Kiersten Rich, known to you as the Blonde Abroad, is a professional traveler and blogger who monetized a life the rest of us only dream about. After growing up in a blue collar town (and with a very corporate mindset), Kiersten never traveled until after she graduated college. That all changed when she got laid off from her job in wealth management and booked a one-way trip to Australia.
Eight years, 70+ countries, and many life experiences later, Kiersten makes a living organizing women-only travel tours, creating travel content for brands, and even selling Lightroom presets. Her unorthodox life allows her to split her time between South Africa, California, and wherever she’s traveling to at the time. Today, her group tours sell out in 48 hours, she’s been listed as a Top 10 Travel Influencer by Forbes, and she’s paid off all her credit card debt by constructing a life one can’t help but be envious over.
Discussed in this Episode:
- Her first trip ever: Booking a one-way ticket to Australia after she got laid off from her job. She stayed for six weeks, then continued on to Thailand.
- The number of times she traveled before college: 0
- Her personality: A true gemini, a total extrovert, but someone who needs her alone time
- What she learned from solo travel: “I depended on others for my happiness, because being alone can be very scary.”
- The biggest lessons from traveling in her twenties: “I’m type A, and really hate failure—but there’s beauty in bringing yourself up from the ashes.” In her twenties, she was more critical of herself and cared more about what people thought of her.
- The best thing about turning 30: Having the financial confidence to pick up the bill
- How she made money between trips: Working promotional events
- Her first for-purpose trip: Raising $7k for an orphanage in Peru
- The most affordable place she ever stayed: Sleeping in a hammock for $5 a night in Costa Rica
- How her blog started: She always kept a journal, then started The Blonde Abroad to encourage people to “give back” while traveling.
- When she monetized: Very early on. Her first paid gig was traveling to Jordan to shoot 30 videos for $1,000.
- Her most embarrassing YouTube video: Shooting a Mama Mia music video in Greece
- First cross-marketing campaign: Promoting a LifeProof iPhone case (this was also her first retainer deal)
- The moment she wanted to quit: In 2014, she was in Europe and ran out of money. She thought she wouldn’t be able to make this life work, but instead decided to double-down and write 90 posts in 90 days, which increased her web traffic 10X.
- How much content she puts out: 5 blog posts a week, daily Insta stories and IG posts, and responding to every single comment.
- When she relocated to Cape Town: 2017
- A-Cup moment: Being named a top ten influencer by Forbes
- Favorite places to visit: Bolivia and Iceland
- Biggest fan: Her “work wife” and assistant, Lauren
- Favorite thing about Cape Town: First Thursdays
- What being a woman means to her: There is so much power when women come together. I am so supported by and supportive of the women travel community, and I believe this generation is paving the way for the generations that come after us.
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