My journey is a bit different to all the young teens and twenty somethings out there. With a passion for travel and the courage to go forth and explore the world.
I’m 49, I have 3 grown kids and I currently live in the Shetland Islands in Scotland, which is super remote (overnight ferry to the Scottish mainland anyone?) and rural, although very beautiful. I am passionate about travel, especially solo female travel. Let me tell you why.
I only began my solo travel journey 2 years ago at the age of 47, which I believe gives me a different perspective. In your 40’s you probably have more fears and caution than you do in your 20’s, when you feel invincible. By 40 something, life has probably given you a few knocks. Your peers think you are crazy to put on a backpack and stay in hostels.
As a child, growing up in a very working-class town in the north of England, my family didn’t travel. I didn’t know anyone else who travelled either. Back in the 1980’s some started going on package holidays, but it never crossed my mind that our family would do this.
The only person I remember ‘travelling’ was my uncle. He came one evening and set up a slide projector in our living room and proceeded to show us slide after slide after slide of his trip. I’m not sure of his destination. I seem to remember he’d been on safari, but I do remember not being interested. It was a world so far removed from what I knew, it had no relevance or context for me.
As I grew older, I remember hearing the concept of ‘gap years’ for the first time. It was something I associated with rich kids, whose parents could pay for them to travel for a year. I left school at 16 and got a job. A holiday wasn’t even something I could afford, never mind travelling.
It’s interesting now, looking back, that I can see elements of the wanderlust that fills me so much. I never wanted to stay in the town I was born in. At 16 I went off to be working pupil in a riding school some 50 miles from home. I didn’t get homesick. At 18 I moved 200 miles north to live in Edinburgh. During my marriage I jumped at opportunities to work abroad in Texas, Canada and Australia, but accepted the reasons my ex-husband gave for remaining in Scotland.
I was married young, had children. I was a stay-at-home mum for many years and never had much opportunity to travel. Fast forward a divorce and grown children, I suddenly found myself in the position many women in their 40’s and 50’s do – not having anyone to travel with.
Going abroad instilled fear in me. ‘I’m going to be mugged, raped and murdered fear’. Alongside a knowledge that I have absolutely no sense of direction, this was enough to keep me at home for a number of years.
A discovery of a whole new world
However, I happened upon a world of travel blogging that I had never known existed. I think it was through buying a book on my kindle ‘A Thousand New Beginnings,’ by Kristen Addis of the super successful Be My Travel Muse Blog. Obviously, I then went to check out Kristen’s blog and discovered a whole new world.
As an avid reader, I then went onto read everything I discovered about these women who had the courage to go out and explore the world on their own. Another favourite was Lauren Juliff of Never Ending Footsteps. Lauren struggles with anxiety and is very open about her journey.
My first Solo trip
So I took that first step. After much research, I stepped onto a plane to Italy, to Venice and on to Rome.
The trip was life changing for me. The history, the architecture, the churches, the museums were so exciting for me. I didn’t have to compromise how I spent my time. I didn’t have to put anyone else first. Honestly, it was such a revelation. I was so filled with joy and new discoveries, that I had no space to worry.
And yes, I got lost, but I also found my way again. I never once felt unsafe, whether that be in tourist attractions, walking back to my hostel in the evenings or finding my way on metro systems.
The journey itself has created a journey within. Since that trip I have taken another to Paris, Brussels, Bruge and Amsterdam. Obviously COVID has put a stop to travel so far this year, but I have plans for October to return to Italy and visit the Almalfi coast. But the biggest shift has been the fire it has lit inside me.
I know that expression sounds like a cliché, but the confidence that these trips have created in me is incredible. I have developed such a desire to travel and literally see all the places, that I have embarked on a 2 year plan to develop streams of income that will allow me to become location independent. I’ve become an Independent Travel Agent and Network Marketer and am just launching a 2nd business as a Virtual Assistant. I have never before contemplated owning my own business. Now I strive to make my dreams a reality, I have so much more self-belief, I don’t feel like I have to settle for anything. I have the belief that I can go out there and create the life I want.
I’ve also started a blog, with which I hope to empower other women to find that confidence to take their own steps into solo travel. I belong to a lot of female travel groups on Facebook and see time and time again women my age asking the same questions. They want to know about safety – is it safe? Are they too old to stay in a hostel? What if they feel lonely? How do you cope eating out on your own? With my blog I hope to reassure them, that it’s ok, that they can do this and that they have the power within them. By sharing my journey, which is only just beginning, I hope to inspire others to begin theirs too.
So, if you’ve made it this far, thankyou for reading and for listening to my story. I hope you’ve found it inspiring to go out and try things that seem scary, whatever they may be 😊