If travel broadens the mind I want a mind as broad as the Grand Canyon. I love travelling, seeing places, meeting people, tasting the food, dancing badly to the music and seeking out local craftspeople, farmers and growers. Every trip, whether here in Ireland or abroad, is an opportunity to learn something or meet someone interesting.

Over the years, I've done backpacking by train around Europe, fried under the sun by a pool with girlfriends, had family holidays from Achill to Lanzorate and even managed the odd holiday just with my late husband. I enjoyed them all, but the real travel bug hit when I started to travel solo.

It started with a trip to Spain for a basket weaving retreat. It was my first time traveling solo and, to be honest, I nearly turned back numerous times. Landing in Barcelona and trying to figure out the bus and trains I had to take nearly saw me run back for a return flight. I eventually made it to the hotel and decided to push myself to go to that evening's meet and greet. I can still remember standing outside the entrance to the garden where the event was, hearing the sound of people chatting and laughing and wondering - how I was going to walk in and not know anyone, or even if anyone spoke English?

Where would I stand? Would I take a drink? How would I start a conversation?

Sometimes I see something particularly beautiful and want to turn to the person beside me and say, 'Isn't that gorgeous?

Well, like many things in life, it's about taking that first step forward. Once I had done that and was greeted by the first people inside the door, I had a lovely evening. For the next few days I spent the days weaving baskets by the sea, and on some evenings I met others on the course. Some evenings, I dined alone by choice.

That choice is why I've embraced solo travel. I've enjoyed many holidays with others and look forward to many more, but it's also nice sometimes to go solo and decide when and where I go, and when and what I eat.

Does it get lonely? Well, yes. Sometimes I see something particularly beautiful and want to turn to the person beside me and say, 'Isn't that gorgeous?' Sometimes, I miss having a chat with someone over dinner. However, it's a rare day that I don't find someone interesting to chat with.

Before COVID put a stop to my gallop, I've been back basket weaving a few more times in Spain, and I love the combination of making friends and making baskets. I went to Iceland in the summer and spent the longest day of the year at a poetry reading on the top of a volcano. I did walking tours of Mexico City - which I found fascinating - and then walked up the many, many steps of the The Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan ruins.

I spent a week rattling around Italy with a small group of solo travelers; eating and drinking the best wine and local food. Last year I spent a glorious few days in Amsterdam - including spending six hours in the Van Gogh museum. I'm not sure any travel companion would have put up with me doing that.

Where to next? Well, in no particular order, I want to go to the previously mentioned Grand Canyon, drive route 66, meet the turtles on the Galapagos Islands, marvel at the fjords in Norway, visit the lavender fields in France, see elephants in Africa...

I may not get to all the places I want, I may change or add other places, and I may go solo or with friends, but planning and dreaming is as much a part of the experience as the trip. Now all I need is to win the lotto!

Bon voyage

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