Longer days, brighter horizons

Hello my so long lovelies. It’s been a while, hasn’t it. How are we all doing?

Not to state the obvious but thank goodness we’re just about through the dark tunnel of winter; the light is growing brighter, the sun draws ever-warmer, and we’re all looking forward to longer days when we can eat dinner without having a lamp switched on!

But I think this time of year promises more than seasonal changes; it heralds the anticipation of exciting new escapades – solo or otherwise.

As we all know, the past few years have affected our ability to travel. But, importantly, I think it’s also changed how we perceive it. ‘Travel’ no longer has to mean eight hours on a flight across an ocean. I’m certain that I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s now about attitude over destination: a travelling adventure can be something as simple as a bus ride to a museum, with a cuppa and cake for afters.

Last year was the first time I had taken a flight since 2019, and it felt like a massive deal. My holiday to Corfu was my only trip abroad in 2022, but I also managed to have short breaks in Scotland, Bletchley and Northumberland, as well as some days out walking in Hebden Bridge, Lancaster, Morecambe and Blackpool. It was the year that I finally got to grips with leaving the house again.

During 2023, I’d like to be able to build on last year’s renewed confidence and I’m already off to a good start. I recently journeyed from Leeds to Whitby on the 840 Coastliner bus, recognised as one of the most scenic routes in the UK. As well taking in the delightful three-hour journey for the mere cost of £2.00, I stayed in a guesthouse with a sea view, walked some sections of the Cleveland Way, ate at a renowned local restaurant, and also had a lovely post-walk pint.

Now we’re into the last stretch of March and I’m getting ready for my first proper break of the year, a few days on the island of Majorca. I’ll be visiting the Tamuntana mountains and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to leisurely walks, lazy lunches, sunshine warming my face and sipping on freshly-squeezed orange juice.

After that, in the summer, I’ll be heading back to Greece for some hiking and sunbathing, and to meet up for drinks and chatter with the lovely friend I made there last year.

In the autumn months, I’d also like to be able to get to a European city: a long-overdue return to my beloved Berlin would be a dream, maybe I’ll make it to Lisbon, or perhaps finally get my delayed trip to Ljubljana.

My changed personal circumstances, together with the bastard B word, mean that I will never be able to travel to the extent that I once did. Back when I started this blog, I was heading off once a month, while working crazy hours to pay for it all. It was a bonkers, heady period of my life that I remember with much affection, even though, at the time, things did not always go to plan.

But the past few years have changed all of us.

And by March 2021, my mental health was in absolute shitting shreds.

Stuck in a horrible job with what felt like no way out, I had nothing left to lose so I made a super-scary, snap decision to leave.

I was finally going follow my dream. I was going to write for living.

As a child, I came up with wonderfully creative stories way beyond my years. In my late teens, I trained as a journalist. After that, I had many jobs and, to be fair, I was often given the opportunity to write as part of them. But, approaching fifty years of age, a creative career still eluded me.

I was prepared for the long haul. However, I will admit that it took more patience and determination than I genuinely thought I had in me: 52 detailed job applications and 16 interviews, to be precise.

It turns out that there was an organisation out there that was willing to take me on and to recognise that age doesn’t necessarily have to be a barrier to achievement. I was employed on temporary contract which then became permanent. 

And if that wasn’t amazing enough, I’ve just been promoted.

I’m privileged to work as part of a team of the most talented, passionate people I have ever met. My manager is always incredibly supportive – and all of my colleagues are generous with their time to help, support and mentor me, no matter how busy they are.

The leap, the risk, was super-fucking-scary. But the rewards have genuinely been mind-blowingly life-changing.

You might think that all of this personal detail is irrelevant. But for me it will always be linked. So let’s return to solo travel.

When I decided to take a four-day on my own trip to Portugal back in 2010, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly never thought I’d end up blogging about travelling, inspiring others to take the plunge, or finally ending up having the confidence to go after my dream of being able to write for a living.

Travelling solo has been a journey – and not just because of the places I’ve been or the things I’ve seen and experienced.

But that’s the wonderful thing about heading off on your own. You see, you never know.

Over the years I’ve inspired many people to try tripping under their own steam. And I can honestly say that, to my knowledge, not a single one of them has ever regretted it. So if you’re a first time solo traveller and questioning whether you’re doing the right thing, I absolutely promise you that you won’t regret giving it a go.

Whatever happens, you will shape your life for the better.

Much so long love to you

shauna x

PS. My blog is purely a hobby. Sometimes it’s just to say things out loud for the sake of my sanity. Often it’s to try help and inspire others who would like to give solo adventuring a go but think it’s ‘not for them’. I make no money from any of my content. This month I am raising money for Samaritans by walking 310,000 steps. If you feel able to make a donation, no matter how small, it will be going to an amazing cause which helps people who need to talk. Thank you x


Published by Shauna

Hi. I'm Shauna, a 50-something solo tripster. By tripster I mean part-time traveller. solong.blog is an amalgamation of plenty of personal rambling on my experiences when travelling on my own, how I feel, where I've been and what I've seen, and advice on how to go solo if you've never done it before but always wanted to try. After all, if I can do it, anyone can!

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