#Stellenblog 2016: Meeting The Blonde Abroad
At the third annual Stellenblog, I got to meet one of my favourite travel bloggers – The Blonde Abroad. Kiersten is one of the leading solo female travel bloggers in the world and I struggle to remember a time before I started reading her blog.
What is Stellenblog?
Stellenblog is an annual event hosted by the Stellenblog Experience. It has been running since 2014 to help grow Stellenbosch’s domestic and international tourism market share. The event invites some of the most influential bloggers around the world to come spend a week in Stellies and discover all that it has to offer.
How I Got invited to Stellenblog
It was only by pure chance this meeting even happened. I managed to get an invite to the opening of Stellenblog 2016, by being on Twitter at the right time to see a tweet by Natalie Roos giving out invites.
After just coming back from a Travel Massive event earlier that week, I was super keen to meet more of the amazing South African bloggers and without thinking twice tweeted back. I never suspected that one of the bloggers I read on a daily basis would be coming to South Africa for this event.
Meeting Kiersten at Stellenblog 2016
On Monday afternoon, I patiently waited for the shuttle bus from V and A Waterfront to the secret Stellenblog destination. When we arrived at the gorgeous L’Avenir Estate I had to pinch myself. The set up was beautiful and the location was simply breathtaking.
After grabbing my first (of many) glasses of wine from Neethlingshof Wines, I ran into another female blogger who has become more and more influential in my life over the past few months.
Dawn Jorgensen is a South African travel blogger who runs the Cape Town chapter of Travel Massive. I met her earlier this year after hiring her for a wildlife conservation Twitter Chat. Since then, she has welcomed me into the Travel Massive family and helped me have more faith in my travel blogging dreams.
Later in the evening I spotted Kiersten across the room and rushed over to say hi before my nerves got the better of me. I was just expecting a quick hi and maybe a photo – but I got so much more. She hugged me, we got a glass of wine together and she let me talk her ear off about Afrika Burn, video editing and her plans to come back and explore Africa some more.
She is such an incredibly genuine and friendly human being. Despite all that she has achieved, you can tell she has zero ego and is fully present in the moment. I swear this must be how Beliebers feel when Justin likes a photo of theirs on Instagram.
I fangirled so hard before, during and after speaking with her, I’m surprised I didn’t go full Beatles mode.
Why meeting The Blonde Abroad Meant SO Much
At 25, I thought I was too old to try the travel blogger thing and too young to be location independent. I had no business, I wasn’t a C-level exec and working for a volunteering organisation meant I sure as hell wasn’t bringing home a lot of bacon.
Through reading Kiersten’s blog, I started to feel more okay with following my passion for travel and that this was the right risk for me to take. Our similar background stories and her motto for not following the status quo really resonated and inspired me.
I have finally had the courage to quit my desk job and thrown caution to the wind. I’ve said goodbye to the predictability that comes with a 9 to 5 job and on the 19th of May I will be leaving South Africa for my first solo trip to Thailand for 4 months.
It was a serendipitous moment to have both these strong, independent women at a travel event who have inspired me in so many ways. It felt like life was saying: “Yes you are making the right decision. You can achieve what they have you just need to reach out and grab it.”
Thank you Stellenblog for an incredible evening! It is certainly one I won’t forget and I look forward to being apart of the next one.