Today we are traveling with Kristin from Camels and Chocolate
I’m Kristin Luna, an American journalist who was born and raised in Tennessee. I write Camels & Chocolate a lifestyles blog about travel, food and other random musings.
What type of traveler would you say are you?
In my early 20s, I was a backpacker, staying at hostels and with Couchsurfing all over the world. As my career progressed and I jumped headfirst into travel writing, I started dabbling more in luxury travel, mostly when I was on assignment.
I’d say when I’m on the road for leisure, I fall somewhere in the middle: I like a unique hotel or rental property with character but not one that will completely blow the bank.
What’s inside your luggage? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry
My husband will tell you that I am unabashedly addicted to my iPhone. I use it for everything: constant communication with my friends and family, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, email, photography, you name it. I also carry a Canon 6D DSLR, a couple lenses, my MacBook Pro Retina and a GoPro or two with me everywhere I go.
Traveling alone or with someone? Why?
I may be an anomaly but I love flying solo. I’m staunchly independent so it’s nice to be able to go with my own whims and not have to coordinate with someone else’s. That said, my favorite travel buddy is my husband and whenever he’s able to take off work to travel with me for a project, I’m more than happy to forgo traveling alone!
We spent our first Christmas together 10 years ago traveling through Hungary and Romania, and finding a compatible travel buddy like him was ultimately what made me realize we could work out for the long term.
Do you remember your first trip?
My first trip was at nine months old, and my mom said I screamed the entire six-hour flight across the country. (Luckily, I remember nothing.) The earliest memory I have of traveling, however, was summer trips to Orlando and the Florida coast and then one epic cross-country road trip we took from Tennessee though St. Louis and Kansas (and everywhere in between) when I was 12 with the end destination a dude ranch in Colorado. It was exactly what you think a Wild, Wild West trip should be like! It was the perfect family vacation.
How is the experience of traveling by RV?
I have traveled the 13 Western states by RV. It was awesome, and I’m hoping to go on a similar trip later this year to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.
Which way of travel do you prefer by RV or going to a paradise beach?
I’ll choose a beach over any other kind of travel experience, always. I crave Vitamin D, particularly this time of year!
Can you tell us about your favorite adventure trip?
I went to the Arctic in 2009 on an expedition boat with Hurtigruten, and it was everything I hoped it would be and so much more (except for the fact that I didn’t actually see any polar bears!). But I did see walruses and reindeer and Arctic foxes and even took a dip (in my bikini!) in the near-freezing sea. On the flip side, I’m an avid diver so warm-weather trips to places like my honeymoon in Borneo always top my list of favorites.
Do you find difficult eating healthy during your trips?
Yes, that’s always a challenge for me. I don’t want to restrict truly experiencing a destination by having dining restrictions, but at the same time, when I’m not on the road, I follow a low gluten diet and work out 5 to 6 days a week. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance that when traveling.
What about doing sport and traveling? Do you find difficult to do at the same time?
When I was marathon training, I’d rarely run on the road, so I’d have to work doubly hard when I was back home to catch up. I’ve learned over the years that I’m probably not going to waste time I could be out exploring by being cooped up in a hotel gym, so now I simply try to include at least one active endeavor a day while I’m on the road, whether it’s diving or standup paddleboarding or walking 11 miles around Rome in quest for the best gelato.
Which one is your favorite place for diving? Why?
The place I’ve returned to the most is the Bahamas. You just can’t beat the visibility and clarity of that water. Plus, the reefs are health, and you’re guaranteed to see plenty of large marine life like sharks. I also really enjoy the diving in Grand Cayman, Roatan, the Cook Islands and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Which country did you find the most hospitable people?
That’s a hard one—I’ve rarely encountered a country that isn’t hospitable! I’ve always found the African nations like Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa particularly warm and welcoming of foreigners like myself.
How is a day in your life when you aren’t traveling?
Many days, I spend at my computer in my home office for 16 hours at a time with only my six-pound pup for company! I’ll leave to go to the gym, but when I’m not traveling, my days are spent writing in my pajamas or yoga clothes. It’s very unglamorous, despite what people think about this kind of lifestyle!
What’s the big reason why you are traveling?
Natural curiosity and a passion for storytelling. Globalization has opened up the world for everyone, whether they’re a travel writer or not, and I want to share all these great destinations and experiences with others who may once have thought trips to somewhere like, say, Mauritius or Iceland weren’t attainable for them.
Can you tell us about your longest trip? How long was it and which places did you go to?
In 2011, I was hired to work on Semester at Sea, a non-profit study abroad program for college students. For 119 days, we literally circumnavigated the globe and stopped in ports around the world—Boston to Montreal to Morocco to Ghana to South Africa to Mauritius to India to Malaysia to Vietnam to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Japan to Hawaii to Costa Rica to Honduras to Florida (whew, that made me tired just typing!)—for anywhere from a couple days to a week.
I was paid to go (though not a lot as it is a non-profit), but we had to pay a marginal sailing fee for my husband and of course expenses in port. We offset those costs by selling ads on my website and taking freelance assignments in many of the cities I was visiting. It was a great way to see the world—you’d go to sleep in one country and wake up in another and never have to pack and unpack at that as your lodging traveled with you!
In all the trips you’ve done, what has been your favorite so far? and why?
I love destinations that offer a multi-faceted experience. While Caribbean islands, for example, are great, I usually reserve them for when I need complete R&R and don’t feel the need to get out and explore much. My most memorable trips to date have been New Zealand and South Africa, both countries that have stunning beaches, mountains, valleys, snow, sun, sand, great food and booze—and plenty of high-adrenaline activities to boot.
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
I try the local chocolate anywhere I go. I guess with a blog called Camels & Chocolate, that’s to be expected, though, right? I wouldn’t say I’m an overly adventurous eater but I’ll try most things once, and there’s not a lot I don’t like. But I’m definitely more of a booze connoisseur—I guess growing up in whiskey country will do that to a girl—and always look forward to sampling new beers and liquors in each destination I visit.
Has there been any challenging and bad moments? Can you tell us about the experience?
Plenty! I’ve been robbed in Spain, found myself on a train with a refugee a couple of African women were smuggling out of the Austria, gotten food poisoning in Dubai before a 16-hour flight home, become frighteningly lost while driving alone high in the Pyrenees. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
What’s the worst place that you have stayed in for sleeping? What’s the best?
I’ve slept on many a bus or train station floor, but the worst place in memory was a little beachside bungalow in Honduras where Scott and I both got bedbugs or fleas (or both). The bites didn’t go away for days and we wanted to burn all the clothes we were traveling with!
I’ve stayed in many incredible places but I covered the opening of Saffire Resort in Tasmania back in 2010, and that experience was incomparable to any other I’ve had with floor-to-window ceilings looking out onto the multicolored coast and Freycinet Peninsula.
Are you planning for a new trip or do you already have a new trip in mind?
This is the first year I’ve started with few plans solidified! My family takes a European vacation every other year so we’ll be spending three weeks in August in the Balkans. I’m visiting some travel writing pals in Florida in March. And I’m going back to California to see my in-laws in April. But other than that, the year is wide open to possibilities, and I have a lot of partnerships and projects in the works that could very well make 2016 the best one yet!
Its easy to find love while you are traveling?
I met my husband in Utrecht, Holland while I was living in Europe for a year, so 10 years later, I’d say a resounding yes!
How do you finance your trips?
The majority of trips I take are on assignment for magazine or an influencer marketing campaign for a destination, so luckily many costs are covered for me. When Scott and I travel on our own, we’re slaves to credit card points. We like the Venture Card and Chase Sapphire cards, as they both offer a lot of flexibility with what airlines you can fly and when you can travel.
We put all of our business expenses on our credit cards, pay them off each month, then have plenty of points to use for vacations and all the destination weddings we seem to constantly attend!
Do you have any recommendations which blogger/traveller should I interview next?
Jade Broadus of Vagabond3.
Amazing story Kristin from Camels and Chocolate, thanks for your time!
Kristin from Camels and Chocolate has been traveling everywhere. Amazing experiences in Africa, the most hospitable and warming people. Eating chocolate in every country that she visits. She started traveling with only 9 months old!
Kristin has an eBook on breaking into magazines and travel writing that’s coming out this spring. Those who want to get an alert when it’s published can sign up to do so here.
Feel free to follow Kristin in her social media Facebook and Instagram. You will find here her updates, stories, travel experiences and pictures.
If you want to read more female adventures, read the interview with Alexandra from Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler.