Solo travel was the reboot I needed at the age of 49. My four week solo adventure kickstarted my next chapter in life. It launched me into my 50's and the reverberations of that trip are still with me today.
Creating the blog, doing the social media thing, and now creating courses for 'The 5 kilo traveller' has been one hell of a journey. It's a journey of overcoming fears and challenges, self-doubt and "who am I to do this?"
But it started with my solo trip.
It started as "just a trip".
That was all I was after - a trip - a break - a bit of me time.
At the age of 49 I was wondering what the next 10 or 20 years would look like. So I thought heading to Europe for four weeks, by myself, to contemplate this sounded like a great idea.
But it wasn't some deep and meaningful trip. It was purely having a break.
Blending in, Capri.
The reality of traveling solo.
I planned like you would not believe for this trip. I was a spreadsheet Queen! I had it planned down to the minute. My safety was paramount so this was important for me.
Plus I hadn't travelled solo for years so I wanted my husband to know exactly where I was at any given time of day.
Nothing could prepare me for the sudden jolt of fear and dread when I realised I truly was on my own. There was no turning back. I had four weeks ahead - I had to do it.
As Bradbury said, "jump off the cliff and learn how to make wings on the way down."
Well, I sure did that.
I grew wings, alright!
There are lots of things in many people's lives where the ground is literally moved from underneath them. The stability, routines, ways of doing things - are completely turned on their heads.
This was exactly what solo travel did for me.
All of a sudden I had to rely on myself. I had to look after my own gear (thank God it was light!).
I had to make all the decisions - where to stay, visit, eat, sit...
It was a constant stream of thinking and taking everything in around me.
My senses were in overdrive. But I was loving it.
I started to believe in myself. If I could do this what else could I do? The fear seemed to be melting away. Those wings were growing.
'Growing wings' high up in Ravello, Amalfi Coast.
Coming home after a solo trip.
Nothing had changed on my return home. I felt pretty much the same too. Except I noticed the conversation in my head was changing.
There was less of the "can't" and more of the "how". Less fear - more determination.
It was a huge mind-shift. I've read books and listened to podcasts about changing your life direction etc, but it always entails doing something to change. Whereas when I travelled solo I wasn't doing anything deliberately, I was just surviving. And that surviving was causing a huge re-boot of my thinking and psyche.
The reboot to a new way of thinking.
The reboot simply stopped some old conversations in my head. "I can't do that - I'm not qualified." "I'm not a techy person." "What will others think?" (People had plenty of opinions on me travelling solo and light - so I'd lightened up on myself about what people thought!)
Instead, if I wanted to do something I'd look it up, decide whether it sounded like something I'd enjoy and then, hey presto...The 5 kilo traveller arrived.
Since starting The 5 kilo traveller in Jan 2019 I've built a website, built friendships around the planet, learned to do reels (geeky but funny!) I've not shied away from the technology (well there have been a few meltdowns). I've spoken on two podcasts (one is yet to come out). I've guest blogged. And most recently, I really bit the bullet and created my first course!
None of this would have happened if I hadn't given my whole being such a shock and reboot with traveling solo. And occasionally I wonder where I would be now if I hadn't done that trip. Oh my god, you wouldn't be reading this!
So I've been down a few rabbit holes of things I want to do with The 5 kilo traveller, but it always comes back to one thing... Inspiring others.
The 5 kilo traveller in China!
Inspiring others to follow their dreams.
In September 2023 I released my travel memoir,
Dare to Travel Solo: Exploring Croatia and Italy with a light carry-on bag and a ton of determination.
It's about stepping outside of your comfort zone, believing in yourself, and making dreams happen.
It's way more than just a travel book. It's a self-discovery journey, a midlife peptalk, and you'll feel like you're on holiday with me!
Your dream may not be to travel light or to travel solo. But I know that many women around their 50's (make that any age to be honest!!) get to that point of thinking, "What's next?"
I'm not here to tell you what is next, but that there is a NEXT.... a next stage, a next plan, a next dream. We just need to get off our chuffs and grab it by the scruff of the neck!
Listen to your heart. Do something for you.
Kick that fear out of the park! And GROW YOUR WINGS!