About Me

Welcome to my adventures into the gorgeous unknown!

I’m an adventurous, solo, female traveler, that’s passionate about seeing the world. And although I’m not trying to hit any specific number, or visit every single country, there is what seems like an endless list of places I want to see.

So far I’ve had the chance to visit 60 countries, many multiple times. It’s been such an honor to have been able to see so many places and meet so many amazing people!

My only regret is trying to cram it all in, going too fast. Now, I’m learning to slow down, really let it sink in, and enjoy myself more.

My Travel Style

Independent Travel

Most of my travel is independent travel, which means I plan my trips myself, and go on my own, rather than using travel companies or taking organized tours.

Independent travel, at least for me, is really the best as you’re more likely to really experience a destination. I don’t just mean solo travel, although that’s mostly what I do, and I like it as it opens me up to meeting new people. What I mean is travel that’s not highly organized and over-scheduled. The kind where you get to sink into a place, talk to locals, learn about the history and culture. Something that lets you experience life there.

Although I do occasionally book tours, it’s usually only when safety or logistical issues are a consideration. Like my 6 week camping trip in Africa, where we visited 7 countries, and went on at least a dozen safari drives, including camping in the Serengeti!

Or when I stayed with a Kazakh Nomad family in Mongolia and went to their Eagle Hunting Festival. Both completely amazing, life-changing trips, but ones I would not have been able to do on my own. Especially since the nomads did not speak English (lol). Plus, it’s a bit loose to call that a tour as there were only 2 other people in my group and it was led by a local who’s parents were born nomads themselves. My kind of authentic experience!

About me holding the Kazakhs Prized eagle the day prior to the Eagle Festival
Staying With Nomads in Mongolia

When I do book tours, I try to book them with companies that offer real life experiences and invest locally, or are owned by locals. I want to make sure that money gets to the people and communities I visit, not big corporations 1,000 of mile away.

How Independent Travel Feels

There’s a certain magic that happens when you get off a plane, train, or bus, and try to engage with someone on the on the opposite side of the world. In fact, the more unique the culture is, the more magical it feels to me. On top of this, you get to see jaw dropping scenery, taste amazing (or at least unique) food, and really get to experience a bigger part of what makes our world tick. It’s eye opening to get outside of your standard surroundings.

Balos bay on a day trip from Chania
Balos Bay, Crete, Greece

For me, it’s a ‘pinch me to make sure this is really happening’ kind of experience. I feel an unbelievable amount of adrenaline.

You can’t really experience a different country from a book, movies, or TV. It has to be done in person. A lot of people ask me if I feel safe traveling like this. The short answer is definitely, but I’ll get more into that later.

If the culture and language is truly unique, and you open your mind to it, you start to see life from a new perspective. Even basic things like navigating, communicating, even something as simple as finding lunch, things you do at home without even thinking, become new challenges. You’re no longer able to move through the day on auto-pilot, or take things for granted. You feel completely alive!

Travel Can Be Transformational

Did you know that travel can be a catalyst for change? Especially independent travel. It can be as simple as a renewed passion for life, or you can experience truly ground breaking change. This is called transformational travel.

How Does Transformational Travel Work?

If the norms and values of that country are really different, you suddenly feel stripped of all the comforts of knowing exactly how to act, or be. This may sound scary, but it’s actually a beautiful thing. An opportunity for growth.

You start to think about everything, about who you really are, deep down. In fact, if you take time to learn how the culture, norms, and values are different, you may start to evaluate your own, from a fresh, global perspective. You may decide that some previously held beliefs no longer hold truth for you, and discard them. And you may adopt new ones. In essence, you may start making your own decisions about life, rather than following cultural expectations from home.

Alternatively, you may be doing something that challenges you physically, emotionally, or mentally. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone (in a safe way, of course), can lead to new insights about who you are and what you’re capable of doing. Possibly changing you forever.

I was experiencing growth through travel before I knew it was a thing. Now that I understand it, I leverage it as much as possible. It’s very empowering. And after 7 years of travel (with a hiatus for COVID of course), it’s become something I’m really interested in. For some examples of how I have personally changed from my travels, see below.

Sustainable Travel

When I travel, I’m not just focused on me. I’m also focused on minimizing the impact I have on my destination. This is called sustainable travel. It encompasses how you impact the culture, the local economy, and the environment.

Some examples include visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations and less popular places to avoid over-tourism. This not only helps locations, it helps provide a more authentic experience. Trying to keep your dollars local is also a part of sustainable travel. Try to stay with locals, eat local, use local transportation. Avoid single use plastics by bringing a refillable water bottle with you and refusing plastic when you can. Respecting local cultures and traditions is part of sustainable travel too. More on that below. And staying at losing that supports sustainable practices is also important. As this trend grows, and people start demanding more from the losing they choose, there will continue to be more options.

Cultural Impacts

Remember that while you’re traveling, you’re not only learning about their culture, they’re also learning about yours. Ideally, they are both positive.

A few considerations include the following. First, read up on their culture and respect it. Interact appropriately with locals. This is their home and you are their visitor. Always ask for permission before taking photos of locals. Find out what’s considered appropriate dress and follow it. When visiting residential areas, consider that people there may be working or sleeping. And when negotiating over market prices, keep in mind that you may be haggling over a difference that may not impact your pocket much, but may make a world of difference in their life.

At a Cairo market, I once overpaid the girl by a few American cents when buying something for lunch and left. She (photo below) ran after me to give me back the change. She couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Arabic, but I smiled and refused to take it from her. I could tell by her body language that those few cents made her day. And my snack tasted so much better.

Cairo, Egypt

Economic Impacts

Another good sustainable travel practice that I follow is to spend local, so my dollars go to the local economy, rather than lining the pockets of large, foreign corporations.

I do this is by staying, and eating, at establishments owned by locals. I don’t personally do a lot of shopping when I travel, but if you do, consider buying things made locally, rather than items shipped in from some other country. Or buy from stores owned by locals. If you’re not sure, ask. So many of the cheap souvenirs you see in touristy areas are actually made somewhere else entirely!

This is a win-win, as while you’re supporting the local economy, you’re also immersing yourself into their culture, opening yourself up to all kinds of insights on life.

Environmental Impacts

Consider the environment too. Do things like minimizing trash, eliminating single use plastics, and using public transportation. If you’re at a beach that’s full of trash, spend an hour or so cleaning up. I did this in the Maldives. I think I filled up 3 garbage cans.

Try to visit places that are a little off the beaten path, rather than places already over burdened by tourism. In 2019, I visited Uzbekistan and really loved the fact that there were more locals than foreign tourists.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan


But it’s not just about the location, or what you do there, it’s also about how you get there. Long haul flights emit a lot of damaging CO2 into the environment. To help minimize that impact, I offset the carbon footprint of my flights. The Sustainable Travel International Carbon Footprint Tool helps you estimate the carbon emission of your flight. You can donate directly on their site, or choose your own organization.

Sustainable Travel Certificate

I used Sustainable Travel for my last donation (above), but have used others before, like Cool Effect (below).

Cool Effect Acknowledgement

I know this is not perfect, but I strongly believe that the airline industry needs to mitigate its impact by using alternative fuels and more efficient planes. The industry also needs new standards and enforcement rules.

Yes, we should minimize flying when we can, and I do take local transportation when I can, but the solution is not to stop flying completely. We need a more efficient solution.

Cruise Ships

A lot of recent attention has been directed towards the negative effects of flying, but cruise ships have an even bigger impact on the environment.

Not only are they bigger polluters, most of your money goes to the cruise company, rather than the local economy, since you don’t stay in hotels or eat at restaurants. On top of this, you don’t really have meaningful interaction with the culture. In the end, cruise ships have a negative effect on the environment, the economy of your destination, and the culture.

If you still decide to travel via a cruise, read up on which cruise ships are best and chose to take your trip with them. Also, try, when possible, to spend local when you can, rather than just on the ship.

Volunteer Travel

I’m also a certified yoga instructor, so sometimes I teach yoga on my travels. I spent a month teaching yoga, fitness and dance to Iraqi, Yazidi refugees, at a refugee camp in Greece.

In Croatia, I spent a week teaching yoga on a small sailboat. We sailed from Split to Dubrovnik, stopping at a different island on the Dalmatian Coast each day and my job was to find a place to practice and teach the class twice a day.

I’ve done a few other trips like these and find them very rewarding.

Teaching Yoga at a Refugee Camp
The Serres, Greece Refugee Camp Fitness Room

Usually, I volunteer my time in exchange for room and board, but each situation is different. To learn more about yoga travel opportunities, visit Yoga Trade.

There are all types of opportunities to volunteer through travel. Just be aware that not all volunteer opportunities actually benefit your destination. Make sure you do your research.

For example, volunteering at an orphanage is known to do more harm than good. You can read more about that here. As wonderful as the intention is, it’s not good in the end.

Find out if the company you want to work with actually provides the benefits they say they will, to those they claim it will help. Also consider if you are taking a job that a local could do.

Preferred Destinations

The destinations that intrigue me the most are places where the culture is unique. The more unique the culture is from mine, the more it fascinates me. Because of this, I tend to favor Africa, like Namibia, Egypt, Morocco, Zanzibar, and Tanzania, the Middle East, like Jordan, Israel, Dubai, Turkiye, and Cyprus, and parts of Asia, like Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, although I’ve found something to love about every destination.

The Monastery in the Jordan Travel Guide
Petra, Jordan

I also love nature, so enjoy hiking mountains and exploring beautiful beaches. These can be found virtually everywhere, so I also love New Zealand, the Maldives, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Jeju Island, and many more.

How to get to Big Almaty Lake, the view
Big Almaty Lake, Kazakhstan

But I also love the traditional locations too, like Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. All packed full of amazing history, beautiful architecture, and fantastic food!

As I tend to love visiting more complicated places, I also tend to get lost a lot, or run into issues of one type of another quite often. This also means that I’ve had a lot of travel angels help me get through some strange situations. To learn more about some of these crazy adventures, see my post My Travel Angels: Saved By Strangers.

Being A Traveler Vs A Tourist

Overall, my travel style is that of a traveler, rather than a tourist. What’s the difference? A traveler goes beyond tourism. It’s about immersing yourself in the culture and learning about it, rather than just skimming the surface.

As you can see, all these things go together. Independent travel is more likely to be sustainable and transfortmational, as well as experienced as a traveler.

On top of this, I think making positive, personal connections around the globe makes the world better, one person at a time.

Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone had the opportunity to reach out and learn about another culture, and did so respectfully.

My Travel Expenses

Pre-pandemic, on average, I spent about $50 to $100 a day traveling. This, of course, was dependent upon the location. For example, places like Paris or Rome are more likely to be on the high end, while places like Morocco or Egypt, are on the low end, or even lower. I averaged around $70/day. As I still have a home in Arizona (which I paid off) and expenses there, I also spend about $30/day on utilities, HOA fees, healthcare, insurance, food, clothes, etc. So, pre-pandemic, I was spending about $100/day, or $36,500/year.

Since the pandemic, however, prices have increased dramatically and I’m still trying to figure out where they fall, but I’m definitely averaging higher than this. My best guess is $130-$150/day. My last trip included Dublin, Ireland, Vienna, Austria, and several cities in Cyprus. The average for all three was $144/day. This included airfare, rooms, meals, transportation, entertainment, and any little momentos I picked up (I found an amazing red leather jacket in a vintage store in Dublin!). I’ll loop back on this when I get a more consistent picture.

There’s are a lot of information out there on how to travel inexpensively. The blog by Nomadic Matt is fantastic for this. So are his books. In fact, I attended a presentation he gave in Arizona before making the decision to travel seriously. Thanks for the tips and inspiration Matt!

How I Saved For Travel

You can follow my guide outlining how to save money for travel by clicking here, but basically, I’ve always lived my life ‘under my means’, meaning I spent less than I earned. This allowed me to save. I didn’t buy things I couldn’t afford and minimized debt. Over time, a lot of small savings added up, until I saved enough to pay off my mortgage.

When I was debt free, I continued working, putting almost all of my earnings into the bank, and researching the best way to invest that money myself.

Right out of school, I started investing in my 401K, even though I wasn’t making much. I found, and used, the highest rate CD’s I could find for cash outside my 401K. Investing consistently, and smartly. Now I’m reaping the benefits and living my dream by traveling. Plus, I’ve developed habits to live inexpensively without having to think about it.

Why I Resigned For Travel

In 2016, I resigned from 30 years of corporate work to travel. I had a great career and was very challenged by it, but I felt that something was missing. I was consumed by my career, spending about 70 hours a week working, and neglecting my personal life. It wasn’t about being a workaholic (at least I like to think that), it was about what I felt I needed to do to be effective in my role as the Director of Product Development for Shutters at Hunter Douglas, Inc.

As noted above, I dreamt about traveling for years and saved for financial independence. Sadly, while doing this, my Mom became seriously ill with a horrible disease, called Multiple System Atrophy, or MSA. It’s similar to ALS, in that it’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

It was horrible to watch her go through this, but she endured it with an abundance of grace. I learned two things from her. First, I learned that I wanted to be as graceful as her in any adversity. I’m still working on that one. Secondly, I realized that working until I hit traditional retirement and hoping I remained healthy enough to enjoy life afterwards was not something I wanted to bank on.

Although my original goal was to travel for 1 or 2 years, with the influence of my mother and the joy I experienced traveling, it quickly turned into 2, then 3 years. I was grounded during the pandemic and bored,out of my mind, so worked a bit for my old company, which I’m thankful for. Now, I think I’ll probably do a mix of work and travel for the rest of my life.

Do I Feel Safe As Solo Female Traveler?

I get this question a lot, so I wanted to address it here. And I understand why. I was concerned at first too. If you regularly watch the news and take it to heart, you may never want to leave your house, let alone the country.

Yes, bad things can, and do, happen. But what I learned is that the news focuses on the bad and highlights it to get ratings, making places seem much worse than they really are.

Travel smart, always be vigilant, and trust your instincts. Read up on your location. Talk to the people in your hostel, or hotel, about places to avoid and known scams in the area. In my Travel Guides I add sections for safety issues and scams for that country to help. You can also do research on your home countries government web site, like the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the USA.

The bottom line is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It can feel spontaneous and be fun to be approached by a nice person in another country and offered a great deal…but it probably isn’t. Do your research!

In Marrakesh, I was advised to ask only women or policemen for directions. It’s easy to get lost in the souks, so shady characters take advantage of this and demand money after leading tourists out. I felt silly asking a policeman for help, but it worked. And they understood why I did it! Other than this, I felt safe navigating the souks on my own. Nighttime, however, you need to be more careful and conservative.

On top of this, in today’s world, it’s impossible to predict 100% safety, anywhere. Sadly, terrorism can happen anywhere. I’ve decided to take that risk and travel, rather than live my life in a box that, in reality, may not be any safer.

Yes, I’ve had a few bad experiences, but 99% of the people I meet are good people. Don’t invite problems by being unaware, walking alone in bad neighborhoods at night, or becoming a target by wearing overly flashy clothing or jewelry, or not dressing within the countries customs.

Personal Growth From Travel

What I’ve Learned About Myself

Overall, my travels have been amazingly rewarding. Not just from what I’ve seen and the people I’ve met, but also from the personal growth I’ve experienced.

Just a few examples include that I’ve become more self-reliant, independent, courageous, and more open to diversity. I’ve also learned to be more in tune with my instincts, which allows me to make better decisions in my life. I think that your instincts are a bit like a muscle, they get stronger when you use them.

In more profound ways, I’ve learned what’s important to me in life and re-evaluated how I want to spend my time here on earth. I’ve also made some decisions about the people I want to surround myself with, preferring people with integrity that are authentic, supportive, respectful, and open-minded. In fact, the more I travel, and the more I learn, the less patience I have with people that aren’t like this.

And most importantly, I feel like I’m in control of my own destiny. I no longer feel like a cog in a big machine, frustrated by its limitations. Rather, I see opportunities for more adventure, more growth, and more connections.

What I’ve Learned About Blogging

I’ve also learned a lot about blogging and building a website. There’s so much more to it than I realized! When I started this, my goal was just to keep friends and family up to date on where I was and let them know that I was safe.

As I continued, and learned more, I found myself exploding with things to say about my travels. This blog not only lets me express my feelings, it also helps me organize my thoughts, and share my favorite places and stories with you. Now, I hope it will help inspire others to embrace world travel.

That said, some of my early blogs really make me cringe (LOL). I really didn’t understand blogging, or allow myself time while traveling to do it properly. Nor was my intent to have an audience larger than close friends and family.

I’ve kept these blogs on my site, as they’re part of my personal history, but if you stumble upon one, please forgive me. Blogging is a learning process and this site is under construction as I go. Someday, I will go back and update them all!

What You Can Learn From Me

None of us know what the future holds for us, but I believe you have to make your life happen, rather than letting what happens make your life.

At the very least, I hope that I can instill this in someone else. You need to reach for your dreams.

Or, maybe I can inspire someone to travel adventurously, or travel long term. It’s OK to travel without a partner or friend. You don’t have to wait until you find someone else to go with.

If you want to follow me on my journey into the gorgeous unknown, subscribe below to receive new posts and stories as I publish them. As I usually send out about 1 a week, I promise, I will not overwhelm your inbox! Also, you do not get signed up for any junk mail.

On top of this, I would really love to hear what you would like to see in my blog. Drop me an email to let me know, or add a comment below.

Safe Travels!



  • Erynn Crowley

    Hi, Julie, I continue to be inspired by your travels, experiences and observations! Thank you for sharing via your blog as you go. Hope to catch up with you soon.


    • Julie

      Erynn, So kind of you. Thanks so much! Yes, we do!!!

  • Tom Arnold

    Love your story and photos!

  • Bob McPherson

    Hi Julie,

    Your photography is stunningly beautiful. Some of the places you have visited are on my list of potential retirement spots. I would be particularly interested in your thoughts on Portugal, and favorite cities you may have been to there.

    Keep traveling, and keep posting the great shots!


    • Julie

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks soooo much. I loved Portugal and have had similar thoughts, especially in the Algarve region. It’s lovely. We should chat. I’ll try to reach out to you on messenger (I think we’re connected).

      Take care and stay safe!


  • Tom

    Hey Julie I saw ya on another site (won’t mention the name for privacy reasons) and I followed your link to your blog……gotta say it’s outstanding, very well done, very informing and inspiring! I’ve been talking about starting a travel blog for many years now and I’m seriously ready to get it started. I am a world traveler and have been for many years now logging roughly 62 countries (last I added them up) and counting. I’d love to chat with you sometime and pick your brain a bit if possible. I did hit you up on the other site as well and I subscribed to your blog with my email. I’d gladly give you my contact info if desired so just let me know. Thanks Julie and I hope to talk to you sometime soon.


    • Julie

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the note, would love to chat sometime…

    • Tom

      Hi Julie, I read your blog with great interest. So far I have been to 14 countries, and I’m hoping to travel to many more. Last year I considered moving to Portugal, but Covid broke out and I put those plans on the back burner.
      Hope to hear back from you,


      • Julie

        Hi Tom,
        Thanks for the kind words. 🙂
        I hope Portugal works out for you this year. It was one of my favorite places!

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