Please introduce yourself
My name is Kristin Templin. I am 38 and I grew up in Ohio, United States but have spent the past 16 years living all over the world. I am currently based in Mexico City. I have worked for some big corporate companies which have enabled me to travel and have also worked remotely as an online ESL teacher and freelance writer as I explore the world!
How many countries have you been to?
I have been to 123 countries.
How many days have you approximately travelled?
That is a bit tough to say. I left Ohio when I was 22 and have spent the past 16 years living in different places around the world. I spent 3 years in New Zealand, 3.5 in Hong Kong, 2 years in Prague and another 2 years in India. I used these places as a base to explore new countries, regions and cities and was off to somewhere new every chance I got! I also backpacked around the world for 18 months and studied abroad 3 times when I was in college. I guess it is probably safe to say that I have spent a lot of time travelling!
What are three of your favourite countries and why?
India and Mexico are my two favourite countries in the world. India is incredibly diverse and although it is a challenging place to live and travel, the good definitely outweighs the bad. From watching the sunrise over the Bay of Bengal to climbing through 1000-year-old ruins in Delhi, India has so much to offer. I lived in Delhi for two years and was constantly going to a new place every weekend. Although people talk about the trains being bad, I loved taking them and usually slept like a baby. There is nothing like going to sleep in Delhi and waking up in Varanasi or Udaipur!
Like India, the diversity of Mexico is astounding. From the cosmopolitan cities of Guadalajara and Mexico City to the quaint colonial towns of San Cristobal and Valladolid, there are some amazing urban spaces. The landscape is stunning with some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, soaring mountains and serene lakes. Like India, Mexico has a plethora of ancient ruins and you can spend weeks exploring Mayan and Aztec ruins. I ended up in Mexico by chance due to COVID and am incredibly grateful that I managed to get “stuck” in such a great country.
The thing that made me fall most in love with India and Mexico though was the people. Warm, friendly and with a great sense of humour, I have always felt welcome in both countries. Some of my best memories haven’t come from seeing the Taj Mahal or Chichen Itza. Instead, they have come from many hours spent in chai shops and cantinas.
New Zealand was the first country that I really “lived” in outside of the US and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The landscape is beautiful and there are so many outdoor activities to choose from, sometimes you don’t even know where to begin! I was able to get a really great job in Auckland that actually paid me to travel around the country and I was lucky enough to explore the whole place from top to bottom. Despite the distance (New Zealand is far from everywhere), I still try and go back every few years to see my friends there.
Are there any countries you don’t enjoy travelling?
I always try to find the positive side of every place I have visited but I really didn’t like Djibouti. It was very expensive and I didn’t really feel safe being alone there. I also didn’t really enjoy Ethiopia. While there are some beautiful things to see, travelling alone there is difficult due to the scams and the constant sexual harassment. I had men show up at my hotel in Lalibela telling the manager that they were supposed to be meeting me, guys follow me when I was walking down the street and was even told that I needed to “hid my beauty” if I didn’t want to be harassed. I was wearing a t-shirt and a long loose skirt at the time.
What are three of your favourite cities, and why?
New York – The city is incredibly vibrant and there is always something going on. I lived there for a while and filled my nights and weekends going to Broadway shows, visiting museums and riding my bike along the Hudson River. It felt like there was something always new to explore in New York and whatever you wanted, you could find it. It is also very easy to get out of the city to go to other destinations along the East Coast or to catch cheap flights (especially to Europe and Latin America).
Hong Kong – There are few cities in the world where you can find skyscrapers, mountains and the ocean within such close proximity. I spent 3.5 years living in Hong Kong and absolutely loved it. While many people think that Hong Kong is all skyscrapers and business meetings, the city has amazing hiking, beautiful temples and an incredibly diverse expat community.
Kiev – Kiev is often overlooked as a destination to visit but it is one of my favorite cities in Europe. The city’s wide boulevards are filled with an interesting array of architecture and there are great restaurants and bars. The people are very friendly and best of all, it is inexpensive to travel there!
What are three of your favourite hotels or places you’ve stayed and why?
Giraffe Manor in Kenya – Giraffes stick their heads into your bedroom window – need I say more? While this hotel is very expensive to stay at, the experience is definitely worth the money. I was only able to stay one night due to the cost but got there right at check in and stayed until the last possible moment before check-out.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in Rajasthan – Otherwise known as the Ravla Khempur, this charming hotel lets you channel your inner Judi Dench! This ramshackle hotel really does feel like the hotel in the movie. In case you haven’t gotten to see it, don’t worry – every night they screen the movie in the hotel’s common room after dinner. The hotel is located in a quaint little village where you can wander around and there are even two adorable resident dogs that live there.
Hotel del Coronado – While I haven’t gotten to stay in this hotel since I was a kid, I still wish I could go back there. The iconic hotel was used in the movie “Some Like it Hot” and makes you feel nostalgic for a different time. It is located right on the Pacific Ocean and it is easy to imagine yourself as “Sugar Cane” frolicking along the beach.
What are the three worst places you’ve stayed?
I can’t remember the name but I once stayed in what is probably the most disgusting hostel in London. The man sleeping below me smelled like rotten cheese and I am 99% sure that there was a drug dealer living in the room. In the middle of the night, the manager came in, called out my name and asked if I was there. I got the hell out of there as soon as possible the next morning.
I also once stayed in a very basic treehouse in Kenya. Although it had good reviews on Booking.com, when I arrived there were no real toilets (just a hole in the ground surrounded by some bricks) or showers and my “room” was full of mosquitos. I was also the only guest staying which kind of freaked me out.
The Prague Train Station – After taking a train from Salzburg to Prague with some of my classmates, we got there and realized that there was NO accommodation available in the entire city. We walked around for hours trying to find something and finally headed back to the train station to sleep. It was a very cold and depressing night.
What are three of your favourite restaurants, and why?
I am not a big foodie AND I am vegetarian so I don’t really have any favourite restaurants. I love eating at Sloopy’s Pizza in Lakeside, Ohio where I grew up and I absolutely adore a place called Gupta’s which is in an area called Okhla Phase 2 in Delhi.
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
Wow – this is a really tough one! I have so many!!
1 – Running a 10k race in North Korea – It was such a surreal experience having North Koreans lined up to cheer me on as I ran by.
2 – Swimming with whale sharks in Mexico – These gentle giants are incredible creatures.
3 – Going on safari in Tanzania – Tanzania was the first place I ever went on safari and it was amazing to feel like you were part of something so much bigger than you. It gave me a whole new respect for nature and started what I am guessing will be a longtime desire to travel through Africa.
4 – Drinking beer with my dad in dodgy bars all over the world – My dad was my favourite travel buddy and although he sadly passed away in 2010, the memories of drinking cheap beer with him across the globe will always stick with me. From Peru to Austria to New Zealand, we managed to find some of the weirdest places to drink beer and bond.
5 – Stand up paddleboarding in Antarctica – While this type of experience may be out of most people’s reach, it truly was spectacular. I could see penguins and seals zooming below me as I paddled around and thankfully, I didn’t fall off the board!
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
I have actually been very lucky and haven’t had any horrible travel moments. I have missed trains and flights and had a few things stolen but overall, I have been very, very lucky.
What are three of your best travel tips?
Pack as lightly as possible. This should be the most important rule. When you have a ton of stuff with you, it not only makes it more expensive to travel (think of luggage fees, having to take taxis instead of buses, etc) but it also makes it more unsafe. It is much harder to jump out of a taxi or get out of a potentially dangerous situation when you have a lot of luggage with you.
Make sure to have enough money. This should be obvious but it pains me to see how many women put themselves in vulnerable situations because they are travelling with very little money.
If you don’t have “emergency exit” money which can help you get home or find a safe place to stay – DON’T TRAVEL! Wait until you do have money and you can buy yourself out of bad situations. Never, ever put your safety at risk.
Always trust your gut. This is especially true for women. If a guy seems dodgy, then trust your instinct.
Do you have any little known travel tips?
I like to use the little plastic containers that you get inside Kindereggs to hold lotion, sunscreen deodorant and all kinds of other cosmetics. They seal tight and are the perfect size!
I hide my valuables in my underwear. Although this isn’t foolproof, I kind of doubt that any thief will go through a bunch of undies to find your passport.