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Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse: “Why solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery”

The mission of Be My Travel Muse is to empower women. I believe that solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery, among other things. I’ve become the most empowered version of myself thanks to the times when I had to be a chief problem solver. I learned that people are mostly good, and developed […]

The mission of Be My Travel Muse is to empower women. I believe that solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery, among other things. I’ve become the most empowered version of myself thanks to the times when I had to be a chief problem solver. I learned that people are mostly good, and developed a sharper intuition and belief in my own abilities. I show women that this is not some special nor innate skill I have that makes me a good solo traveler. It’s available to everyone. In addition to my own story, I share the stories of solo female travelers from all over the globe including India, Kenya, and Indonesia among many others, in order to paint a fuller picture of what’s possible.


As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Addis.

Kristin is the creator and author behind Be My Travel Muse, a travel brand that empowers women to travel the world solo. Over the past 7 years Kristin has hiked, hitchhiked, camped, and solo traveled on six out of seven continents on earth and her website, Instagram, YouTube, and more all provide a blueprint for other women to do the same. Read by more than 3 million people this year, bemytravelmuse.com is one of the leading female travel blogs in the world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Istarted my career as an investment banker of all things! After four years of working what I thought was a dream job, I realized that it just wasn’t for me. What I craved was freedom. I’d always been creative growing up, spending my free time writing, painting, and reading novels about far-off places. I decided to take a sabbatical to travel and while on the road, I gave my dream of being a travel writer my full effort. Over seven years later, it’s worked out!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Wow, it’s hard to narrow that down! One of my favorite memories was hitchhiking solo in China. It was winter, I was in the snow, and over the course of many different car rides through two provinces, I was shown more generosity than I ever have anywhere else. The people who picked me up regularly bought me lunch gave me gifts, and one even quietly bought me a bus ticket, without me realizing until it had already been done when he couldn’t take me the whole way. I’ll always think of China fondly for the kindness I was shown by perfect strangers. People really do make the place wonderful.

If you want it to be strictly career-related:

I struggled to make any money for the first couple of years that I did this. It wasn’t until I wrote a book called Conquering Mountains, How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly, that my career finally took off. Plenty of others had written e-books but it was this book that was so targeted and unique that suddenly made me the authority on solo travel. I got media mentions, interviews, and a steady income stream after that. It was amazing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Though I kick myself over it now, I used to take gorgeous photos with my DSLR camera that I reserved for my blog, and then take out my phone and snap photos of the same place for Instagram. My IG posts were over-saturated, terrible phone photos of all the same places that I had wonderful DSLR versions of for years. I’d just assumed that tons of filters and phone cameras were what Instagram was about to back then. Now I realize what an opportunity I was missing to stand out with better photos from day one.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?

The mission of Be My Travel Muse is to empower women. I believe that solo travel builds independence, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and bravery, among other things. I’ve become the most empowered version of myself thanks to the times when I had to be a chief problem solver. I learned that people are mostly good, and developed a sharper intuition and belief in my own abilities. I show women that this is not some special nor innate skill I have that makes me a good solo traveler. It’s available to everyone. In addition to my own story, I share the stories of solo female travelers from all over the globe including India, Kenya, and Indonesia among many others, in order to paint a fuller picture of what’s possible.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

There have been many. I keep a document of those who have written heartfelt emails over the years and it’s over 40 pages long now! One of my favorites was from a woman who had been scared to travel solo. She felt encouraged by the resources on my blog and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she met her life partner. Now they live abroad and she’s living a life she hadn’t even thought was possible previously. It’s amazing how one little action can beget so many more amazing actions. I’m glad to be a catalyst when and where I can.

Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?

Back when I started my blog I remember reading a rant by another blogger about how the world didn’t need any more ‘solo female travel bloggers.’ I don’t know why I let it get to me! I initially focused on off the beaten path travel as a result, but the fact is, I AM a solo female traveler and I started to realize from emails and messages from my audience that they were mostly women, too. Once I published my first book, Conquering Mountains, How to Solo Travel the World Fearlesslyits success made it clear that I could best serve women and it’s where my heart and passion have been ever since.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I wish that there was less fear of being spread about women doing things on their own. I remember the New York Times came out with an article that really put down solo female travel and it disappointed me because the vast majority of women experience less violence abroad than they would at home, and it spreads the idea that we can’t do things alone. We don’t need a chaperone to see the world, and the pervasive myth that we do is damaging.

What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?

I constantly travel to places and do things alone that other people have labeled dangerous. I love traveling in Africa, which the media has portrayed in such a terrible light, I regularly hike and hitchhike solo, and I try to be as real and honest about all of it as possible. I don’t think women need to see more perfect or curated content about an unattainable life that they can’t have, I think they need to see authenticity.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I wish someone had told me:

That there is room for everyone. I had a point in my career when I felt like I had to be ‘the best’ and at ‘the top’ and it all felt so competitive to me. Now I realize that there is room for everyone and that by focusing on my own unique gifts I’m putting myself way farther than by focusing on winning.

Don’t do it for validation or ‘likes’. I recently watched a TED talk by Joseph Gordon Levitt speaking about how doing art for validation or praise ultimately stifles creativity and I have seen that to be true. When I focus on creating something amazing for the gift itself, it always turns out better.

Do something different. In the beginning, and even now sometimes I’m sure, I would see what was working for other people and try to do it, too. That’s common in any industry I’m sure. However, if I’d really thought ahead I would have seen the potential for Instagram and posted better pictures since I was taking them anyways for my blog, I would have put more time into Pinterest, and would have focused less on, say Twitter or Facebook marketing.

You’ll never feel like you’ve ‘made it’. I used to think that when I had 100k followers on Instagram I’d feel like I had made it. I thought once I got one million blog readers in one year I’d feel the same, now at 3x beyond that my sights are set on the next rung of the ladder. Each milestone is just a step while on the voyage, and the joy has to come from the journey. There is no destination.

Don’t make it about you. I didn’t start making serving others and their experience on my site my sole focus of content creation until my third year. Before that, I wrote more in a diary format. I’m sure some early readers miss that or unsubscribed once I started to do more informational articles, but my focus on providing invaluable information that people usually have to pay for or figure out firsthand, and to be helpful, got me way more subscribers and readers in the long run.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to see more women bravely doing what inspires them most. The world is a better place when people feel like they can do amazing things, and while solo traveling is a brave act, I’d love to see women taking it further into starting new businesses, doing things they previously thought they couldn’t do, and doing it in the name of positivity and for the betterment of the planet. I’d call it the Empowered Woman Movement. Stay tuned!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“What you seek is seeking you,” by Rumi.

It puts you in the captain’s quarters of your own life. We truly are the architects of our own destiny and it’s important to remember that when what we are doing is in service to others, the universe conspires to make it so. At least, that’s been my life experience so far.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I love Reese Witherspoon’s focus on putting more women in media, shifting the focus from what we wear or how we look to what we do and what we create. Her speeches are empowering and I love seeing her new projects. I was a fan after Legally Blonde, but I’m a mega-fan now that I see her speaking her truth and empowering women. I know it takes courage to do all of that when she could take an easier route, and I’d love to know what her turning point was, and how she put her plans into action.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The best way is my website, BeMyTravelMuse.com. You can also find me on Instagram @bemytravelmuseYouTube.com/bemytravelmuse, and join my BMTM Solo Female Traveler Connect Group on Facebook!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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