Travel Solo--You Can Do It!

Traveling by yourself is one of the best ways to learn and challenge yourself. It's a great way to re-center, to escape from the details of daily life that can distract us from our own big picture and to come back with a new sense of self-sufficiency and purpose. 

How do you know if traveling solo is for you? In the larger scope of things, the thought of traveling to an unknown place, maybe where you don’t know the language, can be rather scary and unsettling. But you know deep down you really want to go there. 

Over the years I have had conversations with some amazing people who love to travel solo. 

Tune into these featured podcasts and get inspired, begin making some plans... And go for it! 

 

Sarah Benoit, co-founder at the JB Media Institute, recalls memories of happiness from her travels and how each journey contributes to her confidence, joy and contentment long after the trip is over.

Click here to listen to Sarah! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sarah Jane Wilson went off traveling in 2002 and never looked back! She talks about traveling solo as a woman, meeting so many special and kind people and the impact of traveling around the world. 

Click here to listen to Sarah Jane! 

Why Listening to Speaking of Travel is Good For You!

This is my fourth year hosting Speaking of Travel! The show is recorded each week (for two years the show was broadcast on Asheville Independent Radio and today celebrates two years on iHeart Radio), so when I recently did the math, I realized I’ve interviewed over 200 people!

Everyone I’ve spoken with on Speaking of Travel has told me how travel has changed their life in some way or another. Meeting new people of all cultures, eating new foods, stepping out of their familiar zone and placing themselves into the unknown turns out can be quite powerful and empowering!

And so inspiring to all of us!  

Check out the Speaking of Travel past podcasts and get inspired yourself!


Begin to make a plan like folksinger Chuck Brodsky to
someday travel the world playing your music. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CHUCK NOW

 

 

 

Travel to exotic places after you retire like former
high school principal David Wright.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO DAVID NOW

 

 

 

 

Dream a dream of beginning your own company around what you’re passionate about like Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SCOTT NOW

 

 

 

 

Discover how to make the most of your
vacation time like Marla Tambellini.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MARLA NOW

 

 

 

 

Thinking of running away? You don’t have to run to the other side of the planet like Lucetta Zaytoun did. It could be just taking a weekend by yourself. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO LUCETTA NOW

 

 

 

Want to find out how to have the perfect Asheville, NC vacation?
Listen to my conversation with Mark File of RomanticAsheville.com.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MARK NOW

 

There are so many great travel stories, travel tips and inspiring life-changing moments all here on Speaking of Travel! Take a few minutes and let yourself be taken away to lands far and near… No Passport Required!

Toasting in the New Year on Oak Island, North Carolina

Sunrise on Oak Island, December 2016

Sunrise on Oak Island, December 2016

When I was a young mom, I spent many summers with lots of friends and lots of kids down on the North Carolina coast. We’d rent a big house and immediately become beach bums…. Rising early to catch the sunrise, walking the long beach, laying out in the sun all day, surfing the waves on our big rafts, looking for turtle nests, eating seafood bought daily from the shrimp boat guys. Some summers we’d stay at Holden Beach, some on Oak Island. These beautiful beaches are part of the Brunswick Islands, two of six separate beach communities spread out on five barrier islands.

Once you’ve hung out on the North Carolina coast, you’ll want to go back again and again. And not just in the summer. The amazing thing about the NC coast is it’s beautiful anytime of the year. And what better way to begin a new year than walking the beach and watching the pelicans play? So we took off from the mountains and arrived on Oak Island just in time to watch the sunset.

Flying into the New Year! 

Flying into the New Year! 

Oak Island runs east to west and faces south, so the waves are much gentler than other beaches, which is great for families. The climate is more temperate than the beaches north of it...more comparable to the climate at Myrtle Beach, SC, which is less than an hour south. Oak Island is also less than 45 minutes to Wilmington and a short drive to Southport, a charming picturesque and historical town.

Oak Island is cool because you have the ocean on one side, the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, and a canal and marsh running through 3/4 of the island. The beach is peaceful and beautiful! We love eating at some of the funkiest seafood joints on the coast, and there’s plenty of grocery stores to stock up our kitchens. Oak Island also houses the Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter where sick and injured birds are rehabilitated and released again into the wild once they are able to care of themselves.

We found the beach quiet and tranquil in December. The temperatures were in the 50s and we had the beaches to ourselves. Although some stores had closed following the summer season, several are open year round.

As the clock ticked down to midnight, we walked to the ocean to send out our New Year wishes to Mother Ocean, went back to the beach house and stood out on the porch lighting sparklers while singing 'Auld Lang Syne' at the top of our lungs and toasted in the New Year with a few glasses of champagne. 2017 is going to be a fabulous year and we're looking forward to coming back to this magic place in the summer! 

For more info on Oak Island, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/islands/Oak_Island

Sunset on Oak Island

Sunset on Oak Island

Chris Guillebeau

I met Chris Guillebeau, the writer, entrepreneur and world traveler at the 2013 World Domination Summit (WDS) held annually in Portland, Oregon. Chris is also the producer and host of the summit. Chris's passion and commitment to living life fully and living the life you were meant to live resonated with me, and I knew I had to be there.

Every summer, thousands of people travel to Portland for an immersive experience in life, work, adventure, and travel. I met amazing people who love to travel and are helping make the world a better place.

One of the events on the first day was setting out to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the "Longest Floating Human Chain." More than 700 of us met down at the Williamette River, grabbed our life jacket and inner tube, and prepared to form two straight lines while holding hands. As I waited my turn in line, I saw Chris. He was walking around, shaking hands, helping coordinate the flow of people. He was speaking to someone and I stood off to the side. When he looked over his shoulder and saw me, I put my hand out...and he looked right into my eyes, smiled and shook my hand. I introduced myself and thanked him for holding this amazing event and how excited I was to participate in the summit. He was casual and attentive and thanked me for coming.

When I returned home, I began Speaking of Travel as a way to incorporate my love of travel and adventure with a portal for great story telling from others who have unique travel stories. There is no doubt travel opens our minds and hearts.

Last month, Chris accepted my invitation to be a guest on my radio show and I spoke with him about travel and life and passion. He is truly a charming and friendly person and we talked as if we were friends, because we really are. No one can come away from WDS and not feel connected to this community.

Check out worlddominationsummit.com. Make a plan to get yourself to Portland next summer!

Remember... Don't Postpone Joy !

 

   

 

 

The Beauty of Small Group Travel

Participating in a group travel experience was never on my list of "things to do" for a few reasons. For one, I wasn't sure I would like other people to dictate my itinerary. When I travel, I like to create my own experiences and I thought of having other people around would mean giving up things I want to do. And I thought I'd end up waiting around for other people to get organized. I like to just get up and go, or not,  if I feel like relaxing for the day. I guess I thought a group tour would feel constrained and inflexible, with a bunch of people gawking out of a bus window at the usual touristy attractions. But earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba on a people-to-people program with Benjamin Porter, founder of Small Footprint Travels. I've known a few people who have traveled with Benjamin and they have all had wonderful experiences. And he's a friend so I figured the people who would gravitate to him as a travel guide would be people I would enjoy traveling with. And I really wanted to go to Cuba.

I have to admit this trip was really a lot of fun. While I love to travel alone or with friends, Benjamin arranged group activities and we still had plenty of time to explore on our own. His guide style catered to my travel style of going for a local experience and getting a closer feel for the culture. Sure, I was a little anxious about traveling with people I didn't know, but I found this was a perfect opportunity to get to know new people and take the leap of traveling with a small group.

I became part of a new travel family and have lasting connections that will not be forgotten. I can certainly see myself wanting to have other opportunities to experience the world together. We all shared our photos and have "reunions" to relive the precious moments we had together.

I would recommend traveling with a small group and highly recommend Benjamin Porter as your tour guide. You can find out more at smallfootprinttravels.com

My Return to Cuba

In the years since my first trip to Cuba, much has changed. In 2004, the only way for Americans to enter the country was to covertly fly in from another country and politely request no passport stamp. I had flown north to Toronto to then fly 90 miles south of the United States, joining a group of Canadians going on holiday. I made it through customs at the airport in a very timeless region in the southern part of the country where mules, donkeys, and horses are the primary source of transportation. Many of the villagers I met were descendants of slaves who hid in the mountains after escaping on foot from the slave encampment in Santiago de Cuba sometime in the late seventeenth century.

I vowed to return to Cuba again when restrictions were more relaxed and I could enter under easier, and legal circumstances. Cuba had swept me off my feet. Two weeks there felt like a month because of the sheer amount of experiences we had, but I felt like I had only scratched the surface of this country.  

This past March, I had the opportunity to legally travel to Cuba on a people-to-people program with Benjamin Porter, founder of Small Footprint Travels. The people-to-people trip was exactly how I like to travel — Benjamin arranged interactions with locals every day, we danced to Cuban music, ate Cuban food, and learned about the Cuban way of life… not to mention drinking ample mojitos along the way.

Our group of 14 traveled from Havana, Cuba’s dense capital with a population of 2.5 million people, to Cienfuegos, a city on the southern coast of Cuba, with a population of 150,000, to Viñales, a small town and UNESCO site in the north-central Pinar del Río Province of Cuba with a population of around 27,000. Vinales is most notable for its mogotes, a series of tall, rounded hills that rise abruptly from the flat plain of the valley.  

Within just a few hours after landing in Havana, we made our way to the Ciudad Deportiva stadium to become a part of Cuban history and attended the free, outdoor concert by the Rolling Stones, who played to an estimated 500,000+. This concert marked a huge moment for the Cuban people, and seemed more of an event than the Obama visit just a few days prior. And here we were, rocking out to The Rolling Stones in Cuba. When Mick shouted "Habana! Esta' en talla!", we knew this moment would be a part of our lives forever. To be sure, we were not certain anything from that point on would ever compare to this spectacular evening.  But as the days went on, our people-to-people trip provided us an entirely unique opportunity to witness the incredible winds of change and to feel the vibe of its people.

We stayed in casa particulares - small bed and breakfasts run by locals, spent time in the Fabrica de Arte Cuba, home to the most collaborative arts project in Havana and visited organic farms and a tobacco farm. Wherever we went, people would try and strike up a conversation. Most didn't care that we couldn't understand much Spanish, while there were many people eager to practice the English they learned in school.

Cuba is a country of shortages so we all brought little gifts that we could give away. Some brought crayons and street chalk for children and others brought hygiene items not really found on the island. One person brought some baseballs. When we visited a tobacco farmer in the hills of Vinales, we were told he has a 10- year old son. When my friend gifted the farmer the baseball for his son, the man silently began to weep. Our guide and interpreter explained how the farmer's son, as so many Cubans, loves baseball, and had never really owned a baseball.

I was encouraged by the kindness of the Cuban people I met everywhere I went. The raising of the American flag in Havana represents the hope of something just getting started.

But even more is the way I feel now, remembering how I experienced this visit totally unplugged. Cuba has very little WiFi and very little phone service. Without my phone and all the distractions of my day to day online presence, I was quiet in a way I hadn't been in a long time.

Cuba is an island that assaults the senses and just being in this culture is an exhilarating and uplifting experience. Spending time in Cuba reminds me the simple things in life, such as salsa dancing and eating 'moros y cristianos' are the best. Looking back on this second trip to Cuba, I'm already nostalgic for the people I met and the places I visited.