I’m happy to announce that today’s post is an interview with Kaitlin Grable from Around the World in Katy Days. The child of a military family, Katy was born and raised overseas. She was trilingual by the time she was 10 years old and had traveled to 28 countries already by the time she was 14. She moved back to the United States in order to finish high school and has been back ever since. Currently, she’s living on the Gulf Coast of Texas and working full time at an environmental nonprofit advocating for water conservation and preservation. She works to travel, since it’s her passion. Her last trip was on her honeymoon to Iceland and in December she plans to visit Banff, Canada.
You can check out her blog and read all about her adventures at AroundTheWorldInKatyDays.com
Hello Kaitlin, and thank you for speaking with me today. First of all, I just want to say that I love the name of your blog! Truly delightful! Can you tell my readers a little bit more about who you are and what your blog is about?
Thank you so much!
I started my blog in May, shortly after returning from my Icelandic honeymoon. At first it was just a place for me to publish all my Iceland tips because I had a lot of friends interested in visiting and asking me the same questions. But as time went on, I realized how much I enjoyed writing this blog and my following started growing beyond what I had expected. The blog is still very young and as I like to say, it’s “trying to find its identity.” I work full time, so I’m not constantly adventuring and visiting new places for new content. But I want to do more about how I manage my extreme wanderlust day to day. I am also a career environmentalist, so I try to include positive environmental messaging in my posts as well.
You mentioned you lived overseas when you were growing up. Where did you live?
I was born in Hawaii and spent my first three years there before moving to Kentucky for a few months, and then on to Germany. We moved back to the U.S. for a while in the later years of elementary school, and I got to live in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California for a few years. This was one of my favorite places to live, there was no light pollution since we basically lived in the middle of nowhere, and the view of the stars was amazing! This place is the reason why I have such a soft spot in my heart for the desert to this day.
In the summer before 7th grade, we moved back to my German hometown, Vilseck. We moved to Wiesbaden, Germany for my 8th grade year, and then to Baumholder, Germany for my freshman and sophomore years of high school. In the summer before my junior year of high school, we were ready to move to Italy but our plans changed when my dad received orders for us to move to Texas, which is where I reside today!
What was it like living abroad at such a young age? I bet you have some great stories to tell.
I started school in Germany, so I always felt right at home. We lived in a two-family home, our German landlords (who had two sons around my age) on the first floor and us on the second. I played with German children all the time, because those were my neighbors and therefore my friends. So I assimilated to the German culture very easily. I had the greatest childhood in Germany. My best memories include skiing and sledding in the field across the street from my house and ice skating on the frozen lake in town.
You have traveled to a lot of different places. Which was your favorite?
So hard to choose just one! But honestly, my favorite trip was probably my road trip across the American Southwest! As a last minute graduation trip my fiance (who is now my husband) and I decided to plan a last minute trip. I had never been to the Grand Canyon and decided that it was exactly where I wanted to go. So we planned a road trip from our house in Fort Worth, Texas to the Grand Canyon and back, stopping at every National Park/Monument along the way. It was a great trip, and I have the fondest memories of the adventures we had.
Where else have you been?
I backpacked across New Zealand and spent some time in Sydney, Australia for my study abroad in college. I honeymooned in Iceland earlier this year. I’ve visited the majority of the western/central European countries. I’ve traveled around Mexico quite a bit. I’m working on exploring more of the United States, New Orleans is actually next on my list (I’ll be there next month). And then I’m making my way to Canada for Christmas and New Years! This is my travel map:
Which languages do you speak?
German, Spanish, and English. I want to learn Arabic or French next.
Any memorable moments from your travels?
So many! Too many to list for sure. Some of my favorites include bungee jumping over the Kawarau Gorge in New Zealand. Spending my 16th birthday in Paris. Watching the sunset over the Painted Desert in Arizona. Hiking into a hidden waterfall in Iceland.
Climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taking acting workshop classes on London’s West End in high school. Driving from Sweden to Germany via the Øresund. Hiking the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland and hearing the ice calving.
I find myself daydreaming about these specific experiences and places quite a bit. They always inspire my wanderlust even further and make me excited to plan new adventures!
Any moments of culture shock?
Honestly, my greatest culture shock moment was moving back to the U.S. from Europe when I was 16. I had been living in Germany for so long and was thrown into the heat of Texas Summer. I was so culture shocked by literally everything I encountered. In Germany the driving age was 18, so there were a grand total of three people at my high school who could drive and actually had cars. I thought it was crazy that all of a sudden everyone my age was driving themselves around town like adults. It was so weird! My parents made me wait to get my driver’s license until I was 17 and a half, I guess German culture really stuck with them on that.
Cell phone culture was also pretty much non-existent around that time in Europe. I had a little brick phone, but it was prepaid, had no special features, and was only used to contact my parents when I needed to be picked up from my friend’s house or something. I moved to Texas a few weeks after the first iPhone was released. So going from a Siemens A50 (that I barely ever used) to the world of iPhones was just an insane change.
I still sometimes feel like a stranger navigating the culture in Texas, but it definitely has grown to become a home that I love dearly. Almost as much as Germany.
Any memorable “out of your comfort zone” moments?
I don’t really feel like I have a comfort zone, I’ve always been a very adventurous person. I probably stressed my parents out quite a bit growing up, and still do… Sorry mom and dad! I am always willing to try something new (within reason), just to say I’ve done it. There are definitely some fears I have, but I make it a point to push myself past them. I just hate the idea of letting my fears get in the way of me living my life to its fullest potential. When I was younger I was scared of heights. But after pushing myself past that fear, I’ve done amazing things like climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (back when they still let people go to the top…), the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and bungee jumping over the Kawarau Gorge.
They say that life starts at the end of your comfort zone, and it really is true.
One thing you can’t travel without?
Camera of course, but I know that’s pretty much everyone’s answer, so I’ll try for one thing that’s not so common and say my Aggie Ring! I went to a university that has many treasured traditions. The Aggie Ring is the most famous tradition of all. It’s not like most schools, where they offer class rings and a few people get them only to wear them for a few years. Probably 99.5% of people at Texas A&M get their Aggie Rings, then they wear them for the rest of their lives. They are so iconic, I’ve had people recognize me as an Aggie because of my ring in New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Mexico, as well as all over the U.S. I don’t always wear my wedding rings when I travel, but I absolutely always wear my Aggie Ring!
Tell me a little bit more about your travel to-do list.
My travel to-do list is always growing and evolving. I probably find at least one item to add to it per day. At first it started out as a basic list along the lines of: visit every continent, go to every U.S. National Park, etc. But thanks to Pinterest and networking with other travel bloggers, I’ve added lots of items to the list!
Some fall on the more conventional spectrum of travel lists (visit every continent, go to a musical on Broadway, trek to Macchu Picchu) and some are a little more offbeat and uncommon (make a backbend arch in Arches National Park, visit and experience North Korea, hike to Everest Base Camp).
But honestly, this list barely scratches the surface of all the places I want to go and things I want to do. If I could, I would see it all and do it all. But for now, these are the priorities for my years as a twenty-something traveler. Hopefully by the time I hit 30 and decide to have kids I’ll have a good portion of it crossed off so I can move on to the next batch for the next era of my life (go to Disney World, take my children to experience my homeland of Germany, etc).
You studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand. What was that like?
Amazing! I really didn’t put a lot of thought into where I wanted to go for my study abroad. One of my friends was applying for the same program and I was just like “I bet the surfing there is awesome, I should go.” So I made it happen!
I really lucked out because this was the perfect study abroad opportunity for me. I got to learn about sustainable development and ecotourism, which is a big interest of mine. And I got to do it in an amazing place! I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I really loved getting to spend time in the adventure capital of the world. I went bungy jumping, glacier hiking, and of course, surfing!
I’m also a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, so one of the first things I did when I arrived in New Zealand was buy a book about the movie’s filming locations so I could nerd out at all places that overlapped with my itinerary.
If you were offered an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
Antarctica for sure! That’s one of the places I want to go the most, but it’s so expensive and I know I won’t be getting there for a long time. I’m so fascinated by the wildlife and I have a very special place in my heart for glaciers and icebergs. Recently I’ve learned to love travel destinations that are famed for their natural beauty, and Antarctica is basically just that. Raw beauty in God’s creation. I think it would be amazing to see.
Do you have any travel tips you would like to share?
These are the best tips I could give:
Get lost on purpose. The best way to get to know a city like a local is to get lost. When I was a child, my parents used to take me to Venice and we would just walk around the city aimlessly for days. By the time I was 7, I knew the city like a born and bred Venetian.
Keep an open mind. Be open to the possibilities and opportunities that arise in your travels, you never know what amazing things can happen.
Travel safe, be conscious. As an American citizen living abroad, it was always stressed to me that I should never do anything to make it obvious that I am an American. That means speaking in private tones, not letting my conversation be heard by strangers, not “dressing like an American,” etc. No matter where you are, try to blend in so you won’t be targeted. And then just use common sense about safety of yourself and your belongings.
What do you love the most about traveling?
Learning the history of the places where I’m traveling. I love learning about how the places I’m visiting came to be, and all the amazing scenes they have witnessed. Wherever I travel, I try to visit at least one museum that will teach me about the history and culture of my destination. I know it’s nerdy, but I just love the picture it paints of my adventuring grounds.
I also love mingling with the locals during my travels. During my honeymoon to Iceland, we stayed at Airbnbs specifically so we could meet local people and learn about what it’s like to be Icelandic. It was such an awesome experience, and I’m so glad we booked our accommodations this way. It was just such a great experience to learn about the way people in Iceland live their lives and their worldviews.
Why should people travel?
There’s a saying that “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I believe in this 100% to my core. There is so much to be seen in this big, beautiful world. Traveling expands your worldview by lending different perspectives and experiences, it makes you a more well-rounded person. It allows you to learn who you are, and it helps you learn who your friends are. It creates meaningful relationships. There are so many amazing ways travel can change your life. And you don’t need to hop on a plane to go halfway around the world to do it, you can start simply by traveling to a part of your city or state!
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m just starting off in my career. I’m working a job that I absolutely love, and I’m really passionate about what I’m doing. I really hope that I can make a positive impact in protecting our natural resources and coastlines. I also hope to inspire future generations of women of color to pursue careers and education in STEM.
My husband and I will continue travelling. Our goal is to do two trips per year. One in the winter and one in the summer. We are booked for a Christmas/New Year trip to Banff, and I am beyond excited about it! We have discussed what our next few destinations will be, but nothing is set in stone yet. I really want to cross a new continent off my list next, and I’m hoping it will be Asia. I would love to do a trip to Southeast Asia or Japan in the summer. So we’ll see if I can get my husband on board with that budget-wise!
I will continue to add to my travel to-do list, and hopefully I will cross some items off the list as I make my way around the world. And all the while, you can read about my adventures on my blog at AroundTheWorldInKatyDays.com
You can check out Kaitlin’s blog and read all about her adventures at AroundTheWorldInKatyDays.com or you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.