Five years ago Lisanne was traveling Southeast Asia with a good friend of hers, and met tons of amazing people along the way. Kaitlyn Knoll from Wayfarerkate is one of those amazing people, and one of the few that Lisanne actually still has contact with after all these years. Recently, we met up with her in Kathmandu for a reunion. Now, it’s time for you to learn more about this awesome female solo globetrotter.
Lisanne from CHAPTERTRAVEL: I’m so happy to have you as traveler of the month! Before we head to the real interview, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Awesome, I’m so happy to be talking with you this month! I’m Kaitlyn, and I started wayfarerkate.com as a way to inspire other women to travel the world solo. I took my first solo trip through Southeast Asia when I was 19 – when I met you actually! I absolutely fell in love with the feeling of freedom that backpacking alone brings; it almost makes you feel infinite.
I came home, graduated from college, broke up with my boyfriend, who was much to steady for my gypsy heart, and went back to Thailand. This time for good. I took a TEFL course in Chiang Mai, Thailand and got my first teaching job. I’ve been teaching abroad ever since.
You are really chasing your dreams. Living abroad as an expat, traveling around, living an adventurous life!
What advice would you give others that would love to chase their dreams too, but are holding back?
The biggest advice I would have to give for people that have the desire to travel is to just go for it and don’t look back. Buy a ticket, pack a backpack, and it all just falls into place. The biggest problem that people run into when they want to travel, but haven’t taken the plunge yet is focusing on the what ifs? If you get too hung up on those, it will never happen. Trust me.
While you were away from home for so long, what did you miss most?
I’d have to be utterly cliché here and say my friends and family. I missed having the familiarity of being around people that I have known for forever. I also missed Whole Foods. And hummus. And pre-made salads.
What is still on top of your bucketlist?
Right now, South America is at the top of the list. I would love to find a teaching job somewhere there to practice my Spanish.
Tell us a bit about your teaching experiences in Chiang Mai and Seoul? What are your best experiences there? And worst?
Chiang Mai and Seoul were so incredibly different, so it’s really hard to compare them. From Chiang Mai, I miss zipping around on my motorbike, eating one dollar pad thai, and the silly attitudes of my first graders, who loved to dance and smile. My worst experiences there were crashing said motorbike and having to drive it to work (in a skirt!) in monsoon season.
From Seoul, I miss the amazing nightlife and having easy transport to anywhere in the city via subway for about a dollar. I also miss my students immensely. I was their homeroom teacher and still feel a very deep love for them. What I don’t miss is the attitude of many people in Seoul – that work hard/party hard attitude is fun for a while, but it gets old. One of my worst experiences in Seoul was having to do open class for the parents and having to drill my kids for hours a day just so the parents would be satisfied.
Do you have any funny anecdote from your travels?
Well, one time in Laos I met these four Canadian guys. We all decided it would be a great idea to hitchhike through Laos, because bus fees were like 4$, and besides, what better way to experience local life? After a day of riding with chickens, in the back of pickups, and receiving two marriage proposals from locals, I realized I was feeling quite sick. I was about to get food poisoning, and I was literally in the back of a pick-up in the middle of nowhere. The driver felt bad for me and dropped me off at a guesthouse, but there was no water available and I spent the night puking into a flush-it-yourself toilet.
So, kind of funny in retrospect?!
Ah poor you! In the end it’s good to laugh about it and make it a good story!
What is your favorite destination?
My favorite destination thus far would have to be India, which is funny because it was the place I was most scared to travel alone to. I found the people to be amazingly kind, and the cities were chaotic and crazy in the most intoxicating way.
Read Kaitlyn’s article Safety Tips for Solo Women in India if you’re planning to go to India!
What are your plans for now?
Right now I am back in Seattle getting my teaching degree online. After I finish it, I plan on heading out to a new city to teach.
Do you have any next destinations in mind?
South America, for sure. Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey also are very high on my list.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m not really sure where I see myself in five years. I’ve kind of given up on planning my life. When you leave your life unplanned, it means you leave every option open. If you are doing what truly makes you happy, as I intend to, happiness kind of becomes the plan. Your dreams follow.
Do you have any advice for people that would like to travel so much like you?
Save your money and prioritize travel. Sleep on floors if you have to, take public transportation, do anything you can do to make it work. It will be worth it, trust me.
Do you have anything else to add?
Nope, thanks for the interview, Lisanne! You guys are welcome anytime, in the PNW or wherever I am!
Thank you so much Kaitlyn. Hope to see you in the near future. Happy travels!
Follow Kaitlyn on Instagram for more of her travel photos!