1) Hi Louree, and congratulations on being featured as a globelle gal in focus! Can you tell us where in the world we'd currently find you?
Thanks so much for the honor! You will currently find me in a tiny medieval village in Tuscany, Italy.
2) What inspired you to first start travelling?
Actually, my mother inspired me to start travelling at a young age. We were always going on trips and my first solo trip was to Paris when I was 14. That’s when I fell in love with Europe and it never left me!
3) What's been your favourite place to visit, and why?
My favourite place to visit was Oxford, England where I lived and studied for one year for a Masters’ degree. I had always dreamed about living the Oxford experience because I was in love with its history, architecture and international academic community. It was just as magical as I always dreamed it would be.
4) What's the worst thing that's happened to you on the road? How did you deal with it?
The first thing that comes to mind happened on a trip from France to Switzerland. My husband and I didn’t know that a permit (vignette) was required to drive on the motorways and we risked a huge fine without the permit.
We learned we could stop at any gas station or post office to purchase a vignette, but it was a Sunday so post offices were closed and all the gas stations were sold out! We needed to check in to a Kynder member hostel before they closed for the evening and we still had about a three hour drive ahead of us.
We finally found a gas station where we could buy a permit and we raced up the windy hairpin turn road to Saas-Fee in the Alps. Definitely a nerve-wracking day and we learned our lesson! Moral of the story? Get the Swiss vignette before you arrive in Switzerland (or at the border crossing, oops!).
5) Obviously life on the road is about fewer possessions and more moments, but what is the one thing you can't travel without?
Yes that’s true! I always travel light.. but I always, always bring earplugs (I’m a light sleeper!).
6) You're the founder of Kynder, a kind travel platform for conscious consumers. Can you tell us a bit more about it, and what the inspiration behind the platform was?
Sure! Kynder is a travel platform that exclusively features independent, eco-conscious and kind hospitality establishments. It’s a curated resource for finding accommodation, eateries, coffee houses, ice creameries, sweet shops—and we just added tour experiences too!
I was inspired to create the platform for many reasons. Firstly, I found the massive mainstream travel platforms to be too noisy, unattractive, unfeeling, and impersonal. There are also lots of platforms that focus on high design, luxury only, or only accommodation… but none that only feature independent hospitality that are doing good in the world with sustainable and fair practices.
I wanted to create a supportive kind travel community for hosts and guests who value kind and mutually-rewarding hospitality experiences. So that I did, and Kynder was launched in April 2017.
7) What has the response been like to Kynder? What's been the biggest challenges you've faced so far in building the platform?
I’ve been delighted with the positive response I’ve received and with the lovely people and companies I have met as a result of building the platform.
The main challenges have been finding establishments that are a great fit for Kynder (just because a company is eco doesn’t mean they are kind, for example), and reaching a broader audience of guests who genuinely care about kindness and sustainability in travel, hospitality, and in their daily lives.
8) You're also the founder of Xenia Magazine. Can you tell us a bit more about the publication?
Yes! Our first edition was actually just published in print and digital. Xenia is a celebration of the art and soul of hospitality. We feature hospitality companies doing good in the world via positive environmental and social impact and explore travel from a deeper perspective. You may view and download the digital edition for free at https://xeniamagazine.com/xenia-magazine-digital-edition.
9) What are your plans for the future, and what do you hope to achieve through all of your hard work?
I have so many plans for the future; I’ll be expanding the team, improving the Kynder site functionality, welcoming new members and focusing on working with the Kynder Street Team. Lots of exciting happenings on the horizon!
My ultimate goal is to have cultivated a global travel community that brings hosts and guests together in the true spirit of hospitality…
To encourage travel that is less transactional and more transformational for all, because travel and hospitality can be such a positive force for good in our world.
10) What does travelling mean to you?
It’s everything. It opens our eyes to the world outside the small part we inhabit. Travel reminds us of ourselves, re-connects us to our humanity, to empathy, compassion and to each other.
11) If you could offer one piece of advice to those travelling for the first time, either as part of a group or solo, what would it be?
What I learned from my travels was that rushing around and following ‘on the beaten path’ guidebooks was stress-inducing and distracting.
I wasn’t really ‘seeing’ or ‘feeling’ the place I was in. I would advise more spontaneity… to see where travel takes you both literally and figuratively.
To pause and savour the moments, the people, the unique and unexpected beauty… to feel the energy of a place and its people.
12) And finally, how can girls get in touch with you, and keep up to date with Kynder & Xenia's progress?
I love to meet new people and connect, the more the merrier I always say! You can check out Kynder at kynder.net and Xenia at xeniamagazine.com. The best place to connect and chat with me is on Instagram @kyndertravel (www.instagram.com/kyndertravel).