I’m glad you’re here! Read on to learn a little bit more about me and what I do.
I am an award-winning writer, photographer, and teacher. I am also a traveler, by either heart or experience (sometimes I’m not sure which!) and a new mom to two little ones (we had some time on our hands during the pandemic…!). We live in the beautiful Sonoran Desert in Tucson, Arizona in a hundred-year-old bungalow with a big mesquite tree in the backyard. It’s a nice place to be for now.
I have a Ph.D. in travel writing, which sounds crazy, sometimes, but really just means I studied travel writing for my dissertation. For those of you who are interested in that sort of thing, I looked at contemporary travel writing through a feminist lens and argued for us to see travel writing as more inclusive and open to diverse voices and perspectives. At one time, I thought I was going to be a professor of English, but now that life has taken me in new directions, I’m happy I did my dissertation for other reasons. For one thing, I’ve learned to live more carefully, love more mindfully, and understand others more compassionately. I write to inspire others to see the world differently, to enjoy life more deeply, to find interesting details in unexpected places, to find beauty in the world where I can, and to teach other travelers to respect the places they tread and to think critically about the privilege of a traveling life.
If you were to ask me why I write, I would say that I write for two reasons: I write to find beauty in our complex world, and I write to add a new perspective on travel. I’m an interesting case–I love to think about travel and writing almost as much I love actually doing the traveling and the writing.
What’s My Story?
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. The furthest I traveled was to California (once, for my aunt and uncle’s wedding) and to New York (and then Florida!) to visit my grandma. My love for travel came around during college at the University of Georgia: after a summer-abroad program that took me to a language immersion program in Valencia, Spain, I decided to pack up and move to the very small, intensely gorgeous fish-shaped island of Malta to work at an international English school, where I fell madly in love with ricotta-filled pastries, the Maltese language, and my international cohort of teachers (we still meet up on the island every few years, by the way, although our 2020 Reunion was, like everything else, on Zoom…but that’s another story!).
In 2006, after college, I went to Cartagena, Colombia, where I taught English at a local university and learned to love empanadas, Gabriel García Marquez, and–would you believe it?–blogging! I started my first blog there to keep my family at home updated on my travels, and by the end of my year there, I’d learned a little bit about digital storytelling and how to upload pictures from my 5 MP point-and-shoot digital camera. But I still have to wonder: How could that have only been in 2007?
I completed my MFA in Creative Nonfiction (with an emphasis in travel writing) from the University of Arizona a few years after that while teaching writing courses to undergraduates and working as the nonfiction editor for Sonora Review, our national literary magazine. A year later, I decided I wanted to know more about writing and how people actually learned to write, so I started my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition and wrote my dissertation on professional travel bloggers and how they adopt or reject the concept of the colonial “tourist gaze” in their writing, photography, and videography. If you’re into such academic things, I invite you to read more about my scholarly work here on my site.
I also became a travel writer during this time. I figured, hey, if I’m going to write about travel writing, I should be doing it, too. My “big break” came in 2013 when I was invited by the Taiwan Tourism Board to come to Taiwan for nine days to write about it. The trip lit a fire in me. I realized, almost overnight, that I might just have something special to contribute to the wider world of travel writing. I guess you could say I fell in love, and I’ve been working as a freelance travel writer ever since.
After I graduated, my husband (poet and graphic illustrator Ryan Winet) and I moved to Florida, where we taught at a small liberal arts college. Though we learned to love the swamplands of Florida, we didn’t love the politics that came along with teaching in a small college, so we had a baby, Riley, packed up and moved back to the Sonoran Desert in late 2019 with our two cats, Giuseppe and Luigi. We took jobs teaching in the Writing Program and have since taken on new challenges–right now, for instance, I’m teaching writing, facilitating faculty learning communities, and leading workshops on things like inclusive teaching and emotional learning. It’s been a wonderful change of pace.
We added sweet baby Zoey to the mix early last year and, well, here we are: a poet and a travel writer trying to figure out how to be parents (that probably deserves its own book….).
Where Am I Now?
So, here we are, back where we started.
Living in the Sonoran Desert is interesting, that’s for sure. It’s both magical and prickly (and, let’s face it, hot), but most of the time, we love it here. Whenever we can, we do things like drive down to Mexico for the weekend with friends and swim in the sea and eat fresh mangos, or hike up Sabino Canyon and look for waterfalls. We’re also teaching our little ones, who are now one and three, to love the world as much as we do….although we’re finding that they teach us almost more than we teach them.
The past two years have definitely changed my life, as it has no doubt changed all of ours. But through everything, I still LOVE doing this kind of work – I love thinking about my responsibility as a traveler and my capabilities (as well as limitations) that come with this privileged and amazing work. I hope that comes through in my writing.
Where Have I Traveled?
I always get this question, and I think it’s an interesting one. For one thing, does traveling to more countries make me more qualified as a travel writer? What about if I write a story about a place that’s literally in my backyard…does that make me any less of a travel writer?
But alas, the question is always looming. At this point in my life, I’ve traveled to 36 different countries. That number still astounds me. To have leveraged my writing to do something I love so much amazes me. I am humbled and honored to do this work I do–and I hope it carries me through for the rest of my life.
I’ve spent time living and teaching in Europe and South America, and I’ve traveled throughout North America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. There’s still so, so much more to see.
What Do I Believe About Travel?
Though it’s not always possible to stay awhile, I believe in traveling slowly when I can, in savoring moments, in trying out new languages, in getting lost for no particular reason, in visiting those little-known places, in leaving positive impressions, in finding laughter in unexpected encounters. I believe in participation, in immersion, in confusion, in giving up the idea that our way is the best way, and in looking forward to those unexpected meaningful, memorable moments that happen when we simply let go and live. I believe in learning about local foods, working sustainability to leave small footprints, and connecting with local communities. And I am committed to making sure that everything I write upholds these values and respectfully tells the stories the way the characters in my stories would tell them.
I can’t wait to meet you and hear about your journey, too! Email me at kristin [at] kristinwinet [dot] com if you’d like to chat, get some advice on traveling, or just share tips, books, or awesome resources.
And if you’re interested in working with me, check out my Work With Me page to see samples of my work and campaigns I’ve worked with in the past. I’d love to add you to the mix!
Yours in travel,