What is your travel style, my friend?
Well, read on my fellow seeker. I hope you discover on this page (and beyond) validation, inspiration, and permission to seek.
Even if you’re travel style isn’t YET solo, I hope you will try solo travel at least once!
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of taking a year off to travel the world. Always in that dream, there was a partner sipping rosé across from me in a Parisian café, dancing beside me under the moonlight at Thailand’s Full-Moon Party, or lighting the way for me on a pre-dawn, flashlight hike to see the sunrise from Bali’s Mount Batur.
When my partner died of cancer, I learned the hard way that life is too short to delay or deny dreams. So, despite being fundamentally terrified, I quit my job and set out alone with a one-way ticket to see the world.
I packed my worries with me, fretting about pretty much everything, including being solo in travel – and solo in life.
I carried a lot of baggage on that first trip – both physically and metaphorically. Not only did I carry a suitcase bigger than me, but I shouldered grief, fear, and all kinds of doubt.
By the time I finally unpacked my (carry-on!) bag 18 months later, I had learned a great deal about travel, about life, and about being solo.
One of the most surprising lessons that I learned is that solo travel does NOT mean traveling alone. You will meet many other like-minded travelers out there. A fellow solo traveler that I met in Kuala Lumpur explained it like this:
“Meeting another person when traveling is similar to the moment when two children meet. There are no expectations. There is just authentic curiosity about the soul of another.”
In the “solo style” pages, we will explore the joys, the challenges, and the authentic curiosity that result from traveling solo.
And, because the way we travel is often the way we live, I’ll also share with you some of the crazy stories that come from the single life. Because whether you are accidentally solo, or solo by choice, there are times when people look at us single people with, well, authentic curiosity.
So be it. Be you. Because you really don’t have a choice.
The way I see it, we have this one life to live, and we have nothing to lose from loving that life, even if it isn’t shaking out quite the way we planned. The choice that we can make is to find happiness within the current situation.
If you’re a seasoned solo traveler looking for camaraderie, a soon-to-be solo traveler looking for inspiration, or a single person looking for validation, then laugh along with me here!
Picture this: You’re standing on a moonlit beach on an island in Thailand. The moon above is the very first full moon of the year and there are no clouds. Revelers dance and sway around you, their faces lit by the natural light from the sky and from the flames thrown by the fire dancers who toss torches high.
You’re thinking this is going to be a good year as you look around, proud of yourself for going to the famous Full-Moon Party solo. For meeting – over communal buckets of booze – new friends who will last a lifetime. For being unapologetically you.
And as the sun comes up, you wade into the warm water, letting the waves wash away the sand caked to your legs from hours of dancing, watching the water turn from deep black to dark blue to light orange under the brilliant dawn. And then you see it.
That was my wake-up call. The plastic beer bottles and discarded communal booze buckets washing up on Haad Rin Beach after the Full Moon party in Thailand jarred me into action.
I started small, taking the 30-day challenge to reject all plastic bottles. That broke my habit of grabbing single-use water bottles whenever I felt thirsty. Instead, I started searching for ways to fill up my reusable water bottle, carrying it with me everywhere in a cross-body holster (that also serves as a purse!)
It snowballed from there!
I started noticing every bit of plastic that I consumed. And then every bit of single-use garbage that I threw into the bin.
Now, for me, it is no longer good enough to simply recycle. I am on a mission to reduce my single-use consumption and to travel – and live – in a way that is responsible and respectful to the planet.
It’s a journey. I’m learning every day. I’m far from perfect and I’m far from being an expert on sustainability. But I am committed to reducing garbage and waste in every aspect of my life.
If you’re looking for responsible travel adventures and sustainable living tips, then your travel style is sustainable! On these pages we will explore sustainable living and responsible travel together. There will be no preaching, just applauding our collective effort to change the world for the better – one everyday decision at a time.
I used to hold myself back. A few examples:
I loved music, but didn’t attend concerts because I feared crowds; I loved writing, but didn’t write because it took valuable time away from careers that I deemed to be more responsible; I dreamed of being my own boss, but remained in nine-to-five jobs (that were really more like five-to-nine jobs) because I was afraid to give up the financial security.
Then my perfectly healthy partner was diagnosed with a brutal cancer that killed him in just four months. He was 40 years old. And it dawned on me that no amount of money would have given him even one more day on this planet.
I stopped holding myself back.
I quit my job and headed for Europe and then Asia. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and beyond my self-imposed limitations. I went to concerts and festivals, took scuba diving lessons, saw astrologists and spiritual channelers, meditated with monks, and walked a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.
The first 100 miles on the Camino was agony, but the last 400 miles were (mostly) joyful. It was similar to taking those first terrifying steps toward my dreams of traveling, writing and working for myself.
But once I took the leap, it was impossible to turn back.
I think we tend to get so caught up in what is expected of us, that we sometimes bury our desires and our hopes for our lives. After a while, the idea of taking a risk to follow a dream seems selfish or reckless rather than a door-opening, life-altering opportunity.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we should all quit our jobs to travel the world. That was just my dream, after all. What I am suggesting, though, is that we should all take the time to do some seeking.
We should seek within us the hopes that we may have buried, we should consider taking that first difficult step toward a long-forgotten dream, we should shrug off the guilt that we feel when we do something for ourselves, and we should seek more from life. Unapologetically.
If you are someone who is ready to seek more, to seek often, and to seek unapologetically, well then your travel style is seeking and the seeking style pages are the place to start for a little inspiration.
We all face grief in our lifetimes. It is part of the human experience. Part of loving and losing.
I acknowledge that I am lucky to have had the opportunity to travel the world after losing my partner to cancer. Our society does not allow most people this freedom or this time. While we all experience grief, it’s rare to get the time to grieve.
If you are grieving, I invite you to join me on my grieving pages where I talk freely about my own process – all the ups and downs and uncomfortable topics like dating after death.
It’s my hope that honest writing about grief will help others going through a hard, but unavoidable, part of life.
I am writing a memoir about wandering the world while grieving, and you can see sneak peeks of that on my Living in the Ashes page here.
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage across Spain. I stumbled on the Camino while reading my late partner’s books, one of which was called “The Pilgrimage” by Paulo Coelho.
I felt called.
Though I am not religious, had no experience with hiking, and didn’t even own a backpack, I set out on a journey that changed my life.
I maintain a Camino de Santiago resource section on this blog for anyone looking for information on walking the Camino.