Traveling the world, checking off your bucket list destinations on the daily, experiencing the greatest treasures the world has to offer for a living… how does that sound? Um, pretty darn great, right?
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Kiersten (Kiki) Rich, widely known as the girl behind The Blonde Abroad, who left her nine-to-five to explore the wonders of the world.
A corporate employee turned CEO of her now seven-figure business, Kiki inspires her millions of viewers and followers through her eye-opening voyages.
In this interview, we delve into the importance of expanding your horizons and embracing other cultures. As someone who is working towards this globe-trotting way of life, I’m now even more inspired and am cheering Kiki on in her endeavours!
Sam: Tell me about yourself!
Kiki: Hi, I’m Kiki, a California native, who left my career in corporate wealth management eight years ago to embark on a summer of travel and soul searching that would change the course of my life forever. Since then, I’ve started The Blonde Abroad — it’s the go-to website for solo and female travel around the world. I’ve built a business from my blog and now employ a team of six across continents.
Sam: What have been your favorite destinations and why? Where are you hoping to go next?
Kiki: Spending the last three years in South Africa, I really fell in love with the continent of Africa. I was fortunate enough to travel all over — I mean, there’s so much to see and do throughout the region. If I had to pick a few, my top destinations were probably Seychelles, South Africa, Kenya, and Namibia. The diversity of destinations on the continent, as well as the under-traveled, less-developed tourism path, led to more authentic experiences and it truly blew me away. If you’re passionate about wildlife and animal encounters, it’s an amazing place to go.
Coming up next, I would say probably somewhere tropical! I had a trip to the Philippines booked for this month (I’ve never been!) but had to cancel, unfortunately. After it’s safe to travel again, I would love to go on a dive trip to the ABC islands in the Caribbean and stay a little closer to home. This fall, I think our plan is to spend some time traveling domestically and road-tripping around the Southern USA.
Sam: Why do you think travel is important? How has traveling around the world and being immersed in different cultures shaped you as a person?
Kiki: I grew up in a small town and I didn’t take my first international trip abroad until I was 20 years old. As a young person, it’s easy to think you have your life figured out, and a set path in your mind. But during college, I went through feelings of insecurity and feeling lost and unfulfilled. I signed up for a study abroad program on a whim; my first international trip ended up taking me to Spain, and it really changed things for me. It humbled me, it opened my eyes to a new culture, and a new world really. That first trip abroad is impactful on everyone I think.
I got to experience a solo trip for the first time (although not intentionally) and learned how capable and resilient I was on my own. Everything was new and exciting and it really changed what I wanted out of life. Of course, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows; travel is challenging. But, you grow as a person, and you learn — you learn to be more empathetic to the similarities and differences of people around the world, you learn to appreciate your life back home, and you learn not to take the things you have for granted.
Sam: You started your website as a guide for solo travelers. Do you believe exploring different sectors of the world without company has a notable influence on one’s experience?
Kiki: The truth is, traveling solo changed my life and is the single greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. Like me, many women will find solo travel to be empowering, enjoyable, and a wonderful experience.
Traveling with friends or family can often cause people to submit to others’ wants in terms of what they do and where they visit. With solo travel, the ability to be selfish and do what you really want to do is wonderfully liberating. You can choose where you go, where you eat, and even when you want to nap, without feeling guilt towards a travel buddy.
On the other hand, it does mean that there is no one else to blame if you end up on the wrong train, or you find yourself struggling with a menu in an unfamiliar restaurant! But, those moments are when we learn most about ourselves and rise up to overcome hurdles.
Sam: How do you strive to positively inspire your audience?
Kiki: For me, The Blonde Abroad has always been about inspiring people to travel. It started with my personal experiences and tips for traveling solo as a female and has kind of morphed into a resource for all types of travelers on all budgets. Now, I share tips, guides, and resources from budget travel, to adventure travel, to luxury travel, and I hope that my readers are inspired to take the leap and take those trips without waiting around for a “right” time.
When I can’t speak from personal experience about a destination or topic, we work with amazing guest writers and local experts to share their tips.
I also think that it’s important to me to be a resource beyond just travel — I recognize that travel is the overriding factor and the main reason people come across my content, but I love serving as a source of inspiration and education by sharing my resources and knowledge on all types of things like photography, blogging, business and more.
What are your dream destinations and travel activities? Let Kiki and I know in the comments below!