I’ve been traveling solo for nearly seven years now. I’ve done cruises, road trips, international and domestic trips on my own. Each adventure grounds me, opens my eyes, my heart and my mind to the different cultures, lives, obstacles and views of the world. I’ve had trips that took my breath away with a beautiful landscape, brought me to my knees stress crying and introduced some wonderful people into my life. In no particular order, I reminisce on my top 10 travel memories.
Italy – the trip that brought wonderful people into my life
My first major international solo trip was to London, Paris and around Italy. On the bus tour in Italy, I was one of three Americans. The rest of the bus was filled with the most wonderful people from Australia and Canada. We had heart to hearts while drinking wine in Saint Mark’s Square, got lost and spoke terrible Italian in a small town in Tuscany, sang “Let It Go” while on a water taxi in Venice to entertain a young girl and more. I learned that traveling can introduce you to the kindest, warm and good people this world has to offer.
Alaska – visiting friends, seeing nature and practicing our bear pose
I love traveling to Alaska because it means visiting my friend Chrissy and her family. It’s a bonus to see wildlife, view glaciers, make fireweed jelly and laugh when we find ourselves in the most ridiculous situations. You know you’ve found your people when you can laugh while being on a wildlife cruise, surround by people vomiting, with myself plastered to a window (to prevent vomiting) and Chrissy hugging a pole on the back deck. Or when you are fishing at midnight (dusk in August), and have a local warn you of a black bear walking your way, you realize that the one person who bragged about knowing the bear pose is frozen in fear.
Hawaii – scuba diving, beaches and the realization the planet needs me to fight for it
I spent a week in Hawaii scuba diving, laying on the beach, driving the road to Hana and wine tasting. It was that week, immersed in a beautiful spot of our country (both above and underwater) that I realized how passionate I was about saving the world I just explored, and had yet to explore. After that I made a daily effort to be more environmentally friendly and to educate others on how to do so.
Iceland – a trip to the US Embassy
After flight delays, changes and long layovers I arrive in Reykjavík twelve hours later than planned. Nearly 24 hours later, I realized my wallet was gone. And with it, all my cash, credit cards and passport. A traveler’s worst nightmare. Through the help of some kind humans, my own quick thinking, a wonderful friend back home and a couple of beers I had a passport and cash in my hands 48 hours later once the Embassy opened. My time in Iceland was breathtakingly beautiful and stressful. It was a trip that taught me how resourceful I am and that I can handle more than I thought.
My nephew spent a semester studying aboard a little outside of Amsterdam. I was lucky enough to spend an evening with him and his host family. It had been a long time since I had a long conversation with him, and I realized that night how much of a good human he had grown into. His host family was wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. It’s always extra special to visit friends and family on my travels.
London – the city that stole my heart
I quickly fell in love with London. My feet hit the pavement and I instantly felt like home. I loved the foggy mornings, the neighborhoods, the history and more. I spent my days wandering the streets, taking in the architecture, the sites, the people and squeezing as much as I could into my short trip. My inner nerd was on cloud 9 ¾ as I went through the Harry Potter studio tour. I’ve missed the city from the moment I boarded the train to Paris, and am aching to return.
Amtrak train – an experience I don’t need to do again
I have a goal of visiting all 50 states (only three more to go!). I planned a trip where my friend and I would fly into Portland, Oregon and then take the Amtrak to Glacier for a few days, then on to Chicago, knocking off several states I needed. Portland was fun and Glacier was beautiful. The Amtrak train was not awful, but I was full of built up energy by the time I got off the train. As a vegetarian, you don’t have many options. The roll cage on the top bunk is interesting. The best part is the wide variety of people you meet. I’m glad we did it, and very glad we broke the trip up, but I walked off that train knowing I don’t need to do it again.
Australia – wine tours, Shingles and visiting friends
I usually come back from an international trip with a good story, and Australia was no different. The trip started off wonderful, visiting friends I had met in Italy while I was in Sydney. From there I went to Adelaide, where I did wine tours and saw my first Rugby game. I ended the trip in Cairns where I did a crocodile tour and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I danced underwater as I came up to an anemone with baby blue hippo tangs in it (my favorite fish). I also went to the urgent care with a possible bug bite on my shoulder. Turns out, my sore shoulder was actually mild shingles.
South Africa – a magical continent
There’s nothing quite like seeing a sunrise/sunset over a safari. Or seeing zebras playing, a cheetah lounging in the shade or have a monkey be a quick ninja and steal food out of your hand. I got to experience all of that and the importance of traveling with your own electrolyte packets. After coming down with a stomach virus (that I contracted in the US) on my first day in Kruger, I realized that not all areas of the world know what Gatorade is. I know make sure that I have Propel packets with me when traveling internationally.
Galapagos Islands – hammerheads, penguins and discussing the power of the internet
I always try to take a trip in September to celebrate my birthday. This year I spent a week in the Galapagos Islands, hoping to see hammerhead sharks, penguins and iguanas. I did all of that and more. I hiked a volcano. I spent an afternoon at the Darwin Research facility. I went on runs to the beach. And I spent time talking with locals about how their limited internet impacts their ability to know what is happening in the world, it limits the options for secondary education, impacts tourism and more. The internet – a part of daily life that most American’s get frustrated with if it’s slow, is an obstacle that is holding back progress to the inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands. We also discussed how the Venezuela refugees are taking jobs in mainland Ecuador, pushing those locals to the Galapagos Islands, causing tension. It was another reminder that we are all global citizens – what happens in our country can have a ripple effect on other countries.