KYLE MILLER



05.10.18      



This week we chatted with twenty-seven year old travel photographer, Kyle Miller, from California. He tells us how quitting his job in finance and booking a one-way flight to Myanmar has changed his life, for the better. 



“Travelling alone has proven to be incredible, and more specifically, it has allowed for my deeper immersion into other cultures and experiences.”






What’s your profession?

I’m a freelance travel photographer from California. I spend most of my time on the road, photographing for adventure and hospitality companies. I also do fine art photography, as well as editorial and commercial work.



How old are you?

I’m twenty-seven years old.



Tell me a bit about your background?

Earlier on in my twenties, I was slated for a bit of more traditional life. I finished graduate school and moved out to Orange County, California to work a desk job in finance. After a couple of years climbing the corporate ladder, I felt complacent. I felt that I wasn’t doing enough with my life. Around a year ago, I left my job in Southern California; booked a one-way flight to Myanmar and decided to chase my dream of being a travel photographer. Life has been much more exciting ever since.



When did you first decide to travel solo and where did you go?

My first solo trip was my trip to Myanmar near the end of 2017. I’d done many trips previously, but always travelled with partners or friends. Bagan, Myanmar had been on my bucket list for quite a long time. Travelling alone has proven to be incredible, and more specifically, it has allowed for my deeper immersion into other cultures and experiences.



“The most inspiring people I’ve met during my travels were Syrian refugees I worked with while on a photo gig in Beirut. They told me stories of pain and separation; leaving everything behind to start a new life in Lebanon.”






What’s been your greatest achievement whilst travelling?

Many of my greatest travel achievements are related to inspiring others to travel themselves. Over the past year, I’ve gotten many emails and DMs from people telling me about their travels and how I inspired them to go! For me, inspiring others to step outside their comfort zones, travel, and experience new places and cultures is incredibly important. Over the years, travel has proven to be conducive to both my emotional and intellectual growth. Perspective gained on the road has been so important to me; I am thrilled to encourage others to push themselves and seek more out of life.



What have you found to be the most challenging part of travelling solo and how did you learn to overcome it?

The most challenging part of travelling solo can often be mental fatigue. When you’re out there alone, you can start to feel a bit isolated - perhaps even like no-one around has your back. To help combat this, I often go stay at hostels and make friends to travel with.



What’s the weirdest thing that you saw or experienced on your travels, and in which country?

Hopefully this isn’t too inappropriate, but I once saw a large traffic jam in India caused by cows having sex in the middle of the road. The traffic was blocked for a few minutes, and everyone just waited patiently - as if this was normal.



Who was the most inspiring person that you met whilst travelling and why? Can you tell me a bit about them?

The most inspiring people I’ve met during my travels were Syrian refugees I worked with while on a photo gig in Beirut. These individuals were around my age. We had drinks after we completed our photography work. They told me stories of pain and separation; leaving everything behind to start a new life in Lebanon - seeking safety and stability for themselves, their families, and their future children.



“The kindness shown to me by the people of Nepal is something I’ve never experienced on the road - I’d never felt so welcome in a place before.”






What was your best experience with a local and why? Can you tell me a bit about them?

I really connected with my porters during my recent trek in Nepal. Although we didn’t speak the same language, we bonded over cold days filled with tough hikes and beautiful views. Each night, we stayed in local villages on the Annapurna Circuit Trail; often huddled around the fire to keep warm - playing cards to pass the time. At the end of the trek, I gave my porter all of my trekking gear. He smiled and gave me a hug before we parted ways.



Where was your favourite travel destination so far and why?

Nepal is far and away my favorite travel destination thus far. Once I got out of the cities and into the mountains, the skies were blue and the air was fresh. We hiked from tropical lowlands to far up in the Himalayas - staying in local villages along the way. The kindness shown to me by the people of Nepal is something I’ve never experienced on the road - I’d never felt so welcome in a place before.



Where is the next destination you plan to visit? What do you plan to do?

My next focus is South America - seeking trekking and amazonian tribal experiences. I plan to spend the next half-a-year trekking throughout the Andes - initially focused on Patagonia. I will also be heading deep into the Amazon to connect with, and tell the stories of the indigenous people.



How can we make our travels more meaningful in this day and age?

Be spontaneous! Plan less, live more. Stay off your phone as much as possible - stay present in your experiences. Worry less about taking the perfect photo to show your friends on Facebook, and more about learning and connecting with the people, places, and culture.



“I think it’s important to be able to leave the group and go after what you truly want to experience on the road.”






How has travel influenced and impacted your life? Would you change this given the chance?

Travel has helped me grow immensely. Before I left the US, my perspective on the world was narrow. I knew that life was different in other parts of the world, but there was a cognitive disconnect for me. As I have travelled and experienced life in different places around the world, I’ve realised simply this: people are people. This has helped replace past ignorance with empathy and understanding. I wouldn’t change this for anything.



How has solo travel empowered you?

Solo travel has really forced me to look introspectively; to think about what I’m really seeking when it comes to travel. For me, this has led to incredibly impactful travel experiences. Sometimes I get sick, sometimes I am scared - this is part of it. The further I push myself, the more I realise what I am capable of. This has helped both my overall confidence and my composure.



If you could journey back to before you first travelled alone, is there anything you know now that you would tell yourself?

I would tell myself that you don’t have to stick with the group all of the time. When I began travelling, I would often meet friends and then group up to travel together. While this was often a really good experience, I noticed myself conforming to what the group wanted to do most of the time. I think it’s important to be able to leave the group and go after what you truly want to experience on the road.



Do you have a favourite object that you bought on your travels, and what’s the story behind it?

I have prayer flags I bought in a village near Tibet during my trek in Nepal. I love them so much. They’re hanging in my living room, bringing color and good vibes to the space.






Photographs taken by Kyle Miller (Vientiane, Laos: Oct 2017; Ait Benhaddou, Morocco: Jan 2018; Jodhpur, India: Feb 2018; Jaipur, India: Feb 2018; Varanasi, India: Feb 2018; Petra, Jordan: August 2018).