In my series of interviews with travel blogger, I look for travel bloggers and influencers with interesting lives who can share some inspiring stories and useful advice from their experience. This week we have Kesi from Kesi To and Fro travel blog.
An Interview with Kesi Irvin from Kesi To and Fro
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Kesi, from kesitoandfro.com, and in 2015 I quit my corporate job to travel around the world. I grew up in an upper-middle class family in the suburbs of New Jersey and received an Ivy League degree from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, I moved to Soho, NYC and started a career in finance. I loved my job but had a strong sense of wanderlust. My whole life I had been in the tri-state area and knew I needed extended time to live elsewhere. I saved up money for two years and decided to take a one-year long career break to travel around the world. Somehow that one-year turned into 3.5 years, and I am still on the road. I have backpacked through 6 continents, 60+ countries all with carry-on luggage. When I travel I’m not as interested in sightseeing, but more curious to immerse myself in different cultures, interact with locals, and to get off the beaten path. I love Couchsurfing, learning how to take various forms of public transportation, and participating in unique activities – like volcano boarding in Nicaragua, or visiting the largest lava lake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I document all my travel experiences on my Instagram, @KesiToandFro, and website. I like to share my travel stories and show the authentic side of travel, which doesn’t necessarily mean posed photos in pretty dresses. I am not a wealthy girl, but I am rich in my experiences. Feel free to #followthefro
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One of the reasons I love traveling in East Africa is because I know I will always have a unique experience, especially when transportation is involved. Ethiopia presented me with a 4WD car that doubled as a boat! The day before I visited the Danakil Depression and salt flats it rained a lot. The rain water had nowhere to drain so we drove for 2 hours through 1.5 ft of salt water. My guide who has done the tour countless times, said this was the first time he saw the salt flats flooded like this. It was a fun site to see the cars driving in water! What are other unique car experiences from Africa? ◾People riding on roofs – I did a homestay experience with a Masaai family in Tanzanian village. (Great experience, I highly recommend. DM if you want the family's contact). When I left the village I got in the only van headed into the city. After squeezing as many people inside the van, one person rode on the roof of the van for an hour journey on a very bumpy road. ◾Having someone else's child in my lap for 3 hours in Mozambique ◾Using rocks as a jack when a tire popped and had to be changed. (Watch the last video. @danroff is a great commentator). and there are many more. Let me know some of your unique car experiences in the comments. #followthefroEthiopia #followthefroAfrica
What’s your biggest achievement as a Travel Blogger
Being able to sustain 3.5 years of travel without dipping into my savings.
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. Give me your itinerary.
I would take a private plane to Ibo Island in the north of Mozambique. I would hire the best boat and sail the archipelago, visiting three different islands with an engaging, local guide. I’d expect a dinner with freshly caught fish and have a candlelight dinner on the beach, before retiring to a glamping tent under the starlight.
How do you fund your travel?
Working as a hostess for The Yacht Week, and being a member of the Grabr travel squad.
What tools do you use to monetize your blog? Which works best for you?
My Instagram account has been my best tool. I can reach out to sponsors and am compensated by showcasing their companies on my account.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
When I was 13, I traveled to England, Sweden, and Denmark to compete in the largest international youth soccer tournaments in the world. I was a part of an American team, and we won the tournament in Denmark and placed 3rd in the competition in Sweden.
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"Kesi, you are LIVING the life"⠀ ⠀ This is a quote I hear often from friends and acquaintances. ⠀ ⠀ I never know what to say in return. ⠀ ⠀ This past year has been more emotional. ⠀ ⠀ Am I happy? Generally yes.⠀ ⠀ Have I been depressed? Also yes.⠀ ⠀ I've had more anxiety about what's next in my life? I know my lifestyle is not sustainable, but I am addicted to the freedom it provides, and the people that I meet. ⠀ ⠀ It's rare that I post a photo the same day I took it, but this photo does embody how I currently feel.⠀ ⠀ I need to remind myself that even if my future is not certain, I am blessed to live the life that I do. ⠀ ⠀ Currently I am in El Zonte, El Salvador celebrating the birthday of a guy I randomly met in a train in 2011 but have stayed connected with. ⠀ ⠀ I'm staying in the cheap hostel across the street, but it's been nice mooching off the really nice place he is staying out. ⠀ ⠀ Cheers to waking up happy. When I am feeling down I hope photos like this remind me to stay positive and trust the process of life. ⠀ ⠀ #followthefroelsalvador
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Yes, Uganda. I didn’t have many expectations for visiting Uganda, but it is one of the prettiest countries I’ve ever been to. There is so much greenery and reminds me of Wakanda from Black Panther.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I had a #metoo experience while in the Gili Islands in Indonesia with an older, white male. This time became a low point in my life, but I was able to heal and recover mentally.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Lamu Island in Kenya.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I’ve done a lot already, but there are still items on my bucket list! I want to backpack in Iran, visit the Socotro island in Yemen. I want to learn two languages. Attend King’s day in Amsterdam, and carnival in Bahia, Brazil. Eventually, I would love to go to every country in the world.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Working in NYC and dating like crazy until I found the one.
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That feeling you get when you book a bunch of flights and are excited to see new places!! The Yacht Week season is officially over, and somehow I have made plans until January 2020! Usually I hate having a plan, but I am so excited for the adventures to come! I've already been to 61 countries, and I'll be heading to at least 3 new countries/territories: ?? Lithuania to stay in a blogger house, ?? French Polynesia to work as a chef for @thebucketlust , and ?? Ethiopia, because why not?! I love East Africa! Per usual, I will be all over the place, but it is nice to have an excitement to travel. My nomadic life goes in phases. Sometimes I dread having a schedule like this because I know I will be tired, but I am currently in a motivated and "ready to explore" phase. Out of Lithuania, Ethiopia, and French Polynesia (Tahiti), which one interests you the most and why? If you had to pick one of these countries to visit tomorrow which would you choose? #followthefro
What has travel taught you?
It has taught me to be easy going and patient. I no longer stress about small things, because I recognize how privileged I am.
Who, in your opinion, is the most successful travel blogger? Why do you think that is?
Glo, from The Blog Abroad. She is everything I want to be. She has a unique voice and has created an engaged following. Tens of thousands individuals instantly share her blog posts.
P.S. If you want to be interviewed and share your travel stories with us, then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org