Meet Kirstie Jeffries – travel blogger, budget backpacker, digital marketer and serial expat.
Originally from Pasadena, California, she first truly caught the travel bug when she studied in Granada, Spain for a month in high school. She later spent three years in Spain, one studying in Madrid and two teaching as an auxiliar de conversación through the Spanish Ministry of Education’s North American Language and Culture Assistants Program. While living in Sevilla and Madrid and teaching nearby, she spent every free chance she had exploring Spain and Europe.
Kristie spoke to us a few years ago, but her tips and travel gems are fresh as ever:
You served as a teaching assistant in Spain. What are the options available to those aspiring for a similar path?
I taught through a program called the North American Language and Culture Assistants, but other programs such as BEDA, CIEE, The Franklin Program, Medea’s, and UCETAM offer similar opportunities to work as a teaching assistant in Spain, usually with no certification necessary. If you’re an EU citizen, you can also apply directly for academies or look for private lessons.
Five Spanish traditions that you learnt during your time in Spain.
- Semana Santa (Holy Week) is huge in some parts of Spain, especially Sevilla, where I lived for a year. The week leading up to Easter is filled with religious processions involving hooded brotherhoods and representations of the Virgin Mary.
- Andalucia (Spain’s southern region) really comes alive in Spring. One of the biggest spring festivals is Feria de Abril in Sevilla, where for the entire week there is eating, dancing, drinking, and much fun all around.
- The Reyes Magos (Three Kings) – not Santa Claus – are the popular figures at Christmas. Spaniards celebrate El Dia de los Reyes Magos on January 6th.
- Carnival is celebrated in Spain before the start of Lent (similar to Mardi gras). Revellers dress in humorous costumes and party all night long, with two of the biggest celebrations being in Cadiz, Andalucia and Tenerife, Canary Islands.
- The siesta is still alive and well in Spanish culture! While many don’t actually use the afternoon siesta hours for napping, most will return home from work/school for lunch and relaxation, and many shops remain closed during those hours.
Three blog monetization tips that you would like to share with our readers.
- Only collaborate with relevant brands that you legitimately respect. If you’re offered a ton of money for a sponsored story with a brand that just doesn’t sit right with you, it’s hard to say no to income, but you’ll be glad you passed it up.
- Join as many affiliate/collaboration programs and directories as you can. You never know which brands will find through which sites.
- Befriend fellow bloggers! Don’t view them as competition – they can provide significant support and advice. Plus, they’ll often introduce you to brands you’ll be able to work with.
You’ve travelled Europe extensively. Pick a post from your travels in Europe and share the story behind it.
One of my favourite memories from Europe was attending a small festival called the Romeria de Montemayor in Moguer, Huelva, which is in southern Spain. One of the teachers I worked with, invited me to join her family there.
Huts made of eucalyptus branches and leaves were set up in the remote countryside, and festival-goers spent days and nights eating, drinking, and dancing the Sevillanas with them. It was the most unique and authentic experience I enjoyed in all of my time in Europe.
A mistake that female travellers should avoid when travelling solo
Be cautious, but don’t be overly fearful! I think a lot of females worry about travelling solo, and it’s true that everyone should be alert when travelling, but don’t let the prospect of being female or travelling alone prevent you from visiting the places you want to see.
Italian cuisine is your favourite. Share a meal memory from your travel to Italy
I’ve travelled to Italy four times, and my favourite meal on all those trips was in Sorrento. My mom and I ate at a picturesque restaurant called Inn Bufalito which specializes in buffalo mozzarella. We ate mozzarella to our hearts’ content and then followed it up with gelato. No night in Italy should go without gelato!
Three destinations in Australia that are a must-visit
- Byron Bay – Fun, quirky and laid-back with beautiful beaches.
- Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs coastal walks – it’s amazing how much natural beauty can be found so close to Sydney!
- New South Wales South Coast – surprisingly quiet and free from tourists, but some of the nicest beaches and hikes I’ve seen in Australia.
A heart-in-the-mouth moment and where?
Paragliding in Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps. Pretty scary to take that leap off the mountain, but it was well worth the views and adrenaline!
Kirstie Jeffries spoke to Tanya Anand from Team Travel Secrets.
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