Kelley founded The Culture Collective and is the Executive Director of the global nonprofit Travel+SocialGood. After graduating from college she didn’t look for a job, instead she went to Uganda and traveled around Europe to discover herself and pave her own path.
1. Why do you travel?
I travel because it makes me feel alive, reminds me of how small I am in this world, and helps me to re-center myself. When you travel, you’re often pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, and it can be a powerful experience to build confidence in yourself. Traveling empowers. I travel because it’s a way for me to meet new people and understand different walks of life, and also reaffirm that we are all connected by our innate need to feel loved. I travel because it helps me to appreciate the little things in my life, and to cultivate meaningful relationships. I travel because it is part of who I am.
2. What do you think of when you think of a woman traveler?
Women travelers are some of the most adventurous, daring and incredible women I know. They are bold in all acts of their lives, from loving deeply to jumping headfirst into crazy, beautiful entrepreneurial dreams.
3. What was your favorite travel experience?
This is a hard one to narrow down because I’ve been fortunate to have so many beautiful experiences. One in particular that comes to mind is gorilla tracking in Uganda. It is incredible to watch these beautiful and strong creatures in their natural habitat, and I cannot describe how it feels when they look you in the eye and you have that connection — it is a very humbling experience. On my own tracking experience, I was lucky enough to encounter a momma and her baby, and I still find comfort in the silence of that memory.
4. Which place(s) do you want to go next, why?
There are a lot of items on my bucket list, but a few that have been on my radar lately are Budapest, the Faroe Islands, and Southeast Asia. I’ve also left a piece of my heart in Rio, and I can’t wait until I can go back.
5. When did you start traveling?
My parents started traveling with my brother and myself before we could even walk. Some of my earliest and dearest memories are of camping in the Grand Canyon. I’ve actually lived in six different states in my lifetime, so I always figure that my wanderlust spirit has been ingrained in me since I was young — and I’ve come to love that I don’t have roots in one specific location.
6. Who do you prefer traveling with?
This is so tough, because every travel experience and partner is unique. But I always say that if you haven’t traveled alone yet, especially if you are a woman, do so immediately. You cannot love others until you learn to love yourself, and traveling solo is one of the best ways to learn to do so. Find comfort in exploring on your own. Learn to be okay with the silence of what’s going on in your head, and letting that settle. Embrace making your own decisions, and doing so on a whim. The lessons you learn, and the confidence you gain from those experiences, are something you’ll bring home with you. Traveling solo is one of the most empowering opportunities you can reward yourself with — take advantage of that gift.
7. Why do you enjoy photographing/writing about travel?
When I create, I feel more connected to the life I am living. It allows me to document my growth in a way that is fulfilling for me, and through blogging, I’ve been blessed enough to have been told that I’ve inspired others to follow their own dreams. If I can create something that empowers just one other woman, especially if it helps her to make a needed pivot in her life, that is something that I hold very close to my heart, and in turn, keeps me motivated to move forward on my own path.
8. What is your favorite souvenir?
I have prayer flags from Tibet, and also a small handmade llama stuffed animal from a child in Egypt. Both of these tokens are reminders for me to have faith in my dreams, and to never let reality get in the way of my imagination.