The title professional traveler is a dream for a lot of people. For travel writer Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate, it’s a dream come true. This thirty-year-old Boston-native has spent the last four years hopping from country to country, exploring, writing, and earning a living. Kate, in partnership with Leif of Runaway Guide, also leads small and intimate tours to off-the-beaten-path destinations. We asked Kate to share a few travel trips to make things easier for us all.
Keep your passport safe
“Your passport is the most valuable thing you have. Don’t lose it, because it’s a pain to replace!” Kate says, and she speaks from experience. “When I was shipwrecked in Indonesia and we found out the lifeboats couldn’t be used, I threw my bag containing my passport back onto the boat. I am beyond thankful that it was recovered and I didn’t have to fly to Jakarta to get it replaced.”
Aside from securing your passport in a waterproof container, it’s also a good idea to keep a digital scan of the important pages of your passport in the cloud for easy retrieval, in case something does go wrong. Before you travel, keep the contact information of your country’s embassy on hand, in case of unforeseen problems.
Read travel blogs for accurate accounts
Before you tick a country off your travel list because of a bad rep from the media, Kate recommends reading recent blog posts about the country you’d like to visit. She especially encourages women travelers to visit blogs of fellow female travelers featuring the countries you’re interested in. “They give you a more accurate view than anything you’d find on the news in the US.”
In case your family disagrees with your travel plans, she encourages doing extensive research on your destination and using that information to reassure your family. “It’s also good to come up with a communication plan with your family while you’re away, whether it’s daily emails, weekly Skype calls, or frequent texts or chats.”
Worried about running into problems while you’re in a foreign country? Don’t worry. Don’t panic! Kate shares, “Mishaps will happen even if you have the most meticulously planned trip. Whenever anything goes wrong, I go into immediate problem-solving mode. What can I do? What are my options?”
Instead of beating yourself over missing a train, Kate suggests moving forward and just buying another ticket. “Don’t spend time dwelling on things you can’t change; just take action.”
Do what makes you happy
Kate has a sound piece of advice that works, not only for trip planning, but also for living a happier life.”Know yourself, and be honest with yourself. The more you know yourself and what you genuinely enjoy and don’t enjoy, you’ll be able to create a life that includes more of what you do like and less of what you don’t.” So those trip itineraries that tell you where you should go and what you should do? Only follow them if the idea makes you happy.
If you love traveling and fancy starting a travel blog, be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. “Blogging is absolutely not for everyone. In fact, I dissuade almost everybody from making it into a career. For fun, absolutely, knock yourself out; if you want to do it full-time, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you,” says Kate.
“To become a successful blogger, you will need to spend years working so hard that you eat, sleep, and breathe your blog before you’ll be able to make decent money. In the meantime, you may have to live somewhere in the developing world where you can live on the cheap. If you are anything less than madly in love with blogging, you won’t make it. I know that sounds harsh, but this is a very harsh industry.”
Because of the industry’s nature, travel blogging isn’t an easy thing to make money out of. Travel brands don’t invest as much in blogging compared to other niches like fashion and beauty. The financial returns are slow in coming and the products are more expensive, so companies aren’t as eager to spend. Kate adds, “Don’t get me wrong — it is possible to make good money travel blogging, but I’m certain it will never be on the level of fashion or mommy blogging.”
“Choosing to live a life of travel is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Kate says. It all boils down to making that choice. In one of her blog posts, she writes, “You can keep waiting for your life to change, or you can choose to do something about it. You can choose to travel solo, instead of waiting for friends who may never be ready. You can choose to save your money instead of living barely within your means.”
Eager to travel? For first-time solo travelers, Kate recommends Iceland, Ireland, Thailand, Australia, Croatia, the UK, and the US if you’re not from there. For travelers who don’t mind language barriers, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Japan, Italy, and Spain are also recommended destinations. For more of Kate’s travels and tips, visit her travel blog, Adventurous Kate.