Discovering Authenticity and Adventure: Cari Shore, Founder of Aspiring Bohemian

In this captivating interview, we meet Cari Shore, the visionary founder of Aspiring Bohemian, a travel community designed for queer women seeking adventure and connection. Cari shares her transformative journey from a successful career in banking to embracing her true self and exploring the world. Her inspiring story highlights the power of travel to reshape our lives, the importance of authenticity in love and relationships, and the beauty of forming connections with kindred spirits across the globe. As Cari reveals her experiences and insights, she offers a beacon of hope and encouragement for anyone ready to break free from their comfort zone and embark on their own path of discovery.

What inspired you to start Aspiring Bohemian? 

I knew I wanted to travel when I left my job, but my experience at that point was limited to all-inclusive and weekend getaways. As I was planning my trips, I had a hard time finding travel options for queer women that were adventurous, authentic, and modern. I was seeking a community of curious spirits…but couldn’t find it.

Simultaneously, I was searching for what was next for me professionally. I wasn’t interested in rejoining the corporate world and was convinced that the universe would point me in the right direction. Still, my one-year sabbatical had turned into two, and I was getting anxious. I knew I had to do something with the gift that travel had given me. I felt compelled to inspire other queer women to feel confident about exploring the world.

Earlier this year, I found myself poolside chatting with some incredible entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. After hearing my story and my idea for filling the gap for lesbian travel, they convinced me that I just had to get started. I taught myself how to build a website on that trip, and Aspiring Bohemian was born. 

How did realizing your love for women at 40 change your perspective on life and your career? 

Realizing I loved women changed everything. I had lived an extraordinary life full of successes and safe choices. I was married to a wonderful man, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. I want to be clear, I was not living in the closet; at 42 years old, it had never even occurred to me that I was gay. 

Oh, but there were signs…I watched queer couples with awe and envy; I even remember thinking how lucky they were to be lesbians. Ha. 

When I finally understood that I was gay, it was like putting on a pair of glasses. For the first time, I knew why people wrote love songs and poetry; for the first time, I experienced love and heartbreak, and for the first time, I considered what else I might be missing because I wasn’t paying attention or because I thought it what I was supposed to do. 

This realization marked the start of a profound transformation, which ultimately led me to make the bold decision to leave behind a career that had spanned almost three decades.

Can you describe when you decided to leave your job as a banking executive? 

I mostly loved my job and had been fortunate to succeed in a role that allowed me to live comfortably and raise my daughter in dreamy, small-town Ojai, California. I started my career as an after-school job in high school and literally worked my entire adult life as a banker (except for that one glorious summer as a lifeguard). But, like my marriage, I felt an inexplicable urge to leave. I remember telling my boss, as he listened in shock, that I was leaving to explore. To explore the world, myself, and my next profession. I’ve become keenly aware of how much of my identity was wrapped up in business. In a conservative field dominated by straight, white men, I’m relishing in the feeling of shedding my suit, literally and figuratively. 

What has been the most rewarding experience during your travels so far? 

The most rewarding experience, hands down, has been the connections I’ve made during my travels. I have formed friendships in countries that I never thought I would visit. I’ve met people who have shared that my own gay version of “Eat, Pray, Love” has inspired them to make significant changes in their lives or to do something that scares them.

Can you share a particularly memorable interaction you had with a stranger while traveling? 

During my recent adventure in Spain, I stumbled upon the tranquil island of Menorca. While having dinner, I struck up a conversation with the charming couple seated next to me. Barbara and Martin, lovers aged 75 and 80, were seasoned visitors to the island, and their stories captivated me. Before I knew it, they had become my generous guides, treating me to delicious meals, sightseeing tours, and an unexpected but cherished friendship during my week-long stay. Our time together was so fantastic that they invited me for a walk along the Camino de Santiago in the upcoming Fall.

What advice would you give to other women who feel stuck in their careers but are afraid to make a change?

Not to sound cheesy, but this is our one great life; we’ve gotta truly LIVE it. While I understand that not everyone can simply walk away from a paycheck, it’s essential to realize that transformation doesn’t always have to be drastic. Take small but deliberate steps towards pursuing your passions, be willing to take risks, and start saying yes to new opportunities. Traveling has truly shaped my perspective of the world and my place in it. There are many places outside the US where the human experience appears less complicated, and people seem more fulfilled. I’d encourage your readers to want less and experience more. I practice it every time I get an email from Anthropologie. 

How has your view on love and relationships evolved since your journey began?

I’ve come to the realization that I haven’t always stayed true to myself in my past relationships. Being authentic is now a non-negotiable for me. I’m a big fan of love, and I also thrive on exploring the world. Balancing these two passions can be challenging in a long-term relationship. But now, I’m lucky to have a partner who supports me on this journey, even when it means we’re apart for extended periods. She champions my love for adventure and my free-spirited nature. We may not always be in the same place, but I believe that love and relationships can thrive outside of traditional conventions.

What are some common misconceptions about solo travel that you’ve encountered? 

I always prioritize safety as a woman and LGBTQ+ traveler, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the kindness and support I’ve experienced. People worry about loneliness, but more opportunities for connection exist when I’m solo. Concerns about language barriers, getting around, and dining solo shouldn’t deter people from embracing solo travel. And solo travel for women is having a moment; there’s a statistic floating around that 85% of solo travelers are women, so you’ll likely bump into others in the same boat!

How do you handle loneliness while traveling on your own? 

Sometimes, being with myself and in my head for days at a time can be A. LOT. Social situations don’t always present themselves, so I intentionally interact with others if I’m feeling down. I often book a tour, take a class, or join a group outing. I also stay connected to the people who support me from home. It’s nice to know I have friends and family rooting for me. 

What role does community play in your vision for Aspiring Bohemian?

Community is really what Aspiring Bohemian is all about. I envision a tribe of queer women who uplift each other to embrace bold adventures, a space where we can come together for new experiences, shared or solo. 

What are your future plans for Aspiring Bohemian, and how do you see it growing? 

I see Aspiring Bohemian as the go-to for lgbtq+ travel. We currently offer travel consultations and coaching, some really fun merchandise, blogs, and inspiration. Later this year, we will launch small group trips, and ultimately, we’ll have multiple offerings for all types of travel preferences and destinations worldwide. Since we’re in the community-building phase, I encourage your readers to sign up for our mailing list and interact with us on Instagram.  

What message would you like to share with other queer women who are looking to find themselves and explore the world?

Travel has the power to be an escape, therapy, a platform for celebration, mending for a broken heart, or a catalyst for new possibilities. It can change the way you think and just might change your life. You never know what’s waiting for you on the other side of that airport.

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”  -Anthony Bourdain


by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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