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Hi, I’m Christine Ka’aloa!
I’m a female solo travel blogger and YouTuber, who left her life in New York, as a reality TV camera operator and producer to live/work abroad in South Korea. From there, I launched into a 7+ month solo backpacking trip through Asia and Southeast Asia. Since, I’ve returned to the U.S. and am currently re-designing my lifestyle towards travel.
I started GRRRL TRAVELER, a solo travel blog in 2008, when a trip to India with friends went awry and I was forced to go it alone.
GRRRL TRAVELER is a travel survival and solo travel site inspiring others to find their GRRR for travel at any age! It’s about navigating cultural diversity while experiencing the bizarre, foreign, frightening and often times, funny.
I film, blog and Instagram my solo adventures to take you into my adventure, where I demystify the ‘scary’ in solo travel.
Not all solo beginnings start on a happy note…
In 2008, I was on a backpacking tour through India and Nepal with a group of friends. We signed up for a scam tour and midway, I decided I wanted off (…you can read my gory details here).
Thrown into a crazy world, beautiful, different and dizzying. There were moments I felt uncertain, vulnerable and “a little chicken” of a sheltered Hawaii girl. The only thing I knew I’d never do, was give up!
I pulled every self-survival trick I could think of to flip my rupee into positive change and I turned what could’ve been the worst trip in my life, into the greatest! What got me through was my GRRR!
GRRRL TRAVELER was born.
I used to think that traveling alone started with courage and confidence and I had to have both in order to go solo.
Truthfully, few people start at point zero with courage. Courage and confidence are things you develop with time and experience. You can test waters by doing things, like going to a social event alone or taking a solo weekend trip outside the city. If its your first time traveling internationally, do so with a partner first so you can learn to adapt to culture shock.
But taking a full-blown solo trip is a different beast and there’s no way to prepare for it, really. The easiest way — take the leap (or my case, have the rug pulled out from under you).
To be honest, I don’t think the fear ever goes away. At least not with me.
I’ve been traveling solo for over seven years and I still encounter moments of reluctance of booking a new destination. Each destination is similar and yet, unique with different challenges. But the moment I book my trip, reality sets in place and my fears and worries gradually subside. My instinct to survive kicks in and helps me along.
I work and save for my travels. No magic wand. I steer my job search towards jobs/careers that allow or pay me to travel. For instance, teaching English in Korea was an all-expense paid move to Korea and my work paid me enough to travel during vacation breaks. I also base my travels on affordability, choosing the countries based on low flight costs and which are inexpensive to travel.
When I got back to the United States in 2012, it was hard for some time. I live with my parents in Hawaii and around 2014-2016 when it sunk in I’d be staying in the U.S. and couldn’t remake my old freelance career in video/tv, I got depressed. I was trying to reacclimate to U.S. lifestyle, jobs, prices and still make travel happen for me. My blog work up until this point was not sustainable and was solely out of love and this was not a smart lifestyle. I began realizing other bloggers were starting to make money from it. It was terribly frustrating figuring it all out- I’d work around the clock writing and editing videos, posting social media to grow my following, while also working multiple jobs and freelance gigs. I worked with small sponsors, usually in exchange for a product or experience, but this clearly wasn’t a way to pay for a lifestyle or for travel. Oh, and I was also striving to be an actress and I required acting classes just to keep my acting chops fluid.
In 2017, i got my first fully paid sponsored trip and it started the ball rolling. I made half my income from blogging and YouTube, and took a part time job to pay for health insurance while freelancing in video and television production. In 2018 larger branded campaigns like SanDisk, Mazda and Facebook reached out and I took a hiatus from my part time job to manage GRRRLTRAVELER’s growth more fully.
I occasionally work with sponsors, hotels and tourism boards that help me extend my travels or ongoing create content. Unless i feel it will be of benefit to my business, brand, audiences and content, I like to prefer out of pocket for travel expenses or to collab/promote local friends with businesses.
Most people think my job at GRRRLTRAVELER is an enviable vacation and it’s true that I experience a lot of things- but it’s also 100% work. I don’t get weekends, holidays or sick days off -creating content and inspiration is around the clock work. Trip planning involves not only researching and planning my creative fun, but how I will film it, work within a budget or reach out to sponsors to help me create content that will inspire audiences. But I love shooting and creating videos and content which inspires … that is the vacation.
Yes, you can. But getting to the point where your blog makes money, is not as easy as some bloggers paint it. You have to do a lot of legwork, take additional employment when you’re starting out and find other ways to diversify your blog services. I use everything from affiliate programs, ad sales, sponsored posts, brand deals, campaigns and Patreon. Pitching for work, sponsored stay and negotiating “collabs” can occasionally feel like answering a craigslist ads until I find a sponsor that values what I do. It helps to have a business plan or strategy, because my job is to travel but also be self-sustaining. Often I’m wearing more than one hat. What’s helped me significantly is Travel Blog Success. You can read more about it here. It taught me in one month, what it took over six years to learn on my own.
If quick money is your aim, it’s definitely easier to get a job and get paid an hourly wage. The joy of travel blogging has to be your passion before all else.
This site occasionally accepts sponsored posts and ads. This should not affect the content in any way, but if you see a problem, let me know.
Affiliate links are used throughout this blog. I try my best to note this, but basically, expect it to run throughout. It means that I earn a small commission on any sales generated if you click on these links in my site. This is one small source of revenue that helps me maintain the value and information I offer on this blog. My affiliate programs are often brands that I have experienced or I know offer reputable experiences. If you want to buy something I’ve recommended, please support my work by clicking my site’s link .
Also, occasionally I may accept a sponsored experience or press trip which is paid for and is organized by a tourism board or travel brand. This will never affect the honesty of my reviews.