My first trip abroad was one of the last great grand tours for students — when the dollar was strong, group rates ruled and long before the term backpack was included in the description. For months before we left, I pored over the hotel descriptions, read about every city and site, and checked out every travelogue from the local library.
After that first magical trip, I saved for the next one and after college got my dream job with the very tour company with whom I’d taken that first tour. My first solo trip. at 23. was to London in advance of a large group arriving at the beautiful Park Lane.
Now, I work with a publishing company and manage my travel addiction during breaks and holidays.
This writing comes from two places – first the discovery a few years ago of the joy of travelling alone. While I love travelling with friends and family, there is a completely different experience when you step, anonymous, off a plane in a new city, with an adventure stretching before you. As I talk with women, I’m surprised again and again by competent, independent friends who are daunted by the idea of going alone and either don’t travel or travel with friends they know will not want to go/spend/cruise/visit/learn/relax as they would.
I’m not an adventure traveller. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle across Madagascar or gone into the jungle alone with nothing but my iPad and a knife— but travelling solo to Paris, Tuscany, Prague or Tulsa is within reach. I still love travelling with a group but my hope is that every woman, in fact every one, can plan a dream trip or personal retreat without feeling they have to depend on having a travel partner.
If I’d waited to see the acqua alta in Venice in the winter until someone wanted to do exactly that with me…I might have never had the amazing experience of sitting at my window in the dawn light watching the water cover the hotel pier as the flood alarms sounded or later standing in Wellington boots, in water up to my knees, ordering coffee with beautifully dressed and rubber-booted Venetians.
I hope that what I share here honors my mentor and friend, Dr. Mary D. Bowman. Mary D. led many of us on our first great adventure. Her unbridled joy of travel and learning, and her kindness to a naive teenager, launched me in a career and a lifelong passion. She’s now taken that great adventure trip that awaits us all.
Keep writing about your travels! Dr. Mary D. Bowman is looking on with great joy!
Hello, Roomie! Wasn’t that a wonderful trip with Mary D. to Germany? Do you remember that unbelievable suite in Lucerne with all the white duvets and the views of the lake. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a more beautiful place. Travelling with her was like a master’s degree program in enjoying life and the world.
Before the backpack? 🙂 love it!
Thanks for at the follow – It’s my pleasure to reciprocate …
I’m sure backpacks existed -I just hadn’t seen one! We went on the “if this is Tuesday, it must be Paris” trip of major capitals and lovely hotels, group rates and a strong dollar!
I was directed here by our mutual friend Rosanne, and I want to thank you for this wonderful blog. I am leaving for a solo trip soon myself (which I am writing about here: http://katherinegoesplaces.blogspot.com/), and reading your blog has really encouraged me that this will be a great experience.
Katherine, it’s a great experience. There will be surprises but with good planning (and some reflection about what makes you happy), travelling alone is challenging, life-affirming, startling and relaxing all at once! Let me know if I can offer any ideas but in the end it’s all about you!