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Kristin Addis was a successful investment banker who gave it all up to become a junkie. A sad story that is much too common these days. Addiction is no joke.
Famous in Taiwan for her ridiculous antics, she’s now working for the hippie-pants mafia in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world to support her habit.
I’ve actually traveled with Kristin in Thailand where she attempted to recruit me as an international kitten smuggler…
She’s currently crashing motorcycles and hanging out with cannibals while sharing the sorted details on her blog Be My Travel Muse.
Now Kristin, I know this subject may be difficult to talk about. But you’re amongst friends here. Nothing that you say today will ever leave this room.
Share your darkest secrets with us, and let the healing begin…
When did you shoot-up with your first dose of wanderlust?
“I didn’t leave North America until I funded my own trip to Spain when I turned 20 (OK, I had been to Mexico on a cruise at age 14 but, I’m from California and it was only for two days, so it doesn’t count, right?). At 21, I moved to Taiwan for a year and fell hopelessly in love with Asia. Five years later, after a 4-year investment banking career, I started my nomadic journey using Bangkok as a jumping off point.”
What made you run away from home?
“I had dreamed about it for as long as I can remember, but what finally shook me to the core and served as a catalyst for action was a shoulder surgery that laid me up for 6 weeks and limited my ability to do anything active or weight bearing for almost a year. Though I certainly didn’t see it as a positive thing at the time, it was the wake-up call I needed to show me that not only is life short, but my youth and health is something to be valued and there is no time like the present to start pursuing the dream of traveling long term.”
How did your family & friends respond to your unconventional lifestyle?
“They were overwhelmingly supportive, which honestly shocked me a bit. I had resolved to tell no one until I was completely sure of my choice to essentially quit the life I had built in order to travel. I agonized over this for months and months. In hindsight, I could have trusted them with this news sooner and had their support through the fear that preceded that monumental decision to sell off my belongings in favor of a backpack.”
Has your travel addiction changed you?
“I was supposed to take this year to become comfortable alone. It was the perfect opportunity since I’m traveling solo. However I’ve failed at that miserably and seek out new friends at each new hostel I visit, always favoring the dorms over private rooms and always inserting myself into new friend groups. If I find myself alone for too long, I start to get a little depressed.
On the upside, though, I’ve become much more laid back. I see no use in planning ahead and agonizing over little details. I don’t get worked up over the small stuff, or even big stuff, all that much anymore. I try to just take things as they come and that has been a wonderful change.”
What’s your seediest travel vice?
“I still haven’t given up downloading Mad Men and watching several episodes in a row when I get a chance. That Don Draper with his sexy furrowed brow just keeps me coming back for more.”
Can you tell me about your biggest travel regret?
“It’s not easy traveling solo when things go wrong or it’s a small town without many other people to connect with. I hate being alone, but since I’m kind of impatient and can’t stick with one person for too long, and am a little too selfish to change my plans for anyone, I’ve got to make peace with being alone sometimes. There has to be some kind of balance. I haven’t found it yet.”
How do you fund your addiction? Armed robberies? Prostitution? Stealing copper wire?
“Black market Angry Birds memorabilia sales. That shiz is HUGE in Southeast Asia! Just kidding. I had savings from my investment banking days that I rely on now. I’m frantically working on finding the right thing to replace that when the money runs out. I don’t intend on ever going back.”
Have you ever overdosed?
“I started feeling like travel had stopped being special around month 7 in Thailand. It may have been due to it being my third month there and the fact that everywhere I was going was somewhere I had been before. I crossed into Malaysia and my enthusiasm came right back.”
Do you find it hard relating to normal people who are clean & sober?
“I haven’t yet returned home, but I recall feeling a strong sense of reverse culture shock when I returned from 8 months in Taiwan several years ago. People would ask about the trip but their eyes would glaze over and they’d slip into a comatose state halfway through my stories. That’s part of the reason I like to maintain a travel blog. I enjoy talking about my travels, so I put the photos and stories out there and if anyone is curious they can just read the blog. Easy. We all win.”
Has your addiction got you into any trouble?
“Ah yes. I ended up in several tabloids in Taiwan. I’ve never talked about that story on the interwebs but maybe it’s time.”
If someone wanted to get a little taste of your addiction, which of your blog posts do you recommend they check out?
“I’m all about unconventional travel and off-the-beaten path experiences. My favorite has been getting a tattoo from a monk (and now you have one too! We match! Oh, and thanks for the moral support when I was getting round two), ringing in 2013 in silent meditation for ten days at a Buddhist monastery in southern Thailand, and becoming a singing sensation “from Hollywood” in Malaysia. ”
Do you ever think you’ll be able to kick the habit?
“Fellow travelers and friends back home have asked me that often and I’m really not sure. I see myself eventually finding one place I can stand for more than a month or two at some point. For now, I get really stir crazy and just need to move. I even moved about once per year back when I was in California, even if it was just up the street. I tend to need a “change of venue” and becoming nomadic has been so refreshing that I don’t want to give it up anytime soon.”
How do we find you to stage an intervention?
“The best way to always know where in the world I am and what exactly I’m up to is definitely via Instagram. I shoot up there daily. Facebook and Twitter are also massive contributors to my addiction. I’m quite into Vine lately as well, find me on there @bemytravelmuse.”
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Kristin. I sincerely hope your powerful story can help others