My Interview with one of the World’s Top Travel Influencers, Kate McCulley!

World traveler, blogger, and entrepreneur, Kate McCulley, is cool.

And she is not just so because she was named by Forbes this year as one of the world’s top ten travel influencers (although that is uber cool), has traveled to over 70 countries (another cool-qualifying accolade) or has been ship wrecked in Indonesia (frankly that is just bad *ss). She’s cool because she has been writing about and advocating for independent women travel long before it was the trend that it is today.

Her blog, Adventurous Kate, was started in 2010 when, at 26, she quit her job and jetsetted to Southeast Asia for six months. During that time, she developed her current blog. When she found her efforts could be lucrative enough to feed more than just her passion, she ramped it up. Today, this inspired solo adventurer not only gets paid to travel, but her trusted and smart travel tips help other women experience the magic of solo travel safely and easily.

For me, the best part about Kate and her writing is that, in a world with a myriad of travel blogs, hers stands out. Her storytelling is compelling, her voice is authoritative, and her genuine care and concern for her audience is sincerely conveyed. Clearly, I dig her. So it was a particular thrill when she agreed to do a mini-interview with me.

The trick was to find questions she isn’t incessantly asked or perhaps one she may have not been asked before. Thankfully, she has even written a blog on this: The Conversation We Would be Having (super fun read, btw). Therefore, if you want her tips for solo women travelers, how to become a travel blogger, or where to eat bugs in Bangkok, head over to her blog. For inquiries from another solo woman adventurer who also incorporates travel into her profession, keep on reading!

Kate at Hutt Lagoon on Australia’s Coral Coast
Photo Credit: Kate McCulley

Since my shop focuses on cool discoveries during travel, do you have a favorite souvenir from one of your travels?  

Last year I was in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, a small town famous for their collection of used bookstores. In between the bookstores, I discovered an antique map shop. I fell in love with so many of the maps, many of them far too expensive for me, but I settled on a beautiful 150-year-old map of northern Italy. I had it professionally framed in champagne silver and it hangs in my bedroom today.

For years, I traveled without a home, but now that I’ve had an apartment for a year and a half, I like to pick up new things for my apartment when on my travels. Since my place was bare for so long, I love adding little touches from my trips — like some printed placemats from South Africa, a print and a candle from Asheville, North Carolina, and a little straw porcupine from Bavaria. This is the first time I’ve ever lived alone, so I love decorating a place that is 100% my own.

Haye-on-Wye
Photo Credit: Kate McCulley
Given your status as an influential travel blogger, I am certain you have experienced some remarkable hospitality and welcomes around the world. Is there one that absolutely stands out in your mind as, “Wow, how lucky am I to experience this”?

 I’ve received such wonderful hospitality around the world, but one thing I like to say is, “There’s no hospitality like Middle Eastern hospitality.” It’s just on another level. I once visited a family in Ajloun, Jordan, and they prepared a meal to welcome me. It was one of the biggest meals of my life and I’ll admit that part of me was horrified when they kept bringing out MORE and MORE food after I swore that they were done. But the nicest thing was that because I was both their guest and a woman, I got to exist in two worlds. I got to dine with the men in the living room and I also got to go into the kitchen and spend time with the women, who did not eat with us.

When you travel is there something you ever miss from back home? Or how has travel made you appreciate your own home country more (or maybe it hasn’t)?

I hate to say this, but there’s one thing that America does better than anywhere else in the world: restaurant service. No doubt that’s due to our tipping system. From the UK to Thailand to Colombia, sometimes I get exhausted trying to flag down a server! And then I get home, go out to a restaurant, and sigh with happiness.

I found it super intriguing that you don’t want to visit every country in the world, and some countries given the current political state, you wouldn’t even consider visiting in good conscious (North Korea being an example). What are some other countries you don’t have a desire to visit? Why?

I don’t think that it’s possible to visit North Korea ethically at this time. The only way to visit is through tours tightly controlled by the government; you can’t spend money at the ground level. There is nowhere else in the world that is definitively off my list (other than places currently at war, like Syria), but I definitely wouldn’t visit Venezuela at this time.

What is your favorite neighborhood restaurant in NYC?

Red Rooster is the restaurant that made me decide to move to Harlem! I love it — it always feels so celebratory every time I’m there, with amazing Southern-African-Swedish fusion dishes, the drinks are fabulous, and the crowd is consistently one of the most diverse groups I see in New York. I knew right away that I wanted to be part of Harlem.

Do you prefer Airbnb or Booking.com?

These days, I’m more likely to book a hotel than an Airbnb — it’s just so much less hassle. You just walk in, you keep your anonymity, and professionals look after you.

What is your current favorite travel app?

 I love the Rome2Rio app. It’s the best for figuring out the best way to travel between two random cities, whether by plane, train, bus, or something else entirely.
**Note from Jen: I downloaded this after interviewing Kate, and it has been a tremendous help planning my August Southeast Asia trip. A very useful recommendation!**

And the most important question of all, what is your “go to” Happy Hour drink?

I love champagne and I love gin. If there’s a French 75 or Aviation cocktail on the menu, I’m probably ordering one of them.
Kate hitchhiking somewhere is West Australia
Photo Credit: Kate McCulley
***
I told you she was cool!

To read more about Kate and find her tips for independent women travel, explore here blog AdventurousKate.com. One of my favorite recent blogs by her, On Influence, and Using It Wisely, she wrote right after being named one of the top travel influencers by Forbes.

Be sure to follow Kate on all of these social places:

Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |   Twitter