For our first 'Leading Ladies' feature of 2020, we had the pleasure of catching up with globe-trotter and mother of 2, Kirianna Poole. We have been following Kirianna on Instagram and her life on the road with an adorable VW for quite some time and we're so excited to share her words with you! Kirianna is humble, kind and one of the most down to Earth individuals we've connected with.
Kiriana, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do!
I’m Kirianna, mama to Riley (3 years old) and Alba (6 months). Wanderlust is ingrained in our souls, as expats living in Japan we had the opportunity to travel frequently, we lived in a one-bedroom Japanese apartment and learned to live with little.
When Riley entered our lives our love grew for exploring even more. He was and still is the easiest little travel mate and loves a good adventure.
After we had ticked off some of our overseas destinations we decided he was the right age to take around Australia. The dream was to do it in a kombi, a family friend was selling his 'once wedding kombi' so we quickly jumped at the purchase. We used to a minimal life in Tokyo after living and felt confident with minimal space. We, however, needed to refit the interior for a living — adding a kitchenette, solar panels, and extra batteries. Alba joined us this year, and we completed our lap around Australia in May just weeks before she was born.
What was your upbringing like in New Zealand? Did you grow up traveling much?
As a kiwi (New Zealander) I grew up road-tripping to the beach with my family, but it was when my sister moved to Sydney when I was 11 that jump-started my traveling desire. For years on I would jump on a flight to spend the holidays with her — while it’s only a leap across the Tasman, it gave me the urge to see more.
How many countries have you been to and do you have a favourite?
Riley has been to 35 countries, Alba has been to 7, I think I am around the 58th and Lachlan is around the 75th mark.
My favourite destination is Mexico, I am a sucker for tacos, lock loves Italy and Riley is happy where there is a big soft sandy beach, Alba is my water baby so I’m pretty sure she will be happy where her toes are wet.
What made you want to lead a slower and more sustainable lifestyle over the years?
We had been living a high-paced life for a good five years, Tokyo is go-go-go, chasing trains, making deadlines and feeling pressure to do it all. Travelling was our outlet, a time to just live. We moved to Australia where Lachlan and the children are born, and we weren’t ready to stop traveling. Due to our small apartment in Japan, we had learned to live pretty minimally. After some research, we decided to hit the road in our restored kombi (yet another small area to live in) - we invested in solar panels and planned all the items to be packed.
While on the road, it made more and more sense to us to take better care of the planet and this wonderful country, we witnessed the mistreatment of the land and sea, we visited big cities where people felt the brunt of stress and anxiety, these experiences made a real impact on us.
We were lucky to meet many people during our travels who gave us insight to living consciously and to take care of our planet. We transformed ourselves trying to be more conscious, enjoying the special moments and taking time to reflect and appreciate the now.
Did becoming a mom change the way you look at the future of our planet and what the future gen will have to deal with?
Absolutely!!! We wanted to soak up as much of our time with them as possible. We were lucky to start afresh in Australia and choose to move near the ocean, spending our days enjoy the company of loved ones, baking goods, and building sandcastles.
Having children is a massive part of why we have made several lifestyle changes wanting to preserve, reduce and re-use. We come from a disposable generation but I want to teach my children to take care of themselves, their possessions, and our earth. Our new town has a great infrastructure - we have green composting bins, are encouraged to take care of waterways, markets rotate in the region with second hand and locally made products and I buy from sustainable businesses who also do swap days. We moved here for these reasons, being in an area that is proactive is constantly encouraging better choices in the home. Hopefully, small habits like these will give future generations the opportunity to see the world as it is today.
As a mother, what are some of the ways in which you teach your children about our environment and sustainability?
Limiting the things we buy and living in such a small space is definitely a great way to simplify your life and reduce your environmental impact. We have so many online resources now, we have farmers markets, better thought-out products, more information and support facilities to reduce waste, towns with water bottle stations to refrain from plastic bottles, supermarkets selling more conscious items and places banning plastic bags. It's all a great start, but we still have a long way to go.
I try to think ahead with snacks and meals, making a cup of coffee at home and enjoying, carrying a ceramic travel mug, and bringing my own container for takeaway to reduce packaging. As a family, we repair, repurpose or give worn-out items to charity. I often check the community pages on Facebook - I found a lady who will take my food scraps for composting and piggies on it! It's important to take time to live in the now and accept unplanned moments — we now know our generation suffers from 'perfectionism' which gives us all anxiety, so taking a time-out is super important even if it’s simply walking on the beach at sunrise.
How do you balance sustainability and travel?
It’s hard I certainly won’t lie! Thinking ahead with food prep (lots of fruit and snacks) refrains us from buying packaged food or purchasing too many things. We try and limit our meat and dairy intake too. We research destinations/restaurants and hotels that practice responsible resourcing (Ie. solar energy, giving back to locals, using natural materials). Riley's toys are rotated so they don’t get old, and once he has grown out of them we make sure they are donated/passed down.
Living in a VW Kombi Seems like such an adventure! How did that originally come about?
Both of our families would tell us of their road-trip tales and the incredible memories of camping in remote areas, seeing wildlife in their habitat, fishing in clear water and watching the sunset fall into the water in the west. These stories really stuck with us and we were dying to create new memories this way. Lock has always had a love for split-screen kombi’s and as luck would have it, a well-maintained one was for sale through a family friend - so we had to jump at the opportunity!
How do you decide what to pack when going on longer trips?
We have limited space and try really hard to keep it all minimal. My must-have is the foldable baby bath by stokke —I have traveled the world with it, both babes fit in it before bed and helps them to relax. I often use packing cubes as they neatly keep everything in one place (each of us has one). Medical kit is mainly baby products, a small USB portable blender for smoothies and a few other things.
You've adapted to living and traveling in small space so beautifully - is a tiny home something you're interested in the future?
I adore simple and natural living spaces, I am an interior designer and have a passion for interiors and furniture —I have loved van life but I dream of my own home full of bamboo and rattan.
You have such beautiful photography on your Instagram feed - what inspires your content creation?
THANK YOU! We both have a passion for photography, we have always had a camera and taken photos of our travels and each other. At first, Lock would just take pictures of Riley and me in the moment. We originally began sharing our traveling photographs with family and friends as a journal and now we get really excited about sharing them with the world.
Given the tragic fires that have been happening in Australia recently, what can we do to help beyond donating to relief organizations?