Where to?

by Pari

I’ve been thinking a lot about travel lately, doing things like seeing how far the drive would be from Albuquerque to Quebec. I’ve been searching for cruises to the Arctic Circle — in the middle of winter  — to chase the Northern Lights. I’ve been fantasizing about sleeping in ice hotels and tree houses, about stumbling on a shadow puppet performance in Bali, about taking a train up the coast of California and staring at the night sky in the middle of Yosemite.

Travel for me has always meant freedom. Even more it’s a way to shake things up, to have adventures and feel fully alive. Somehow, when I’m away from the very familiar, I tend to be much more open to experience — to meeting people, staying up late and sharing life stories, and marveling at the freshness of each new turn on the road — and I love that stretching of self!

I haven’t taken a long trip in ages, certainly not alone. And now that I’m working full time and have all of these obligations in my life that demand schedules and consistency, I want to break out and explore.

It’s natural to bristle at self-imposed constraints, to feel restless.

But what do I do with this?

Trips to Santa Fe and other fun locations in NM are still too familiar. I want to do something outrageous! Incredible. Life-changing. And I haven’t an idea of what that really might be.

Oh, yeah. There’s the matter of money and time. But those don’t have to be major concerns, do they? I bet there are places to see and visit that would be incredibly wonderful and wouldn’t break the bank.

There’s also the issue of traveling alone now that I’m old enough to understand danger. The situations I put myself in when I was a teen and in my early 20s make me writhe with horror now. And as a mother, I would be appalled if my kids did anything even close to hitchhiking from Tours to Marseilles at 15 years old or accepting rides across this country with strangers.

I’m a friggin’ mystery writer, for Heaven’s sake! My mind can go to really dark places really fast.

So . . . I need your help today.

Give me some ideas of great places to travel as a solo woman, places that are different enough from my arid and gorgeous NM to feel like I’ve really made a change. Or, tell me about tours and tour companies that are out of the norm where I can meet interesting — and interested (in life) — people.

Do you have a favorite trip or adventure you can recommend?

Who knows, I might even write a story about it . . .

18 thoughts on “Where to?

  1. B.G. Ritts

    Stand on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and look at that incredible slash through Earth's history. (You can also look down at the South Rim, as it's about 1000 feet below, and in a different life-zone). Go to a Redwood Forest and think about growing that tall. Drive along Going to the Sun Road in Glacier. Drive east to west through a pass in the Rockies and imagine doing that in something way more primitive than a car. Late in the evening, stand on an eastern seaboard beach and look over the water and feel the infinity that stretches before you. Find a comfortable spot off the path in the Great Smokies and feel the age of the place. Stand at the edge of Niagara Falls and consider the water tap that is supplying it. There's also the pebble beaches of Acadia, the cocoon-like feel of Zion, the smell and colors and thermal features of Yellowstone, and my personal favorite, the lush valley of Yosemite.

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Going to the Sun Road! I just had a million flashbacks from all those parks, B.G. – thanks so much for reminding me of all that timeless beauty.

    On the city side, New Orleans is like going to Europe, and if you know the city a little, it's – counterintuitively – easy to be safe as a lone woman, there. You have to know what you're doing, though.

    I would NOT suggest Yosemite until it gets a little warmer up there, yike.

  3. Alaina

    Have you ever been white water rafting? There are several companies in New York and New England; my cousin works at one every summer for the fun of it, since guides aren't paid a living wage (and tend to save money by camping).

    Rapids are rated on a 1-6 system, and even 7-year-olds are allowed on level's 1 and 2, though level 6 is described as 'suicide' and never offered. The scenery is gorgeous, there's a major adrenaline rush on any rapids above a 2 (and they give age minimums and rapid types in rapid descriptions), and the characters you meet are amazing. I highly recommend it.

    Just, if you have glasses, switch to contacts or put them on a lanyard or something.

  4. billie hinton

    I just saw a safari in Kenya that takes place on horseback – very close encounters with all the African wildlife from the back of an animal that is a prey animal, but trained to do this kind of riding. You ride 4-6 hours a day and then camp – so would have to prepare ahead of time if not a rider, as there is some galloping too. But wow – to see that country on horseback just makes my skin tingle!

  5. Sarah W

    If I could go anywhere, I'd go to Stratford, Ontario, for the Shakespeare Festival.

    They put on stunning performances no matter the playwright (I was roped into seeing "Waiting for Godot" and actually enjoyed it), but their interpretations of Shakespeare's works are nothing short of brilliant.

    I've seen three versions of Midsummer Night's Dream over the long years and each was staged, costumed, and read differently — and each was perfect (one starred Colm Feore as Oberon, dressed in a hand-painted body stocking, which is a terrible thing to do to a girl on her honeymoon).

    And the shopping isn't bad either . . .

  6. B.G. Ritts

    I haven't been to Ontario's Shakespeare Festival in decades. Just be careful when feeding crackers to the geese. They can be impatient, and their beaks hurt!

    This also reminds me of the Chautauqua Institution in western NY. They have lectures, music, dance, and other events during the summer. I haven't been there for decades either.

  7. Shizuka

    Prague is gorgeous — fairy tale architecture, narrow streets, strange little museums, and surprisingly good food. It's mostly safe and best explored through lots of walking. One of my favorite paths is from the old palace down to the center of the city through an old hunting path.

    The shopping's meh (unless you like dark wooden antiques), but the beer is pretty amazing.

  8. CarlC

    Pari, here's a pricey suggestion for you to put on your bucket list: Galapagos Islands. We were there in February for a 15-day trip and found it amazing. Both the wildlife and the scenery are fascinating. We booked through Galapagos Travel in Aptos, CA, and you couldn't find a better agency to deal with. We had just 15 tour members, plus a tour leader and a local guide, on our 108' boat, and some of our passengers were women traveling alone. Our trip was spoiled somewhat by a leg injury I suffered on the first full day in the islands, but I still was able to see and experience so much. It's a once in a lifetime deal, because of the price, but still very worthwhile. Good luck with your explorations, wherever they may take you.

  9. Tammy Cravit

    I've always wanted to do the Tracks to Adventure RV/Train tour through Mexico's Copper Canyon (http://bit.ly/HN69rs) Basically, they load your RV up onto the back of a railroad car, you travel by train to your destination, and then drive off the train and see the sights. Not sure I'd do this now owing to the political instability in Mexico at present. But then again, maybe that's a good setting for a mystery. Mexico is full of drug-based crime right now, and people who can afford both an RV (or rental) and $8,000 or so for the trip might make good would-be victims. Hmm…

  10. Richard Maguire

    Hi Pari.

    Why not come down here to the Alps? You'd love it — it'll refresh you and set your mind wandering in all directions.

    I live in a village in southern Bavaria, about a 30 minute drive from the Austrian Tyrol. And all seasons are wonderful. And as one of your considerations is safety, you could hike through forests and mountains, and follow rivers and streams through some of the most beautiful landscape God ever made…and you would be absolutely safe on your own. The tranquility would be an elixir for your heart and soul.

    Yes, I know. This sounds like bad advertising copy for the local tourist board — but, honestly, if it's peace, beauty, and safety you're looking for, this is the place to be.

  11. Lisa Alber

    Belize! It's close enough yet far enough, exotic enough yet safe enough, relaxing enough yet exciting enough with the excursions. You can certainly go alone.

  12. Susan Shea

    Relatively close: Big Sur and the California coast. Stunning beauty, mostly low key, can't get lost.

    Slightly farther: Ashland, Oregon's Shakespeare Festival, not all Shakespeare, sweet town.

    Bigger: Washington DC and nearby Virginia, with free museums, American history, beautiful country.

    Way farther: Hong Kong, high energy, very safe, exotic, easy to get around, and a small footstep into China.

    It's fun to dream and even more fun to DO, so go for it!

  13. Allison Davis

    Come to New Orleans and stay in my house, — happy to be your guide (I keep offering to Murderati…David is taking me up on it for Jazz fest)….it is a different, happy place that will transport you. Why I own a house there. I can return your hospitality! And tell you where to go, etc.

    Other safe great places: Kyoto and Tokyo. I SO loved Japan and they make it really easy to travel because they are so polite.

    And there's always Paris.

  14. Darla

    I vote for all of the above plus highest on my personal travel wish list is the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ.

    Off-topic…big thanks to all of you who write the Murderati blog posts that I hop over to and read nearly every day (and the archives on the weekends). 🙂

  15. Zoë Sharp

    You are amazingly lucky that you can travel so widely, and experience so much contrast, without ever needing to get out a passport.

    Still, who was it who said that the biggest journeys a man — or a woman — can make are inside their own head?

    Top of my bucket list? Ankhor Wat in Cambodia — preferably by trail bike.

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