1. First tell us about yourself and your field of work.
My name is Wangechi Gitahi and I love the Lord as my personal Savior . I am a young lady who loves life, family, travel, adventure, culture, making friends, laughing and basically living life to the fullest. I tend to prefer solo travel so I swing between being an introvert and an extrovert. I am an advocate of responsible travel and hence I try to initiate community projects in most of the places I travel to, this to empower them. I am however a Marketer by profession and a traveler by passion.
2. What book are you currently reading?
Currently trying to horne my blogging skills so reading up on any and all material I can lay my hands on.
3. Your love for tourism and traveling, is it inborn or due to your line of work/activities?
Inborn or as I like to say – iko ndani ya roho. It would be great though if my passion(travel) was my employer, then I would travel full time .
4. Take us through your travel bucketlist.
Well its endless as I keep ticking it off and adding new stuff to it. But in summary – those already accomplished include hiking both Mt. Kilimanjaro(highest point 5895M) and Mt. Kenya (Uhuru Peak 4895M), backpacking through Northern Kenya and experiencing the diverse cultures, volunteering and living in India(as well as visiting the Taj Mahal, riding elephants and touching tigers), visiting Bali, naming an island in Seychelles(Sheshi Island-Sheshi is my nickname) and hanging out with Rasta Farians in Ethiopia. As I said, the list is endless. On the to do list, hiking Mt.Everest(8848 M), discover more of Kenya especially the less trodden places, swimming with dolphins, skydiving, deep sea diving, dancing in the Carnival in Brazil, visiting the Great Wall of China, visiting Machu Picchu and learn as much culture from across the world as possible are some of the destinations off my mind. Basically I want to visit the whole world and expose both the differences and similarities.
5. How often do you travel?
I seize any and all opportunites – weekends, long holidays, public holidays, evenings and leave days are potential travel times and I maximize on them as much as possible.
6. What are the most important lessons you have learnt from your trips?
a) Prayers work
b) Don’t be stupid-Avoid dark alleys, listen to your sixth sense, don’t trust everyone and policemen are your friends.
c) Travel with an open mind, leave behind any sterotypes you may have and develop your own conclusion about a place or people after having a first hand experience.
d) Cost should never deter your travel plans. Travel expense is relative and sometimes cheaper than expected-you can travel on any budget. I travelled to Taiwan for free courtesy of winning a competition that was run by the Taiwan Government, I hiked Mt.Kenya on a budget of Ksh.5000-all inclusive (trust me no frills-frozen rice and biscuits were a norm) and I have been hosted by friends of friends thus reducing my expenses for accommodation etc.
e) People are people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, beliefs or status – treat everyone with respect.
f) Don’t spend too much time on itineraries – the road has a way of guiding where you should go
h) Save, save, save – that is how I finance my trips and no, I do not earn my income in gold coins.
i) You will meet strangers who will become your friends, others will feel like family and you will find yourself doing stuff you would ordinarily not do in your comfort zone .
7. What is the most frustrating part about trips?
a) The trips seem to come to an end faster than expected – just when things are at top notch.
b) Lack of information – For backpacking Northern Kenya, I could not find any information on how to get there without a personal vehicle thus the reason I decided to discover for myself. Oh well, it was worth the adventure.
c) Self-doubt – This has a way of creeping in when least expected.
d) Visa restrictions – I was once denied a Visa because the Embassy could not “be sure” I would be returning to Kenya even with my employers letter confirming I was on a two week leave and had travelled quite a bit. Still bitter with that embassy, like seriously, have they not noted how beautiful Kenya is? But it’s all good, it was their loss –they lost some income and this rejection led me to choose another destination immediately and that trip rocked.
e) Stereotyping – Being an African, female & a solo traveler has its challenges. At most airports you will almost always be asked to open your suitcase even after the x-ray baggage scanner has not shown anything. I take no offence.
Sometimes people stereotype “African” ladies to be up to no good and woe unto you if you are hanging out with non–black males(If you get my drift). Being asked dodgy questions like “How did you get here?” ,”who is funding your trip?” or the remarkable “Africans have money to travel?”. I don’t take such to heart but use the opportunity to educate them on the great continent that is Africa and my country Kenya.
8. Do you consider yourself a traveler or a tourist? Why?
I tend to think myself more as a traveler than a tourist. Tourists tend to be people travelling for leisure and having loads of cash to spend. Travelers on the other hand travel for the sheer passion of travel, we aren’t necessarily looking for the “tourist places”, we seek the road less travelled, we travel on tighter than tight budgets , we know all the cheap deals and would make sacrifices like skipping a meal or hitch hiking a lorry (truck) to get to our destination.
We tend to want to assimilate with the communities, live among them and be like them rather than just visit and see them.
9. What has been your favorite destination thus far? And why is this?
I do not have one. All the places I visit have something special, something unique that resonates with me and gives me fond memories.
10. Funtravel Hot Seat: You have been invited for a road-trip, have three people to invite on board but you have only two seats left; John Allan Namu, Biko Adema or Nick Mutuma. One will sit next to you (at the front), the other will sit at the back of the bus and the third will not board. Who will be where?
I’d give Allan Namu the first seat .He is cool person and I believe we will have lots to talk about. Biko Adema will be at the back and hopefully I can convince him to hook me up with international Rugby tickets as a way of kurudisha mkono..aka returning the favour
We are grateful to Ms Gitahi for the interview. If you have any comments, please share in the section below or via our twitter page @funtravelke . You can also suggest anyone to be considered for future interviews. Thank you.
PS: All photos courtesy of the interviewee.