In 2012, Kristin Addis was working as an investment banker in Newport Beach, California. She had a great job and drove a nice car – but, a self-confessed “dreamer”, she craved more. So, she quit the rat race and sold her belongings to hit the road solo.
Fast-forward to present day, and 31-year-old Kristin is still going strong with the wanderlust bug. She continues to travel alone, funding her adventures as one of the world’s most influential solo travel bloggers on Be My Travel Muse, a resource for like-minded travellers (she’s also a bestselling author).
Want to quit the rat race yourself? Here’s her hard-earned advice:
Saying no to corporate life
I thought the only way to make something of myself was to climb the corporate ladder, drive a nice car, live in a nice apartment, and own some shiny, expensive purses. Everyone around me seemed to have the same goals and they seemed happy, so I thought it would make me happy, too.
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Two weeks into my job as an investment banker I hated it, though I stayed for four years. I came to realise that those people who seemed happy were mostly just as miserable as I was.
Taking the plunge
For me personally, deciding to go travelling came down to a shoulder injury that left me bedridden. It gave me time to evaluate my life choices and decide what truly makes me happy. I think that should be the ultimate question and answer – what makes you truly happy?
Read more: Solo travel fuels this major happiness habit
If it is keeping a steady job and buying a house, then work towards that – it’s a perfectly noble goal. However if it’s not, then perhaps it’s time to start exploring other options.
Meeting new people
After nearly six years of perpetual movement, thousands of sunrises and sunsets, some solo and some with souls met along the journey, which are the best places I’ve ever been from Asia to Africa, South America, and spaces in between? Click the link in my bio for the top 10, and please, tell me your favorites here. I love adding to the ever-growing list.
It’s much easier to meet people on the road than you think! If you crave company, stay in a social accommodation and hang out at the common area. If dorms are not your thing, sign up for group activities. You can also take walking tours, look up meetup groups and check out the Facebook groups as well, for whatever destination you’re going to.
Travellers are friendly people. It’s easiest to find someone else who is alone – and trust me there are a lot of us – and strike up a conversation. Chances are, she’s dying to talk to you too!
A life less ordinary
People ask if I want to settle down sometimes and, apart from feeling like it’s really not their business, I also feel compassion because I know that I live a life that they don’t understand. For some people, it’s threatening. That helps me to care less about anyone else’s opinion.
Read more: How being single can enrich your life
I think it all comes down to living life for nobody else but yourself. You know what makes you happy and fulfilled, and that’s all that matters (the next time someone asks you about settling down, just hand them this blog post!)
The high points
If you could go back to any time in history and be anything, what would you pick? I’d be a pirate, like the Disney kind (that existed, right?), but I wouldn’t be the one walking the plank! #topdestinationsph #the_ph #philippines #goph #thephteam #thePVteam #comeseeph #travelstoriesph #philippine_islands #sinopinas #sugbalagoon #siargao #siargaoisland (photo taken with @sandmarc’s awesome filters!)
South Africa is the first African country I visited and I was blown away by its natural beauty and friendliness. I could stay on the Wild Coast forever just wandering along the rural bluffs over the ocean, while dogs from the backpackers come join me for walks.
Read more: Wild swim the Yucatán peninsula
I also love hiking and participating in retreats. And I love the ocean – SCUBA diving, swimming, or free-diving, which I’m just learning now!
… and the challenges
I remember the first time I tried riding a scooter and how terrifying I thought it would be, and after years passed and I came back to Southeast Asia, it was daunting again to get back on one. Then a ten year old would ride by on one without a helmet making it look like literal child’s play. Now I love just getting on and riding with no destination in mind, getting used to the bad roads and falling in love with the journey. The freedom is intoxicating. What’s something you were scared to do and love now thanks to traveling? #topdestinationsph #the_ph #philippines #goph #thephteam #thePVteam #comeseeph #travelstoriesph #philippine_islands #sinopinas #siargao #siargaoisland #girlslovetravel #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls
I’ve faced so many challenges on my travels, like getting dropped off somewhere new in the middle of the night, being hopelessly lost, or when I can tell I’m in the midst of a scam and I need to talk my way out of it.
But then I look back on them and I know that I grew each time, so it’s all good; it’s all just a learning experience.
Making ends meet
Let’s talk money. How have I been able to afford traveling for the past 5 years? Though not my favorite topic, I can understand why my personal finances come up a lot and the curiosity behind the questions. Truthfully at first I slept in dorms for two years and hitchhiked a lot, these days I’ve gone a bit more in the affordable luxury direction but I still love bamboo bungalows and street food. My annual spend and the evolution of that figure are live on the blog now. Link in bio! #northernthailand #southeastasiatravel #southeastasiatrip #thailanddiaries #AMZTHLD #girlslovetravel #thailanddiaries #thailandinsider #thailandismagic #wearetravelgirls #wonderful_places
I live cheaply, set saving goals and stick to them. I also invested most of what I made, paid off all of my student loans, and never had credit card debt. I don’t believe in spending what I don’t have.
Question of safety
This is the day I reached a new height. I embarked on a solo 4 day backpacking hike at over 4K meters without a guide or anyone but me. I worried it might be stupid or that I couldn’t do it, but I surprised myself and climbed that pass without struggle. Certainly there are some days when I’m not this girl. When I just want to pull the covers over my head and pretend I’m invisible. I know that for everyone, each day can feel like waging a battle or playing a joyful game, or sometimes both at the same time. What takes immense courage from one person may seem easy to another and we each have our own personal journeys and limits. One thing I do know is that the universe answers to courage. What once seemed impossible can become your new norm, like traveling alone, hiking in the wilderness unassisted, or even just opening your front door and stepping into the light when you really don’t want to. What did you think you could never do, only to surprise yourself? Nothing is too small!
I believe that travelling alone doesn’t inherently mean you’re less safe. Your intuition is sharper, you are more aware of your surroundings, and when locals see you – especially if you’re a woman on your own – they are more likely to want to help you than harm you.
Read more: The beginner’s guide to travelling solo
Give yourself some confidence by reading more solo travel blogs, join solo travel communities, and take safety tips from people who have done it.
I am a lot happier now, having quit the rat race – it’s a cliché but it’s certainly true. With a wholesome lifestyle, opportunities to go to places I had only dreamt of going, and meeting beautiful souls from all over the world, you bet I’m never looking back!
Read more: Stop working so hard and just be
I think you just have to hit that one point where you finally go, “Okay, I’ve had enough. That’s it. This needs to change. NOW.” Lean into the fear and take a chance. Nothing is a forever decision.
Photos: Kristin Addis/Be My Travel Muse