Chances are you might already follow The Blonde Abroad — a.k.a. Kiersten Rich, a California girl-turned-global adventurer who's made seeing the world her (literal) business. Here, we talk to Kiersten about the ins and outs of her super-glam business — and all the hard work that goes into making it a success. 

 

 

What's it like to travel all year long?

It's a hectic lifestyle. Imagine being home for about nine weeks out of the entire year — well, that's my average over the last few years. Between my crazy content schedule, producing new content for clients, keeping up with social media and doing it all while on the road, it's not all glamorous. There is definitely a huge amount of time and energy that goes into everything behind the scenes. But I wouldn't prefer to have it any other way!

 

Any tips for traveling on a budget?

I have a ton! The biggest budget busters are typically flights and accommodation, but also the destination. It's important to be realistic about where you want to go, and how far your budget will get you. Some of the cheapest destinations will be in South America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, so start there. On the other hand, I think that almost any destination can be travelled on a budget — it's all about planning and priorities. If you’re more passionate about history, then skip the bike tour, and pay the museum admission fees. If you're an adrenaline junkie, go skydiving and skip the museums. Just be sure to know what you want to do so you don’t spend any unnecessary money!

 

Any travel survival tips or hacks? 

My number-one tip is to survive the flight! Be sure to pack an awesome carry-on bag, drink lots of water, skip the alcohol and bring toiletries to freshen up before you touch down.

 

Do you tend to underpack or overpack? What items do you always travel with?  

I used to overpack like crazy but I've gotten a lot better in the last year. I've taken trips where I had to go from cold weather to hot beaches, so I've learned how to pack just what I need and make room for the essentials. I always travel with a bikini (of course) but I also don't go anywhere without my GoPro or photography gear.

 

 

How was your Burning Man experience?

Each year is a completely different and unique experience and being my third burn, I like to think it was my favorite burn yet ... but I say that every year. It's always filled with highs and lows — and I guess that's the intention. It challenges you in a way but is rewarding and so fulfilling in the end.

 

How are you able to make a living while traveling? How did you get started and how much work does it actually take? 

I was able to turn my blog into a business after a few years of recording my adventures. I work with different brands and tourism boards to help promote and create content on products and places that I love, as well as writing freelance pieces, and collaborating with companies on social media platforms. When I started, I imagined my blog in that way where the first two years were going to be challenging and that I would potentially fail. And by fail I mean nobody would read my blog. I worked my butt off, learned from the criticisms as well as the compliments and was open to evolving my brand to better connect with my audience. There’s no sugar-coating the experience I had in my first two years blogging or the amount of unpaid time I put into my brand. But looking back, I couldn't be happier to see that all the hard work paid off.

 

 

When you're traveling, does it feel like work? Are you constantly taking notes, pictures or emailing?

As with anyone running their own business from home, there isn't a lot of work and life separation, especially if your business is taking you all around the world! I actually have a large team that supports The Blonde Abroad brand on everything from social media to writing to video editing. My right-hand-lady, Lauren, is my full-time content director so she puts in 40 hours and more every week ensuring the website has interesting articles published daily, content is up to date and my travel plans are all laid out. I usually match those hours every week, and we still can't keep up with everything on our plate. I am constantly taking photos and trying to keep up with emails, but I also make a big effort to disconnect and experience the destination I'm in. It's all about balance!

 

What's your absolute favorite beach in the world?

I might be a little biased being a California girl, but I think Southern California has some of the best beaches!

 

 

Any less-traveled places you fell in love with? 

It's not necessarily less traveled but Xi'an, China was my first trip to China, and it was so eye opening and different than what I expected that it's easily one of my most memorable trips. I would say that it is less-traveled in terms of the amount of Westerners that travel there.

 

Have you had any scary encounters while traveling alone? 

I don't have a scary story because I tend to be very careful about my own safety when I travel, but some of the scarier moments have all been when I've had issues with my own health and not had medicine accessible, or accidents that were just out of my control. If there's one thing that travel has taught me, it's that you can't plan for everything!

 

I'm sure you meet tons of great people around the world, what's one magical encounter you'll always remember?

I have a million stories, but this one is one of my more memorable and favorite stories. On my last night in Paris I decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle in the night sky all by myself. It was a cold night and nothing sounded better than some French onion soup, so I stopped at a nearby cafe to cozy up. On my walk back to my place, I passed a couple of crepe stands and did my my best to resist temptation. At the third crepe cafe, I broke down and ordered one with Nutella. Just as the man poured the crepe batter onto the steaming hot griddle, an elderly French gentleman approached the cafe and ordered the same. I was busy snapping a video of the crepe-making action when he said, "Is that for Facebook?" in a thick French accent. We both shared a good laugh, and he then proceeded to buy my crepe and said "You are in Paris. This is my country. Allow me." The grey-haired man proceeded to pay for my treat, then told me he had seen me sitting alone in the cafe earlier enjoying my soup, and that he had been sitting alone in the cafe, too. We enjoyed our crepes together sitting on a bench next to the Seine and shared some small talk of work, family and travel. We parted ways and I couldn't help but smile. I'd consider that one of my more "magical" moments!

 

 

What's one of the biggest challenges you face about your type of work?

The biggest challenge of being a blogger is the inconsistent nature of the work. There's no guarantee of that next job, and so you have to be smart about the direction that you take your business and keep up the quality of your brand.

 

What's one of the biggest lessons you've learned about traveling?

You can't expect everything to go the way you planned as there are always going to be elements that will be out of your control — whether it is closures, delays, weather, etc. I think the biggest mistake one can make is letting those unexpected things ruin your mentality about the trip and put a damper on the experience. Bottom line: you have to be able to laugh it off and problem solve when you are traveling.

 

I heard you just got back from Belize — how was your trip? 

My trip was amazing. They have amazing reefs for scuba diving, so that was the focus of my trip to Belize. I got to cross diving (and flying over) the Blue Hole off my bucket list, and stayed in an awesome treehouse resort on the coast!

 

 

Do you see yourself staying put soon? Where would you choose to do so? 

It does get tiring traveling back to back on last minute and fast-paced trips. It's also hard to only have a few days here and there to see family and friends, so I see myself slowing down over the next few years. And by slowing down, I mean spending longer time in destinations rather than bouncing around so frequently!

 

Where are you off to next? 

I'm currently in Tokyo this week on my first-ever visit to Japan, and in a few days I'll be taking a 10-day tour of the Komodo Islands in Indonesia. One of my passions is scuba diving, so I'm so excited for the chance to dive around the islands! So excited!

 

What's your favorite warm-weather paradise?

I absolutely love the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It's such a beautiful place with the best seafood, awesome diving and marine life, and the friendliest locals. I could live there!

 

What piece of advice would you give to a person interested in pursuing the same lifestyle? 

My advice is to clearly define your goals and be prepared to spend a lot of time away from friends and family. If you want to start a blog to support your travels and make money, you will most likely fail. Begin with pure intentions, hard work and perseverance. So long as, in the end, you continue to love what you do, you have succeeded!