Now, how do I start? I’m going to attempt to write a depiction of Kaya, but let me warn you that there is no possible way of doing this fully. She’s got far too much character to be contained in any box of words, so doing this would be like trying to fit a redwood tree my pocket. Her joy, energy, love of travel (and awesome hair!!) are completely unparalleled, so instead of using my vocabulary to try and put labels on them, I’ll introduce her through another method: anecdote and story.
I first met Kaya in the custom line at the Mexico City airport. I had a 5 hour layover ahead of me, and was planning on either reading a book or listening to a podcast to pass the time and distance myself from the frantic surroundings of transit. But my plans soon changed as the girl next to me struck up a conversation. Unlike the rest of us half-awake passengers in line, she was fully present, lively, and and had badass travel tattoos that even put mine to shame. Quickly, we began to tell travel stories (as awesome people tend to do) and within seconds, her enthusiasm shook the cobwebs out of my head. Before I knew it, we were in a wild, exciting conversation that included rock climbing in remote parts of Thailand, hiking with stray Georgian dogs, golden Buddhas at the Parthenon, and roasted plantains (as they are delicious).
As a traveler, I’ve met tons of people who love telling their stories, but I’ve never seen anyone face light up quite like Kaya’s when she recalls her adventures. It is almost as if she goes into a different state. Before you know it, you’ll be smiling and laughing head to toe, and by the end, she practically has you ready to quit your job and buy a plane ticket tomorrow. (If you don’t believe me, stop reading this now and listen to our podcast about her trip to Portugal.) It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck in a rut or just feeling down. A chat with Kaya will completely restore the youthful enthusiasm of life that society tried to stamp out.
But what really makes Kaya stand out is how genuine she is. As much as she loves traveling, she doesn’t hide the difficulties and hardships that come along with it, and there’s never any tone of bragging in anything she says. When she laughs about crashing a Brazilian party in Lisbon, it’s real. When she leans in to hear about your journeys, she’s truly interested. And if you ever get the opportunity to collaborate with her about travel blogging ideas, you’ll never meet anyone more eager to share. Even if you’re a jaded curmudgeon, Kaya will make you into a joyous, lighthearted wanderer within minutes.
Be like Kaya: Be your full, honest self. Be playful, dance to music, and share your joy.
(And check out the podcast!)