I’m super excited to introduce you to Kim, our latest Woman of the Week. Though she grew up in the US, Kim was born abroad and enjoyed a lot of international travel as a child. Unsurprisingly, this has grown into a life of wanderlust that’s led her all over the world. My favorite part of Kim’s story is that she’s been able to make most of her travels happen while working full time! Check out this teacher’s travel tips and favorite stories in this week’s interview.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m an educator and coach in Naples, Florida with a drive to see everything the world has to offer. I grew up in Michigan and played golf at the University of Michigan, where I studied to be a high school teacher. Once I graduated, I was focused on teaching, while also contemplating a run at professional golf, so traveling the world never really occurred to me. Then I left teaching to pursue graduate school at the University of Florida and a career in business. However, I was quickly forced into an unhealthy work-life balance, and I also realized that 10 total days of time off per year was simply not enough!! So fast forward to 2018: I’m 36, single and happy, a high school English teacher and proud boys golf coach of a state championship team. And since I’ve settled into my career, I travel as much as I’m able because life is short and I refuse to wait for retirement to do things I can do now!
Why do you travel?
It’s in my blood, and probably originated with Colonel Burner, my grandpa, who served in Vietnam and Laos during the war, lived all around the world, and traveled extensively with my grandma. As for me, I was born in Luxembourg while my mom and dad were living there for my father’s job. When I was two years old, we moved back to the U.S., then later returned to Luxembourg, where I spent 1st and 2nd grade at an international school. It was such a cool experience: my friends were from Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. Once we moved back to the U.S., my dad still traveled all the time for work: He hated being away from his family, but he would come home and talk to us about different cultures, odd foods he tried (drunken shrimp!), language mixups, and the like. Though now retired, my parents still travel extensively for fun, and I’m happy that their passion to explore the world rubbed off on me. So many people grow up fearing the unknown and feeling incredibly intimidated by travel, and I’m grateful that my family surrounded me with a much different perspective.
How do you balance work and travel?
As a high school teacher, I am so blessed to have required time off! I try to go on a big trip over the summer and a trip over Spring Break. While I can’t travel for months at a time, I’ve managed to accomplish a lot with quick one and two week trips. What’s great about being a teacher is that no one expects you to answer emails during vacation. My students and their parents don’t have my phone number, and there is very little that I can do for work over the summer anyways. The time is thankfully never the issue. However, some people ask me about traveling on a teacher salary. Credit card travel perks have been amazing (I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve card) and sharing expenses with others makes everything more affordable (like splitting an Airbnb with friends). My bonuses go to travel and the profit from renting out my house went to travel. Since exploring the world is a priority in my life, that’s where I spend money, and I don’t spend on things I don’t care about as much (like purses, for example).
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
Perspective, hands down. You can learn so much about yourself and your life by traveling and seeing how others live and what others have been through. Touring the D-Day beaches in Normandy, France or the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, for example, will dramatically shift your point of view. As I stood at those sites, all of my so-called “problems” melted away. As well, I think it’s healthy to see how other countries operate because you then return with a greater appreciation for the freedoms that we have as American citizens. Just try to access Google in China!
Share one of your favorite travel memories.
It’s impossible to narrow down to one, so I’ll share a few. Cage diving with great white sharks in Gaansbai, South Africa was absolutely amazing…that had been the #1 item on my bucket list for years, since seeing Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” My family and I also went back to Luxembourg and revisited a lot of places that my younger brother and I barely remembered from our youth…going to Villa Italia, my parent’s favorite Italian restaurant, was a highlight, especially since my parents used to bring me there as a baby in a sleeping basket! And traveling with my three best friends through Europe in 2016 was a great time too, especially since one of my friends had barely been out of the United States before. #nifftygoestoeurope
If you could share one travel tip with other women, what would it be?
Hotels look and feel the same no matter where you are, so I almost always opt for Airbnb’s and I’ve had great experiences around the world. Staying in local accommodations gives you insight into how locals actually live and makes for a much more authentic trip. I will always pay more for a great location in a lively part of town too!
THANKS FOR READING KIM’S STORY!
Looking for more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.
I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:
- 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
- 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
- and 30 Jobs to See the World.
After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.