Interview with Kim Reuter of Back Packing Chica
Kim, please give my readers a background about yourself. What made you want
to start backpackingchica.com?
I originally started my blog in order to keep in touch with my family and friends during a long, nine-month trip to Africa in 2010...and it just took off from there!
If you had to choose one favorite destination, which one would each of you
Hands down, my favorite destination is Diego Suarez, Madagascar. This is where I spent four months working (and will be returning to in the summer of 2012!), and I'm just in love with the people, the culture, and the biology! It's the kind of place that's off the tourist radar, as far as Madagascar goes - a good place that is in between "developing" and "touristy".
What made you start The Ladybug Project? Have you always had a passion for
The Ladybug Project Inc. (www.theladybugproject.com) is almost like a weird love child of mine that I find myself working on whenever I have a spare moment. Born out of my experiences in Africa and the understanding that I could actually make a difference if I channeled my attention and work ethic, The Ladybug Project Inc. now works in three African countries on education and healthcare projects. It is truly the one accomplishment that I am most proud of!
What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
The least exciting? Well...usually I would say that any place - regardless of where it is - can be exciting. That being said, I do have one exception (I apologize if I anyone I offend!): Corpus Cristi, Texas. I went had the fortune (or misfortune?) of visiting this city for a three day conference and have never been more bored in my life. That being said, I hear there are great beaches nearby...so maybe I should have just hijacked a car and made the best of it!
You've traveled throughtout the world and tasted many foods. Which country
has the best and worst tasting foods?
Best food is most definitely Madagascar - you get amazing European cuisine alongside delicious street stands that sell the best brochettes for pennies on the dollar.
As far as the worst food...I'm probably the wrong person to ask! I will literally eat anything that is placed in front of me, and will most likely enjoy it. I have yet to find something that really repulses me...but I guess nothing is impossible!
Did you develop your love of travel as you got older or did you always love to travel since you were a young girl?
I'm a weird tri-cultural child of Europe and America - I'm German, grew up in England, and then transplanted to the United States in my middle school years. Most of my childhood was spent traveling, and I was taught to value a lifestyle that allows for transplanting. I've always had an itch to keep moving and find it very difficult to stay in one place for more than three months at a time, without the light at the end of the tunnel (ie. a booked plane ticket somewhere exciting).
What impact has backpackingchica.com had on your life?
Starting and maintaining backpackingchica.com has been an essential tool in so many ways. It gave me a voice and connected me with so many like-minded people (on a global scale!). It also gave me a platform to practice my writing, which was pretty horrid to begin with; I like to flatter myself and think that I've learned how to write (I'm currently writing my first book)...and this skill actually has landed me some pretty interesting gigs, including writing speeches for a politician.
What do your friends and family think about your world travels? Do they support you? How did they react when you first told them you wanted to travel the world?
My family has known about my incurable need to travel for a very long time...as have my friends. I think the most difficult part for people to understand was not that I wanted to travel, but that I wanted to leave for so long. The idea that I would up and leave the country for nine months right after graduation from university was counterintuitive to the moves my peers were making, and I'm sure there was some concern that I'd jumped of the deep end and was killling my young career. Aside from these well meaning worries, I was surrounded by support - exactly the sort of atmosphere you need when you're getting ready to travel.
What has been the most surprising destination you've been to? Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a differnet experience than you had imagined. Africa. All of it. I arrived with a pretty warped image of what "Africa" was, and it turned out to be everything I could never have imagined, and nothing I thought it was.
If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in
your life, which destination would you chose?
Equatorial Guinea (EG), West Africa - this is a country that most people aren't even aware of, and traveling there not only took guts and inner strength, but the ability to have a thick skin and find my way around without much help. It forever changed my life; I refer to things as "Before EG" and "After EG".
Kim, if you could travel with any celebrity for one week, who would you
chose and why?
Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times - I know he's not a "celebrity", but I admire his journalism and read his column obsessively. Every year he takes a student to Africa to help him in his journalism...I would give my first born child for the opportunity!
What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
Slow down and pack light. These magic words will help you more than you know!
In 10 years, do you see yourself still traveling or slowing down?
Traveling - of course! How could I call myself the Backpacking Chica otherwise?
Thanks Kim. Please visit her blog @ Back Packing Chica !