I'd like to introduce you to Kristina Liu, our next guest in the Solo Traveler Insiders Speaker Series. She'll be talking to us about travel and transformation on April 13th.
Kristina Liu is the author of The Inside Out Journey: An Elusive Search for Self Across Three Continents. It is the story of travel and transformation: she shares her experience traveling the world for a year while working and all the learning and transformation gained along the way. Visiting 12 cities in12 months, it was an exciting journey on the outside and a powerful one on the inside, where she says she got closer to her true self, became more courageous, and learned profound lessons about life.
Following that journey, she established Selva Vida Lodge & Retreat Center, where she conducts life transformation programs and hosts travelers who want to explore the Peruvian Amazon. Her holistic retreats address one’s body, mind, heart, and spirit, and use a combination of workshops, medicinal plants, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, connecting with nature, and follow-up coaching.
Kristina is also a Professional Certified Coach and a Mental Fitness Coach who helps entrepreneurs and corporate leaders maximize their potential at work while experiencing more happiness and fulfillment in life.
We recently interviewed Kristina to learn more about her story.
You’ve made a big pivot in your career from business executive to a coach and entrepreneur. How did your travels contribute to you making this transition?
My travels energized and inspired me so much that I had an epiphany on the last day of an epic trip through France, Italy, and Croatia. I realized that I wanted to travel more extensively, rather than just take the usual 2-3-week vacations and occasional business trips. That was the starting point that made me contemplate what I could do to make it happen. It was also the impetus to pursue a Doctor of Psychology program, which exposed me to coaching and eventually allowed me to make the full leap out of the corporate world and into starting my own coaching practice and becoming an entrepreneur.
What led you to the decision to embark on your year-long travel experience?
It was the epiphany that I had on the last day of that epic trip that made me want to travel extensively. It took several years before I encountered something that I thought could be perfect for what I wanted. I saw an ad about Remote Year on the internet, which said something to the effect of, “travel the world with us while working”. My immediate reaction was that it was exactly what I’d been looking for.
It still took me many more months to finally decide to take the leap. Firstly, because it was so scary and so different from the life that I knew, and secondly, because I needed to find a career that I could practice from anywhere in the world. My psychology studies had exposed me to coaching, and by the time I embarked on the year of travel, I had just completed my coaching training and coursework for my doctorate studies. While it was still a scary leap emotionally, at least logically I felt I had all the pieces in place. Then I would be ready to take a full leap out of my comfortable life as I knew it, start my coaching practice, and complete my dissertation while traveling for a year with the Remote Year group.
What countries did you visit? Any favorite destinations?
I joined a one-year, twelve-city program with Remote Year where we spent one month in each city. Our itinerary included the following:
- two months in Africa—Cape Town, South Africa and Marrakesh, Morocco
- four months in Europe—Valencia, Spain; Belgrade, Serbia; Split, Croatia; and Lisbon, Portugal
- six months in Latin America—Buenos Aires and Cordoba, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Medellin and Bogota, Colombia; and Mexico City, Mexico.
I also took many side trips on my own or with friends.
I loved all the places we went, but if I had to pick favorites, number one would be Peru because of the profound experience I had in the Amazon Jungle and how much I appreciated Lima as a big metropolitan city with a beautiful coastline on the Pacific. Number two would be Croatia for how beautiful the beaches and islands are and how much I enjoyed my routine of swimming in the sea every day.
What was the most unexpected thing that happened during your year abroad?
It was by far discovering the Amazon Jungle in Peru and the plant medicines. I considered myself a city person and since I had traveled a fair amount before this one-year journey, I was able to at least guess what I might expect in the cities that were on the itinerary. The experience in the Amazon, however, was not something that was even remotely in my consciousness or realm of comprehension. I decided to do a retreat in the jungle on my own after I learned about two intriguing plants and animals that come from that part of the world: Ayahuasca and Kambo. I went there out of curiosity and came back having gained more than I had ever anticipated. The experience was so profound that I ended up hosting my own first retreat there and even buying the house that I did the retreat in. I turned it into a lodge and retreat center where I now host travelers and retreat participants.
What is one important thing you learned about yourself on your solo trips?
Some of my greatest learning and transformation as well as some of the most beautiful and memorable moments happened through my travels. Travel opened me to the world. It made me realize that there is a part of me that can feel so many amazing emotions, such as joy, bliss, curiosity, fun, and gratitude. It taught me that those feelings and qualities are my essence, not the saboteur thoughts and feelings that I have. This knowledge is crucial in the continuous work that I do on myself and with my clients—to be more in our essence powerful self, or our sage, and less controlled by our saboteurs, those forces that prevent us from being our best self and reaching our true potential.
Tell us a bit about the retreats you run in Peru.
The retreat in Peru is meant to transform your life and address all parts of you: your mind, body, heart, and spirit. During the seven days, you get a variety of unique experiences, including workshops to stimulate your mind and learn tools and gain clarity to improve all aspects of your life; jungle tours to experience the beauty and magic of the Amazon jungle; and plant medicine such as Ayahuasca and San Pedro to open your heart and spirit and Kambo to cleanse your body. It also includes pre-retreat calls to help you prepare and set intentions for the retreat, as well as post-retreat coaching sessions to help you integrate the learning and apply it in real life.
I developed this retreat based on my own experience in the Amazon and with various personal development theories and my psychology studies. For anyone who wants to have a unique and unforgettable experience, transform your life, and connect more with your heart and spirit, this retreat is for you.
Our April 13th edition of the Solo Traveler Insiders Speaker Series promises to be a fascinating one! We’ll talk to Kristina Liu about the Remote Year program and how it changed her life as well as the retreats she now runs in Peru. Get your questions ready! Kristina will also be giving away a free copy of her recently-published book, The Inside Out Journey: An Elusive Search for Self Across Three Continents. To participate in our virtual chat about travel and transformation and ask your own questions, join the Solo Traveler Insiders here. You can try it out for a month with no obligation to continue if it's not for you.