Ka‘ili was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. She is the oldest of four and grew up playing competitive sports and excelling in school. With plans to play sports after high school, she instead got bit by the travel bug.
My grad gift from my parents was a road trip across the United States with my relatives and siblings. It was a wake up call to how big our world is, and it’s been a glorious adventure ever since!
Ka‘ili earned a full academic scholarship at the Shidler College of Business, and was able to study at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, International College of Seville, and Copenhagen Business School. She received her BBA in Entrepreneurship and International Business in May 2014.
With one year since her graduation, Ka‘ili is currently participating in the World Race, which is an 11-month long journey, to 11 different countries. In addition to travel, business, and serving God, Ka‘ili also loves dancing hula, body boarding, reading, learning new languages, hiking, and performing magic.
Here is my interview with the very inspirational, Ka‘ili:
1. When did you first start traveling? Tell me about your first big adventure.
I first started traveling the summer I graduated from high school. I flew to California to meet up with my relatives, and from there we road-tripped with my siblings across the United States to visit my Mom’s family in Michigan. It opened my eyes to the fact that there is a lot to see in this world!
My first big adventure outside the United States was studying abroad in Seville, Spain the following year. I had the opportunity to learn International Business and Spanish, meet incredible people, and travel to various countries in Europe. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but I loved every bit of it!
2. What made you decide to start blogging?
It was time consuming to write countless messages, and I still wanted to focus on enjoying my time traveling, so blogging became the best solution to share my thoughts and experiences with everyone.
3. Could you tell me a little about the World Race? How did you find it and what inspired you to do it?
The World Race is an 11-month journey to 11 countries around the world, serving the least of these. After breaking off my engagement, I realized the possibilities were endless after I graduated from college. I was looking up jobs in South America at the time, and stumbled upon the World Race. I read more about the program and looked into the routes they offered. I’ve always felt called to do international missions, and knew in my heart this was the next season I felt God called me into.
4. How has the World Race been so far? Where have you traveled to/will be traveling to? What is your favorite and least favorite part about the World Race?
The World Race has been an incredible, crazy, hard, beautiful, intense, and memorable ride thus far. It’s been a whirlwind of a time, and it’s been a wonderful season learning my identity as a child of God, embracing the importance of community, and loving on people around the world.
I’ve lived in Haiti, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. Next month I’ll be living in Vietnam!
My favorite part about the World Race is the people I get to travel with. They’ve become my sisters and brothers—my family. I absolutely love doing life with them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and roses, but through it all we love each other, and encourage each other to be the best we can be.
My least favorite part is packing up and moving so often. We usually move on average every 3-3 ½ weeks or so. Once we finally get into a rhythm with the people, language, and culture, we have to move and start all over again. Imagine culture shock every single month for months. It can be quite intense and overwhelming at times both physically and emotionally, but worth it in the end.
5. What inspires you to travel?
I love to learn and I’m all about firsthand experiences. There is so much to see and so many people to meet! Traveling has helped shape my perspective on life and I’ve been slowly building a strong foundation based on what I’ve experienced versus what I’ve been told.
6. How are you able to travel so often? How can you afford travel?
Scholarships, fundraising, and discipline. You can read more about my secrets to financing my travels here. Bottom line, it’s a lifestyle choice. I’ve made traveling one of my top priorities in my life.
7. Where has been your favorite travel destination, and why?
Wow, that’s a tough decision! I couldn’t nail it down to one, so here are my top three favorites for various reasons:
Latacunga, Ecuador: It’s definitely not a typical destination spot for most travelers, but imagine this. Snow capped volcanoes surrounding you, a pet llama in your backyard, a rose farm up the road, acres and acres of country living, six amazing sisters in Christ, and beautiful, rascal, precious special needs kids just a door away who are waiting to be loved on and played with.
Santorini, Greece: I was visiting my family in Crete and at the last minute decided to book boat rides to Athens and Santorini. I was hesitant at first to travel solo, but I fell head over heels in love with it. Watching the sun setting and casting a glow upon the charming white and blue houses in Oia is something I’ll never forget.
Paris, France: Although many couples go here, I went with my best friends from Spain. There’s nothing like delicious crepes, breathtaking art, great culture, and amazing company. My favorite moment was celebrating Easter with my friends while toasting champagne and eating chocolate at the park next to the twinkling Eiffel Tower.
8. Of everywhere you’ve traveled, where is the one place you could see yourself settling down?
Hmmm, if you asked me this a year ago my answer would’ve been very different. As of right now though, I’d have to say Hawaii. *gasp* I love my family, the people, the unique culture, the outdoors, and the opportunities. It’s the perfect place for me to balance creating a career for myself and raising a family.
9. What is your favorite part about traveling?
My favorite part about traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. Every person has a story, and it blows my mind how different, and yet how similar we all are. Our stories connect us and by learning about others, I’m learning more about myself, and the world we live in.
10. What do you like most about being in a new place?
I love experiencing things for the first time. When I’m in a place for a long time, my senses can get dulled and things become routine. But when I’m in a new place, my senses are heightened and there’s a feeling of excitement mingled with uncertainty. It can be awkward or weird at first, but I look around and realize that eventually it will all be familiar. I take a deep breath, and jump in head first knowing that I’m about to learn more about others and myself!
11. What do you enjoy writing about most?
I enjoy writing about my experiences, and how they’re constantly shaping me and changing me. Writing allows me to become real, honest, and helps me process what I’m feeling.
12. What is the one thing you need to buy on your travels?
I need to buy children’s books in the languages of the corresponding country I’m visiting/living in! It’s something I started back when I lived in Spain. I love either buying children’s books that I’m familiar with in English, or buying a book that’s famous in its respective country. It’s a fun way for me to learn more of the language, remember the trip, and it’ll be a fun gift for my future kids. (Yes, I’m a closet bookworm.) I also collect rocks/shells, but that’s free which is great. Unfortunately though, both these things can be quite heavy and require me to really pick and choose what I pack!
13. What is the one thing you cannot travel without?
I cannot travel without my sarong. It’s been a lifesaver more times than I can count. I’ve used it as a blanket on chilly plane rides, a bed sheet for those questionable hostel beds, a towel for that serendipitous swim/pertinent shower, a makeshift laundry bag to wrap my dirty clothes in, a long skirt/dress cover up for being appropriately clothed in public, the list goes on and on.
14. What’s next for you? What are your future travel plans?
Tomorrow I leave Cambodia and I’m off to Vietnam! I’ll be there for three weeks, and then I’m flying back to America.
In August I’ll be visiting family and friends in California, Nevada, Minnesota, road tripping across the United States and a sliver of Canada to New York, spending a week in Georgia, and driving up to Michigan. This December I’ll be flying home to Hawaii to spend two weeks with my family and friends, along with running the Honolulu Marathon.
On the distant horizon is living in Dubai doing International Business, a month-long Euro trip with my sister, a job in Scandinavia, hiking the Incan trail to Machu Picchu in Peru with my best friend, and Cabo/Bahamas with my brother. Let the adventures and memories continue!