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Learn About the World From SoCal to South East Asia Through a Traveler’s Eyes

Written By: Susan Krupa Traveling The World With The Backpack Babe
Photographed by: Hunter Cole

The Expert: Kerjan Coleman, Founder of Backpack Babe Blog
Countries Traveled: 35

Local Spice: Kerjan always packs snacks for the plane, usually pistachios and chocolates. But she never takes food with her for the trip because eating the local food is one of her favorite things.

Many talk about dropping it all, quitting their job and venturing out to see the world. Many talk, but few take the plunge. Meet Kerjan Coleman, aka Backpack Babe, who is living the dream. She left it all behind and is now wandering around South East Asia with no plans of what’s next. Her namesake blog is a culmination of everything she’s learned, and what she continues to learn, throughout her quirky travels. With planning tips, destination guides and packing how-to’s, her blog is a cheeky resource for tourists and travelers seeking out their inner adventurer. As a female solo traveler, she has firsthand experience for intrepid globetrotting women. Her fearless spirit inspires anyone who has ever thought about taking off and leaving it all behind.

Q: Where did you get your passion for travel?

Kerjan Coleman: My first trip was a foreign exchange program in Japan. I was 13. It was a two-week study abroad program in a traditional little village on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. We had to go to etiquette classes. The minute I got there, I was fascinated. It was so much fun.

Q: What does your family think of your travels?

KC: My parents are very supportive; it’s great that they have such confidence in me. They were nervous when I told them I was going to South East Asia alone, but I had a lot of conversations with them, especially with my dad, and he said I would only regret if I didn’t go.

Q: What were you doing before you gave it all up to travel?

KC: I graduated from USC and I got a job working as a marketing assistant. I worked for a year at a company that specialized in creating products for beauty and travel. I was always excited working there and seeing the travel products and wanting to have my own travel experiences.

Q: How did you go from working a full-time job to running a popular blog one year later?

KC: There were a lot of different inspiration points that I had. I was reading a book by Kimberly Snyder and in the introduction, she talked about how she didn’t take an ordinary path and how instead she took a three-year journey that spanned the world. It really spoke to me. Additionally, having the support of people around me was very encouraging. It also came at a time when I had just gotten out of a relationship. I was heartbroken and was re-evaluating my life. However, the biggest determinant in making the decision was that I realized I had always wanted to travel but I was waiting for someone to go with me. I realized I needed to live my own life to the fullest and go by myself.

Q: Where are some places that people don’t usually think of when they are planning a trip?

KC: India. I was there five years ago and it was absolutely amazing. With the saris and the temples, there is a real magic in the chaos. Everyone should visit India at some point. Also, Cambodia. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, so if you go to South East Asia, you can’t miss it.

Q: Any stories about getting lost?

KC: I’ve been lost so many times. I can’t think of a specific incident but honestly, it’s a great money saving tip. If you just walk everywhere, it’s cheaper. And if you get lost (which you will) just enjoy it.

Q: Any stories of a time you felt scared?

KC: There was a time I remember distinctly feeling scared when I was living in Paris. I was catching a very early flight so was up before dawn. I was walking down the street with a big suitcase and I saw a group of people who were watching me. The way that they were watching me made me feel very uncomfortable and that something was not right. But in the end, it was fine and that’s when I learned to always book travel plans for arriving and departing during the day.

Q: What’s next on your list?

KC: Morocco. I am dying to go to Morocco.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are nervous about traveling?

KC: The big thing is to reach out to others who have done it. Realize that you are not on your own. People are also hesitant and tend to overthink and overplan. They do this because they aren’t sure if they have the courage to go. I like to think that if you leap, the net will appear. And if you have a fear of just doing it, find that one crazy moment of courage and book the ticket without further thought.

Q: What advice do you have for solo female travelers?

KC: For females, it’s important to be alert and aware of your surroundings. But also, think, act and dress like a local.

Q: What do you always pack in your backpack?

KC: I have a camera for Snapchat and Instagram. Lately, I’ve brought some essential oils with me because they don’t take up much space. It’s a great way to keep everything clean and fresh.

Q: What do you not need for your travels (but people always think they need to take with them)?

KC: When packing, I always go with less than I originally planned. You quickly realize how little you actually need. Things like paper guidebooks aren’t needed for travel anymore. Hair dryers just take up space and often don’t work in other countries. And people take way too many clothes. Keep in mind when packing that if you really need something, you can probably buy it where you are going.

Locations:

Will Rogers State Park
699 Adelaide Dr
Santa Monica, CA 90402

Santa Monica Stairs
699 Adelaide Dr
Santa Monica, CA 90402

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401

W A N D E R L U S T /// With Backpack Babe Blogger Kerjan Coleman.