My blog is for mature women who want to travel solo but are afraid to risk it. There are always so many excuses in life about why you shouldn’t try something. But I suggest “why not?” What is the worst thing that could happen? Maybe you miss a train, lose a wallet or stay in a bad hotel. Guess what? You will survive it. But more importantly, you will accumulate memories that make you stronger, more invincible.
My idea to create a travel blog began germinating over 35 years ago when I started writing travel features as a freelance author. As a 25-year-old journalist, I had the opportunity to travel two years in a row to Europe. I was able to get assignments to write about hideaways in small towns and big cities for a startup publication called Association Digest. The publishers’ goal was as grand as is indicated by this trade publication’s title. The publishers wanted to produce a magazine like Architectural Digest but for associations (instead of architects).
I signed on to write for company stock instead of cash. Being young and (mostly) poor, this was probably not the wisest move but I wanted to be a travel writer. My next step was to contact five star hotels in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the U.K. to interview their general managers and stay in their posh hotels (at a highly reduced rate). It was a crazy idea but it worked.
My husband Bruce and I spent three weeks traveling through four European countries and sampling the best hotel accommodations and cuisine. Next year, we repeated the three-week writing/photography vacation in England and Scotland (with a side trip to Paris). Before we had our first child, we spent a week bicycling in the Netherlands.
Fast forward 25 years. I am divorced. My children are now married. I run a publications firm but the dream is still unrelenting. I want to travel and write about what I see. So I created my Female Solo Trek blog.
In the last three years, I have traveled solo to Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy (four times) and the United Kingdom. There is such joy in traveling solo. I won’t say traveling alone because you are never really alone anywhere. On any street, avenue, or mountain path, you can always say hello and meet someone. Travelers are a friendly sort. They travel because they are curious. They yearn to envelop themselves in new habitats and cultures. And my greatest joy is meeting the cats and dogs in the countries where I travel. In my blogs, you will read about these fantastic animals, such as the street cats of Dubrovnik.
So now dear readers please join me on my Female Solo Treks. I want to immerse you in the world that I am lucky to see whether from the peak of a mountaintop on the Amalfi Coast or deep in the olive grove outside Ostuni, Italy. And since I have been grounded since March 2020 due to the pandemic, you will see a lot of my own back yard! I frequently write about discoveries of parks, street art and nature walks in Washington DC. I have also timidly traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. At all times, I try to go out early and avoid the crowds. Immersing myself in nature is my secret to surviving this pandemic.
My favorite modern day poet is Mary Oliver. I follow her instructions for how to live a good life:
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”―Mary Oliver
Another of my favorite writers, Maria Shriver, capsulized the importance of “being astonished” in this way: “Wonder gets you out of your head. It feels less intense than thinking. It feels more stream of consciousness and more creative. It actually feels freeing and it allows one to connect more with oneself and others.”
I feel strongly that if you always travel with a sense of wonder, you cannot help but feel gratitude. Travel helps to remove me from my stress and frustration (always self-imposed!) and jump on the exhilarating zip line of experiences. I can always mentally travel back in time to coming off a mountain trail in Pieve Fosciano, Italy to discover a horse with her colt silently nuzzling or turning a corner in Alberbello, Italy to see a grey cat sitting proudly on the roof of a trullo hut. And now during this pandemic, wonder helps me see the tulips.
Virginia Woolf wrote over a century ago about the need for a woman writer to have a room of one’s own. My experience is that a woman needs a world of her own . . . to explore. Solo travel allows the traveler to set her preferred pace, agenda and goals. There is no need to fear loneliness when traveling solo. It widens your world. Come follow me now.
Solo travel is not just meant for the 20-somethings and 30-somethings. I am 62 years old. Traveling expands my horizons as well as my heart. Please don’t be afraid to try a trip alone if you are a mature woman. You will learn a lot about yourself, especially through the mishaps!—Terri Markle