Ahoy, Pirates! We know you usually come here for travel deals, but we've been itching to give you something to keep you inspired to see the world, and who better to inspire you than those who inspire for a living? Welcome to Travel Tip Tuesday, where we're super excited to kick off a new series of interviews with our favorite travel bloggers!
First up is Kai Greene, a blogger and influencer out of New York City, and the voice behind The Destined Gypsy. Kai's blog is not only dedicated to chronicling her adventures, but she is also a body-positive and self-love advocate dedicated to making mental health a topic that is anything but taboo. We love The Destined Gypsy because Kai's posts are an honest account of her experiences, and offer travel tips that only a veteran world traveler could provide. Each of her wanderlust-y Instagram posts start out with an inspirational quote that keep you wanting more, and her photos will compel you to immediately double-tap. The Destined Gypsy strives to help people to "see that happiness is not some foreign, unachievable concept," and we were lucky enough to catch up with Kai to hear more about her philosophy.
So, Kai, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Kai Greene, and I'm 26 years old from New York City. I am an animal lover, an author, and a world explorer. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and a total foodie. I literally love food, it's one of the best parts about exploring other places. I've been creative for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I took dance classes, creative writing workshops, and art classes, and even had an abstract self-portrait in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I've always loved how being creative made me feel. If you follow my Instagram, you'll see that I am not shy about my personal struggles with body positivity and mental health. My journey to get to where I am has been long, draining at times, a bit bumpy, and kind of dark. But all of it led me to the light, and that's where I am now. I have my days, of course, but I strive to inspire people in their daily lives, no matter what. Especially since I know what it's like to have people doubt your dreams, constantly judge your decisions, and say whatever they want to you without considering your feelings. I know that sometimes, words can leave the deepest scars. So, I make it my mission to spread love, light, healing, and inspiration to the community. It's so important to me.
What inspired you to become a travel blogger?
I have always loved travel. Literally my entire life. I traveled with my mom out of the country every year from the time I was two years old up until college. I instantly fell in love with exploring beautiful places, meeting new people and enjoying other cultures. I remember around this time last year, I was sitting in an office building in New York. I had worked over 40 hours and I was in a personal battle with my borderline personality disorder. I was in therapy twice a week, I was drinking all the time so I didn’t have to face my reality. I hated my job, I felt stuck, like I was a failure, and my mom’s constant critiques of my life were only pushing me deeper into my hole. I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I had to sit down and evaluate my life choices. Did I want to be unhappy forever, did I want to keep drinking every day just to dull the pain, did I want to be stuck in this depression?
At this point I started my travel Instagram and had posted some pics, but there wasn’t yet a blog. When I thought about what made me happy it came down to a list of a few things: photography, writing, inspiring other people, and traveling the world. So, I bought my domain name, got a hosting site, and my friend helped me design my website. I was finally getting in a better place. In November of last year, I quit my full-time job and decided to escape to my dream destination. I bought a ticket and booked a one-month trip to Bali and my blog launched a couple of days before I left. I let my darkness inspire me to find my light. I found something I love that truly makes me happy, and that’s rare in this life.
It is so inspiring to hear about your journey. Tell us more about your experience in Bali.
The longest trip I have ever taken was to Bali, Indonesia. It was nothing short of incredible. Bali will always have a special place in my heart because it is where I truly began healing. I spent my mornings waking up to a beautiful sunrise, walks on the beach, with fresh fruit and just taking time to slow down and really appreciate everything. It is where I found an instant calm and peace that I had never felt before. I was surrounded by everything I loved. The ocean, animals, and people there were so amazing. I made friends from the U.S, Australia, London and even Africa all in Bali! Bali was the longest trip I’ve taken and so far, one of the best.
That sounds incredible! What destination forced you to step outside of your comfort zone, and why?
This is a tricky question because I feel like every destination makes me step out of my comfort zone. Every destination brings something new and different. I also make it my mission to be a little uncomfortable every trip, in the sense that I always want to do something there that I can’t do anywhere else. In Bali, I took surf lessons, which I had never done before. That took me all the way out of my comfort zone! In Tulum, I went diving with whale sharks; they are gentle giants but their size was overwhelming! In Ghana, I went to a gator farm and I held an alligator. In Jamaica, I did the cliff jump at Ricks Café, just to give you an idea. Every destination I have to do at least one thing I wouldn’t regularly do; I have to step outside of my comfort zone, it’s what makes traveling worth it and keeps me growing constantly.
Your trips sound like the epitome of "travel goals!" What has been a career highlight since you started as a travel influencer?
Is it crazy that my career highlight is all of the friends that I’ve made along the way? It may sound corny but it is true, making friends is such a huge part of the travel influencer industry! I’ve met so many amazing influencers that I admired and have become my friends. I’ve gotten to meet Mel Vandersluis (@mvanderluis) and we had a little photoshoot in Times Square, and she is exactly the way she is in a real life as on social media. Through my Instagram I’ve connected with an amazing woman named Danny Rivers-Mitchell (@dannyriversmitchell), the founder of Black Girls Travel Too, and now I work remotely for the company. Making connections, learning from others, working with people who have a similar passion for creating, and a passion for life is my highlights. There are honestly so many people I have created with, and it’s always a fun time.
After hearing about your incredible past travels, I have to know: what trip do you have planned next?
I am definitely going somewhere in October, I am just not 100% sure of where. It will either be to the Caribbean or Europe. But in November, I am planning on going to Curaçao for my friend’s birthday. The only thing constant about plans is that they are subject to change. So, we will see where my adventures take me!
is inspiring you in your life right now?
I have so much inspiring me in my life right now. The people I am keeping close to are inspiring me a lot, and also my daily affirmations and keeping my self-care a priority. I’ve made some really close friends through Instagram that I talk to all the time. Having supportive people in your corner really helps. My boss inspires me every day; she’s really amazing, and whether its personal or professional she always listens and provides some motivation and clarity for me. My morning affirmations keep me grounded because I don’t allow the negativity in this world to drain me. I’ve had to learn to sometimes acknowledge it, respect my feelings about it, and then let the negativity go. It’s all part of my self-care. I love inspiring others and I’ve decided to fill my life with people and things that inspire me as well.
What is your one must-have while traveling?
My one must-have while traveling is my travel pillow. I can’t travel anywhere without it! It’s this hooded neck pillow that my mom gave me, and I can sleep almost anywhere. As long as I have my neck pillow, I am good to go!
advice would you offer someone who aspires to become a travel blogger?
Do it for the right reasons. I’ve heard so many people say they want to travel blog “to travel for free, and to get free things” and that’s the completely wrong way to go into the journey. The reality is starting out you don’t get paid to travel, you will get a lot of rejections from brands and from hotels, and if you are not doing it because you love it, it will be easy to give up. The reality is, I send emails out every day to brands and hotels and I get a lot of rejections. But I do not do this for free travel or free things, I blog because I love sharing my experiences, sharing my story and showing people the beauty that this world has to offer. It is a lot of work, but I love it. I love creating content, I love meeting new people, exploring new destinations. I love growing and nurturing my craft and passion every day. When you do what you love and grow eventually opportunities will come. Remember that the fact that you are you is your super power! There is always room for creative people in the industry but you won’t get far if you are trying to create like someone else. Bring your own uniqueness, your vibe and your passion to your work and your brand. There is nobody else like you! Nobody else can do what you do in the way that you do it. Be yourself, be authentic, be genuine always… that is how you grow your brand and that is what people appreciate.
What number one travel tip can you share with us?
My number one travel tip is to simply do it. Once you start you won’t want to stop! There is no better way to discover yourself. You can travel solo or with friends, but just travel. The world is a beautiful place and its waiting for you! People think travel is too expensive, but the reality is there really cool platforms that make travel crazy affordable. Travel Pirates is actually one of my favorites! Their flight deals and packages are amazing. Also, there are many things you can do to cut costs of travel; for example, stay in an Airbnb or a hostel instead of a five-star resort. If you’re traveling with friends, maybe rent out a villa instead of having separate rooms. Make travel a priority in your life and you will not regret it. My travels have helped shape me to who I am; I am still learning so much about myself, about my own resilience all while exploring new people and cultures. So, my number one travel tip is to Just Go!
Thank you so much, Kai, for the opportunity to speak with you! We love Kai’s travel blog, The Destined Gypsy. It’s full of both travel and life inspiration, tips on self-care and body-positivity, and daily motivation to strive for success in all aspects of your life. If you feel inspired after reading our interview with Kai, check out her blog at www.thedestinedgypsy.com, and follow her on Instagram @the.destined.gypsy!
all photos provided by Kai Greene