Woman of the Week: Kelley

 

Kelley is our Woman of the Week here to share her advice with you about how she manages to juggle work, parenting, and travel. Her story is beautifully written and I loved seeing her perspective as a mother to her young daughter and how that influences her travel. I hope you enjoy the read. 

Connect with Kelley: BLOG   FACEBOOK   INSTAGRAM   LINKED-IN

  1. Tell us about yourself?

My name is Kelley and I am a photographer/artist. I grew up in San Diego, California where I worked primarily in the wedding and events industry. I’ve photographed 248 weddings and I loved every single one of them (save for exactly 1) and have worked with over 1000 clients, so leaving my job and my town to live in Denmark for 2 years so my husband could go to the Royal Danish Academy of Music as a Masters in composition student was a hard choice. I remember sitting there after he got his acceptance letter (it was 3am our time in California) and thinking to myself, “what the heck will I even do in Denmark?”

But as an artist and a photographer, I tend to find my way through it with hard work and friendship. I know that I am a talented person and that my photos are slammin’, but when we have a chance to be fresh and new and fun, as artists we have to take that route over the “I’m an artist, just love me and follow my instagram” route. So I’ve been working on making new friends and connections while taking lots of photos, so far it’s been an awesome experience.

We have a young daughter that is 3 and she is a little traveller, we’ve taken her to Sweden and Norway as well as Denmark. She’s a special little kid that loves to make friends and watch her favorite cartoons in other languages. She is our only child (due to circumstances beyond our control not necessarily by choice) so we feel that we have one chance to send a great human into the world and traveling with her is how we have chosen to do that. We don’t get a lot done in our family, but we live great and fulfilling lives.

 

suitcase six wow interview kelley hudson

 

  1. Why do you travel?

I travel for two reasons: My daughter and my art.

My daughter thrives in unique circumstances as she is a unique character. Living in the US brought a lot of labelling of my child in order to qualify for services for her or to simply get her into a good school. So when I began traveling with her, I immediately noticed that the labelling stopped and that it is unique to the part of the world we come from. She is not labeled other places or placed into special play groups, she’s just a quirky kid that needs some extra attention. I feel that this is a nice reprieve for her as she was born with several birth defects and just wants to play with other children. She’s not  viewed as a “typical” or “identified” or “cleft-effected” or “emotionally dependent what have you kid”, just a kid. And so I don’t have to constantly be explaining her behavior to other people, they just see her as a kid. So I travel to keep her away from our constant need to label children that don’t fit the exact mold in the US.

I also travel to keep my mind from becoming complacent and comfortable. When I leave home I immediately go into survival mode, I hate to fly. I fly ALL THE TIME and I still hate it with a passion and that hatred drives my creative mind. Meeting new people is something I try to do wherever I go and meeting new people with a language barrier is hard and frightening and pushes me to be more creative with my social skills. I get lost with my husband quiet easily, but in getting lost I find new and beautiful places to photograph thus driving my actual art forward. Traveling makes you a better artist, if only to get away from that comfort zone.

 

suitcase six wow interview kelley hudson

 

  1. How do you balance work and travel?

This is a hard one because of time changes. I literally have to be up every morning at 3am and 4am to post photos on social media or to engaged with people and my clients on Facebook. It’s SO HARD! I get emails all night, and crickets all day. So my balance is essentially, “get the work done when you can.” And somehow it gets done, I get the photos sold and the clients their albums… I barely sleep more than 4 hours at a time but that’s not unique to me, it’s just the nature of my job and I know a lot of photographers that have to do it even with all the scheduled posting apps. Sometimes the editor or client only has their lunch break and it just so happens their lunch break is bedtime for me.

 

 

  1. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?

Be ok with being scared. It’s a scary world out there! And if you are an American reading this, it is part of our culture to stay home and be scared so it’s not just you! It’s a lot of us. Don’t stay in the city center in a hotel, don’t take a cruise, don’t jump on the tour bus! Be daring and get out there with the locals, hit those cities in the off-season, avoid chain restaurants by getting a place with a kitchen and making your own food from the grocery stores… don’t be like the tourists, be like the travelers.

In Europe the Europeans have this on-going joke about American backpackers and how they try to see all of Europe in, like, a week with a backpack on. DON’T DO THAT! Make traveling a yearly goal even if it’s just a 45 minute plane ride away, spend at least 10 days in a place (with travel days, it’s more like 8 day anyway) and try to meet the people… at least ONE person. It will make all the difference in your travel life.

 

suitcase six wow interview kelley hudson

  1. Share one of your favorite travel memories.

There was this moment on the day my family was in Bergen, Norway where we did one touristy thing. We went to the top of Mount Fløyen via the funicular and stood there at the viewpoint as a family, mouths opened with awe at the majesty. I remember having this lovely breeze hit our faces, warm coffee in my hands, our daughter running wild on their little playground with the other kids… it was one of those movie-like moments where if there had been music playing in the background I would have started looking around for Julia Roberts or something. We were just this little family out in the world, being us and being happy. It was one of the best days in my life.

 

  1. If you could share one travel tip with other women, what would it be?

Watch your drinks and watch your purse. Even in a city as safe and crime free as Copenhagen is, I was followed by a young gang member when he saw me toting around my camera without my safety harness… I literally had to duck into a shop and order ice cream to get rid of the guy. And I’m a HUGE lady that knows how to put up a big fight, I would have totally kicked that guy’s ass if he had messed with me…. but that still doesn’t mean I want to be messed with and that I don’t totally want to avoid that situation.

Confidence and keeping your wits about you is key! Especially if you’re going at it alone. I work with at least $3000 worth of gear around my neck and I’ve been fairly successful (so far) in not getting my stuff stolen or my drinks spiked using confidence and a keen eye, I can’t say the same for some of the other women I’ve heard stories from. Don’t be afraid, just don’t be complacent or party like mad and you’ll be fine! Happy and safe travels everyone!


Thanks for reading! Want more travel tips from Kelley and women like her?

Subscribe to the Suitcase Six mailing list to get our free 6-page ebook, “50 Practical Travel Tips You Need To Know From Solo Lady Backpackers”. I’ve compiled the suggestions from 20+ working women in our Woman of the Week series and added a few of my own in this printable e-book. Download it today and start planning your next adventure!

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19 thoughts on “Woman of the Week: Kelley”

    • Thank you!!! My daughter is a quirky kid that loves to be in the world, and that’s the only label I seem to be cool with hahaha! The support is very much appreciated <3

    • Totally! 10 days is the perfect amount of time, why anyone would try to cram an entire country (no matter how small) into a day trip is beyond me. So exhausted just thinking about it! Thank you for the love <3

  • I think it’s great that you had this life switch just around the time that your family (and probably most your daughter) needed it. It’s an inspiring story that you are all thriving in Denmark even with such little sleep that you get. I’m a fellow California girl out in Spain for my third year, so I can relate to many of your challenges and to the highs too. There have been so many Highs since I made the change! Cheers to you and your beautiful familia!

    • As my mother-in-law loves to say, “sleep when you’re dead” LOL! It’s hard to get it all done, that’s for sure… but I feel that if I keep plugging away at it the stress will eventually succumb to the pressure of success. And as a fellow California girl you know that us Californians are resilient and ready for adventure! Good luck to your family as well! Spain would be an amazing place to spend some time. Your encouragement is appreciated and I wish you the happiest of travels <3

  • That was such a great read. I love the benefits of the relocation for Kelly’s daughter, and the wise advice on speaking to someone as part of your travels; it really does make such a difference.

  • I love this post! It’s sad to hear that Kelly had a bad experience in Copenhagen. I lived there for 1 year and felt completly safe.

    • Thank you for the love! I absolutely adore being in Copenhagen! It wasn’t that I had a bad experience in Copenhagen, it’s that I had the experience even in Copenhagen (one of the safest places in the world). Just because I feel safe doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to try and take advantage of that safe feeling if I’m being careless. Please don’t get the wrong impression, Copenhagen is an amazing and wonderful place and I feel very relaxed here and highly recommend being here. It’s not even on the same parallel as my hometown in Southern California as far as crime is concerned.

  • I love Kelley’s story… and your Woman of the Week series! Thanks so much for sharing. Kelley is an inspiration and I appreciate her keeping it real. Living abroad and long-term travel isn’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it!

    • Thank you so so much! Living abroad is definitely not easy but totally worth the trip. I miss my family and my friends the most, but it encourages me to make more friends along the way. Your wonderful comments are sincerely appreciated <3

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