as income on the road, and sold everything that I own, except what I could fit in my backpack.
How do you fund your travels?
My travels are funded by website freelancing and working for a company that is near and dear to my heart, Global Gals. Global Gals’ mission is to empower women to make their travel dreams a reality. It’s really inspiring to help women positively impact their lives through something I love, travel!
I look back on the person I was eight months ago, sitting in front of computer, bending over backwards to make clients happy, listening to conference call after conference call, and I am so happy I made this jump. I work for a company that I feel truly passionate about and I have the freedom to work anywhere in the world, with stable Wifi connection (Note: Never go to Italy with the expectation of reliable internet, it’s not going to happen).
What has been one of your favorite travel experiences?
One of my favorite travel experiences was purely by accident, or stupidity. In my previous life I was typical type A personality and super organized. While traveling, I’ve let those traits go to the wayside and enjoy life instead. I had made a friend in Krakow, Poland and was getting ready to say goodbye. The friends you make on the road, you may never see again, which makes goodbyes difficult. After saying “see you later,” instead of “goodbye,” I realized I was about to miss my bus to Prague.
I ran through the streets of Krakow with my giant backpack, sweating, and gasping for air (the Polish beer didn’t help). When I arrived at the coach station, I found that my bus had promptly left without me on it. So, I booked the next bus, which wasn’t for another 8 hours. Being proactive, I locked my backpack up and went to go spend some more time with my friend.
As the hour grew late and the second goodbye was imminent, I became aware of the fact that even though it was ten o’clock at night, the coach station may no longer be open. When I arrived at the coach station a giant sign on the door greeted me with the closing time of 9pm. Through the door I could see the locker where everything I owned sat safely tucked inside the shut coach station.
I had no choice, but to buy a third ticket to Prague. On the plus side, I got to spend another night in Krakow with my friend, because of course the next bus wasn’t for another eight hours.
I did finally make the third bus to Prague in the morning (three bus tickets later). But, I was able to laugh at my mistake(s) and enjoy the extra time exploring the city with wonderful company.
What is a next destination you are so excited to see?
I feel like my travel has mostly been in Europe. I want to push myself and experience new places, like India or Thailand for example. It would be great to check a few bucketlist items off like become a certified yoga instructor or learning Hindi.
What words of wisdom do you wish to share with other people who are wanting to include more travel in their lives?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that everything will work out. Whether you’re afraid to take your first solo trip, or go to a new country, or quit your job and become a digital nomad, you’ll find a way to land on your feet. There will always be experiences that help you change and grow. Those experiences won’t find you, you need to get off the couch and go find them!
Author Bio: Colleen is a digital nomad that blogs about her adventures (sometimes misadventures) on Travel Meets Happy. She is also the ‘Global Gal on the Go’ for the organization Global Gals, which empowers women to travel and pursue adventures around the world.
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