Unlike most, traveling is at the top of Kaia Del Sol’s priority list, and she embraces the free-spirit that allows her to learn more about her anthropology major and about herself.
At only 21-years-old, Del Sol has already backpacked throughout Central America, road tripped to various states and lived alternatively and independently in a van. She also documents her travels through her growing YouTube channel.
Vanessa Le: Why did you choose to attend school online as opposed to on-campus?
Kaia Del Sol: Definitely freedom. I prefer not to be tied down to one place for a specific amount of time. Also, the ability to learn differently. I was taking a lot of Latin American studies, so to be able to actually travel to Latin America and learn through experience was amazing.
VL: When did you start traveling?
KD: When I was 19, I backpacked for two months through Central America. I did it solo, and I didn’t have any friends who had backpacked before, so it was a crazy concept to me, and it changed my life.
I met amazing people, and it feels so full-circle because now I’m back in Central America. It was the perfect first step into traveling, and I would recommend it. When I came back, I bought the van and did the van life for a year.
VL: Where have you traveled to?
KD: A lot of places in America. I traveled to the West Coast — Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon. I also went to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
VL: How did you balance school work with traveling?
KD: When I was living in a van, I wanted to have a reason to be inside, like, a coffee shop rather than the van, so I kind of used that as an excuse to be inside. Since my classes are online, the work is really self-paced, and it really cuts to the chase on what you need to know.
I have a full calendar on what is due for my classes, so sometimes I would just go and get like two weeks worth of work done in one day. It wasn’t difficult, surprisingly.
A lot of people think since I was in a van, I was traveling all the time, but it’s more so a lifestyle, so I’m doing work like those who live in a house, but I’m just in a van.
VL: As a college student who travels, what advantages do you think you have compared to your typical college student?
KD: I’ve learned the most through experience and through people I’ve met, so I feel that I have these experiences that have opened up a whole new world for me and helped me to understand culture because America could be a bubble.
When I’m in a traditional classroom, I feel as though I have to scarf down information, but when I’m living it, I become much more passionate, and it becomes easier to learn, especially about anthropology.
VL: Do you feel like you’re missing out on anything from the typical college lifestyle?
KD: For my first year, I did live the typical college lifestyle, and I didn’t really vibe with the scene, and I felt like I was playing a role of some party girl. It didn’t resonate with me.
At this stage, I’m meeting people who I really enjoy and who interest me. I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. I feel like I’m gaining more.
The experience is amazing, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. It depends on what you’re looking for. Like, if you’re a college student looking for the party lifestyle, then that’s for you, but in my situation, that’s not what I’m searching for.
VL: What do you want to do career-wise?
KD: I feel that the universe knows when you are following your path, and you will be supported financially, emotionally and physically.
Fear is the only thing holding us back from going for it; all of the what-ifs and the unknown are so scary, and they threaten our survival, which holds us down to one place that is so limiting to the soul.
So, I don’t have a specific career in mind, but I would love to touch lives and create for people and make YouTube a career. I’d like to have a sustainable farm that people can benefit from in the future.
I can’t emphasize enough that it is not about money; it is purely love-based. Society has made us believe that getting that 9 to 5 job is the key to happiness and fulfillment when it really isn’t.
VL: What made you want to start a YouTube channel?
KD: When I was younger, I loved the idea of being on camera, but I was so not comfortable with myself. Eventually, I got to this place of self-love where I could be on camera, and I didn’t care what other people thought.
I receive a lot of criticism for putting myself out there, but I just don’t care because, at this point, I want to express who I am, and I want other people to express who they are. So, I feel like this platform allows me to connect with people, and it just took off and happened.
VL: When you initially started filming YouTube videos, what did you expect to get out of it?
KD: I started a YouTube channel before my current one, and with that, I was like, “I want to be famous,” but with this new channel, I’ve really come much more into myself, so I didn’t really expect too much out of it. I really wanted something to express myself, and it became a mile marker of self-love.
VL: What advice would you give to someone your age who is struggling to break out of societal norms?
KD: In essence, the future does not exist, and neither does the past. The only thing that really exists is this moment right now. So, I would say to dive deep into the self and realize what makes you happy.
I know when I was taking the steps to my freedom, I thought about what made me truly happy, and that was traveling. Moments when I was on a mountain top or just in all of the universe’s creation was when I was happy, so I realized that’s what I need to do.
I would say to people who are my age to figure out what makes you happy, regardless of what everyone else is doing, what your parents tell you that you should be doing and what society thinks you should be doing and just take the steps to dive into yourself and let go of fear.
Fear is so hindering, and things that you fear probably mean that overcoming it will result in growth. Challenge yourself, and break yourself out of the box of what is possible.