Hello there! 😀 Welcome back to another awesome edition of the Traveler’s Chair! Today, we feature Winnie Rioba of The Just Rioba Way, also known as the ‘Mother of Passports.’
From her alias, you can tell that she is well-traveled… She’s been to so many countries that she stopped counting at 28…
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Winnie on a number of projects, including the #NowTravelReady series.
Winnie is a Travelpreneur & Content Creator; she runs The Just Rioba Way, where she organises group trips for women, around the world.
I must say that I greatly admire her passion for travel and showcasing the African Continent. This woman bleeds adventure… I hope you are ready for an inspiring read, so go on and dig in! 😀
The Traveler’s Chair Edition 1: Meet Just Rioba!
Tell us more about Winnie Rioba, before the travels?
Travel has always been a constant in my life… Way before I started documenting my travel experiences, I studied Economics, History, and Accounting. I worked as an Accountant and Finance Analyst, before quitting my 8-5 job…
Outside of travel, I enjoy dancing, swimming and I recently took up skating.
What would no one ever guess about Winnie the person?
I am terrible with directions, which is funny because I advocate for solo travel. 😀
Tell us about how you got into what you do…
At first, it kind of just happened. Like I mentioned earlier, travel has been a constant in my life. One time I shared my experiences on Instagram after a trip, and my then small audience seemed quite curious about the experience.
So, as opposed to spending an insane amount of time responding to the same questions from different people, someone close to me at the time suggested that I should start a blog. And that is how my Just Rioba blog came to be.
After a couple of blog posts, I became more intentional about it… And today, content creation is one of my sources of income.
What challenges have you faced as a Creator/Influencer in Kenya?
Travel content creation is considered a ‘fun job’, hence some people may not take you seriously or even respect your work.
And as it is, Content creation is a lot of work… There are instances where we have to contend with ridiculous rules and licensing regulations around owning equipment or even shooting content. Yet, this is a source of income for me, while I’m also marketing Kenya as a tourist destination.
What gear do you use for creating content?
It all depends on the destination… For mountain climbing I use an iPhone.
And for the ‘soft life’ destinations, I use a combination of an iPhone, my Sony AR III Camera, and sometimes the DJI Mavic 2 drone.
What is your experience traveling on a Kenyan passport?
I got profiled when I was crossing the land border in Lesotho, from South Africa. My belief is that it happened because not so many Kenyans visit Lesotho…
There have been cases of people being extorted for bribes across West African land borders. (I am side-eyeing the Seme border because those officials were ruthless.)
In such instances, I somehow found my way into the destination, and escaped deportation.
Although I’ve not personally experienced major challenges crossing borders, this does not invalidate what my fellow Africans face when traveling. Some of the things I have read are downright horrendous!
How many countries have you been to? And which ones are your favourite?
I stopped counting at 28… I have a favourite country every year! Haha. 😀
I am currently obsessed with Namibia… The entire country is so picturesque. It’s like a painting. From the clean capital with little traffic, to where the ocean and the desert kiss. Ah. Namibia is incredibly gorgeous!
I love Kenya. The pandemic forced us to travel in our own backyard and my appreciation for this country’s destinations went a notch higher.
For instance, the Kenyan coast is so vast that I can go from scuba diving and jet skiing in Diani, to relaxing and unwinding in Lamu. I find the diversity in our different counties intriguing.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
Skydiving in Diani in 2016 and summiting both Mt Kenya & Mt Kilimanjaro in 2021.
I am an adrenaline junkie, and the rush from each experience still lives in me… I still vividly remember how it felt, and I get to live with that feeling for the rest of my life.
Share about one of your worst travel experiences…
In 2017, I happened to be in Harare at the time when Mugabe was ousted from power.
It was terrifying because first of all, I had not told my mom that I was in Zimbabwe. Although the coup was scary, I was more worried about my Mum.
Thankfully, it turned out to be a peaceful coup and I did not witness or experience any kind of violence… I managed to fly out of Harare and back to Nairobi safely.
Tell us, what is #TheJustRiobaWay?
I hugely advocate for solo travel… However, from the feedback I was getting from my email subscribers, I came to understand that Solo traveling is not for everyone.
I noticed a gap that needed to be filled, and that is how #TheJustRiobaWay was born. I bring together women who are passionate about travel to discover different destinations.
And although I started out in 2018, I began taking it seriously in 2019. I believe it’s been a success, particularly because some of these women end up forming long-lasting friendships.
What does a Just Rioba Way Trip entail?
I try to curate the trips as if I am planning them for myself… The international trips are typically 7 days long. And the itineraries includes all aspects of the Just Rioba Way, covering adrenaline activities like water sports, road trips and hikes.
How often do you organize girls’ trips? And how do you decide the next destination?
Typically, my audience decides the destinations and I run with it. Each international trip is limited to a maximum of 15 people per trip… This helps to keep the Just Rioba Way experiences intimate.
Our calendar currently includes a group trip each month, from local hikes to international destinations.
We’ve recently expanded to having women-only experiences, all-gender trips and queer only experiences. We also organize personalized custom trips for people who don’t like group trips.
What lessons have you learned from being a Travelpreneur?
I actually learnt these lessons from traveling, then incorporated them into my business:
- Patience – dealing with different personalities, while also creating space for my own, requires a tone of patience.
- There is no perfect travel experience; building your expectations off of what you see on Instagram will break your spirit… I encourage people to take in the experiences as they come and to live in the moment.
- Always have a power bank. Haha!
How can someone join one of your trips?
You can find all the details highlighted on my blog justrioba.com. The travel calendar is updated quarterly.
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to get into what you do?
I would say: build an audience. It takes time and patience to grow a loyal audience organically, but focus on that, then start.
Start with what you have… Do not wait to own the most expensive gadgets to shoot content with, or wait for a certain number of people to join in for you to grow your business… Make do with what you have. Baby steps.
What’s next on your bucket-list?
Visiting South East Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern European countries.
Thank you for reading my friends! I hope Winnie Rioba’s story has inspired you to give your own travel dreams a chance! Many thanks to Winnie Rioba for sharing her story with us. 🙂
P.S. This year, we’ll have 12 monthly editions of The Traveler’s Chair. If you have an inspiring story around travel, or know someone who should be featured, I’d love to hear from you.
Leave a comment down below with your inputs and suggestions!
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