THE porch project


January 18, 2018

Photo courtesy of Kristin Blake. 


This week on The Porch, we are starting a new segment we like to call: A Girlboss Q&A. In this segment on the blog, we will have an online interview with a girlboss we know and admire. These interviews are all about empowering women, celebrating the victories of hardworking females and inspiring creativity in your daily lives. 


In this week's interview, we will be talking to Kristin Blake, a Mizzou journalism student who runs an informative travel blog titled "Round Trip." In addition to documenting some of the favorite places she has traveled to, she also shares a lot of great travel advice with her audience. 


In fact, she is even a published author! Check out her book here to read about more of her travel tips and experiences. 



Photo courtesy of Kristin Blake. 


1. First off, we love what you are doing with your blog! When did you first create it and what inspired you to do so? 


I started Round Trip in December 2014 during my junior year of high school.  I knew I wanted to go into magazine journalism, and my older sister had a friend working in the industry.  She suggested I reach out to her friend to learn more about this field.  Her biggest piece of advice to me was to start a blog to grow as a writer.  I was a bit hesitant at first; what did I have to say that people would want to read?  


I started brainstorming with my sister about possible blog niches.  Just months before, I’d gone on a trip to Europe with my high school and had fallen in love with the architecture, language, cuisine and culture.  I fully confess that I’m obsessed with the French language and love all things France.  I landed on the idea of a travel blog from these experiences and interests.


2. You have obviously had your fair share of traveling over the course of your life. What are some of your favorite places that you have been to?


France definitely takes the cake for favorite place on earth.  The history enchants me; the cuisine is classic; the architecture is romantic.  But above all, the language never fails to put me in a trance.  I’m majoring in French at my university, which allows me to not only communicate with French speakers but also to connect on a deeper level.  Paris is certainly worth a visit but can be overwhelming.  This past summer I lived in the south of France in the city of Toulouse.  My friends and I took a weekend trip to several small villages nearby including Najac and Laguépie.  The latter is no tourist attraction, but it warmed my heart unlike anything else.  Its small town charm, ancient castle and river swimming make this quaint French village one of my favorite places.


I recently returned from a trip to New York City to visit a friend.  There’s just an attitude and aura about this city that I can’t let go of; the intense desire to accomplish is evident everywhere in the city.  Walking down the street, you’ll need two hands to count all the languages you hear.  The diversity there is vast, and New Yorkers say exactly what they mean—how refreshing!


3. Have you traveled anywhere that you were disappointed by/wasn't a big fan of? If so, what did you learn from that experience?


Italy is gorgeous, but I was disappointed by Rome.  Yes, the cuisine and Colosseum are incredible, and it’s still worth a visit.  But whenever I think of Rome, I think, “meh, I’ve seen it once, and that’s enough.”  It was terribly hot, crowded and—sorry—overrated.


I did fall in love with the small village of Assisi nearby with its rolling hills and narrow streets.  My takeaway from these wildly different impressions of the same country and culture was that everyone has a different travel style.  For me, the experience is deeper when it’s full but still slower-paced.  Optimal quality and quantity must be determined by each individual traveler.


4. In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of planning a trip?


I tend to overplan.  So for me, it means looking at Pinterest for ideas and planning several activities or attractions for the day.  But much of it is also about leaving wiggle room to discover and to explore once you’re there.  Wander in and out of boutiques.  Take a walk along the beach.  Taste the experience; don’t just lick it.  Talk to locals, especially your Uber drivers.  They know the tricks of the trade and what’s what.


5. What piece of advice would you give to people who want to travel more in the New Year? Do you recommend any books/apps/places/even packing tips and tricks?


As juvenile as it sounds, buy a piggy bank.  It’s true what they say—out of sight, out of mind.  When you get your paycheck or a gift, set aside some of it for your travel fund.  The game changer for me has been my credit card with travel rewards.  My roundtrip ticket to New York was almost free because of credit card points.


Another piece of advice is to rethink your dreams.  I love Europe, but it’s just not practical (or financially responsible) for me to go there a bunch.  We think of all these glamorous gems like Paris and London that we want to visit, and then we come to our senses when we check our bank accounts.  The reality is that there are gems all over.  Think about where your friends live; that’s a couch you can crash on.  Can you take a mini road trip?  Grab some friends to cut costs.  Travel doesn’t just have to be weeklong vacations to the Caribbean; it can be a weekend trip to stay with a family friend in Chicago.  I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life, but it was in these past few months that I really began to travel in my own state.


A friend recently recommended an app called Hopper.  You choose a destination and when you’d like to go, and this app sends you updates and tips when the price drops—or if it might in the future.  I get almost daily notifications for flights to Paris!


6. It's so awesome that you are a published author! Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for writing the book and how you went about doing it? What piece of advice would you want to share with people who struggle to stay focused and motivated while working on longterm projects like that?


I think there’s a part of everyone that wants to travel, but there are different flavors, unique setbacks and varied budgets.  There’s adventure travel, luxury travel and budget travel.  There are students, retired folks and people working 60 hours each week.  My goal with my book is to simply share how I’ve managed to travel and what it’s done for me as a person.  Travel has given me the distance and space to process grief, life change and trajectory.  I also lived abroad for a summer, and life experience makes you an expert.  I wanted to share my mistakes, lessons and tips with travel-minded people.  My sister, mom and blogger friend all read and edited it.  I started writing in spring 2017 and published it through Amazon Publishing in November 2017.


When it comes to longterm projects, tell a few people you trust and who will keep you accountable.  There were many times I thought to myself, “What am I really doing?  I can’t really do this.  I’m not actually going to finish this.”  But I surrounded myself with supportive, driven people who brainstormed with me and made suggestions.


7. Lastly, where do you see yourself post-graduation? Do you plan on continuing the blog after school?


Wow, passion is both a blessing and a curse.  Thinking about where I’ll be after graduation is honestly overwhelming.  I’d love to end up in New York working for a women’s lifestyle publication or news organization.  I want to write another book.  I’d love to win a Pulitzer Prize.  I want to speak French.  I want to write journalistic pieces that matter.  I want to share people’s stories.  That narrows it down, huh?!  Ha, but truly, the sky is the limit.  


Round Trip is my baby and a large part of my life.  I hope she lives on in shining colors, but I understand life is full of many different seasons.  Regardless of the shape Round Trip will take, I will never stop traveling; I will never stop being curious; and I will never stop learning.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Blake. 


Photo courtesy of Kristin Blake. 


To get to know Kristin better, check out her social media accounts below:










Photo courtesy of Kristin Blake. 


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Be kind. 



Be tolerant. 





Put your feet up!


Leave happier than you came.

© 2017 by Megan Hill & Caroline Watkins

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