Are you enough? The answer, no matter how you feel in any particular moment, is always a resounding “yes.” Rachel Rudwall believes that every person is “enough” to start an adventure, that stories are born from the unexpected, and that childlike wonder has a place in the life of a traveler. Her optimistic outlook on life and her love of worldwide connections are a breath of fresh air in the travel world. With a travel story from Cuba and a bright personality, Rachel gives us a story and an interview to jumpstart our own travels.
Rachel brings a travel story all the way from Havana, from the moment she realized that the whole world would open up to her the moment she recognized that other people existed. She was walking down the street in Cuba when she was struck by the impulse to tell a woman she liked her hat. After acting on this impulse, their conversation soon evolved into this stranger taking them to see some sweet street art. On the way, they encounter a festival, amazing music, a celebration of a symbol of the revolution. This leads into a store, then to a ramshackle Havana building to buy a special item from a strange apartment. Their host told them all about her life, and helped them to explore the deepest parts of her world. Rachel’s experience never would have happened if she hadn’t commented on a stranger’s hat. Rachel believes you will never truly know someone or have a genuine experience unless you truly get to know the people.
Every experience is either a good experience, or a good story later on. Rachel and Hayden discuss not being able to predict what any journey will bring you, and Rachel adds on how she likes to be surprised, moved, taught, and connected to others in her travels. They talk about the different archetypes of travelers, and how confidence and vulnerability, working in tandem, can bring about the greatest experiences of all. Rachel’s spirit for adventure began and was fostered in the midwestern United States, where mountains and oceans only existed on television and children like her found pleasure in the little journeys she took. She thinks it’s important to bring that childlike wonder and curiosity into your everyday adult life, rather than over-thinking and limiting yourself from exploring unplanned, pure experiences. She tells Hayden that stories are born from bad or unexpected things happening to you as a traveler; stories, she says, give us everything that might be a building blood for our lives. Storytelling enables us to see where we exist in our own lives, and in the universe. When you explore what is natural and real and inherent to life, you choose to leave behind what is familiar and instead have to listen to what your body tells you, because that animal instinct is all the familiarity you have left. The risk, however, is worth it; after all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Rachel Rudwall is an advocate of the concept of being “enough.” Many people believe that they are not good enough, not prepared enough, not ‘enough’ enough. Rachel thinks, though, that people are always prepared. You may not be in a place where you’re perfectly prepared, perfectly good, perfectly anything - but you are always enough. You are enough to start your journey. You are enough to put yourself out there. You are, Rachel says, capable; you will learn. You can do this. You are enough. Every person has an innate potential. Rachel is all about people and planet. Anything you can do to share experiences and love, Rachel believes, is what you should be doing. The world is scary and divided right now, but it doesn’t need to be in every realm. You can adjust your own sphere and make the world a little closer and brighter if you are willing to connect. You are enough to bridge that gap.
Kinga loves sharks, so she went to Isla Mujeres, where whale sharks gather periodically in an afuera. She sailed the rough seas to the afuera, where she encountered one of the greatest scenes of her life. She could see the whale sharks’ dorsal fins, the manta rays swimming with them, and so she jumped into the water with her GoPro. The manta rays spun around her; the whale sharks swam around; she felt as though she was swimming in shark soup. Just then, the GoPro died, and Kinga had to be innovative on fixing her problem in order to document the experience. Between her GoPro, her phone, and her own two eyes, Kinga had to find a way to keep her memory for the rest of her life. What she discovered, though, was how to be properly present in her moment as it happened, leading to her best-ever travel experience - all while she was swimming in shark soup.
What does it mean to explore your senses? What does a sense do for a person when they travel? Can you bottle your experiences and bring them home with you? Kinga Philipps, an adventurer currently living in Malibu with a passion for all things aquatic, discusses these points and more with Hayden. The host of The Wild Side with Kinga Philipps on the Travel Channel, Kinga talks mystery, senses, history, and sharks, the last of which she touches on with love and anger.
Kinga believes that people love mystery, and that they are fascinated by what they cannot explain. Humans, she says, pursue what they cannot fully understand. Things that have terrified people over the ages have also intrigued and fascinated them, luring them in and making them try things they never would otherwise. This drive to go into the unknown is what pushes Kinga to challenge herself and to trigger personal growth through herself through travel. Her parents ingrained in her a spirit of adventure and of seeking something new, which became her driving force in adulthood. Through changing up her routines, following her own compass, and living by a Jack London credo, Kinga brings new experiences to herself every day, which are the greatest moments of her life.
Exploring your senses when you travel grounds you in the moment. It gives you a solid experience as a traveler, because your senses make something inherently magical go off inside of you. Hayden and Kinga search for a name for the feeling of being in a strange place, coming into your five senses, and realizing how present you are. Kinga offers tips to trigger your own memories, like bringing a scent along with you from home so that you can train yourself to attach memories to scents. Senses were designed to keep humans alive, but they can also bring you back to your greatest moments when you experience them again in the future. Places have an energy that fills you when you’re there; you can jump into other lives, have new experiences, build your memories, and bring them back later, when it’s all said and done. Unique senses can bring memories crashing back.
Kinga is a member of and advocate for Shark Allies, an organization designed to protect our oceans and the sharks that live in them. Shark Allies founder and Kinga’s mentor, Stefanie Brendl, is a shark expert that Kinga met by bidding on her on eBay and taking her to lunch, which evolved into creating “action buttons” on shark conservation. Kinga discusses how shark fins are used unnecessarily as a status symbol, how brutally the fins are taken, and how she and Shark Allies fight to stop this from happening. In a fit of anger, she and Hayden want people to do their research and be aware; Kinga believes that people, at their core, are good, and want to do good. Kinga tells the audience that the experience of going out, stepping out of routine, and having magical moments is vital to travel. She also leaves the call to go out and educate yourself on the welfare of the world’s wildlife, and how their choices affect animals.