Sole Sister Spotlight: GrrrlTraveler Christine

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hawaii has been on my wanderlist for a while now and I've been stalking some websites from there. I stumbled on Christine's website a few months ago and could totally connect with her "imperfect adventures". She's braved India as a solo traveler, become an expat in Korea and is currently trying to re-acclimatize herself back in her home in Hawaii. I find her self-deprecating posts about midlife, ageing and solo travel hilarious. She was game enough to take some time from her busy schedule and answer some questions for us. Here's our interview: 

When did you start a travel lifestyle?

My travel lifestyle started from childhood when I was an artist and made it a habit of seeking travel for my self-expression. Then when I was old enough, I began moving for the sake of opportunity-- Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis… I take a lot of leaps for different goals.

My inspiration: I have a fear of regret and not achieving my deepest dreams.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com8

Do you still keep a home base? Or are you traveling long term? And why do you choose that style?

Currently, I’m still figuring out where I want to be, what I want out of a place and how I’d like to re-design the life I left, before Korea. It’s not easy.

I will always have a home base in Hawaii; it’s where my family is. But it’s hard for me to stay still and in one place. My travel style is always transforming. I move to stay alive, to feel alive, create and to pursue my dreams. In most cases, my travel style chooses me. Some people have a need for speed; personally, I crave movement.

Being a creative person in an arts and entertainment industry, I’ve always needed travel because my energies, ideas and inspiration thrive on change, movement, innovation. They’re my personality drugs, so my career life always had to revolve around travel, as if it were my oxygen. Ironically, my teaching job in Korea was the first 9-5 stationary job I’ve had in all my 40 years.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com1

How do manage to keep traveling? Is there any special work that allows you to fund your trips?

Living in Korea definitely spoiled me with cheap flights to Asia and Southeast Asia. My teaching salary wasn’t large by U.S. standards, but it was enough to live on and to fund my trips.

Alternately, working in the U.S. as a TV cameraperson/producer, my income funded my personal trips and I had the additional perks of loving my job, while racking up frequent flyer and hotel points. It was travel lifestyle I occasionally miss.

The way I travel now, is practically a 180 degree change! Being back in the U.S., re-making my career, it's forced me to be more thrifty and resourceful with my travel itinerary and to base my trips around last-minute cheap tickets. Sometimes, the travel challenges I set, make me feel like I’m on a hobo adventure. On a good note, it’s challenged me to explore alternate options I might not have thought of and it allows me to share great travel survival tips with my readers!

What's the best part about your travel lifestyle? And the not-so-good?

The best: movement and change.

The not-so-good: The more I travel, the more it creates a fear of stagnancy.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com5

You've had a chance to come back to the US after long term travel, what was the experience like? 

Traveling solo and living abroad transformed me in a major way. I felt I began living a more organic and simpler life… very Zen-like. It gave me confidence in my ability to survive, to live minimally, feel one with my surroundings and it opened my eyes to the way the other half of the world lives.

Coming home, it’s hard to re-acclimate to the American consumer-driven society and the overall belief that material comfort equates happiness.

Some say you don't have to let society affect you. But in truth, you can't not let it affect you if you were born into it. The only way to divorce from it is literally to move to a different country.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com10

As a solo female traveler, what was the most challenging country you've been to? And how did you overcome that?

India continues to be my most challenging country, even though I honestly love it. It’s challenging, because it feels chaotic and the poverty there is overwhelming.

In the U.S., we avoid the sight of poverty like the plague, but in India, it's everywhere. When I finally accepted that aspect about India, things fell into place. I felt more relaxed with the culture and discovered beauty in the areas I once found uncomfortable.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com2

How does your family see your travel lifestyle? Are they always supportive or do they sometimes show concern?

It's funny, but my family actually worries more about me, when I'm at home in Hawaii, than when I'm abroad or living in other states! You’d think they’d be more concerned of my solo trips.

But I've lived away from home half of my life, so although my family feels concern for my safety, they know when I’m away from home, I'm making choices necessary to my survival.

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com3

Have you ever fallen in love while traveling?

I fall in love with cities and countries. If you’re talking about people- I've fallen into "attraction". Never in love. Sorry to be a buzz kill. I do meet more delicious men traveling, than I do in my regular life, but time is too brief to expect anything more than a fling.

Do you think you'll ever put down that backpack and settle down somewhere?

A lot of people talk about being “settled down” in their thirties and forties. Being in my forties, much of me already feels settled, even though my life outside doesn’t appear that way. I think of my outside life as moveable parts… it’s just geography!

Christine Kaaloa of Grrrltraveler.com4

Christine is a mid-life female solo traveler who left her career as a TV show shooter/producer to take a gap year teaching English in South Korea. She writes and vlogs about travel survival and her imperfect solo adventures on Grrrltraveler.

Want more? Read other features on Sole Sister Spotlight.

Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters (dot) weare(at)gmail(dot)com. We look forward to your suggestions!

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