2017 is a big year for me, because it marks the 10th year that I’ve been traveling solo. In March of 2007, I just started a new graduate program to obtain my educational leadership certificates (building & district administration) and I was feeling unsettled and in a teaching rut. This happens to me every few years, I get into a rut and then all of sudden I make several large changes in my life and it shakes things up a bit. For a person who doesn’t like change, this is a big deal. To an outsider, these seemingly rash decisions appear out of the blue, but the truth is that many of these changes are on a slow simmer for years in my brain while I suss out what I want to change and how to implement it. Once I commit to the change, I’m all in and I want it immediately so everything seems random and quick.
That’s what happened in 2007, I bought a house two years earlier which severely curtailed any traveling–I was house poor. In 2007, I was starting to find a little extra to put aside for fun like travel. Then I signed up for my new graduate program–I thought that would satisfy the doldrums I was experiencing. It was a demanding two-year, round-the-calendar-year program. It wasn’t. I felt trapped that I wouldn’t have complete freedom to travel the following two years. So I planned a quick 5 day trip to London as my first solo trip. Many of my friends are married with children and well–international travel with friends is not a priority when they have family vacations to schedule. To dip my toe in the solo traveling water, I chose a location that spoke English (the Queen’s English) and that I was very familiar with (I traveled there 3 times with friends and family). It was scary, but an exciting scary feeling that I was pushing my own boundaries. I haven’t looked back since.
That was ten years ago and here it is 2017 and I’ve really let myself enjoy the solo traveling. I’ve had trips with other people, notably China (large tour group), Spain (w/my sister), Cross Country USA (w/my Mom), and London & Paris (w/my Mom), but the rest of my trips (London [3X], Paris, Edinburgh, Dublin, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Vienna [2X], Prague, Budapest, Brussels, Rome, & Amsterdam) have been solo.
To mark my tenth year of solo traveling, I’m thinking I need to check a big travel bucket list item off to celebrate. I was thinking of Japan as a solo trip or maybe a cruise (European River or Mediterranean and I’ve never cruised), but I haven’t really committed yet. I just want the trip to be special (they all are in their own way) but this one needs to have that extra something. Japan feels right because it would be a challenge to travel there solo and yet I hear it is very safe for solo travelers. A friend just ran the NYC Marathon and she’s interested in the 6 city marathon medal. The Tokyo Marathon happens the right time of year for a vacation and we might do that next year. And if she is serious about the new marathon medal–we will need to travel to Berlin and London as well. I have a 10 year tourist visa for China, but truthfully China would still intimidate me. Though I think Hong Kong would be very doable–having that long history of British rule will make it somewhat familiar. I considered a river cruise through Russia from St. Petersburg to Moscow–with planned excursions through the cruise company.
Well, my friend and I booked a trip this summer to Southeast Asia. The itinerary is so cool–Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, and Hong Kong with a day trip to Macau. 15 days of exploring new cultures. I think this qualifies as a big new trip to celebrate 10 years of traveling. Of course I have other trips planned in 2017, I have a week planned to Savannah, Georgia in February with Mom. I love Europe in April, my European destination in April will be determined by the best deal to be found. If at all possible, I hope to return to Europe or maybe another USA road trip in August before returning to school. So many choices………
Happy New Year!