Kirsten Alana reveals the biggest thing she's learned on her world travels

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Visiting new cultures and places can be an incredible learning experience for many. Not only does it give you the opportunity to learn from others, but it also gives people the invaluable chance to do some self-reflection. And it doesn't matter if you've taken one trip or one hundred, there's always something to discover along the way.

Kirsten Alana, a travel photographer who has visited countless cities and countries, notes that she's discovered a whole new side of herself because of her trips. And her road to self-discovery shows in her incredible Instagram photos, which showcase the vibrant life and people Alana encounters as she immerses herself into new cultures. From Cuba to Jordan to Paris, Alana always makes sure to take in as much as she can and then showcase it to her almost 200,000 followers who get to experience her adventures first-hand.

We recently sat down with Kirsten Alana to talk about the biggest takeaway she's had since starting her travels, how she conceptualizes her photos and trips, and the trip that changed her life.

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, including more Kirsten Alana exclusives, click here.

What goes into your Instagram posts?
It's about imparting what I find out as I go as I'm traveling. My fans feel like they know me and I try to put me in it. I think a lot of travel photos can be static or cold. There's not a personal story there. The way I try to do travel photography is to have some element of me there. I actually get a lot more comments about my captions than my photos, because the caption and the photo is a story when combined together.

What has it been like developing a brand on Instagram?
I've recently evolved my brand to be about fashion and lifestyle. It's been fun because it's a natural evolution of my own life. I was nomadic for years and my life was only about travel and I had nothing out to post about. Now I live in New York and my life is about hotels, and good food, and fashion, so it's been fun trying to evolve it. You have to keep true to you. As long as you're doing things that are genuine to you and that you do love, it works.

What was your first big trip like after going nomadic?
The first one that I was a photographer and it was just in Hocking Hills in Ohio. I went around with a writer and I went on the trip as his photographer. From that, I assisted him on a shoot in Mexico. Then the next big trip that I did on my own merit was a cross-country road trip with another writer who was really just a friend. He had gone through a divorce too and we were pals. We went from Toronto to Arizona to California. And it was really about the migration of Canadian snowbirds and we road tripped to follow their path.

Did you also always grow up with a passion for traveling?

I did. I travelled a lot around the United States. By the time I was fully nomadic I had already been to 40% of the US state and I've now been to every US state except for Alaska. We travelled a lot in the US and in Canada and went on mission trips to Jamaica and Mexico while I was in high school. My mom took me on my first over the ocean trip when I was 12 to London. It just bit early enough in my life when I realized it wasn't enough. And it's still that way now. No matter how many countries I go to, there's always 10 more that I still haven't visited that I want to go to. Photography and travel really are the twin loves of my life and everything really stems from that.

What's the biggest thing you've learned about yourself since becoming a travel photographer?
I have an insatiable curiosity that I had never given credit to. I always thought wanted to travel is just taking photos. But I realized that I'm very curious about cultures. I grew up in a sheltered home life and I didn't meet a lot of other cultures. There was no way I was going to meet people different than me unless I travelled. And what I learned is that I prefer people who are different than me. Photography is still a big part of it, but I really love traveling now to meet people and to learn as much as a I can.

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, including more Kirsten Alana exclusives, click here.

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