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Floating Into New Worlds: Kristin Karst

EVP and co-owner, AmaWaterways

This year, AmaWaterways is luring active travelers aboard its European river cruises with new biking and hiking excursions. No wonder co-founder Kristin Karst is behind the charge: on her own travels, the German native is always on the hunt for that next great adventure.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
While I have been to parts of Africa, there are still so many wonderful countries I would like to visit. This region of the world is fascinating to me, as the culture is very much in its primitive state, which makes for a very authentic experience and desirable destination! 

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
I would have to say Siem Reap, Cambodia. From the incredible temples such as Angkor Wat to the breathtaking surrounding nature of the city, I could return here over and over.

Do you have a travel ritual?
Whether on a business or leisure trip, I always order a glass of champagne on a flight. It is a great way to toast to my destination! 

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
One routine I really try to maintain is my morning swim. I will seek out a swimming pool in my destination and try to schedule 20 minutes of exercise. It’s the perfect way for me to kick start my day.

Angkor Wat is one of Karst's favorite destinations

Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
For me, it would be Thai food. There are so many options to choose from and all of the dishes feature such fresh ingredients, which is very important to me.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Don’t over pack! I have seen travelers so frequently pack items that don’t leave their suitcase. I like to take a less is more approach, packing a few diverse pieces and comfortable shoes, which leaves room for other souvenirs and other memorable items.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Immersive, curious, and authentic.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
I like to combine a little bit of both in my travels. While I am definitely a planner and like an itinerary, I also try to find off-the-beaten path experiences along the way.

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?
During my travels, I like to collect special mementos from trips that have significant meaning to me. Every time I leave for a new destination, I always pack one of these special items as my good luck charm.

What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
There are many books that have influenced my passion for travel, but one that resonates is The Lover by Marguerite Duras. This particular book even inspired our first ship on the Mekong River—La Marguerite.

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
My husband, Rudi Schreiner! We both share the same interests when it comes to travel, making for a great travel companion. He is the even more adventurous one, and it is always fun to try new experiences with him.

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
While I’ve had many wonderful trips where I was unplugged to refresh, I do prefer to stay connected. This way, I can still share my travel experience with friends and family regardless if it is for business or leisure.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
One custom that I have always been fond of is the “Bread and Salt” tradition in Russia. This particular custom of breaking a loaf of bread with a guest is a great way to cultivate a new, long-lasting relationship, which I place a high value on in both my work and personal life.

What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
I have always had a great appreciation for the water, which of course ties back to AmaWaterways. When I travel to a new place, I always seek out other bodies of water, including lakes, seas, and other rivers, as the backdrop of the horizon and soothing waves create such a peaceful and relaxing experience. 

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
I would have to say exploring a local spa nearby and experiencing all of its offerings!

What’s your first travel memory?
My first travel memory would have to be when I was nine years old, when my family traveled to the Caucasus region in Russia. My mother was a Russian language teacher and was assigned to this area of the world for a period of time. It was such an incredible experience for me, as our family hiked Mount Elbrus and also spent time in Sochi. It was this trip that really curated the travel bug in me and the passion to want to explore the world.

>>NEXT: AFAR Insider Nick Cope