Interview of the month May with Kiona

Every month Lisanne interviews another traveler. This time we spoke with Kiona, the lead editor and contributing author of the blog with the provocative name How Not To Travel Like a Basic Bitch. Her travel blog was made with the primary purpose to make travel accessible to everyone. She believes that if more people travelled, the more humans would have mutual respect for each other and a greater appreciation for the things they have at home; making the world more about love and less about hate. Plus, on her blog you can read various tips on how to travel without being a basic bitch. Read on for the Interview of the Month May with Kiona.

Hi! Thank you for your time! Please give us a short introduction about yourself.

Hi! My name is Kiona, like Fiona with K. And just one word, like Madonna. I am from Hawaii (hence my super strange name), but my mom is Korean and my dad is Austrian, my stepmom is Palestinian and most of my cousins are Lebanese. I now randomly live in Austin, Texas, which is really close to Mexico. And since I appear racially ambiguous, people think I am Latina. So I guess I am that, too! I even speak Spanish to fully commit to my Latina roots. But basically, I am everything and nothing at the same time. I am culturally confused.

My day job is a nutritional epidemiology lecturer and researcher at a university, super boring. I also manage multiple side businesses. But my real passion is petting other people’s puppies.

Interview of the month may with Kiona

Of course, we want to have a quick word about your blog name because well, it’s quite provocative! We found the definition of a basic bitch on your website here.

If possible, can you explain what you mean with “traveling as a basic bitch” in a few sentences?

Haha, it’s kind of hard to explain, but basically it’s what we call in Hawaii respecting the aina or respect the land. When you are visiting a place, remember you are just passing through and you should treat that place with respect. Instead of being so caught up in your own selfish wants and needs, are you being mindful of the place another person calls home? Are you being kind to locals? Do you respect the customs, preserve their landscapes, and learn from the environment?

Or are you coming solely to show off to your friends. And actually disrupting the land, and disrespecting the people who live there? If it’s the later you are 100% a basic bitch. If you walk away from a travel experience not learning a thing about the people or yourself, you’ve just had yourself a basic ass experience and should have just stayed home.

 How did you come up with the name?

Oh, so embarrassing. So I was actually down a bottle of wine when I bought this domain name. My travel BFF and I had been going internationally every couple of months and found that there was not a lot of up-to-date information on more obscure places. The most helpful research we did came from blogs, and even then, some of those bloggers were what we would call basic bitches.

Meaning they advocated being drunk all the time, were not fashion forward in their pictures (can you please leave that sack dress at home, you look like a potato), and really we just wanted to know what the transportation system was like and if it was a safe country to travel. So we had been talking about starting this blog for years and I drunkenly bought the domain name and didn’t touch it for 6 months.

Cuba was the catalyst for me starting the blog. It was incredibly hard to navigate even though I knew the language. There were lots of unwritten rules and nuisances. I also knew 1,001 people would be asking me how to do it as an American, so I finally wrote my first post and the rest was history.

Interview of the month May with Kiona

Do you ever get nasty comments about your blog name? And tell us about the positive feedback too!

I literally get nasty comments about everything. My outfits, my pictures, my blog name, my blog posts, everything! It used to hurt my feelings, but now I live for it. If people don’t hate you, do you actually exist? So, I love all my fans!

And yes, some people especially hate my blog name. It is click bait at this point. I was totally tipsy when I made the name and had no idea it was going to have this effect. These are the three types of feedback I get:

  1.  People who immediately write without even reading a blog post or caption. They usually tell me I am degrading to women and am being judgmental. Bitch is a gender neutral term, men can be bitches, too. I am judgmental, but aren’t people who judge me doing the same?
  2. People who laugh. These people are my soul mates. Especially the ones that scroll through to find out if they’re classified as a basic bitch (probably not) and if they are, they laugh about that too and start a conversation.
  3. People who at first hate me, and then start clicking through the blog and realize I’m actually not being judgmental or degrading but find totally useful and agree-worthy tips about how to be smart, savvy, and stylish while also being culturally aware, respectful, and inclusive. Then we end up being best friends.

Lisanne! Which one were you? Haha!

I remember seeing your Instagram handle and I thought, is this for real? I laughed and wanted to know more. Basically, I wanted to know if your account would be full of judgements about  “basic travel bitches”, so the name actually made me click through your captions. And I noticed that you seemed like a funny, genuine person with some great travel tips.

Please give us 3 tips on how not to travel like a basic bitch.

  1.  Don’t wear white tennis shoes with black ankle socks, you are disgracing your country.
  2. Don’t be a country-counter ass bitch. The number of countries you’ve traveled to does not deem you a traveller. And don’t be that person that posts on social media, “Madrid for lunch, Morrocco for dinner!” Yes, bitch, that’s called a layover. The airport does not count as you traveling to a country.
  3. Don’t take a picture looking outside of your airplane window and caption it with #jetlife. I fucking can’t. That is a regular commercial flight. Just be normal!

Okay, enough about your blog. Let’s talk more about YOU. You are currently traveling fulltime right? Or just a lot of trips? Where are you now? Tell us about it!

Girl, no. I am definitely not travelling full time. I’m not sure if that will ever be me. I like my house, I like routine, I like guaranteed paychecks. Not to say you can’t have all these things if you travel full time, but the reality is my garden would die without me.  

I leave the country every two to three months. Because I need breaks and vacations. I am a workaholic and I juggle multiple jobs, businesses and degrees. When I am engrossed in a project, I work really hard and non-stop. So for me, vacations are necessary to have planned in order to give me something to look forward to. And even when I’m on vacation, I feel like I am busy; always moving, learning, growing.

I am currently in Austin just finishing up with degree number four – kill me – and after? Well, who knows Chapter Travel, where the next chapter will be!

Where are you going next?

I am headed back to Cuba, but this time to Santiago de Cuba, to celebrate my one year with my man. After that off to Mexico for a month to do hoodrat things with a few of my followers who have now become my friends. Whoop! By hood rat, I mean; I’m just gonna eat a ton of street food and take a lot of pictures in front of doors.

But in this next year I am hoping to hit Colombia or Australia or both. My destinations really depend on the cost of the plane ticket during the times I have off.

Kiona-Bacalar-Mexico

 What is your favorite destination and why?

So you want me to pick a favorite child? I don’t have one! I know I hate that answer, but it’s true. Each destination has taught me something new. I always seem to meet a cool new person, learn a new thing, understand a new way of life, or if I’m lucky– fall in love with some man… again. I’ll never understand Tinder, because I swear there are so many romances to have in real life. It’s like a never-ending cycle of excitement!

But currently, my favorite country is Mexico. Mexico forever. I keep going back, I can’t stop! And why? Cause tacos. And doors. I love da doors. 

What is on top of your wish list for traveling? Which destination do you really want to visit?

SOUTH KOREA! And North, but let’s not talk about that.

My grandmother moved to The United States from South Korea during the war and I have never actually been to South Korea. I am the worst Asian ever. In fact, I have relatives I’ve never met. Apparently they have pictures of me all around their house, but we’ve never met each other. So I must go.

However, because this is a more personal destination for me, I would want to go with the original Korean, my grandma. She is gangster though, and a hard person to travel with. I mean, she’s been through war. So keeps telling me she doesn’t want to go, but I will trap her. Someday.

Interview of the month may with Kiona

Tell us a funny anecdote that happened during your travels.

I don’t know if this is funny or irresponsible, but my friends and I had just been to the Grand Prix in Monaco and decided to spend the night partying at a small club in Nice, just a train ride away. There, we casually met this British man who does yacht services for the rich and famous in Monaco. After sneaking off to the bathroom, trying to ditch this guy we come out of our stalls and found him blocking the doorway with his dick out as he says, “Oopsies! There it is!”

Not knowing what to do, I ran. And then fell. Down a whole flight of stairs onto the dance floor. Just as the bar was closing and the lights turned on. And the music cut off. It was like a movie. And everyone was laughing – but they were also helpful! I was even laughing at myself, until I looked up and saw him still coming after us. So all three of us kept running. We ran down a few blocks and stopped to catch our breaths.

Then all of a sudden we hear him screaming down this deserted dark street, calling for us and saw him turn down a corner. So we kept running, until miraculously we came to a group of guys just standing around and we quickly hid behind them. I think they kind of knew what was happening because they totally played it cool until the guy walked by. Then we became best friends with those guys!

The guys ended up being from the island of Guadeloupe and were also visiting France at the time. We ended up drinking tequila and smoking hash on the Cote d’Azur until sunrise, pantomiming to each other because our French was as good as their English. So we ended talking a lot about Snoop Dogg because that was the only thing we both understood. We were supposed to meet up with them again at the train station the next day, but never saw them again.

 Tell us the scariest thing that happened during your travels.

An actual really scary thing that happened, happened repeatedly and often, in all 15 cities that I traveled to in Morocco. I was sexually harassed and assaulted. A lot. Not in the most horrifying way you’re thinking of, but touched nonetheless without permission.

I always try to warn people before they go that if you are not in a large group or protected by another Moroccan. Because, men will find their hands onto your privates without your permission whether you’re sitting at a restaurant or walking around in the street. In my case, it was all men, from shop owners to riad managers. Even the time I hired a guide, he was the worst sexual predator of all and tried to climb into my sleeping bag in the desert or would wait for me to separate from my male companion before trying to touch me inappropriately. He harassed me all the way to America, leaving voicemails trying to pay for my ticket to return and then calling me a bitch when I ignored him.

It’s not a destination I would recommend and actually had to take a break from blogging about it, because my words were tainted with too many negative memories. I left Morocco mentally exhausted, and it took me a while for me to be comfortable in crowded spaces where people could touch me again.

BUT the good thing is, after you get sexually assaulted in Morocco, you grow these enormous balls and don’t feel the need to answer to anyone or put up with anyone’s shit. So thanks for the confidence boost, ya nasties!

Interview of the month May with kiona

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t know. But I definitely want to be a dog mom. I also wanna be totally zen and peaceful. But I don’t know if I can sit still that long. Also, I want maybe some abs? And maybe to do the splits. Yeah, 5-year goals.

Do you have ANYTHING else to add?

Hmm. Well if you’ve made it to the very end of this interview, then obviously we’re friends already and you know my whole life so follow me on @hownottotravellikeabasicbitch on Instagram and send me a DM so I can be your friend, too.

Thank you, Chapter Travel! Instagram-besties!

Thanks Kiona! Be sure to have a look at How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch’s blog and her Instagram page.