Lets’ face it, last year was a long haul- but we got through it! I can’t think of a single other year during my life in which I have seen such massive change all around me and within me. I ended the year in a completely different place than where I started- thanks to the people who inspired and cheered me on all the way through. We continue the tradition this month, sharing stories of five different women around the world who are living life to the fullest and leaving normalcy behind.
It’s a new year of adventure for all of us and these women are sure to give you the light of inspiration you need. Read what these power women have to say about what last year taught them and how they are moving into 2016 in full swing.
I was so moved by each one of these ladies as I reflected on beginning a new chapter this year. The five of them have had their own struggles and triumphs- all leading to fascinating stories to share with the world. I am excited to introduce your JANUARY 2016 GLOBAL GIRLS!
“In 2015, I learned how to write my own story. The concept of “writing your own story” is one that I learned from fellow travelers: the people who remind me daily to set aside those voices externally or in our own minds that tell us what we have to do and instead listen to passion, gut feelings, and the heart. For the first time ever, I had no idea what I would do for work, where I would live, or anything else, but I embraced the uncertainty and wrote my story for the rest of 2015 in the most spontaneous way I’ve ever lived any other year…… and it’s been the best year yet.
In 2016, I am going to continue working on the business that I started at the end of last year, Vinotourz. We are launching our website ASAP and I will be traveling to try out the wine tours we sell and grow the business. This year I will be traveling in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and across the US [home] where I will need to decide my next steps. It’s going to be another year of changes! I feel excited to embrace the challenges and enjoy the fun that this year will bring!
To all the women interested in living the solo female traveler life: You may be traveling solo, but you are not alone! There are so many of us around the world who will answer any questions you have and give you the truth of what we’ve experienced, both good and bad. Even if you’re worried or doubtful, take the leap. You’ll learn so much about yourself, meet SO many amazing people, and travel to places you’ve only ever dreamed of. It’s worth it!
Biggest learning from 2015? “I’m really good at tricking myself into believing that I want less than I actually want. It’s hard for me to believe that I could actually achieve all that I’ve always wanted… not just what seems realistic for someone like me, in my position, with the amount of money that I have, etc. It seems like a pipe dream. And, often, let’s get real here, it is. Can I get into Stanford and spend the next years studying and not working and living a scholar’s life? No. Not at this point in my life without a miracle and a shit ton of money. But, can I have my own business that supports me and allows me to do what I love? Can I work with only clients that I enjoy working with and do only work that I want to do? It’s possible. I’m working on building up experience doing what I can get paid for, by other people, while doing what I love. There’s every chance that I’ll fail. There’s also a chance I won’t. I would never know unless I took this leap.
As for this NEW YEAR…“I’ll be in Spain at least through July since I’ll be doing some Business English teaching to bring in money and allow me to keep living (and working on my writing and marketing projects). I plan to visit San Sebastien, Sevilla, Salamanca and then also take a 3-4 day trip to the island of Madeira and Lisbon in Portugal, and visit a friend in Brussels. Who knows where else?
I also plan to take a trip home to California in July or August for at least a month. While there I will hike as much as possible, eat as much Mexican and Vietnamese as I can stomach, while hanging out with family and friends. I also plan to do some business networking and marketing for my ebook I hope to have published by then.
Advice for aspiring travelers… “If you are thinking ‘I want to travel but my friends never have money or time and I don’t want to travel alone’- STOP using that as an excuse. If you are thinking ‘I want to travel but I don’t have the money’- STOP using that as an excuse too. You spend money where you want to and most young travelers are making just as little as you are- yet they somehow figured out how to get on a plane and go visit another country. Excuses are the death of progress and pursuance of dreams”
“My travels in 2015 taught me a lot of patience. Traveling mainly through Eastern Europe and South East Asia, nothing goes quickly and there is rarely an explanation for why. Eight hour trips easily become twelve hour ones but there’s nothing you can do about it- just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s all part of the adventure!”
As for 2016...”Nothing is set in stone yet but I fell in love with South East Asia during my couple months there in 2015. I need to a bit of saving first but ideally I will be back that way for 2-3 months starting the end of August. Indonesia and Philippines are definitely top of the list; I’ve become an avid diver in the past year and these two spots are supposed to have some amazing dive sites.”
To the aspiring travelers…“My biggest piece of advice is to make your own opinions. As solo female travelers we get a lot of ‘advice’ from people on how they think we should travel and where they think is safe/not safe for us to go. Often, these people haven’t even been there or travelled much themselves. You know yourself best, if you are comfortable and feel safe doing something then go for it, don’t change your plans and goals because someone else thinks its not a good idea.”
2015 was really a year dedicated to myself and I mean the full package: mind, body and soul! I left my job, took a sabbatical, moved back to Romania after 11 years in Belgium, went on a 4 months solo trip throughout South East Asia and Japan, then returned to Romania. I started my blog and took various courses and received diplomas (as a result of one of them I am now a certified photographer). So the biggest concept I learned must be: you CAN really do everything if you really want it! It is just a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone. Nothing new will come from inside the zone! As to how it changed me, I became more free, more daring, more willing to try new things and now I really feel I can do everything I want! It all depends on me and only me!
Moving into 2016…First, a job. I do not want to travel full time (at least not for the moment) and I need a bit of stability for now. I just returned to my country and I will try to settle here (at least for a while). But there will definitely be travel and the first one is the traditional Paris trip for my birthday (in a few days ☺ ). Then, on the agenda for this year, I also have Dubai & Abu Dhabi, then either the Maldives or the Philippines for later in the year and hopefully South Africa. But there might be others as I have not really made a plan. Oh and definitely many trips in Europe in between especially to visit my friends spread all over the place.
Some sound advice for an aspiring female traveler…Just do it! So many other women have done it before you, so you can certainly do it too. Yes it is difficult, yes there will be times when you’ll feel lost and alone but these moments will be insignificant compared to what you are getting back from such an experience. Travel in itself is one of the greatest learning experiences but solo travel is just the best. Not only do you learn about other people, cultures, places but you learn a lot about yourself and you discover so many qualities that you didn’t even know you had. I have never heard anybody regretting such an experience but on the contrary. Solo travel changes you a lot for the better. And when you know you can become an even better version of yourself….why wouldn’t you do it?
Last year….”I learned that travel is affordable in more than one way. You can see the world even if you don’t have much money – in exchange of teaching, house-sitting, writing, photographing and almost doing anything you’re good at. I learnt that when people say they can’t do something – most of the times they don’t want it enough. Also, I learnt that it’s important to get out every once in a while – out of your home, your city, your country. Not only it helps gaining perspectives, it gives more meaning to your life when you start appreciating things that you always took for granted.”
Moving into this NEW year…”My travel agenda would be to try volunteer travel. I want to start it from India which is my home country. There are still several hidden places in the Himalayas – organic farms, cafes and schools that need help. Outside India, I am planning to visit Iran and South Korea within the next 4 months. I also want to learn a few skills this year, specially riding a geared bike, and speaking Spanish. Being an introvert, I hesitate a lot in initiating conversations with strangers on my travels, and sometimes regret it later. I hope to change that in 2016.
My best advice would be to always believe in yourself. If you think you are right, you probably are. Same goes for being wrong. If you need something, work towards it, because no one else would. Don’t be afraid. Things will eventually work out in your favor. Don’t be too dependent on the men in your lives. It’s great to have a companion but it’s harmful to blame him for everything that doesn’t happen the way you want. I am saying things because over the ‘New year’s’ dinner table, I heard too many women complaining how their boyfriends/husbands don’t have enough time to travel and hence, how boring their life is. Don’t be those women. Take charge. Make your life interesting yourself.”