Military Brat, TCK Kailey Carlson Reflects on Global Lifestyle

Carlson during a trip to Bali, Indonesia in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)

Kailey Carlson misses the elaborate Christmas markets that she would visit in Stuttgart, Germany. She misses the old architecture and cobblestone streets, as well as riding her bike, alone, to the Saturday Market every week to pick up breads, cheeses and fresh vegetables sourced from the farms in surrounding villages.

Carlson poses during a trip to New York in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)
Carlson poses during a trip to New York in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)

Carlson as a Military Brat

Kailey was born in England but is a U.S. citizen. Her father is a member of the U.S. military, and as a result she moved around the U.S. for a while but in middle school moved to Germany.

“This experience exposed me to the variety of ways of life as I compared European culture to the culture I was raised,” Carlson said. “It allowed me to take notice of minute details of another’s pattern of living that I know I’ve never been able to see amidst my own culture.

Kailey went to a school on the U.S. military base in Germany. She would connect with the German community beyond the base. She remembers playing soccer with German boys and having conversations through broken German with her neighbor.

Carlson studied wildlife and conservation biology at a university in the USA. She hopes to get her pilot’s license. Combining these interests, Kailey plans to get a career in the wildlife service in eastern Africa. Now, she remains a global nomad.

Carlson on traveling

Carlson while hiking a 14er mountain in Colorado, U.S.A. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)
Carlson while hiking a 14er mountain in Colorado, U.S.A. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)

“You can definitely tell that she maintains that traveling part of her lifestyle still,” said Allie Ruckman, Carlson’s college roommate and friend. “She’s always looking for a plane ticket like, ‘Guys, there’s a $300 plane ticket to Sweden let’s go.’ She’s not even kidding.”

Some question how she can afford to travel. She doesn’t spend her money on anything else, according to Ruckman.

“She just makes it a priority and it’s really cool,” Ruckman said.

More to traveling

For Kailey, travel is more than visiting the tourist attractions.

“I think there definitely is some beauty to exposure of these different cultures,” Carlson said. “I’ve traveled a far bit and it’s not something you can really come to recognize through remaining a tourist. You see an actual difference in the way of life, in some of the smallest details.”

She travels as a means to express herself and celebrate culture.

“It doesn’t make you any greater as a person,” Kailey said. “I think it just opens you to a humility about your own culture that is difficult to get through any other means.”

Carlson during a trip to Bali, Indonesia in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)
Carlson during a trip to Bali, Indonesia in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Kailey Carlson)

Travel ‘just opens you to a humility about your own culture that is difficult to get through any other means.’

Kailey Carlson


  1. This article is amazing! I truly love her mentality on traveling and it is definitely inspirational for those who hope to have a similar lifestyle. I completely agree that traveling can bring you an understanding of other cultures, benefiting you in many aspects of life. The quote at the end is very powerful and shows her appreciation for traveling and how it could affect others who pursue it.

  2. I love her outlook on travel being an avenue to experience the humility of your own culture. Consistent exposure to new frames of mind are an important part of maintaining perspective, and dedication to a nomad lifestyle is very impressive! It is very inspiring to see that this lifestyle is possible for anyone.

  3. This was a really fun article to read! I really love that even when being a Military BRAT, where she was exposed to differing cultures, Kailey still maintained a love for travel and new experiences. It’s powerful to see the impact that her lifestyle growing up had on her. With her outlook, her experience simply opened her eyes to varying cultures apart from those she grew up around, and it strengthened her passion for international travel. I appreciate that she spends her money solely on traveling because she has found something she is really passionate about and its hard to come by that.

  4. Kailey Carlson’s story is so neat! Getting that exposure to other cultures and countries early on has such an impact on one’s outlook and it’s amazing to see her positivity with it. Especially as a college student, to still hold travel as a high priority shows some real dedication and love for it. She keeps a fun and humble outlook, willing to let herself grow and learn from other cultures, and it’s great to see how that is seen by those around her. I’m even excited for her next trip and I’ve never met her!

  5. This was an interesting read. Her last quote really resonated with me because I completely agree and it is cool that she is still going out and traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. I appreciate that she travels for the culture and not just the tourist attractions because I feel that it’s overlooked when traveling.

  6. Kailey Carlson exemplifies the experiences of many military brats. The notion that culture stays with you if you’ve spent a significant amount of time in away from your passport country can be seen in her story; the experiences that Kailey has lived through seem to have given her an even greater desire to experience the world in all of its forms and colors. Perhaps those who are not TCKs can find this same sense of experience by getting out and seeing the world from a different lens.

  7. This was a very interesting article to read when it comes the perspectives and lifestyle of a military brat. Personally, I grew up a good amount of military brats and still have a few friends from that lifestyle, However unlike Kailey, they talk about how it has ruined their desire to travel and affected their ability to make friends. Hearing Kailey’s perspective on how she loves to travel and view the world was refreshing to hear. Also, how she views the situation as a chance to make friends all over the world and be involved in different parts of the world was very cool.

  8. What an amazing way to live life in my opinion. I like the way she explains how she has lived her life a everywhere and how travel has become such part of her identity and how she learns about her self. I love to travel, I love the idea of meeting new people and getting to know multiple cultures every time you travel. What I have never really thought about is getting to know my self through other cultures and travel. I can only imagine what a life full of stories of all the different places you can go to must be like.

  9. I’m happy to see that Kailey was able to get some great experiences out of her life as a Military B.R.A.T. The life can be very stressful and disorienting, and the fact that she “leaned in” and built positive memories that inspire her to keep traveling is beautiful. I also enjoyed reading her perspective regarding travel being a means of humbling oneself rather than boosting their ego. Experiencing different languages, norms, and ways of living is not always an easy process, and I love that Kailey points out that experiencing other cultures builds humility. I wholeheartedly agree with her. I’d be curious to know if she has any thoughts on how her overall experience as a TCK has shaped her sense of identity and community as an adult.

  10. Kailey is such a great example of bettering ones feature with their experience as a TCK. I imagine it must have been difficult trying to communicate outside the base in an unfamiliar language. It is great to hear that Kailey has continued exploring her passions and continued as a global nomad. ㅜㅁㅍㄷㄱ

  11. Becoming a military brat is something that I have always wondered about. I grew up moving around alot, but it was mostly within the same city, or a few hours away. Military brats have to have such an incredibly ability in order to adjust to various countries and cultures. I find it incredibly remarkable, and scary at the same time. The fact that Kailey can find the joy in being in a different country altogether is incredible.

  12. As someone who aspires to prioritize travel, this article was very interesting! It’s cool to see another person pursuing their dreams of traveling without any fear or doubt. I think this article points out a very important message: when you want to do something, just do it! Ultimately, if you want something and enough, your own self-doubt is the only thing stopping you. Kailey’s story is totally inspiring, and I will take some of her words to heart as I continue to pursue a career involving travel and a global lifestyle.

  13. I really liked this article, and it makes me want to travel and get exposure to different cultures. I really like how she talked about visiting not as a tourist, and really trying to venture out and experience the culture. I have many friends who are international students and I think it is really neat how they come to America and experience our culture. I love hearing them talk about how things are different back home and it would be cool to experience that for myself someday.

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