What do you get when you mix one part explorer, one part storyteller, and one part complete and utter spontaneity?
Our answer: Rachel Rudwall. As TV host, producer, and an Emmy-nominated camera operator, Rachel regularly drops herself into faraway lands to relate their stories to outsiders. She’s hosted, produced, and edited over 100 episodes of the digital travel series How 2 Travelers (H2T), and has been recognized as a travel expert by ABC, American Airlines, Travel + Leisure, Expedia, and many more.
Rachel Rudwall is quickly becoming a household name, so she can be a tough woman to track down – just about the only place you can reliably find Rachel is on her website, Facebook, or Instagram page.
I’m Rachel Rudwall, and this is How I Travel.
What do you love most about traveling?
Traveling is full of surprises. Your surroundings may surprise you. Your travel companions may surprise you. You may even surprise yourself if you’re open to the world’s offerings.
With that in mind, open yourself to new conversations, friends, and destinations. To different foods, forms of dance, and beliefs. Open yourself to all the things that scare you in a good way.
Every travel experience is either a good experience or a good story later… you might as well have fun living your story.
How has travel changed you as a person?
My patience has grown considerably. Whether a train is running late, a baby’s crying in the next aisle over, or things just generally aren’t going according to plan, I’m a lot more apt to roll with the punches nowadays. It really doesn’t help anyone when you try to control the things that are outside of your control. Once you realize that, it becomes freeing to simply let go and live in the moment.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through all your travels?
The more you see, the more you realize you don’t know very much. The world’s a huge place, and there’s no way that any one of us can experience, feel, or know all things, so it doesn’t make sense to act like a know-it-all. I believe the more one travels, the more one feels at peace with that idea—the idea you don’t have to know all the answers; you simply need to go through the act of questioning, and you’ll be on the right path.
What’s the one travel experience/story that has had the biggest impact on you?
Where I grew up in Ohio, not a lot of people traveled. It’s tough to afford a vacation with kids, mortgage payments, and all the costs that life throws your way. That’s why, when I went to college, I knew that I’d use my scholarship money and loans to study the world. I earned degrees in International Studies and Spanish, aiming to explore the world and do some good along the way, but didn’t know exactly how those goals would shake out professionally.
In the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I landed an internship with STA Travel, once the world’s largest youth and student travel provider. During my stint as the “Ultimate World Traveler Intern” I explored 15 countries, creating video content, blogging, and doing photography, all with the intent to “inspire others to travel.” That job directly impacted my current path as a storyteller; it confirmed to me that a career in media was possible if I were willing to work for it.
Rachel’s 8 Favorite Travel Items
These babies go everywhere with me. They’re lightweight, packable, cool-looking, and incredibly comfortable. I run in my Merrells, hike in them, do circuit training – whatever I can to get my blood flowing when I’m on the road. I love the Pace Glove series so much that I’ve just bought my third pair!
Robdechi’s Hybrid Scarf is my favorite travel product on the market. It functions as a scarf, keeping you cozy on your travels, plus packs a bunch of surprises. Take, for example, the hidden neck cushion, which you can inflate through a hidden tube. Or, how about the eye shade tucked into the hood of the scarf, which you can flip down to block out daylight? Or, perhaps you’ll be impressed by the hidden zipper pocket, perfectly sized to fit your passport and phone? If not that, how about the sewn-inside-a-pocket micro-fiber cloth—handy for cleaning your sunglasses and camera lens?
As a Host and Producer for TV & digital travel content, I rarely leave home without my DSLR and a variety of lenses. My line of work requires that I always have the ability to shoot video and photography when I’m on the road, and I find the 7D to be a great upper-level camera, sans the price tag of more expensive cameras like the 5D.
You never know when you’ll need more carrying capacity on the road. For that reason, I always keep an extra, packable ChicoBag clipped to the inside of my suitcase. If I need to buy groceries in a foreign city, I don’t need to pay for a grocery bag. If I bought loved ones a bunch of gifts overseas, I’ve got an extra storage option that I can call my “personal item” when I check in for my flight.
For action-oriented shoots, I always have a series of GoPros and mounts with me. The Hero 3 is my favorite out of all of GoPro’s offerings, but the Hero 4 Session is also a pretty great addition to the mix, as it’s smaller and more versatile due to its size. I always make sure to bring a head mount, chest mount, handle bar mount, monopod (a.k.a. “selfie stick”), float, and a number of other sticky mounts so that I’m prepared for anything. [Editor’s Note: Jacob also swears by his GoPro Hero 4.]
I really dig trekking and the outdoors. I’m prepping for a trek along Chile’s W Circuit next month, and I just got myself a rockin’ new pair of trekking poles for the journey. As goofy as I feel using what are essentially “walking sticks” (MAN, that makes me feel old…), I know that during past treks around the world, trekking poles have saved my balance and my joints in sketchy sections of trail.
Whether you’re backpacking or living in the lap of luxury, you need to stay hydrated. The use of disposable plastic water bottles is destroying our environment, but reusable bottles often feel too bulky to be practical. That’s why I love my foldable water bottle! It holds a good amount of water and folds up tightly when I’m not using it.
Pro Tip: Keep this bottle in your carry-on, so that as soon as you pass through TSA, you can fill it pre-flight.
How bummed are you when your battery dies right in the middle of an Instagram-worthy sunset? It’s horrible, right?! That’s why I always have a backup battery on me. I dig I/O Magic’s power banks for their small size and ease of use. If you can handle carrying a bulkier power source, the Anker Astro E5 is a champ, packing up to 6 phone charges in one fully-charged unit.
Rachel in 60 Seconds
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