I wish you the gift of travel.
I mean it, please go now! Don’t wait until you have enough time or money; the two rarely arrive together. Don’t wait until you have a buddy. Definitely don’t wait until your boyfriend or girlfriend are willing to go. Travel somewhere cheap or just go for a 3 day car camp. Did you know you can house sit all over the world? Or you could teach English with a bachelors degree….in anything?
My life would be drastically different if I hadn’t spent time overseas since I was 15. I house sat in Lake Tahoe, taught English in South Korea and meandered quite a bit. I’ve traveled to Britain, Spain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Nepal, Panama and Mexico.
Travel isn’t new, my family traveled in an RV every summer. We went across Canada and through much of the western US. I’ve driven solo round-trip from Washington State to California, flown out to Vermont to drive my friend cross country home to the west coast.
Through travel, I learned about myself and others. Travel brings out your best and worst. Want to figure out if you love someone? Travel with them or go solo and see if you miss them. Check your bravery? Test your physical limits? Find our emotional triggers? Figure out if you’re type A or B? I figured out my type on a trip to northern Spain walking ‘the way’ or Camino de Santiago.
The trail is a several hundred mile pilgrimage made popular to Americans by an Emilio Estevez movie called The Way. I went too fast with new socks. The blisters that developed became infected but I kept walking. It took a midnight trip to a Spanish ER and antibiotics to stop me from walking. I sat fighting back tears half from fright, half from pain. I was treated and sent off with a prescription. A sleepy on call pharmacy filled my antibiotic prescription and I managed to find a hotel. The next morning was glorious. I felt 10 times better and there was a sunny breakfast spot with wonderful Spanish coffee to enjoy.
The following morning, I called my travel shy partner back at home. He encouraged me to go on to Santiago, the end of the Camino. I stopped walking and followed the camino via taxi, train and bus. My self image was pushed a week later as I recovered. In the late afternoon all along the camino, pilgrims converge on town squares. I had a little room in Marino, Spain. On an afternoon stroll, I found myself chatting with a man carrying a toy Sasquatch. Why not talk with someone who had a toy Sasquatch? It’s travel, that’s what you do. Mr Sasquatch explained he was carrying the doll in honor of his kid. OK I thought he seems safe. Five minutes into the conversation, I explained my injury; he casually mentions that I’m obviously type A.
What??!!! At the time, I believed I was type B. In my head I was easy going. In fact I still didn’t believe it until I got home and told the story to my friends. My friends took turns busting a gut when they realized I had no idea I was type A. I had to travel to Spain, hurt myself and speak to a complete stranger carrying a doll to understand my own major character trait.
Aside from the ‘learning experiences’ I call my misadventures, I’ve had wonderfully blissful moments. I went back to the camino and finished without injury. I’ve ridden a horse through Spain, swam in the hot springs of the Azores, explored the Ascension Well in Portugal and meandered the Louvre.
I’ve considered converting to catholicism in cathedrals, Buddhism while awed by a giant buddhas in Thailand and considered running away to Bali.
The last solo travel I did was Nepal. I was on week 4 when I called my sister (thank you Face time). I complained of loneliness and said I want to come home. She woke me up. “Don’t spend the whole time feeling sorry for yourself. Enjoy the experience or you’ll regret it,” she said. I took her advice and booked a 12 day trek with Kumari an adorable pint size guide.
It was by far the best part of my trip. I saw the ‘almost’ top of the world including Poon Hill 10,531 feet up in the Himalayas! Annapurna and Machhapucchre Base Camps at 13,550 feet.
I returned home with another great adventure and didn’t waste (too much) time.
- Traveling will help you find yourself.
- Be open to big discussions with strangers. Those interactions have the potential to change your life.
- Follow your passion, even if it isn’t travel.
- Never ever wait for your romantic partner to come along. You’ll miss out on too much.
- Traveling teaches you how to be alone, not lonely.
- When walking several days, don’t change anything that works especially not a working sock and shoe combo.
Suggested solo travel destinations:
The Camino or the Way in Northern Spain
New Zealand (haven’t gone myself but hear nothing but good.)
The Young Adventuress
Dave’s ESL cafe. (Don’t put up a resume unless you’re prepared for hundreds of responses.)
3 Sisters Adventure Trekking (ask for Kumari!)