Today on Feature Friday, we welcome Kris! As a someone who loves to travel, she has her fair share of stories from around the world. Whether an embarrassing moment, a life-learning lesson, or an exciting adventure, Kris has encountered that – and more – as she continues to travel worldwide. Get to know Kris a little more as she opens up about her love of travelling. Let’s see what she has to share with us:
Thank you for deciding to be a part of Feature Friday. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your blog?
I’m Kris and I write a blog called Nomad By Trade. I call myself a professional nomad because my job keeps me traveling about 80% of the time to various places in the US. I don’t always get to go to the most glamorous locations, but I always find fun things to do in the evenings. I also like to travel as much as possible for fun. I’ve been spending my vacations in Europe lately, so I’ve also been doing a lot of writing about Iceland and France.
Why did you decide to become a travel blogger?
Traveling and writing are two of my favorite things, and when you add in my love of
photography, it was a natural fit. I used to blog about my local hockey team, but I wasn’t able to keep up with the games due to my travel schedule, so I mostly abandoned that a few years ago. I really missed writing and connecting with readers though, so after tossing around the idea of starting a travel blog for a year, I decided to go for it.
What do you love so much about travelling?
I love seeing new places and trying new things. I was really lucky to travel a lot as a kid, and that really shaped how I see the world. Whether I’m traveling in the US or abroad, I’m constantly learning new things and those experiences really enrich my life. I have friends who will drop $400 on a new pair of shoes or a purse and when they talk about it, internally I’m just screaming, “that could’ve been a plane ticket!” I’d so much rather hop a flight to somewhere than spend my money on clothes because it’s way more fulfilling.
Have you ever regretted doing something while travelling?
I rented a manual car in Germany – most Americans drive automatics – to save money despite the fact that my only experience driving stick was a one-hour crash course from my brother driving. He was selling his old truck and had already taken the license plates off, so we couldn’t leave the subdivision and I never got to do much more than learn the theory of shifting gears. Just trying to get out of the underground garage in Munich was an ordeal. Later on that day, I ended up lost in a super crowded area full of confusing signs and my GPS kept trying to route me through a pedestrian only zone so I ended up driving in circles trying to get it to reroute since there was nowhere to pull over to look at the map. The whole time I was terrified that I was going to cause an accident. I only stalled it out once and didn’t hit anyone or anything though, so it worked out alright in the end. I pay the extra to rent an automatic when I’m traveling in Europe now.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve done while travelling?
It’s very flat where I grew up, so despite my dad telling me how to use low gears to control your speed when driving in the mountains, I’d never had to do it in ten years of driving. That all changed when I moved back from Florida to Michigan by myself. The Smoky Mountains are about halfway along the drive (with a little detour), so I decided to add a day to the trip and spend some time exploring the National Park there. My GPS routed me in the worst possible way and in order to get to the hotel, I had to drive through the National Park on winding mountain roads in the dead of night and pouring rain. There are no streetlights in the park, and not many guardrails, and visibility was terrible. It was not a good way to experience my first mountain driving. My dad’s instructions from years before served me well though, and despite the fact that my hands were cramped from gripping the steering wheel so hard, I made it through and went on to have a great time exploring the mountains – in daylight this time – the next day.
What is your most embarrassing travel story?
I had to travel to Dayton, Ohio for a job interview a few years ago. My interview wrapped up early so I decided to visit the Air Force museum there. It was a weekday afternoon in February, so the place was pretty deserted. One of the exhibits allows you to climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet, so I hopped in and was enthusiastically making airplane noises as I pretended to steer the plane. Out of nowhere, a museum volunteer appeared offering to take my picture and he was clearly trying not to laugh at me. It was a little awkward. I’m just glad I hadn’t started singing “Danger Zone” yet.
Have you ever travelled solo? Would you do it again? If you haven’t, would you ever do it?
I love traveling solo. Most of my business trips are by myself, so I spend a lot of time exploring news places on my own, and I’ve also taken a few vacations on my own. I’m very intense when I’m traveling for fun – I like to get up early and go, go, go all day – so it’s hard to find people that can keep up with me. Going by myself gives me the freedom to see and do everything I want to at my own pace.
Out of all the cities & countries you’ve visited, which did you like the least? Why?
Nassau, Bahamas was the most disappointing place I’ve been to. I had a port day there on a cruise last summer and I was so excited to visit a new country I’d never been to before, but it just felt like a run-down American beach town. Our ship docked at the same time as two others and thousands of people were pouring into town in a huge mass of humanity that pushed us along to the beach right by the docks. Instead of the Caribbean paradise I was imagining, we were looking out at a scraggly sand bar with cruise ships docked to the right and commercial docks to the left. I’m more into history and culture when I travel than just relaxing on a beach, so I was not particularly enthralled by the whole experience and we even ended up re-boarding the ship a couple of hours early.
Out of all the cities & countries you’ve visited, which you like the most? Why?
My last vacation was to Iceland and I fell in love with it. It doesn’t seem possible to pack that much natural beauty into such a small country. Everywhere you look, there’s something gorgeous that you want to take a picture of. We were there for six days and it seemed like every day topped the previous one. My other favorite places have been Germany – Berlin might be my favorite city to visit – and South Africa – the scenery and warmth of the people is incredible there.
If you had to choose one place to live for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
I’m pretty happy in Michigan, but I’ve also always been fascinated with Colorado. Their climate is perfect for me and you can’t beat the scenery there. If I was to pick another country to settle down in, I’d probably go with Germany. I know a little bit of German, and I just felt at home there from the first time I landed in Munich. I feel like I could fit in with the culture very well.
Are there any social norms or practices you’ve encountered while travelling that you wish were normal in your native culture?
I went to Japan the summer after I graduated high school and even back then I remember being very impressed by the amount of respect that the people had for each other. I wrote about it in my journal and it still sticks with me now. One of my greatest frustrations with my own American culture is how little concern a lot of people show toward each other. We tend to be very me-focused instead of thinking about how our actions affect others and that bothers me a lot.
Is there anywhere you would not visit? Where, and why?
I would love to see everywhere in the world, but I would definitely avoid anywhere with an active conflict going on. It’s not worth the danger to me. When there are more places to go than I could ever fit into one lifetime, there’s no shortage of other options when I’m picking travel destinations.
What is one thing that is too large or impractical to travel with that you wish you could bring with you when you travel?
My dog, Artoo! He’s too big to fit under a seat on a plane, and he can’t be trusted alone unless he’s in his cage, so I have to leave him behind all the time. In my perfect world, we’d be able to take dogs wherever we wanted so they could hang out with us all day, but that’s not very practical. Knowing that he’s there waiting for me gives me a good reason to be excited about coming home though. He gives awesome hugs, so as soon as I land after a trip, I can’t wait to get home to see my fluffy maniac. He’s a husky/German shepherd mix who sheds constantly, so no matter where I am in the world, there are always bits of him with me stuck to clothes, shoes, and luggage.
Do you think there’s a difference between people who deem themselves tourists vs. travellers? What do you consider yourself, and why?
I think the distinction is a bit arbitrary. Tourists is generally used in a more derogatory sense to describe visitors who are rude/clueless/insensitive, but just because someone calls themselves a traveler instead of a tourist doesn’t mean that those descriptions don’t apply to them. I think if you go somewhere new and make an effort to respect the culture and learn something new it doesn’t matter what you call yourself. Doing traditionally touristy stuff is fun too.
What does home mean to you?
Michigan. I’ve lived in Florida and Ohio for short stretches, and I’ve always set my sights on coming home. It’s where I’m comfortable and where my family is.
What advice would you give an aspiring travel blogger?
Find your voice early on. Decide what kind of writing style and tone you’re going to have right from the beginning. Before I started publishing, I wrote a bunch of posts and then when I went back to publish them a couple of months later, I realized that I hated all of them and had to do tons of rewriting because they just didn’t sound right to me. I’d also highly recommend joining some blogging and social media groups on Facebook. I’m in several of them and I’ve learned tons from my fellow bloggers and gotten loads of traffic from social media exposure generated from there.
Thank you Kris for being a part of Feature Friday! We loved having you on the blog, and I have to agree with you on wishing you could travel with your dog. Whenever I’m on my way out the door, whether it be to the grocery store or across the country, I wish I could take my dog with me too!
What do you think about Kris’s answers? Let us know in the comments!
Did you enjoy what you read? Get to know more about the author!
Kris is a lifelong traveler who wants to visit all seven continents and all 50 US states. She’s been traveling around her home country since she was an infant, and had covered 39 states before she graduated high school. For her first international trip, her parents sent her all the way around the world to Australia with a bunch of kids she didn’t know at the ripe old age of 11. Ever since then, she’s been living life one vacation to the next. Want to learn more about Kris and her story? You can find her at the following: