Kira West is a real life Karmen Sandiego. This girl is always on a plane or plotting her next adventure. She's also a Cornell alumna, our linesister, and all around inspiration. Kira is unapologetically herself and always prioritizes the things she cares the most about - even if no one else understands it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you and where are you headed?
I’m 22, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Proudly West Indian (shoutout to Trinidad). A recent graduate of Cornell University and a Catering Sales Manager at the Conrad New York. Hospitality and Travel are part of who I am so it makes complete sense that I work for a Hotel. When I’m not planning my next getaway, I’m running miles at the gym, eating at a new restaurant or reading a good book.
When/where is the first place you can remember traveling to? What did that first experience spark in you?
The Dominican Republic is the first place I remember traveling. I can still hear my parents telling 8 year old Kira to “expand her palette and expand her horizons”. I had no clue what that meant at the time but it’s always stuck with me. Whenever I travel I’m looking to have an authentically new experience, something that will expand my horizons, give me perspective.
Why do you think travel is so important? What lessons has seeing the world taught you - good and bad, about yourself and society?
It’s important to travel because there’s more to life then the town you’re from and the cities you know. Perspective is important and traveling gives you the chance to see the way others live and understand other cultures. Travel is exciting for me, a chance to make new memories and have new experiences. I’ve learned so much from my projects in Asia and Australia that I use to be a better citizen of the world. Each lesson I learned in Singapore still holds true. (Read these lessons here.)
I’ve learned that the world is a complex place and that’s what makes it beautiful and exciting. I’ve learned that I’m considered quite different in many parts of the world but that should be viewed as a point of education not frustration. I’ve learned it’s always better to see a place with your own eyes and make your own judgments.
What advice would you give people who want to travel but don’t feel they have the time or money for it? How can people who want to travel work to fit it into their “everyday” life?
Traveling is NOT as costly or complicated as people sometimes assume. You can’t fly to Thailand tomorrow for $300 round trip but with proper planning and flexibility traveling is affordable. My advice would be the following:
- Plan well
- Travel off season if you’re looking for a better deal
- Take the time to do your research and know where you’re headed (Flight Deal and SkyScanner have never steered me wrong)
- Don’t be afraid to try something new (Hotels have their perks but I love a unique Airbnb)
Budget time to travel but be flexible. Sometimes, a long weekend is all you need.
Favorite place you’ve been to so far? Dream destination?
Favorite Destination (vacation): Santorni, Greece
Favorite Destination (where I could see myself living): Sydney, Australia
Favorite Destination (culture): Siem Reap, Cambodia
Dream Destinations (it’s a tie): Antarctica; Maldives
Just for kicks
Erykah or Lauryn? Lauryn (Hill) for sure
Instagram or Twitter? Instagram
ang or Balmain? Balmain
Want more from our real life Karmen Sandiego? Follow Kira West on Instagram @_karmensandiego and remain constantly inspired by her travels, fitness endeavors, and lifestyle.