The horse can be the ultimate travel companion, unveiling a different view and experience of the world. How do you pursue a passion while traveling around the world on a horseback? The Equestrian Adventuress – Krystal Kelly shares her crazy, horsey adventures, including a key ingredient in being able to complete the brutal Mongol Derby. In this fun and engaging episode, we speak about grit and determination, how traveling changes your mentality, and creating awareness for women empowerment.
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The following is an extremely summarized version extracted from the transcript of the full conversation. I strongly recommend listening to the podcast for all the valuable insights. You will also hear more detailed and contextualized stories from the guest(s), as well as pointers from me in a two-way conversation.
Tell us about yourself and your traveling style?
I am from California, America, and I left the USA in 2010. A little while ago, I didn’t know it was possible to work with horses in different countries. I didn’t know that was a thing. I’ve always wanted to work with horses professionally. I am certified, and I just had it in my brain. I was doing it. I just went on the internet and found a job online. I just thought this is my chance – I have to do it. The first job overseas that I experienced impacted me because seven fellow grooms helped care for the horses. We were all from different countries. I didn’t get many days off. When I did, I went to see things. I’ve traveled to over 60 countries, and I have worked professionally with horses in about 20. I’ve worked in countries like Egypt, Romania, Italy, India, and many other places. I’m constantly traveling and working with horses. I’ve recently started my own online digital nomadism thing. I have a YouTube channel and a podcast, making videos of my travels and riding. I have made an Amazon Prime series where I rode on horses around Greenland for a week.
Before that trip, I didn’t even know you could do that. Here I was in Greenland riding on these horses, and icebergs were floating right next to us. Like cracking and breaking, and the horses weren’t even bothered. They’re so used to the icebergs. It’s pretty cool. I’ve traveled to lots of countries and started writing clubs. I’ve begun the only riding club in Bhutan. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of cool people. Greenland is one of those places where you can take all the selfies you want, and no one will be in a single picture. It’s a gorgeous country, with friendly and interesting people. It’s a weird place, and it feels like you’re on Mars – it doesn’t seem real.
How did you get into horseback riding in the first place?
Horses were for the rich in California. It was not affordable for my family at all. Luckily, I annoyed the crap out of my parents, begging for riding lessons, and I promised to work in exchange for paying for riding lessons. I could only afford to ride horses two times a month. It was a massive deal for my family because it was expensive and far away. But I loved it so much. I always knew that I would work with horses someday. I didn’t know anybody who had done that before. I didn’t realize it was possible. Everyone in my family tried to tell me to get a real job. I just knew that I couldn’t live without horses. I knew I needed to work with horses because I loved them so much. I turned 15 years old and got a job at a horse’s stables. I went to school and worked at the stables – I never stopped. In the USA, I found schools where I could learn about horses. I got certified in the USA as a trainer and a coach. Then, I had in my brain that I needed to go to Europe because that’s where all the horsey people are.
What exactly do you do when you say you work with horses around the world?
People travel the world, working different jobs. There is a community of job hoppers that do that, and there are websites where people post volunteer jobs. I never worked as a volunteer. There was a horsey job website called Yarden Group, and there are lots of jobs in other countries. I started on that website because I didn’t know anyone overseas. Through word of mouth, people kept referring me to jobs. I went to Romania and got a job, because of a girl I had met. The first job I had in Italy was also word of mouth and an accident. I had Sheikhs flying me out to Egypt – once you start, it’s easy. There is a lot of job opportunities out there. Especially in India or different countries, they needed certified people to help the locals because they didn’t have access to certifications or high-quality schools for horses. As soon as they hear that you’re interested in working, it is doable to find work.
I love what I do. I worked with a lot of high-end students. It’s wealthy people who have horses and in a lot of different countries. You work with well-off people, and you must work in a certain way. You must make sure that the horses are perfect, and everything is perfect. I was managing riding clubs, and I brought in architects and designed a facility for seven horses, and none of them was saddle trained. I had like a team of five or seven men who didn’t speak English working underneath me. I had to show them everything. I had to teach them how to train all the horses and put saddles on them. I had some exciting experiences, and they learned a lot about horses.
What are challenges you faced when starting the first riding club in Bhutan?
I was living in India at the time. I had seen a picture of the Tiger’s Nest Temple, a famous temple in Bhutan. I somehow found that picture on the internet, as soon as I saw it, I had to go to Bhutan. I browsed for hours to find out if there were horses in Bhutan. I researched, and there was a $300 a day fee for tourists. I was poor living in India. I couldn’t afford 300 US dollars a day to visit this country. I was 22 years old at the time, but I had it in my brain, I’m going to Bhutan.
Within a week, I was on a flight to Bhutan because I had found one photo on the internet of a horse. I emailed the guy who had posted the photo, and it belonged to a man who owned a tourism company. He said he wanted to make a horse-riding tour in Bhutan. It didn’t exist. He said he would pay me to create the only horse-riding tour in Bhutan. So that’s what I did. I was on a plane, and I was in Bhutan for a month. I didn’t have to pay tourism fees as I was there to work. I got to see Bhutan, the Bhutan that tourists don’t get to see. When I arrived, the guy who owned the tour company didn’t tell anyone I was coming to teach them horse riding. They all just kind of stared at me – they didn’t even know women could ride horses. We had the most fun, Bhutanese people are so happy, and they laugh. They’re just such amazing people. I had lots of fun, some scary situations if you’re on remote trails, no one can help you. If somebody falls off, I must make sure everyone gets home alive. The horses are all trained, and everything is safe. I’ve returned to Bhutan twice since. I brought my husband along with me for one of the trips and my mom for one of the other trips – they both got to come, and it was a lot of fun to show them.
How do you ensure the safety of your riders?
I brought my mom two years ago, and she had to take riding lessons just for this trip. I told her if you’re going to come for this trip, you need to take riding lessons to prepare, you need to walk, trot and canter before you arrive. So, she was preparing for this trip. Bhutan now has a rescue helicopter. So, if anyone falls off, we can get rescued. That’s not the goal here. Mom was already nervous about this horse because we don’t go for a little hour-long ride. We ride for five, six hours in the wilderness. And we don’t ride and come back to the stables we go, and we sleep somewhere, and we camp, and then we ride again. Yes, it can be dangerous. If I’m training the horses, the goal is to make everyone safe and fun. But you must know how to ride and understand how to stay on. Things can happen. You can fall off; you must be ready.
How long does it take to pick up the foundational skills necessary for horse riding?
So, there’s a couple of factors here. First of all, you need to take some riding lessons, depending on which country you are in, you want to make sure that you’re taking classes from a place that knows how to teach. Sometimes you’ll show up in a country, and they’ll put on a show. You don’t want to take lessons there. If you find stables where you can take riding classes, I would tell them your goal. Your goal is not to be a professional, but you need to walk, trot and canter safely on a trail and have fun that way. It will take a few months to get the foundation skills. But the more you ride, you’ll be able to pick it up quickly; and be able to stay on safely and not die.
It is very technical. A bicycle doesn’t have a brain, so you learn how to control it. That’s the first step. And for lots of riders, that’s hard. You get on the horse, and suddenly you realize the ground is a lot farther away than you thought it would be. The horse is moving, and there are so many moving parts. First, you need to learn how to control your body and what you’re doing. You need to know how to talk to your horse and say, let’s stop now, or let’s go, or turn and do all these essential things. There are multiple components. So, it is a sport, and you will feel the burn; you will feel muscles that you didn’t know you had. If you’re doing a long ride, like five hours in the saddle, you might want to get a little sheepskin cover for it, so your bum’s not sore. You can learn how to do it and be safe and walk, trot and canter.
Why do you enjoy horse riding so much?
Yeah, and that’s why I do what I do. There is a science, and many technical things go into it. Horses are amazing, majestic, noble animals. It is worth traveling and seeing countries on horseback. The locals treat you differently. The scenery is different. Just everything about the experience is different because it’s not just you hiking up the mountain by yourself. You have this partnership with an animal, and you guys are climbing this hill together or galloping across the desert together, and they talk to you. When you ride into an incredibly remote town, and you’re sitting on a horse, the locals are amazed. They shout and wave at you and invite you for tea or dinner. Everyone loves and respects horses. We discovered different countries and landscapes, and it was all from the back of a horse; it’s a great way to see a country.
Do you find it easy to find trips that align with your passions and goals?
Yeah, definitely. The terrain can change your ride and the type of horse you’re riding, for example, if it’s very mountainous, like Bhutan, you might not gallop as much because you’re climbing up to the mountains, but they’re like little mountain goats, some of the steep things that they’re going up and down. You’re just holding on to them. In other countries, like when I was working in Egypt, it’s all desert. Every morning we would take the horses on a loop around the pyramids; that was their exercise plan. The horses would be fresh and feeling good; they want to run, you want to run. It was so much fun. I would race many of the local Egyptians, and I would beat them; they’d find it hilarious for a woman to win. I own two horses now, and they travel with me on my adventures. My horses have now been to three or four countries. My husband didn’t know anything about horses; I taught him to ride. He was an engineer and astute, so he has a lot of inspiration. But he’s not good at sports at all. If I throw something at him, he couldn’t catch it. At first, I thought it wasn’t going to work. He loved it so much, and he loves to gallop. He has a horse now, so we had this crazy idea. We lived in England, and we always wanted to go to Ireland. We brought our two horses to Ireland, and we spent two months riding them; we didn’t have any plan. I bought these two cheap saddlebags from Amazon. My horses had never seen those before. I threw them on their back and saw how they reacted. They were both fine with it, so we’re going on this trip. We were knocking on stranger’s doors, asking for a place to stay every night, which was a bit stressful, but people are amicable.
Most of the time, we always found a place to stay; it was a lot of fun. It makes you feel alive; we got on our horses in the morning, we started walking, and in the evening, we stopped, pitched our tent, and we would do the same thing the next day. I remember everything was in slow motion; I could see everything. My brain could finally process the scenery; it was an exciting experience. We would ride about 30-35 kilometers in a day. We would look at this big hill or mountain and decide we’re riding over it and then down into the valley and, and next, the ocean. The perspective of distance takes on a whole new meaning.
Does it feel like a different world when you’re on horseback compared to hiking?
Yeah, how many details would I have missed? All those tiny ruins? Or those little buildings? How many of those would I’ve driven past and saw it for a second? Then it would have been gone from my memory forever. But now I see them, at three miles an hour, it’s ingrained in my memory.
Tell us about your experience of the super brutal Mongol Derby?
The Mongo Derby, it’s a 1000-kilometer horse race in Mongolia on semi-wild Mongolian horses; if they want you off, they’re going to get you off. I finished in 10 days; it takes between seven to 10 days to complete. It’s like the Pony Express, in the USA, they used to gallop their horses to deliver the mail and every, 10 miles or so, there would be a fresh horse, and the boys would jump off, get on the new fresh horse and start galloping another, 10 or 20 miles. The Mongol Derby, a fresh horse, is waiting for you every 30 or maybe 40 kilometers. You have to choose which horse you’re going to take for the next leg.
Every day, you’re riding 150 kilometers or more. I think I was riding three horses every day, some days, maybe four. It’s a race; you’re going fast, and they are not fully trained. It would take three Mongolian men to put on the saddle. They’re incredibly excited, very ready to go. I would check my GPS to see which direction I need to go; then, I would jump on the horse. Before I could get my feet into the stirrups, the horse would take off at full speed. They don’t stop for 30-40 kilometers. They keep running. I think 48 riders started, but only 22 riders finished. Not many people finish, statistically. I was one of the ones that finished. I wasn’t really in it to win it. There was another rider from France. He was a showjumper, and his riding style was similar to mine. He was hilarious. On day three, I was miserable, so I decided to team up with this guy, and we’re going to conquer it together. We crossed the finish line together, and it was a lot of fun. Well, painful fun. So that’s the gist of the Derby.
These horses are outstanding and used for racing. I learned how to say in Mongolian and give me your fastest horse, please. The Mongolian men would size me up and talk about me. Once all of the men followed me into a tent. I didn’t speak a word of Mongolian, but I knew that they were talking about me. Luckily, there was a translator that happened to be at that station. I asked him, what are they talking about? He asked the head Mongolian honcho guy, what are you talking about? He said they had a special horse for me. All of the men take me out, and they bring me this horse. It was the most boring-looking horse I’ve ever seen in my life. It was small; it was brown, it didn’t even have any markings. It was just the brownest, boring horse ever. They saddle up this horse, and I go to get on, and it launches itself. It was like a plane taking off; it just launches itself. For the next 40k, this horse galloped, full speed, like the fastest horse I’ve ever experienced in my life. I had some other riders who tried to keep up with me; we left them so far behind that they had no chance. I was just gone. I remember I wanted to stop and check my GPS, but I couldn’t stop him. So, I looked at the biggest mountain I could find, and I pointed him in that direction. He galloped to the top of this mountain, finally slowing down just enough for me to check my GPS. I turned him around, and he galloped full speed down the mountain and kept going. That horse was crazy, but I loved it.
It was the most fun I’ve had, and I will forever remember that horse. When you pull up in the horse station, they have vets that check the horses to ensure they are healthy and okay. They check the horses’ pulse because if the pulse is down, that means they’re very fit, and I didn’t push him too hard. That was his special pony; I was thrilled that I got the special horse.
How do you control a wild horse?
Most people go to the Derby, trying to control the horses. Or they try and ride the horses like they’re westernized horses, like first world horses with first world problems. Those horses don’t care; they’re wild; if you start fussing with them, or messing with them, trying to do stuff, they’re going to buck you off and keep going. They don’t need you.
I remember at one point on that same horse, there were terrifying Mongolian steps where there are Marmot holes, and you can’t always see them. At that speed, if a horse puts its foot in a Marmot hole, the horse is going to flip, it’s going to crush you, you’re probably both going to die. I remember telling myself; this horse lives here. He knows what a Marmot hole looks like. I’m going to let this horse do what he knows how to do. I’m not going to tell him what I think he should do at all, and that’s what I did. I dropped the reins, and I just let him choose the way as long as he ran in the direction that I wanted him to go. I didn’t care, and I didn’t fuss with him. So, you must use your instincts, your common sense. In Mongolia, everything made sense to me. I used my intuition and my gut. If you try and read it like a map, if you’re pulling out your iPhone, like where’s Starbucks, you’re not going to make it.
I remember I did get a horse; he was horrible to ride; it was awful with terrible horses. If you get a horse, which is very lazy, you can’t ride for 40 kilometers, kicking it and trying to make it go because you’re going to wear yourself out, the horse is going to win, or he’s going to buck you off. So it takes two and a half hours on a fast horse to get from one horse station to the next, on a slow horse with mountains and marshes, it took me seven hours; I just kind of accepted the fact that I was riding a donkey. You can’t build a huge bond with the horse, but seven hours is enough; that horse and I can understand each other and develop mutual respect. We have to coexist, and hopefully, we both make it to the horse station.
Do you view your horses as travel companions?
Yeah, they have opinions. They have personalities; every horse is different. You’ll never ride the same horse twice. We own two horses, but every day is different with them. We had no way of preparing the horses for semi-trucks traveling 80 miles an hour next to us on our trip to Ireland. Do you know what I mean? Now, that’s where you find out how much that horse trusts you. So, it’s an experience. They have a soul; they have a mind, a personality, they have a heartbeat, it’s not just you and your team. The horses know better than us. It’s better just to let the horse pick their path or choose their way. The exception is if you’re a trainer. I’ve worked with baby horses; these are interesting to ride because sometimes they make bad decisions.
Have you had any misadventures before and been injured?
I’ve fallen off horses; that’s just inevitable. I have been to many hospitals in many countries that you probably don’t want to visit. That was, you know, something I had to get used to. I’ve never had something that bad that I needed a helicopter. If no one is there to help me, I find a way to overcome challenges. If something breaks, even in Ireland, we were trying to find a place to stay for the night, or we had a hurricane coming, we always managed to find a way. That’s what happens in travel; you always find a way. You meet somebody friendly, and they help you.
The worst fall I’ve had would have been in Cairo. It was a showjumping accident. My horse stopped at the jump. It was quite a big jump; it was 1.30 meters. My horse stopped just in front of it. It was a horse that had never stopped for me before, so I don’t know what happened. It happened so fast that I just flew into the jump, and my leg somehow swept the metal pole. There was a little wire poking out for some reason, which sliced my leg open. I was so high on adrenaline, I got back on the horse and went to jump again. My coach had been giving me a lesson, and he called me over, and I’m holding my leg off the saddle, and he looks at me, like, what are you doing? The grooms take my horse, and I go to the bathroom.
You see, I knew it was terrible before I saw it. But I was so kind of focused on my legs that I didn’t even realize I didn’t shut the door to the bathroom. I pulled my pants down and looked at my leg, and I hear my coach say, we must go to the hospital. The journey was fast and bumpy. I think I was 21 years old at the time. I have all these male doctors around me. I don’t think they’d ever seen something like that; he had to stitch me up; I had to get 32 stitches. They had to sew the muscle and the leg; it wasn’t good. The doctor said that I wouldn’t walk at all or ride for the next six months. It was not a fun situation. It never occurred to me to go home to America, I stayed in Egypt, and I continued to work. I’ve just moved on with my life.
What is your mindset or mentality when you go on risky adventures?
As a female traveler, there is a risk of safety. That’s just an unfortunate thing as women; we must deal with. Then there’s an aspect of taking risks, my courses or challenges, and problematic situations. I think my mindset and personality like challenges. I like the idea of doing things that other people aren’t doing. I think it might feel like, what am I thinking; this is so stupid; I’m in pain, this isn’t fun. But at the same time, something magical happens the more you do these kinds of experiences or challenges. You understand what you’re capable of, and you see how resilient you are. I don’t think it’s something special. I believe anyone can learn this.
I don’t look at myself like I’ve done something others can’t. I started the day I got on the plane to work in Egypt. That was the scariest moment for me because that was the day of the Egyptian revolution. My family called me saying, turn around, come back. If you go there, you’re going to get kidnapped or killed. I’m not saying everyone should do it. There are certain situations where you need to be smart, but I just had this inner voice inside me that said no, there are friendly people everywhere. I don’t care what religion, I don’t care what language, I don’t care what country you’re from, there will always be friendly people to help you, there’s always going to be a way to overcome whatever challenges you face. That’s the mentality I had. I’ve never been proven wrong. I’ve always had somebody friendly swoop in and save the day or invite me in or, whatever it is that I was facing, or I conquered that challenge on my own; you find out what kind of person you are. When you can do those kinds of challenges and think back to my life in America, the problems I used to have are minor; I almost cannot go home to the US anymore. Just because I find everyone else’s issues stupid, and I’m sure many of the listeners find this.
I remember I had one friend; I stopped talking to her because I would call her, I was excited about my adventures, and she would be talking about guy problems. I couldn’t cope with that anymore. Once you’ve started doing this and find out what you’re capable of, you almost can’t go back to what you were doing before. I’m at the point that I need something so wholly insane to top the last thing I did.
What would you say to people concerned about the negative side of traveling?
I think people are terrified of bad things. I lived in India for two years; no offense, but every other person was trying to scam me out of money. People trying to grab my boobs every day was a fight for me. Yes, there are many terrible things, but you know what I learned? I adapted, and I figured out how to deal with it. I figured out how to overcome it. I figured out the secret sauce of having fun there and being safe and checking all those boxes. Yes, it’s maybe not for everyone, and there are many obstacles, but it made me who I am. Now when I travel places, I can see the trouble because I think you need to take it and learn from it every day of your life. Also, remember to laugh at those challenges. It’s going to make the most exciting story later; someday, you could be on a podcast telling your stories.
I think it helps empower you, especially as a woman. I lived in Egypt for two years; I do speak Arabic. I was in Florida walking around at nighttime. I’m walking, and suddenly, these five men start catcalling me; in Arabic, I knew what they’re saying. I stopped, spun on my heels, and they’re all giggling at each other because they think I don’t understand. I tell them in Arabic, watch yourself, don’t ever speak to a woman like that. I turned on my heels and walked away. They went dead quiet and kept their eyes to the floor. They were ashamed that they had done that. I felt so cool. I remember walking away from that, thinking I had probably just saved many women from getting catcalled by these boys. I’m glad that I could handle it and that it wasn’t some girl who couldn’t. I walked away from that feeling like a badass.
Talk to us about female empowerment and how that fits in with your business?
Equestrian Event Dresses started as a Facebook group; it exploded. I found out that many women in western countries ride horses. Many women also really want to travel, and they want to travel on horseback; they all joined the community. We have a podcast; we have a YouTube show; we have an Amazon Prime; we have all kinds of things happening. It started because I was traveling to all these places, and at one point, I felt alone; I was always so low. I was always doing all these awesome things, and I just felt like there must be more than me; I can’t be the only one doing this. I remember I was sitting in Bhutan, and I was training all of those men and one of the young girls who was a couple of years younger than me came up to me; she was the daughter of the man of the house, we were staying, so she wasn’t involved in the horses at all. But she had been watching me every day coming back from work with these men and having all these stories, and she saw that I was kind of in charge. She came up to me shyly one day, and she said she didn’t know women could ride horses. She didn’t think women could work with horses. But now she knew; those words meant something to me because I noticed that even when I was traveling, I was the only woman there sometimes; I could convince one or two girls to ride with me. I did notice a shift in the men’s attitudes because suddenly it was possible. And the men would come to me, and they would ask me questions about horses or see what I’m doing, and they were curious. It meant something to me.
I wanted to share women’s stories, not my stories, but other women who are doing amazing things with horses in different countries. Some of them are locals doing amazing things with horses; we have a woman from India. She’s the only female dentist, like a horse dentist. We have women coming on our podcast sharing their stories. When I went to Greenland, I filmed a woman who co-owns the horse riding tours with her husband. She’s a super cool lady. I interviewed her a lot, and it’s just a lot of fun to travel to these places and connect with women and see things from their perspective.
I was in South America and Brazil; I got invited by a girl. She was the only girl who would participate in a 750-kilometer horse race, an endurance race for 15 days. She asked me to come along, and I interviewed her, and things are different when you’re a woman, like when you need to pee; where will you go? You are in an open field. I could share with the other girls an immediate sisterhood. It’s just interesting when you think about something like that, but it happens. The gauchos have no idea that this is a problem. It’s just a passion of mine, and I’ve been lucky enough to do a business out of it.
When I’m traveling, the men are essential to my safety. I’ll give an example; I did a car rally – this is how I met my husband; I met him in Azerbaijan at this car rally. I was the only woman to drive from England to Mongolia and back, solo. I had this situation happen, where my car engine exploded in Kyrgyzstan. The thing is, I had been traveling with this convoy of men and, they were from England, or Germany, they’re from different countries. All these men, British and German, left me there. They got in their cars and drove away, except for my husband, he followed me for a little bit, and then he also drove away.
I know I’m able to handle myself, but just from this perspective, I would love it if men would consider the gravity of that situation. I was a solo woman in a car with no working engine. I know how to handle it; it’s okay. But it’s not an ideal situation for a woman. I’m far from the nearest airport; it’s like a 12-hour bus ride. They all drove away, and they didn’t think anything of it because they don’t have to worry about stuff like that. It’s so important, and I try to help them be aware that they have a responsibility, even if they meet a backpacker, and hang out for a couple of days. You have this responsibility as a man, not necessarily taking care of us, but be aware. Just be mindful that we do have to deal with these things. That by itself makes a big difference for us. I’ve traveled with some men who have saved my life. Just because they were there, it does not just empower women; it’s both.
How do you cope with your passion being your business? And how do you turn it into a viable business?
I think the one thing I did wrong when I started was I tried to do what everyone else is doing. Everyone’s blogging; I need to have a blog. Everyone’s YouTubing; I need to do it. Everyone has a podcast; I need to have one. Everyone’s on Instagram; I must be on Instagram. I tried to do everything, and to be honest, it just killed me, sucked the life out of me because I’m not good. I’m not an Instagrammer. I’m just not; I don’t care. I don’t want to play on it; it is not my jam.
I enjoy YouTube, so you must find the one thing you like for yourself. If you like podcasts, and that’s your jam, you can make it work because you love it. So, the most important thing is you must love it because if you don’t love it, you’re going to quit after a month or a year. If you’re podcasting and you love it, you’re going to keep podcasting and do your thing. Then someday, somebody will pay you, and things will happen. You must love it, don’t try, do everything, pick something you enjoy. There will be emails to deal with or technical things, but that’s all learnable skills. Set yourself like a schedule and be consistent. I’m going to the podcast Monday through Friday, from 8 am until 9 am. Pick a schedule, pick a day, make it a part of your daily habit. When I was in Greenland, I would ride anyway and turn on a GoPro camera.
I love YouTube; I like being on YouTube. I love watching YouTubers; I’m obsessed. My video doesn’t get 500 million views, but I like doing it. I’m already riding the horse; it’s no effort for me, so why not throw it on YouTube? If it makes money, great. If it doesn’t, whatever. That’s how it starts. As far as having a business and a passion, I would say you need to treat it like a business; you need to take it seriously. It would help if you were consistent. You need to learn the skills required to have a website or whatever basic things you need. Also, connect with other people if somebody sends an email, respond.
Reach out to people. If you don’t know how to do it, I promise you; there’s somebody that does. If you want to make money podcasting, reach out, send emails; worst-case scenario, they don’t reply to you, and then you harass someone once more or find someone else. Network with them, talk to them. The great thing about travel is, I feel like we are a tribe; there is a community, and I would never turn another traveler away. So many people havehelped me in my travels. If you messaged me asking for a place to stay on your travels, I would help you. I think a lot of travelers are like that.
I don’t think I ever really met a traveler that would turn you away. If they could genuinely help you, they would. Pursue one thing, and keep working at it until you can monetize it. Once you start making money with it and realize it’s possible, it gets easier to make more money. If you are consistent, people will start listening to you or reading your blog, or watching your videos, and they’ll start sharing it with their friends. It will grow, but you must stick with it. Don’t give up.
You don’t have to have all the answers right away. I wish when I first started, somebody told me I could make money on YouTube; I didn’t even know that was the thing. I was traveling around all these countries for so long. It never occurred to me to turn on a video camera when I’m galloping around the pyramids. But you can’t kick yourself for what you didn’t know, don’t punish yourself for it. If it doesn’t make money, don’t compare yourself to others because it will come. When you start making a video, let’s say you get ten views, and one of those viewers comments positively on your video; are you telling me that that comment is not worth it because it didn’t get a million views? If one person listens to my podcast, and it changes their life, then it’s worth it. Hopefully, that person will be kind enough to share it with their friends, and that’s how it happens. Just be true to yourself, share your stories, get the message out there. Please don’t be shy. Don’t avoid being on camera. You can learn how to do that stuff. If you like writing, be a blogger. You can learn how to do it, even if you don’t know how, so don’t worry about it.
How important is perseverance in content creation?
You might be quitting just before that one video you didn’t publish gets a million views. So that one blog could have been it, and because you didn’t do it, you missed out. You don’t want to do that; be consistent. Just like when we’re traveling, and we already know as travelers, I’m going to go to that country, and I’m going to have a fantastic time because I’m going to learn from it. We do that naturally with traveling, but for some reason, when it comes to business, we forget that it’s the same. It’s funny, one of my blogs from two years ago, I think I got a paycheck for two cents. I haven’t been making money with that blog for the past year. The blog that I published a year ago made me two cents, whoa! Celebrate those little wins.
We have a book series; it’s true stories, women who travel on horseback doing amazing things. We collaborated, we put it into a book, and one of the biggest mistakes I saw was somebody would send me a story or an idea for a story, then demand a ridiculous amount of money, and the reason that that’s a big mistake is that she missed out. We published the books, and the books are popular. We’ve had over 3000 downloads. Everyone published has their author bio, and they have a link to their blog. All these people who’ve been in my books get all kinds of free traffic and promotions; I have so many people messaging me, saying, I loved her story. I’m stalking her now on Instagram, or I’m buying her other book.
I think the worst thing you can do is not understanding value. When working with other people and other business owners, think about the return of investment on promoting yourself, just sharing your story and sharing your message. Then people are going to findyou. If you share a story, and it’s amazing, I’m going to follow you and stalk you. When I started traveling, I worked for free. I didn’t make any money initially or made such small money. It was a joke; I couldn’t even pay for food. It was so ridiculous. That’s how I started, but I don’t do that anymore. You must be open-minded to do stuff for free initially, be open-minded to reaching out to people, and say, I haven’t gone anywhere. Would you mind if I sent you a blog once a week, be creative, reach out, don’t just close yourself off, and say, I need $5,000 a month; I’m not going to do it for less.
How do you feel the internet helps the opportunities for this generation?
Right now, we’re talking about digital nomadism. For ten years, I was working with horses in different countries. Sometimes I would be in that country for two weeks working at that stables, sometimes, six months or two years. It varied depending on the job. Sometimes people would fly me out; I’d work, and then I’d leave. It differed in all sorts of ways. That’s how I got to see those countries. I didn’t even have any jobs lined up in India. I saw Slumdog Millionaire and decided I’m going to work in India. But I could not find anything on Google about any single horse stables. But I was going anyway, so I booked a ticket; a one-way flight. I just showed up, and I started talking to people, and people wanted to help you. Jobs came from word of mouth; that’s how I got employment in India. I never went on the internet except to find that picture of Bhutan. Once people found out I was in India, I got a phone call every day from somebody wanting me to come and see their horses. You can work in these countries at a physical job or work in exchange for a place to live or for fruit; that’s how I started. There are so many opportunities; if you are skilled in anything. There are people in every country that need those skills; there are so many opportunities. Now, especially we are so connected, it’s way easier to find many of these opportunities; you can fly off without confirmation of a job.