Tag Archives: SoloTravel

Five Years of Travel

Greetings! And welcome to my newly revamped little corner of the world. This is a place I share my adventures, my stories, my photography, my books in progress, (I really am writing books…..) and whatever else crosses my path on this wonderful journey we call life. I admit, I haven’t been the most reliable blogger, but it took me a few months to settle some of my life down before I could get on with this new phase. I have spent several weeks organizing my Lightroom library, trying my best to forge a friendship with my MacBook, trying to figure out where the heck I’ve been, and relocating yet again (am in Northern Arizona until end of November right before I leave for Italy but thats a whole other blog post…..)  For those of you who are new, welcome! And for you faithful who have patiently waited for me to rev it up again….welcome back.

I plan on posting a new blog every Wednesday morning, about 9am MST. I have a lengthy list of subjects as I have learned (and continue to learn and save those little pearls!) about how to travel far and cheap, (did you know you can fly from Denver to Paris one way for less than $200?) minimalist packing and how it works well, many many destinations, my year journey to plan and prepare to go abroad for three months next year (yes, on my own. Yes, backpack only….. yes I’m planning on writing a book while I’m gone as well so stay tuned) So? Please add your name to my email list for reminders on new posts, leave a comment with suggestions or your thoughts on any given subject, I’m sure this will be entertaining, and hopefully educational on some level.

I absolutely love to travel, anywhere and at anytime. It is my true passion. There is nothing I love more than going someplace new. I keep it simple, pack light, and bring a journal and a camera. I have many adventures to share and even more in the planning phase. Alas, that gainful employment is necessary, but it also affords me to take off (after much  sacrificing, saving, cutting back, and throwing odd dollars and change in a jar). I started basically traveling for a living with my profession, that being a Family Nurse Practitioner. I work in Family Practice which is very demanding, and I prefer to go to places where I can treat the poor and homeless. It has sent me to some very interesting places. About five years ago I started working this way, and about four years ago I started truly downsizing. At this point, my belongings are in a storage unit, I gave up my rented home, and gave away my car. I basically live out of a little more than a suitcase, hence; my blog name.

I love planes, trains, long car trips being the driver, walking,  buses, trams and trolleys. I have had major trips abroad, I have taken day trips in my car, and everything  in between. I was reminded recently, (when I was whining about wanting to get up and go again) that I am a very well traveled person. Am I really? I started a list, started gathering photos off of Lightroom (thousands and thousands) and realized that during the past five years of traveling with my vocation, mini side trips, well planned tours, sporadic long weekends, and not needing much of an excuse to take off and go……the list of places is long. Surprisingly long. So as I sit here writing about it today and having a VERY difficult time picking out photos, I feel completely thankful. I also feel extremely excited, as the feet are getting restless again……

So this is what this week’s blog is about. Five years of travel. There are individual blogs planned for the major destinations (San Francisco, U.S. East Coast, Budapest, Prague, London, the South, and a blog post dedicated to the different doors of the world that I seem to be obsessed with plus more I’m sure) Keep in mind, I work full time, sometimes VERY full time, but I have truly mastered the art of capitalizing on cheap flights, holiday days off of work, creative planning, minimal packing, and just not making excuses and just GOING. So get a tasty cold beverage, find a comfy place to sit, and get a taste of the past five years. It has been quite the journey! (and if I can do it, being a single mom, working very full time, living on a very tight budget……then I truly believe that anyone can…..you just have to WANT to!)

So strap yourselves in, and here’s a thumbnail of some of the adventures I’ve had over the past five years. Some planned. Some not. Had to save for some, and others just filled up the car, made a sandwich, grabbed my camera and went.

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA

I have gotten to drive the Pacific Coast Highway three times…..This is definitely a “have to” for anyone and everyone. It’s endless, gorgeously breathtaking, and a peaceful way to spend a few days. There is no wrong place to stop. It’s all fascinating.

SCOTLAND

I experienced Scotland with my mum, including pubs, kilts, William Wallace, Celebration of the Haggis (delish!) and spending the afternoon at a Scottish Sheep Farm.

WINE COUNTRY, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Wine Country in Northern Cali….what can you say? It’s everything that you’ve heard. Miles of winding roads and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

WALES

Experienced a taste of Wales, and this is one quirky place! The language, the street signs are an adventure in itself. This is one country I would love to thoroughly explore. Put it on the list!

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA

I had a four day weekend and a total of $500 to spend. Total. (Airfare, Accomodation, food and extras) and went to Victoria, British Columbia. Rode in a little puddle jumper airplane, walked for miles, ate great food, and took too many photos to count. Fascinating place. Highly recommend. Thanks to a $188 flight, AirBnB, and Groupon, the total weekend cost me $496 total. Gotta love minimalist traveling!

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NAT’L PARKS

Had the opportunity to visit Sequoia National Park twice. The giant Sequoia trees are literally majestic, extreme, and fascinating. I got to go there once with my son which made it really awesome. I drove straight through the park and experienced life above the clouds at Kings Canyon National Park.

MULTNOMAH FALLS, OREGON

I got to drive up to Portland and see Multnomah Falls. This place is pure magic and you feel the strength and incredible beauty of Mother Nature as you stand in front of this magnificent sight.

NORTHERN CALI

I spent the longest time I’ve ever spent at one assignment in Ukiah, California, a total of 16 months which translates into 500 consecutive nights in a hotel room. It was worth it as I experienced coastal sights that took your breath away, lighthouses, and towns that I fell in love with including Ft Bragg and Glass Beach and Mendocino.

SAN FRANCISCO 

I was an hour and a half from San Francisco so I got to go there a couple of times. Fresh sourdough bread, the Golden Gate Bridge and trolley cars.

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UNITED KINGDOM

London with my mum along with Chester, York, Stratford Upon Avon, Windsor (where both Her Majesty the Queen and the leader of Ireland were at the time, so there were flags everywhere) and Bath. And I got to see my beloved Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park.

IPSWICH, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND

Mum and I got to go back to our hometown of Ipswich, England.

MENDOCINO, CALI

Mendocino deserves another mention. Northern Cali.

CAPITOLA AND THE DEPOT INN

My favorite Bed and Breakfast: Depot Hill and Capitola

RANDOM FINDS

Random drives to find some “pretty”.

YELLOWSTONE NAT’L PARK

Drove through Yellowstone National Park on the way to work assignment in NewTown, North Dakota.

EAST COAST

Experienced the East Coast when I was on assignment in Middletown, CT.

ZION UTAH

Zion in Utah

MONTERREY CALIFORNIA 

Monterrey California was very cool. Eating seafood out of paper as you walked. Everything was pretty. And when I saw the interesting mileage sign? This is the day I decided I should experience Dubrovnik, Croatia. Which I added to my three month Euro trip next year.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

I needed to go someplace and I needed someplace that 1) required a passport and 2) was as cheap as possible. So I headed off to Hungary! My sister decided to come with which was an extra and unexpected blessing! Will have its very own blog post as just far too much happened!!

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 

2nd leg of that impromptu sister trip was Prague, Czech Republic. We both decided we could live here. Again, a specific blog about this fascinating place! Can’t wait to go back!

CHARLESTON AND SAVANNAH 

The South, Charleston, Hilton Head and Savannah and yes, I broke my arm…..

There were definitely more side trips, but I’m sure you get the picture. I have traveled far and wide with what I had at the time and the list turned out to be surprisingly long. Very humbling.

This was kind of like a list. There will be more specific posts coming I promise, at least 12 are in the works as I type this.
I have pretty extreme plans coming up for the next 12 months. I plan on working hard, saving all I can and making all of this happen. So please stay tuned. I will be posting one time per month about my year plan to travel Europe next year for three months with a backpack. A lot goes into doing something like this at my age, so I am starting now. I also have a trip planned in December and another in April. I realized I can’t wait anymore. Time isn’t waiting for me.

So my time is now.

Thank you so much for spending your moments with me! Please leave a comment so I can know you stopped by.

Until next week……..as always…….be kind.

Cheers,

Polley93

Top 12 Solo Travel Tips

Greetings and welcome to my little nook of random. For those of you returning, welcome back! And for those of you visiting for the first time, welcome! Make sure you subscribe so you can follow along on this journey! All photographs on my blog have been taken by me in various places.

My blog usually consists of Travel, Photography, Minimalism, and the occasional post about writing a book. For today, I am going to spend some time answering the number one question I get faced with: “How can you travel so much solo?”

The short answer is, if I didn’t travel solo, I probably wouldn’t travel at all. With my crazy nomadic work life, and my desire to go to places I’ve never been, it suits me fine just to get up and go and go by myself. I have learned much along the way, and far too much to completely share it all in one simple blog post, so I will make a dent in it and cover the top 12 tips for solo travel.

A sidenote. This post will be specifically about long haul flights to destinations far that you probably need a passport for. It is a myth that you have to be loaded to go on trips to faraway lands. My recent Budapest/Prague trip was a total of $1450 (airfare, accommodation, daily breakfast, and four side trips or excursions). My entire month excursion to Thailand next May is under $1800 and that includes a week add-on down south on the islands. You can get a one way flight from San Francisco or Denver to Paris, France of $259…..and no, that is not a typo. You don’t have to be rich. You have to be driven, creative and patient. I can dedicate an entire post or two on travel hacks and cheap travel sometime later if the interest is there. Let me know.

Here we go……..

1. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO

Get yourself a travel book. There are plenty out there that are good and cover just about everything you need. Moon. Lonely Planet. Fodor’s. If you are on Facebook there are travel groups that have been amazing! Have learned a ton about travel this way! Groups such as Solo Women Travelers. Solo Travel Society. Nomad Women 40’s and up. Solo Female Traveler Network. To name a few. For me? The best teacher is someone who has already done what I would like to do. So that’s YouTube. Every place, food, experience, is all on YouTube someplace.

2. PREPARE FOR LONG HAUL FLIGHT

The flights are no joke and preparation makes it much easier. (again, this deserves a post of its own but for today, will hit the highlights) One must have a neck pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs. A killer playlist and ear buds. Something to read. A one liter water bottle. Mints, toothbrush, Melatonin, and Advil. You get where I’m going. A flight 8 hours or longer is considered long haul and you are literally going to be sitting in a small seat. My flying time to Europe this past Oct was a little over 13 hours. The trip to Thailand is over 20. So comfort is key. Prepare!!!

3. TRAVEL LIGHT

Less is more when traveling and honestly? You don’t need as much as you think. Downsize everything you can. I went to Vancouver/Victoria BC and went with a backpack only (Osprey 40L). It worked just fine. Carry on only is a recommendation. Makes your trip simpler and you spend so much less time on unnecessary tasks and more for the reason you went to begin with. Take necessities only. Trust me on this one.

4. BE FAMILIAR WITH CURRENCY

Get familiar with exchange rates. The currency. How much each bill translates into your currency. Avoid scammers (YouTube again is a great place to learn about this), using a card is safe as you don’t need to carry around a lot of cash, but cash is necessary so learn how much it translates into.

5. ARRIVE EARLY

If at all possible, arrange a flight or flights that arrive during the morning or afternoon. This is such a nice way to start your adventure. There isn’t a sense of urgency. You have the time to take your time. You will be tired and a little off-balance after long flights and time changes, besides, being a traveler at an airport is pretty obvious so daylight hours helps with safety issues.

6. PHOTOGRAPHS AND JOURNAL

Always carry a little notebook around with you. It’s amazing what you can pick up, what you want to jot down so you can remember. Food suggestions, shoppes you’d like to return to, people you meet, things you see. True, we have smart phones now, but I prefer good ole paper and pen.

7. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE CITY

Get a map, or download google maps before you go to your phone so you can use offline, Get the layout of the city. Find a free walking tour (these are in every major city in Europe, usually free and tip only fees, very helpful and awesome to get to know the city by. local!) Find a hop on hop off bus and ride it for a couple of circuits. Saves you time in the long run and you can find things you want to return to.

8. USE CITY TRANSIT

City buses. Trains. Trams. Trolleys. Subways. Try them all. City transport is usually organized and cheap! Avoid taxi’s. Just avoid them.

 

9. FIND A BENCH AND PEOPLE WATCH

10. TALK TO THE LOCALS

11. TRY NEW THINGS

New Foods!

Try something for the first time!

Spending a day on a working sheep farm in Scotland. (no sheep was harmed, even though that is a humongous knife)

Eating fresh produce as you walk down the street in Chinatown.

Ride on a water plane……..

Walk amongst the giants and drive through clouds!

12. LEAVE THE FEAR AND HESITATION AT HOME

Get out there and find your adventure! For all of these of mine, I look back and wonder how. The list is long. London and all throughout England. Scotland. Wales. Victoria. Across the US a half a dozen times. Budapest. Prague. I guess I just did it. Figured it out. And went alone. The solace of being with your own self is very mysterious. You find things you never thought you’d find, meet people you never thought you’d meet, see things you never thought you ‘d see, and yet you have. You gain a new confidence within yourself and an amazing sense of accomplishment when you come home. You find and meet people who remain in touch and your friends. And your world view grows and grows. And why? Well……easy. You just decide.

So decide. And go. And if you are one of those like me, who have, then please either share your blog site, or your experiences with me! I thank you in advance.

Lots more to come in the coming weeks and months. Travel hacks and budget travel. My journey towards Minimalism. Blog on Budapest and another on Prague. There are destinations in the US I have never posted about. The list is endless.

For now? I thank you for the moments you spent here with me. You are very appreciated. Please leave a comment, suggestion, experience, share with me your favorite trip or destination, or perhaps a destination you would love to go to someday. My bucket list is very long, and in 2018 I plan to make it shorter.

Until next time……..be kind…….always.

Polley93

aka Tink