Meet Kristen Gill. She is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. Kristen produces content for various publications such as The Guardian, Seattle Times, BBC, NPR, Travel Weekly, and more. Featured as a travel expert on MSN, CBS Travel, and BBC’s “The World” on NPR and PRI. She runs Kristen Gill Media, is a Board Member of Travel Massive Seattle, is a Founding Member of the Adventure Angels, and the Founder and Editor of Preserving Cultures, a magazine devoted to conserving indigenous culture.
How do you feel being a woman in the travel industry?
I feel great about it! I work in adventure travel, which has historically been a predominantly male arena, but over the past years, it’s become more of an open playing field. As an adventure photographer and storyteller, I am oftentimes the only woman on the team, which can be intimidating, but I rely on the fact that my unique womanly perspective is equally as important. I've learned to turn my insecurities into my power. I go out of my way to book with female travel companies and to collaborate with my female colleagues. It's important to me to inspire and mentor the next generation of adventurous women travelers, especially as the sky's the limit in regards to making one's way in this industry. One of my most gratifying experiences this past year was talking to a high school class about my experiences and answering their inquisitive and challenging questions.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I have been living and working in Baja California Sur for the past several years, and each project is different. Some of my favorite projects include:
Working with ex-poachers who turned to tourism to both save endangered sea turtles and to create economic stability in the region.
Documenting the gray whale migration and its importance to the marine ecosystem in the many bays of Baja California Sur.
Interviewing local scientists and biologists about endemic species, flora, and fauna.
Writing articles about ethical wildlife tourism, such as swimming with the whale sharks in La Paz Bay.
Experiencing and writing about the exciting return of the giant manta rays to this region, interviewing scientists who are using state-of-the-art technology to learn more about these elusive sea creatures, and helping to spread the news of the community-backed conservation efforts to keep them here.
Working on a "Guided by Locals" campaign with the tourism board to showcase some of the lesser-known, off-the-beaten-track adventures in the region, and to tell the story through the lens of the locals, who are the true stewards of these lands.
Working with local tour operators and small hoteliers to showcase their offerings in a more meaningful way to a larger clientele base.
Founding an idea (during the pandemic) and forming a team to launch the Baja Sur Explorer's Club, which provides a deep dive into the region and shares many of its hidden gems to both a local and a global audience.
Creating a multi-media interview series with Baja California Sur locals as well as with extraordinary women in the travel and tourism field.
Who are some women who inspire you?
Barbara Walters - She is a super sharp interviewer who does her research homework and is not afraid to ask difficult or uncomfortable questions.
Susan Meiselas - American-born Magnum photographer with whom I took intensive courses in both Seattle and NYC. She was tough as nails, and on one of the days, I went home in tears. But I'll never forget what I learned from her about the importance of editing and creating emotion out of a single image.
Lisa Hennessy - a high school friend (we played basketball together!) who went on to become an Emmy-nominated TV Producer, working with Mark Burnett on such shows as Eco-Challenge and Expedition Impossible. Lisa is a true adventurer with a heart of gold, and she inspires and provides opportunities to many young women in her field. I'm looking forward to her new series on Amazon called "The College Tour".
Anna Pollack - Founder of the Conscious Travel movement and a true visionary in the tourism industry. I was lucky enough to be her roommate while on a life-changing trip to Namibia working with indigenous cultures.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - A bad-ass singer, songwriter, and guitarist known as the Grandmother of Rock n Roll. She influenced the likes of Johnny Cash and Little Richard at a time when there were not many women guitarists, let alone Black and Queer. She was finally inducted into the hall of fame in 2017. Rock on, sister!
My mom and my sisters - Strong women role models are in abundance in our family. They are my true source of strength, resilience, and grounding.
What are you most proud of?
Choosing to attend an all-women's college (there are only a few left in the U.S.) and graduating with honors from Saint Mary's College of Notre Dame, where I learned to hone my writing skills as well as the art of critical thinking. I'm proud to be a part of their mission to educate women who change the world. Go Belles! Believing in myself to leave a financially secure job to chase my dream job of being a travel writer. Being a woman capable of traveling solo and exploring 'off the beaten track' places many wouldn't visit---and showcasing how incredible these places are. My openness to people of other countries and cultures, and working for animal conservation and protection. Not shying away from new experiences, and actually chasing them down like it's the last bus of the night. Inspiring other women to venture outside of their comfort zones, face their fears, and change their lives.
Surviving my many adventures! Finding humor and 'capturing the story' in every scenario--even the crazy ones, such as breaking a leg in Macedonia, eating a poisonous plant in Namibia, and getting a rare blood infection while traveling that nearly killed me, crippled me for months, but ultimately gave me a new lease on life! Starting my own boutique media business from scratch, and all the hard work that entails. Kristen Gill Media has been around since 2014, with some exciting new projects lined up. Stay tuned! Co-founding the Adventure Angels, which supports women from developing nations to attend the Adventure Travel World Summit, where they can get a leg up on the most recent tourism trends and knowledge and network with people at a global level that they would not have been able to otherwise. So far we have supported women from Nicaragua, Tajikistan, Moldova, and India.
How can we (the readers + global community) support you and your endeavors?
Tune into my website at https://kristengill.com
Become an explorer at https://bajasurexplorer.com
Join our Clubhouse talks on everything from ex-pats living and working in a different culture, to travel writing tips, and travel trends in general.
Share my articles, talks, and podcasts on ethical wildlife experiences, sustainable travel, and community-based tourism.
Reach out with ideas on ways to collaborate. I'm open!
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also connect with me on social media:
Facebook business: https://www.facebook.com/kristengillmedia