Katie Kendall // @ktkendall
What would you tell those who look to your Instagram for inspiration?
You're not the first person to tell me they've been inspired by following my life "as seen on Instagram," and though I've only been told this a handful of times, it never fails to surprise me.
I've never specifically asked, but I imagine these people as having felt mentally inspired: "it would be amazing if I could ride a camel through the desert", or "one day, maybe I could try summiting a volcano too". This freedom to imagine the possibility of something is magical, and I'm honoured that I've perhaps nudged a few people along in getting there.
The funny thing is that I do this too. My Instagram feed is saturated with photos of camper vans, hippie tents, beautiful trails, turquoise lakes and mountain expeditions that seem too out there, or too good to be true. But then I remind myself: if they can do it then so can I.
From there it's just a matter of committing (what I consider to be the easy part), for which I have a simple recipe: a willingness to set aside time, a pinch of bravery, a dash of effort, and voila- an adventure awaits.
For me, it usually starts with booking a non-refundable flight. All this to say: believing you can you do it and not allowing yourself to be talked out of that resolve is my advice, in all things in life.
Having now been on many adventures in many environments, having faced challenges I would have never imagined I'd be able to overcome, I can say with certainty that no matter who you are, you are braver, stronger and more resilient than you know.
I really believe that, and would hate to think anyone would dismiss taking on an adventure for fear of inability, or for fear of fear itself.
It's easy to see your passion for exploration! What would you say that adventure and travel have contributed to who you are?
I think that I've always been an explorer; as a kid with the community center catalogue in hand, I'd always choose something new to try: fencing, sketching... etc. As an adult, I've found that traveling and constantly taking on new adventures has given me the opportunity to face challenges, to learn and to grow from them.
Having to spend countless hours waiting for buses that never came, communicate with people who do not speak a word of english, climb out of the scree to safety on the edge of a mountain face or trek for hours in freezing rain conditions, it makes handling life's day-to-day challenges that much easier.
In fact, not only am I now able to navigate each of the above scenarios, I can honestly say that I can do each of them with a smile and truly enjoy myself despite the difficulties I face. This is the biggest life-enhancement I've noticed and I cherish it every day.
If committing to a trip is the easy part for you. What are the difficult parts?
I would have to honestly say that at this point in my life, no part of a trip is difficult for me.
I have it down to a science: I have a few people in my life that I know I can travel with and who are as willing as I am to be spontaneous and adventurous, I have a fairly big inventory of gear available to me, my vacation schedule at work is flexible and I rarely have reasons to reserve days off to stay around home, and I know what I'm capable of doing.
My biggest challenge (and fear) is not having a trip planned. For example, this summer I was aware of and comforted by my plans for my next adventures: Algonquin Provincial Park, Killarney Provincial Park, and hiking the Adirondacks, Morocco, New Zealand. Not having something in the works causes me stress, and I haven't decided if that's a good thing or not.
Tell us about your travelling and what style of adventure pulls you in.
In the past I've done a lot of international traveling in Asia and latin America.
My real desire was to explore as many developing countries as possible while I was young and able. Recently I've felt a shift in my interests toward outdoor exploration- hiking, canoeing, etc. This means that I've made exploring Ontario, Canada a priority, as well as have tailored my international trips around being outside.
Admittedly, I watch airline seat sales like a hawk and usually book these to save money wherever possible, and tailor the adventure around the location. I've learned that one can find adventure pretty much anywhere.
Where do you feel your bravery comes from? Do you feel it's a muscle you build up over time, like the first one is always the hardest?
Well, I certainly believe that doing something once successfully gives anyone confidence in that particular thing.
Conversely, failing while attempting something new can be quite discouraging. Personally, I hate defeat, so there's an element of competitiveness within myself that I embrace when facing new challenges.
I once read that "courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it". This really resonated with me, because I'm not a fearless person. When I snowboard, I do so slowly and in complete awareness that falling can have serious consequences.
Similarly, I do not embark on a trek or canoe trip without having first prepared myself mentally or with the appropriate gear for the wide array of issues that may arise.
Then there's the very real aspect of being a female. Don't get me wrong- I believe women can accomplish as much as any man can- but there are added dangers for women in certain environments than there are for men.
Very seldom do I come across a male traveler who is as concerned as I am about walking around a foreign place at night, or trusting cab drivers/hostel owners/tour guides/passersby on city streets who claim to be providing sound advice.
Even the savviest of female travellers face threat of sexual assault, and I think that my bravery has come from enduring these challenges and overcoming them.