Kristin Luna has issues. Don’t let her Southern charm fool you. She’s been on the hard stuff for over 10 years now, jet-setting around the world searching for her next fix.
I’ve been following Kristin’s case for a while, and it isn’t pretty. She needs our help. She runs a revealing website that addresses her problems at: Camels & Chocolate
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’ve traveled domestically with my family since before I could walk — I’m currently at 49 out of 50 states; Iowa continues to evade me — and aside from jaunts to Mexico and the Caribbean (which hardly count as international travel if you’re American), my first big trip overseas was to England when I was 15.
I then studied abroad in Scotland when I was 20, invested in a rail pass, spent the summer touring the continent solo, and it’s been nonstop for the past decade. I’m somewhere between 80 and 100 countries now, though I don’t like to keep an exact count as it then feels like I’m just collecting passport stamps as a sport.”
What made you run away from home?
“I love the rush of arriving in a foreign country alone, not knowing a word of the local language, having no clue where I’m going and having to figure everything out on my own. These days, I rarely do a bit of research before arriving in a place and sort of winging it in a sense (makes it all the more exciting!). It’s like one big puzzle, and you have to make the pieces fit just right. I’ve never been one to indulge in illegal substances, so I guess you can say travel is my drug!”
How did your family & friends respond to your unconventional lifestyle?
“Given that my mom broke off her own engagement at 21 to move to Europe and work all over the continent in the computer industry, she’s never been one to condemn my choices. My dad, being afraid of planes, doesn’t quite understand my lifestyle but he’s always been supportive of everything I’ve done. I met my husband overseas while living in Holland, and we’ve spent a good deal traveling together, so he’s very pro-travel, as well (though I’m sure he wishes he could tag along on more of my adventures! Since I often travel on assignment, he winds up staying at home with the dog).”
Has your travel addiction changed you?
“It’s made me more open-minded and well-rounded as a whole, but in a way that’s worked against me at times. I expect everyone else I encounter to know as much about the world as I (think I) do and be equally accepting of cultural differences, and that’s very rarely the case (particularly back in the South where I’m from… sorry, fellow Southerners!).”
What’s your seediest travel vice?
“Hotel amenities! I love Bliss bath products, so staying at W Hotels is always a treat as I stock up on those delicious smelling shampoo, conditioner and face washes. (At the same time I’m very picky, so if it’s a bath product I can’t stand, like Bvlgari, I leave it behind!) And if I’m ever offered access to a club lounge — like the Ritz-Carlton where I sit as I type this — you better believe I’ll take full advantage of the free-flowing champagne and fresh-baked cookies.”
Can you tell me about your biggest travel regret?
“Not spending enough time in any one place. I’m a classic Type A planner, and even though I always have the intention to keep my schedule open and let my travels unfold organically, inevitably I always wind up overbooking myself, trying to cram in as many things as possible into a mere day and not having nearly the free time I so desire.”
How do you fund your addiction? Armed robberies? Prostitution? Stealing copper wire?
“Selling bootleg videos on the black market in China while participating in those experimental sleep studies for quick cash on the side.
Kidding — I actually work in the travel industry as a journalist. I write a couple guidebooks a year, dozens of magazine articles and custom content for major companies. So luckily, the majority of my travel funds itself, as I’m generally on assignment versus vacation (which backfires often as I so rarely travel for leisure these days). And I worked for Semester at Sea this past fall–and am going back for a shorter stint in May — so I, literally, was paid to go around the world for four months. How can you say no to that?!”
Have you ever overdosed?
“Absolutely. After long-term binges, I get into waves of wanting to sit at home for a month straight, eating Cup Noodles and watching full seasons of Dexter in one sitting. I could never be a permanent digital nomad, as I like having a routine, a home base, a husband and a dog to return to every time I start to wear down.”
Do you find it hard relating to normal people who are clean & sober?
“I spent the last eight years living in New York City and San Francisco (and traveling about half of that time) but recently relocated back to my home state, Tennessee. Many of my childhood friends don’t have passports, and a few of them haven’t even been west of the Mississippi River!
We each think the other is crazy: I can’t fathom how they are happy with a sedentary life, while they think me insane for voluntarily going to places like Rwanda or Cuba for the sake of fun.”
Has your addiction got you into any trouble?
“I helped a pair of African refugees escape Austria, I had a stowaway on a train in Italy threaten me with a gun, I found myself stalking Kate and Will while my ship was docked next to theirs during the Royal Tour last summer, and I almost was denied entry at the Cambodia border.
Oh, and I also caused the Edge to crash his car. You know, all in a day’s work.”
If someone wanted to get a little taste of your addiction, which of your blog posts do you recommend they check out?
What You’re Worth (why I won’t work for free and you shouldn’t either)
13 Things I Love About Japan (an introduction to the country’s quirkier side)
Murder in Cambodia (remnants of the Khmer Rouge)
Friendship Without Borders (on making friends in the unlikeliest of places)
How I Came to Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (self explanatory)
Do you ever think you’ll be able to kick the habit?
“At New Year’s, I declared 2012 the year I slow down. So far, I’ve spent a week in Tahoe, a week in Colorado and have trips (both for work and pleasure) booked to Savannah, Florida, NYC, Virginia, DC, San Diego, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica–and that just takes me through May! Long story short, I don’t foresee stopping or slowing down anytime soon (if ever).”
How do we find you to stage an intervention?
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Kristin. I sincerely hope your powerful story can help others
surrender to recover from this awesome devastating addiction. :|