So many places: an interview with career traveller Kim Dinan

KIM DINAN talks to us about her and her husband's decision to leave their city lives and travel the world.


Nepal backpacking


MANY OF us dream of giving up it all and embarking on a life of adventure but for most it is an impossibility.


Step forward then Kin Dinan who did just that – gave up a good job and travelled the world with her husband. Five years later the couple have made a career out of travelling and having visited 20 countries. They now work for Backpacker Magazine as tour ambassadors back in the US. 


Kim is a passionate writer and as well as blogging every step of the way has written a book, Life on Fire, which in her words is a ‘step-by-step guide to living your dreams’.


To read her blog and find out more about the book visit www.so-many-places.com



What job were you doing and how was life before you decided to ‘get up and leave’ and embark upon travel around the world?


Before I left my job to travel I was working as a sustainability co-ordinator for the city in Portland, Oregon. My husband and I had a wonderful life in Portland. We had good jobs, great friends, and a house in a neighbourhood we loved. Our trip wasn’t about leaving anything but about moving towards something that I’d always dreamed about which was to travel and to write. 


Your husband took the leap with you. How easy was it to persuade him to leave his job and follow your instincts?


Well, at first he wasn’t too keen on the idea! He wondered how we could give everything up that we’d worked so hard for, which was the same thing that I wondered myself. Over time he came around to the idea because, at first, we told ourselves that we would just take a one-year break and then go back to our old life. I think deep down we both knew that there was a potential, even a hope, that life could change and we wouldn’t go back to the life we had before but thinking about that was too scary. So, at first we just thought, one year. Then once we started traveling we realised one year would never be enough. 



Machu Picchu Peru


Where did you first travel to and did you have any idea then that you would still be involved in the travelling lifestyle today?


The first thing we did was take a three-month road trip around the US National Parks because that was something we’d always dreamed of doing. After that we caught a one-way flight to Ecuador and worked our way by bus down South America.


Traveling has become such an important part of our lives that we can barely remember life before we made this leap. I don’t think we knew that we’d still be involved in the traveling lifestyle today but we hoped that we would be. Somehow along the way we’ve been able to string together a modest income which allows us to keep traveling and we hope this continues for years to come. 


How naturally did living on the road come to you? Was there a lot you had to learn early on to make sure your plans would be successful? 


This is a great question because, at first, we were terrible travellers. We moved too fast, we were exhausted, and we didn’t really realise the true extent of what it would be like to spend 24 hours a day together. It took us a good six months just to adjust to being on the road. Over time we realised we had to approach life in a totally different way. We had to be flexible. We stopped making plans because we always ended up feeling tied down when we had plans. We had to learn to communicate better. It was like relationship boot camp!


Biking VIetnam


Where have your travels taken you and what kind of things have you done along the way?


Oh man, we’ve been to so many places and have done so much that sometimes I can’t believe that this is my life. We’ve been to 20 countries so far and there are more on the way. Because we both really love to hike and be outdoors we’ve done some really awesome hikes like the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and lots of smaller treks in Chile and Argentina’s Patagonia region. We went to the Galapagos Islands which was a highlight. We bicycled through Vietnam. I drove a rickshaw through India and walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. And that’s just the big stuff. Sometimes it’s the small moments that stick out the most. 


Galapagos Islands


You are now working as tour ambassadors in the US. What does this involve and what types of people do you find yourselves helping?

We are back in the US working for Backpacker Magazine until the end of October. We’ve been on an epic US road trip for this job (45 states and 35,000 miles of driving) where we visit outdoor retailers and give a presentation on the ‘ten essentials of backpacking’ and the gear and skills you need to meet the ten essentials. It’s sort of like a backpacking 101 presentation. We’ve seen so much of the US and have met many amazing people. Be we’re tired! 


Do you have any exciting plans for 2015?


Well, our job ends soon and we’re headed to Mexico where we’ve rented an apartment on the beach for five months. We’re launching an e-course called Travel School which will help others (from college kids to retirees) plan their own big trip around the world. I’m working on my next book and building my blog coaching business. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we are really excited to have the time to do it.


After we leave Mexico the future is wide open. We don’t know where we’ll be headed but we hope for another big adventure.

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