There comes a time in every global girl’s life when she has to decide where the travel in her DNA is going to take her.
Will she be:
- A travel hobbyist?
- A travel junkie?
- A bona fide, no-holds-barred wanderluster who wants to build her life around that stubborn traveling streak?
As a writer with a nose for a story (and a card-carrying member of option three!), I was excited to connect with fellow wanderlusters Ines Bellina and Kathy Pulkrabek, producers and hosts of XX, Will Travel, a podcast for female solo travellers.
They are fantastic examples of women who have allowed their love of and experience with travel to shape their daily lives. Both of them refused to compromise on their passion for travel and found unique ways to leverage their travel-borne skills to further their careers, find flexibility in their schedules, and talk about their favorite past-time in their free time!
With their unique backgrounds, fearless adventure stories, and strong stance on travel for women, these global girls made me want to hop a plane and start a podcast of my own!
For Ines, daughter of a Peruvian diplomat, travel is as normal as buttered bread. Swiss-born, with South American roots and a U.S. upbringing, she took travel for granted until she had been rooted in one place for too long. When she was given the choice to study abroad for college, she jumped at the chance.
The idea of standing still was too terrifying. I was and am a nomad through and through.
Kathy’s early memories of travel are a bit more local: 24-hour-long family road trips from South Carolina to Minnesota. But going from a poor, rural, southern area to an industrialized, suburban environment in the North was no small cultural shift. Just think of the change in accent!
Kathy’s first international trip was a study abroad experience in Harare, Zimbabwe, where her travel horizons were broadened by new friends.
They showed me that independent travel was not only possible, but also not as intimidating as it appeared.
After getting the scoop on their early years and favorite on-the-road memories, I wanted Ines and Kathy to dive into where they are now and what role travel plays in their professional lives!
How have your experiences with travel shaped your career choices?
KATHY: I’ve had many international opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t have the reputation of being globally aware and culturally sensitive. My language skills have landed me business trips to amazing places just by virtue of being able to communicate and having a basic understanding of the culture.
So talk up your skills — you never know when opportunities might arise.
INES: I thought about going into the Foreign Service for a very, very, very long time. I also really wanted to devote my life to writing in some way, so I made the decision to go to grad school for a PhD in Latin American and Iberian Cultures. I ended up withdrawing from my program after five years to pursue other writing dreams.
Now I have a day job that gives me a steady paycheck while I pursue my passion projects. My ultimate goal is to have the kind of freedom that will allow me to travel as much as I want, when I want.
What inspired XX, Will Travel?
KATHY: I needed a space where I could talk about travel freely and not feel like I was being pretentious or had to defend my choices. (This was before I knew things like Wanderful even existed). I also wanted to develop skills that I wasn’t necessarily getting at my day job, like social media management, audio production, website development, and travel writing.
INES: Kathy and I were on our way to a Chicago Fire soccer game when the words, “You know what would be cool? A travel podcast!” came out of her mouth.
Society, as a whole, is still intent on making us question the choice to travel. We believe travel is a feminist issue. XX, Will Travel is there to make vagabonding a little less daunting to any lady traveler, whatever their experience may be.
Advice for Wanderlusters who want to build a career around their love of travel?
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#36adaf”]”It’s okay to prioritize travel.” [/mks_pullquote]
INES: Don’t question why it’s [travel is] important to you. And if you do want to build a business or career out of it, I would suggest really focusing on that one aspect of travel you’re very passionate about and carving out a niche that differentiates you from your competitors.
Kathy and I like traveling solo. We decided to focus on podcasting because it’s a newer medium, and there aren’t many focused on a) travel and b) specifically women travelers.
For many of us multi-culturals, travel is an integral part of our life experience, and it can often be difficult to “settle down” to a normal life of 9-5s and paying bills.
…which is why a lot of us don’t!
Ines and Kathy are role models for female travelers because they have found ways to assimilate the travel in their DNA into everything they do, even if it isn’t technically what makes up their livelihoods.
Whether you choose to make travel a once-in-awhile, right-in-your-backyard kind of activity; throw caution to the wind and become a full-time wanderer; or even make journeying the thing that gets you paid, the skills and experiences you’ll pick up on the road and the people you meet and surround yourself with will always be a reminder of the traveler in you.
It’s just another day in the life of “growing up global.”