We begin the Rock a Little Travel interview series by speaking with Chelsey from The Ninja Gypsy. Chelsey’s popular travel blog focuses on the importance of personal safety for travelers.
She also helps women empower themselves to travel safely around the world, no matter where they may be headed.
Read our conversation below for more about Chelsey and her blog The Ninja Gypsy. I hope you enjoy it.
Tell me about yourself.
Hey there, my name is Chelsey! I am a 20 something-year-old digital nomad; essentially, I travel the world and work from my computer.
I love exploring new places, eating chocolate, and doing martial arts. I have been doing martial arts for over a decade now, and I am a 3rd-degree black belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate.
When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging about a year ago! It has been a crazy learning process, but I love doing it.
I decided to begin blogging for a couple of different reasons. One reason was that I wanted to share my travel stories around the world with family, friends, and anyone else curious about the experiences I had in faraway places.
Another reason was because of what I witnessed while traveling. I saw many travelers, young and old, taking their safety for granted.
They didn’t realize, or care, about the dangerous situations that they were putting themselves in that could be easily remedied with a few simple precautions.
Talk to me about The Ninja Gypsy. What is it about and what makes it different from other blogs?
The Ninja Gypsy is focused on travel safety, travel experiences, and martial arts. The goal of The Ninja Gypsy is to teach travelers how to be safe when they travel.
I talk about everything from the safest cities in the world to how to walk alone at night.
I incorporate martial arts in, not only because it is important to me, but it is a kind of tourism that people frequently forget.
I love talking about my experiences learning martial arts in other countries as well as interviewing others who have done the same. In addition, I do share some of my wackier stories of being abroad.
What makes my blog different than everybody else is that it is about self-defense from a woman’s perspective.
There are many travel blogs out there, but if they talk about travel safety, it is usually their ‘Top 10 Tips to Stay Safe.
That isn’t enough to truly learn how to be safe while traveling.
As well, there are safety/martial art/self-defense blogs, but many of those are written by men. They lack a female perspective (no offense guys).
Their big size and strength-based techniques are either too daunting or simply impossible for the average woman to attain.
In The Ninja Gypsy, I keep it at a level where anyone of any size or strength can achieve safe travels.
How are you using your blog to impact women in a positive way?
I am trying to teach women to use safety practices so that they are no longer afraid to travel.
There are many little details to traveling safely like what to do when you go to bars, use an ATM, or are confronted in a terrible situation. Knowledge is the best way to combat unnecessary risks.
I also advocate for women to travel solo. I released a book called Inspired: The Stories of Nine Solo Female Travelers.
These women are an inspiration, and their stories have given many women the courage to travel on their own.
Also, I run a Facebook Group called Safe Travel for Women where I share the latest news, tricks, and ideas on travel safety and it’s a safe place where they can exchange questions and concerns about traveling.
Tell me why this issue is important to you.
As I said above, I have been practicing martial arts for over a decade now.
I’ve taught countless self-defense classes during my years of training, and even opened a Uechi-Ryu Karate club, where
I taught as a Sensei at the University of Washington, and even have another self-defense seminar coming up this fall!
I love teaching self-defense, but it is hard to reach a wide audience of people, and it only lasts for a couple of hours.
I’ve wanted to create a way for people around the world to learn about self-defense and travel safety from the comforts of home.
Also, I want to teach people how to be aware, to recognize dangerous situations, and to be able to reach a solution without harm.
I want everyone to learn that they deserve to be safe wherever they are, but that it is their responsibility to learn how to ensure that.
How have women responded to your work?
I have had the pleasure of having a very curious and progressive set of readers. Everyone seems to enjoy and internalize what they are reading.
Sometimes responding with remarks like, “Wow, I didn’t even think of that” or “It is awesome to see a woman teaching these ideas.”
Plus, I have received wonderful reviews on my book. I have had men and women alike say that they love the stories, that they found them funny, fascinating, and inspiring.
It brings me great joy to see my work making a difference, no matter how small.
What challenges do you continue to see in regards to travel safety?
The challenges in this area are ignorance or self-doubt. Many people do not even realize that travel safety is an important part of your journey.
For example, people do not realize that they should know: where their country’s embassies are located, what kind of petty crime is most common, or even simple bar safety practices.
Luckily knowledge and research can conquer that problem.
Self-doubt, on the other hand, is much trickier. Many people, women especially, doubt their ability to protect themselves.
They think they are not strong enough, smart enough, or trained enough. Society can push women down into thinking less of themselves. That is not the case.
Travel safety is not exclusive; there is something that will work for everyone. EVERYONE deserves to be safe, and EVERYONE can learn how to protect themselves.
How can others get involved or help make positive change when it comes to travel safety?
The best way to get involved is through learning and spreading the word about the importance of travel safety.
Learn what travel safety tips and ideas work best for you and practice them. Make sure that you know them by heart, just in case something goes wrong.
Also, tell your friends and family about what you learn. We don’t want to scare people out of traveling by saying that traveling is dangerous (because it isn’t), we want people to be informed.
What have you learned from your work?
I have been doing martial arts and studying self-defense for almost half of my life; therefore, it is very ingrained into who I am as a person.
I see the world a little bit differently and it wasn’t until I started traveling heavily that I realized how other people could be scared or worried about traveling.
Once I realized this, I began asking questions, and I have learned so much about other people’s concerns.
That is one of the goals of The Ninja Gypsy, to be able to address those concerns, provide answers, and remove those fears hopefully.
What advice do you have for other women travelers?
I talk about this in my blog; my advice is to play the What If game. What if your credit card gets stolen?
What if some guy won’t leave you alone? What if you end up walking home along at night? What are you going to do?
Having a plan for these kinds of scenarios will make them less scary if they occur, and you will know how to react without fear.
In addition to that, don’t let fear hold you back. Educating yourself on the What Ifs of traveling is not meant to scare you. I encourage all women to be bold, be brave, and be wise.
When I was looking through your Instagram account recently, I noticed you rarely include photos of yourself. When you do you are looking away from the camera.
I absolutely love that you do this. It seems most Instagram accounts are only there for people to draw attention to themselves. Tell me more about why you made this choice.
When I first started on Instagram, it was simply to share some of my favorite travel photos. It wasn’t about self-promotion, and it still isn’t.
I didn’t want my face where everyone could see it; people who don’t know me don’t need to know what I look like. I only share pictures of myself on my blog, because these people are getting to know me in a real way.
Occasionally, I include a picture of myself on Instagram but (like you noticed), I am always looking away from the camera.
This represents that when I am traveling, I want to be embracing the experience, not smiling for a bunch of self-promotion pictures.
What can we expect to see from you next?
There is so much to do and never enough time it seems, but I am going to try to provide more content for my readers on travel safety.
I am hoping to finish the ABC’s of Self-Defense this year and to turn it into a mini-book! Also, I want to teach more self-defense seminars to women who are into more hands-on self-defense.
Do you have any exciting travel plans coming up?
I am actually on an exciting trip right now. I am spending two months in Cordoba, Argentina doing a bit of work mixed with travel; this is my first time in South America, so I am wicked excited.
After my two months here, I am going to be backpacking through Chile for almost a month before returning to the states. I love living the digital nomad life and am very excited for this backpacking trip.
Tell me about your biggest travel fail.
My biggest travel fail was not getting an appropriate visa. I was all set to spend seven weeks backpacking through Southeast Asia after spending a year teaching ESL in South Korea.
I had my flights, hostels, and activities booked out and ready to go. Sadly, I did not research the visa requirements for Vietnam thoroughly enough.
I went to board my plane and was denied access because I didn’t have a visa…whoops!
Almost had a meltdown right there in the airport, but I pulled myself together and came up with a solution.
Also, I managed to order a super-priority visa, rearrange my travel plans to fit the delay and was merrily on my way.
I learned that not only is research important but that I was also capable of finding solutions on my own.
It was my first big whoops in traveling, and while I could have given up, I didn’t. I found the strength within myself and trusted my abilities to solve the problem all by myself.
Tell me about an embarrassing travel story.
Oh goodie! When I was in Luang Prabang, Laos it was during their New Year’s Water Festival.
Essentially, I was drenched for four days straight. One day, I decided to volunteer as an English tutor at a local community center.
Laos is a conservative country, and usually, I dress appropriately so that I fit in with the local culture.
That day though, I didn’t want to end up wearing drenched conservative clothing while teaching.
So, I decided to ditch the conservative clothes for the day and wear a flimsy tank top and tiny shorts.
I got drenched as expected, but none of the locals seemed to mind my state of dress. That is until two monks joined my group of students. I could see their discomfort, and I felt it too.
At the end of my lesson, I asked for recommendations on the area and one of the young monks slyly told me to wear more clothes.
I was totally embarrassed, but I thanked them for their courage and promised to dress correctly.
That day I learned that fitting in was important no matter the circumstances, not only for safety purposes but also to respect and acknowledge your understanding of the local culture.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! It was wonderful to be able to talk with you and your readers.
Feel free to hit me up on The Ninja Gypsy with any travel safety or martial arts tourism questions; I would love to answer any questions that you have. Cheers and safe travels!
Visit the series home page for more information about the Rock a Little Travel Interview Series and to read our other interviews.
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Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help people use their vacation days to see the world.