This week we caught up with Kim Dinan, the awesome lady behind So Many Places. Check out her take on traveling India in a rickshaw, kindness on the road, and more in this week’s Girls That Go!
GGG: Hey, there! Welcome to Girls That Go! Can you tell us a bit about who you are, where you’re from originally, and how you got started traveling?
Hello! I’m Kim. I’m originally from Ohio but moved to Oregon right after college. I lived in Oregon for almost a decade before selling everything, leaving my job, and setting out to follow my passions of traveling and writing.
I’d always dreamed of traveling and knew, deep down inside, that it was something I absolutely had to do. I didn’t have the money to travel when I was younger, so I worked for almost a decade before I could fund a big trip.
I’m not sure how I came to have such wanderlust, I’ve just always been this way. As a young kid I would explore the nooks and crannies of my neighborhood. I always wanted to know what was around the next corner. I suppose it’s just in my blood.
Back in 2012 my husband and I sold our house and almost all of our stuff, quit our jobs, and set out with the goal of traveling for as long as we could. I also wanted to pursue my dream of writing, so this time “off” wasn’t just for travel but also for working towards my dreams as well.
GGG: You have a really incredible story about a yellow envelope and a gift that you are to use on your travels. In a nutshell, some dear friends gave you money to give away as acts of kindness during your travels (SO awesome)! We know you’re working on a memoir about how that money gets used, but can you share one experience you’ve had as a result of that gift?
That yellow envelope was the most incredible gift I’ve ever been given (you can read the story here). We’ve given the gift away, in small increments, all around the world. From a sea turtle sanctuary in Indonesia, to a schoolhouse in Vietnam, to a kind waiter in Germany who gave us an incredible gift, the money has been used to spread little bits of kindness to people on five continents. I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of it.
GGG: We loved your tips for riding buses in South America. Do you have a favorite mode of transportation while you travel in new places?
Well, it depends on the place but I always love taking the local transportation. In South America that is buses. In India it’s trains. I bicycled around Vietnam and loved it. While there’s something to be said for having your own wheels (because you can go to off-the-beaten-path types of places) I also love the experience of being crammed into some sort of public transport with too many other people. It makes me feel like I’m a part of the larger community.
GGG: You do a lot of hiking and cycling. If you knew then what you do now, would you have done anything differently for any of those longer treks? What’s a dream route you’d like to hike or cycle someday?
Oh, I can’t think of anything that I would do differently on any of the longer treks that I have done. I just wish I could do them all over again!
I have so many dream routes on my list it will be hard to name them all. First of all, I’d like to go back to Nepal and do some trekking in the Mustang Region (I did the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp before). I’d like to go back to Spain and walk the northern route of the Camino de Santiago (I walked the French Way before). I’d like trek the Te Araroa in New Zealand, the Appalachian Trail in the U.S. and the Sultan’s Trail in Eastern Europe.
GGG: Speaking of treks, you did the Rickshaw Run in India. What inspired you to do it, since we know it wasn’t on your bucket list agenda to begin with?
The Rickshaw Run is the craziest thing I have ever done. I’d never have considered doing it myself, but two other bloggers asked if I would like to do it and I felt like I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’m so glad I did it! We drove a rickshaw 3,000 kilometers from Rajasthan in the north of India to Kerala in the south. And when I say drove I mean WE drove the rickshaw ourselves, on India’s maniacal roads, without any support whatsoever. It was crazy!!
It was also one of my fondest experiences and why I fell in love with India the way I did. Our rickshaw broke down about five times a day (at least). We got stuck on the roads after dark. We found ourselves in some very interesting situations. And throughout the whole experience the people of India were so kind to us. They took care of us. My experience in India cracked me open in a way that nothing else before or since has.
GGG: Lately, you have been road tripping the US. What’s it like being a long-term tourist in your own country?
My husband and I have been driving around the U.S. for the past seven months for a contract job we took with Backpacker Magazine. The job has taken us to every single one of the lower 48 states except Rhode Island!! It’s been a wild ride. We feel very lucky that we’ve been able to see so much of our own country.
I’ve loved seeing our beautiful country. It’s so diverse. For example, right now I’m in New Orleans. It’s an incredible city. So much culture and so much Spanish and French influence that I feel like I’m in Buenos Aires! New Orleans could not be different than Oregon, where I call home, or Ohio, where I was born. Americans are lucky because we have dozens of countries packed into our one large country.
However, I do have to say that I am really itching to get out of the country and experience more of the world. I love that I can come back to the U.S. It will always be my home. But my soul is really calling out for foreign lands. I love feeling out of place. I love being in a country where I have to stay on my toes. I don’t feel like that here in the U.S.
GGG: Back in January, you told us that your new year’s resolution for 2014 was to focus it on “nurturing that unshakable core within.” Have you been able to continue working to meet that goal in your travels?
Ha, NO! Right after New Year’s my husband and I found out that we got this job with the magazine and we flew back to the U.S. It’s been constant, non-stop travel since then which does not bode well for taking care of your physical or emotional self. I learned early on that I prefer to travel slowly and I have not been traveling slowly for these past 7 months!! But our job is almost over and then I’m going back to the things that matter the most to me: Writing, Traveling (slowly), taking care of my physical self and nurturing that unshakable core.
GGG: What exciting place is up next for you?
We are headed to Mexico!! We’ve rented an apartment on the beach for five months in Sayulita, Mexico. After our whirlwind tour around the U.S. my husband and I are both so excited to have a home for five months. We’ve been living primarily out of a tent during our time in the U.S. so we are also excited to have a roof over our heads and a refrigerator!!
In Mexico we have many projects that we are working on. I’m writing my next book (my first book, a guide to living your dreams, is called Life on Fire) and building my Blog Coaching business. My husband is launching an e-course called Travel School where we help everyone from college aged kids to retirees nail down all of the details they need to have in order so that they can travel long-term. We are very excited to see what the future has in store for us.
All photos in this post courtesy of Kim Dinan.