Mary and Vickie are two gorgeous women rocking life! These adventuristas have a boatload of friends but still love traveling on their own. Campervanning in Utah, touring the mysteries of China, or gazing at the Northern Lights in Alaska, they are living their lives to the fullest and are inspirations to all of us about life’s opportunities. Fortunately, I was able to catch them between adventures and ask about their bold lifestyles.
SG: Thanks so much for meeting with me. What have been your best adventures?
Mary: Facebook pops up those memories all the time, and there have been so many. Two years ago, we had so much fun in Yosemite with great friends…just one of many amazing adventures.
Vickie: Going to Yosemite in the winter with our snowshoes was wonderful.
SG: I thought that was Yellowstone.
Vickie: We did that too.
SG: You’ve done Yellowstone, Alaska, and Yosemite?!
Vickie: Yes, during the winter with lots of snow.
SG: Do you prefer winter because there are not as many people?
Mary: We wanted to see Yellowstone National Park at Christmas with snow, so we went in the winter. And then we went to Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
Mary: What always comes to mind, as a favorite, was my 10-day very remote Green River, Utah canoe trip. It was an ideal year and I trained a lot for it. I was so afraid I would not be able to paddle all those days. It was magical. Just incredible. (Don’t get any ideas, dear Reader, Mary did not do this by herself!)
SG: Sounds amazing. Vickie, what was your favorite?
Vickie: When I was married, we hardly went out of Southern California. So, my very first trip that I took by myself was China.
SG: You did that by yourself. Was it a singles’ trip? Did you pay the singles’ supplement?
Vickie: Yes, because I wanted my own room. And that was exciting because it was my first big international trip.
SG: It’s like you skipped some steps!
Vickie: Yes, next was Thailand where I scuba dived. Those beaches… It was incredibly beautiful. But all my other trips were good too, but that was just so new. I was learning to travel. Now I go alone and look forward to going alone but I also love my group. Our trip to Havasupai…
Mary: Havasupai was incredible in many ways.
SG: Does doing things by yourself come easily to you?
Mary: Very easily to me. I’ve also mostly been on my own since childhood. I was raised in an independent atmosphere and learned to do for myself and solve my own problems. I suppose this is partly why it’s easier for me. I’m independent and feisty.
SG: What made your trips so great? Some people would be sad, they did not have a partner. What was so great?
Mary: Anything outdoors, anything adventurous, with good people or alone is great. The interest and enthusiasm is the key. If I can’t have good people, I’d rather just be with me.
Vickie: You have to love travel.
SG: What adventures have you done by yourselves?
Vickie: Besides China, last year I went to Whistler on my own. That was really fun. And the year before I went to Jackson Hole. I did a kayaking tour on Jackson Lake. The first time I went to Alaska I went with the Sierra Club, but I did not know anybody. Whistler and Jackson by myself without a tour group.
SG: Did you get lonely?
Vickie: When I’m alone I always schedule day tours, or I have an agenda. No, I’m not lonely. When I retire, I’m going to buy a one-way ticket to Spain and I just want to hike the Camino by myself.
SG: I find you plan something by yourself and people want to come.
Vickie: For certain things, I like traveling alone. I love being in an airport by myself, my own hotel room, my own agenda.
SG: Mary, do you ever feel alone in your camper van?
Mary: No. I feel cozy, safe, and secure, mostly because of my faith and relationship with God. I also enjoy meeting new people and find it easy to do so because of the setting and the common interests, space, and circumstances.
Vickie: That’s where I’m different. I don’t meet a lot of people when I’m by myself.
SG: You like it that way?
Vickie: No, I would like to meet more people. I just don’t. Sometimes when I go on my day trips maybe…. When I travel alone, I always sit at a bar, get my wine. I have my book and I order my dinner. I’ve had men come and sit and talk but it never goes beyond…which is perfect.
Mary: Your book is taking the place of a friend.
Vickie: I’m so comfortable doing that.
Mary: When we have a book or our phone, we’re appearing somewhat closed, I think.
Vickie: True, but it gives me confidence to sit there by myself. Because I don’t have to look around or make eye contact with anyone, I can just feel comfortable and it’s interesting. It’s not just boring because I have a book and it’s so much more interesting than reading in my room.
SG: You both have your different strategies, but you really enjoy traveling together.
Vickie: I would never want to do all trips alone. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed when there are so many people, but I also love it when there is a big group of us. It’s nice to have variety.
SG: I notice you both have guy friends. I think that’s a challenge because sometimes there are misunderstandings. How have you navigated that?
Vickie: Very careful. Do not give any signals at all. I give no signals…
Mary: I give signals all the time and I get in trouble. I’m very flirty apparently… I’m being my sarcastic, feisty self and I can get in trouble, but I love my men friends who can handle it.
SG: It is very charming.
Mary: I cherish them. I really do.
Vickie: Me too!
SG: Right?! How do you find friends to accompany you? Meetups? Church?
Mary: Prior hiking meetups opened up a wonderful circle that grew and changed as the years went by, and we’re still adding to it.
Vickie: Facebook events…every day of the week you could do something.
Mary: Facebook is huge. That’s where I’ve met a lot of people doing what I do. Every day of the week there’s probably 10 things you can do according to your interests.
Vickie: Sometimes I sign up for events where I’m not that wild about the people, but I go because if you say yes to things and you meet people, you’re more likely to get invited to other fun things. If I’m free and interested…I go.
SG: And then you meet your people…
Mary: There’s no excuse to stay home and be lonely.
Vickie: I read something today: I really want to be invited but you know I’m not going to come. That is why people are lonely, they need to say, “Yes, I’ll be there.”
SG: Do you have any advice for women who would like to be like you? Getting out there and being adventurous...
Mary: I’m counting on you to compile all that. It gets really old…
SG: You mean people who talk about…
Mary: How do you do it? Why do you do it? Why don’t you have a friend? Why don’t you have a man? I want to do what you do, but I’m scared.
Vickie: You have to have a strong desire to want to do it. Some people love sitting home watching TV. They do it every night.
Mary: You only have so many tomorrows. Stop finding excuses not to do it.
Vickie: There’s just not enough days in the week. You have to have the desire to get out of your comfort zone.
SG: Do you think there’s any way to get that desire? People want to be like that but it’s frightening to them. How do you not be afraid?
Vickie: Find something interesting in like Meetup…something that meets every week…a class or series of events. Something where you’re going to have more than one encounter with the same people. Mary, when we met, we hiked every week. If it had been a one-time thing…I never would have gotten the friendships I did. We would have never made the connections we made.
On traveling in a campervan…
Mary: Start small. It’s all within and maybe you can foster that…gumption, strength, baby steps, all you can do is try.
Vickie: You can’t be doing these things to meet a man. You have to be doing this to enjoy life. If you’re doing all this to meet a man you might as well…
SG: …be disappointed.
Mary: Some women always had a man to deal with it and that made all the difference for them.
SG: Are you ever afraid things will go terribly wrong?
Vickie: I’m not but I’m always thankful because things can go seriously wrong. Even with a friend.
Mary: If it weren’t for GPS I wouldn’t…couldn’t… The old days with a Thomas Guide I’d break into a sweat…always worry about car trouble. But it doesn’t stop me. I just maintain, take care and do anything ahead of time to prepare. AAA
SG: Have you had any bad experiences?
Mary: No. Prepare as much as you can. Get the right gear. There’s every excuse in the world. If you can’t fix that, you can’t do it.
SG: Do you go places where you are all by yourself?
Mary: Yes, with the help of Facebook travel groups, apps and gut instinct.
Vickie: I always do a lot of research when I go by myself. I have an agenda, I know what I want to do. You don’t end up somewhere crazy.
SG: What are the advantages of going alone?
Vickie: You can do whatever you want, whenever you want…
Mary: What she said!
Vickie: When you’re alone you just do whatever you want. Sleep in. When someone turns on the TV in a hotel room, I just want to run out.
Mary: Do you really want to fall asleep to that at night?
SG: Anything you would like me to include which would make readers more comfortable?
Mary: Keep it simple, google, plan.
Vickie: There are so many women’s tour groups as well. I mean just even day trips. My stepmother and all these women go all over Southern California. They have the best time.
Mary: I have so much gratitude to be able to do what we’re doing.
Vickie: What we do is cheap. Sleeping in your tent or campervan, you can afford to be gone for a month.
Mary: Yes, and traveling together, sharing expenses is great! Find someone who is a good match. You won’t agree on everything, but you have to be willing to compromise.
SG: From the outside looking in, it looks fabulous. Seeing you two on Facebook and all your adventures and how happy you are. There’s almost a giddiness.
Vickie: I have a friend who moved and is having a hard time meeting friends. We were lucky, we made friends fast. (Referring to connecting through Meetup hiking clubs.) When we would hike, we didn’t talk about jobs, the boss, troubles, you would talk about movies, trips, hobbies, books… I found my peeps!
Mary: And anything funny to make everyone laugh…everything seems to do that though.
SG: Go home and feel inspired…
Mary: Filled up
Thanks to Mary and Vickie for taking time out of their busy, adventurous lives to inspire us!
Dear reader, if you have any tips, please share in the comments section.
“All by myself, don’t want to be all by myself…”
~Celine Dion (“All by Myself”)
So, you were super busy all week, didn’t notice all the pink and red streamers at CVS, and completely forgot to corral your single friends for Valentine’s Day. Now it’s the big holiday and you’re all alone. What do you do? What do you do! Here are some ideas to pull your day-of-hearts out of the dumpster:
*Grab some popcorn, a cool umbrella drink and watch a rom-com. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Crazy Rich Asians, The Wedding Date, It’s Complicated, Last Holiday or Something New are all great choices!
*Start a gratitude journal. It’s a great way to shift your focus.
*Read: He’s Just Not That into You. This book, from the writers of Sex in the City, reaffirms what one wants from a relationship. It also reminds the reader, being in no relationship is better than being in a bad relationship.
*Do something creative. Paint, draw, write a poem, or create a song. Creativity nourishes one’s soul.
*Call a friend and go for a walk. Connecting and exercise are a powerful feel-good cocktail.
*Create a vision board. Refocusing one’s life on future goals is very empowering and self-affirming.
*Stop by your local shelter and volunteer. There’s nothing like unconditional dog or cat love.
*Make a delicious meal. Taking the time to treat yourself well reaffirms your self- value.
*Do something for someone else. Shifting focus makes one remember what is important.
*Create a beautiful valentine for yourself. Use feathers, glitter and all the stuff. Post on the bathroom mirror where you can see it every day.
*Buy flowers and create a colorful arrangement. Making your space more beautiful will lift your spirits.
*Read or listen to a great old-fashioned romantic novel like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Frenchman’s Creek, or Rebecca.
*Check out Facebook events. They always have stuff going on! (Thanks Mary and Vickie for the idea!)
There’s a lot of hype and expectation that comes with Valentine’s Day but you get to choose how you want to do it. I hope one of these ideas or a combination of them make your day a treat.
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader!
One of the biggest challenges of being single is loneliness. But it does not just hit people without partners, it is everywhere. In researching this topic, I found articles in the Harvard Business Review, Washington Post, The Guardian and on NPR. Even the former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is concerned and states there is a “loneliness epidemic.” So, if you are feeling lonely, you are definitely not alone. There are a whole lot of others who feel just like you do. Here are some ideas for finding your people, and perhaps learning something new, getting some exercise or making a difference in the world:
Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, or other places of spirituality
Depending on your beliefs, this might be an excellent option for finding friends and gaining some spirituality along the way. I have noticed many of the larger organizations have small, more personalized groups and having gone to some of them, found people to be very kind. I think the best way to do this is: google potential places of spirituality, make a list of the ones you like, prioritize and try a new one every week or two. Not only will you meet some great people, you will also learn a lot and have a new appreciation of the world.
Meetup is an online site connecting people of similar interests. One can find groups for learning a language, traveling the world, dancing the tango, hiking Mt. Whitney, reading Kafka, investing in ETFs, creating apps, cooking Thai food etc. etc. etc. Years ago, I attended a hiking meetup and met a lot of fun people. We are all friends to this day!
Traveling abroad, I have found visitors in hostels to be especially nice. When I was in Edinburgh, Scotland eating breakfast, hostel guests sat down and joined me. There was a really sense of community and it was fun hearing about others’ adventures. My big concern was the partying 20-year olds but I was pleasantly surprised to find every demographic represented and visitors open to meeting others. I’m planning on doing some more research in the spring. (It was not all perfect. A friend and I went to another hostel with the word “backpacker” in its name and encountered urine on the stairs, holes in the ceiling leading to creepy places and a very disturbing shower.) I figure I will look at hostels on Hostelworld, research accommodations to avoid Euro-party spots/ disturbing backpacker crash pads and reserve a single. (At this point, I need my own room.) If you’re interested, look for my article in March or April!
Paraphrasing Oprah or some other sage of modern living: If you feel sad and alone, go help someone. It takes the focus off gloomy you and makes the world a better place. There is so much opportunity! Assist with a community fun run, socialize cats at an animal shelter, tutor someone who needs an adult in his/her corner, deliver Meals on Wheels, sign up to work with the Red Cross, cradle babies at the hospital, or take the CERT training and become an expert in community emergency preparedness. Not only will you be making the world better, you will meet other people who are doing the same thing!
Attend local city council meetings. Do you see a need in your community? Talk to city officials about starting a committee. Nothing unifies people like a cause. You’ll meet people and affect positive change in your community at the same time!
I have a friend who just took a singles cruise along the Dalmatian Coast and had a wonderful time. On these specialized cruises everyone is open to meeting others and tour operators are very mindful of bringing people together. I have never sailed the single seas but am looking into it. If you go first, please report back!
Check out the Sierra Club website! There are so many hikes, ways to help the environment, education opportunities AND, as an added bonus, meet people! They even have a section on international trips to help people around the world!
Attend a charity event! You can Race for the Cure, donate blood for Red Cross, play golf for Rylie’s Angels (one of my personal favorites!), etc. Meet new people and do some good!
Check your community and library event calendars online. There is a plethora of author talks, festivals, classes, book clubs, community theater events, trash pick-ups, nature walks, etc. Take your pick!
Animals are good for your health, enrich your life and make darn good friends. Maybe a pet would be a good option! Please keep in mind, they are also a huge commitment. I think the best entry into potential animal ownership is going to your local animal shelter and socializing the animals. If you enjoy that, try fostering an animal. You will become fully aware of the responsibility and can make an educated decision regarding pet ownership.
Just writing this piece has gotten me excited about all the opportunities out there! Try some of these ideas and report back! Or, let us know about your ideas! There are a whole lot of people in this world. No one should feel lonely...
P.S. How do you like my new “Find your clowder…” design!? (A clowder is a group of cats.) I wanted to combine the Spinster’s Guide® cats with searching for friends! Check out the Spinster’s Guide® Boutique for laptop sleeves, travel mugs, etc. featuring this new design!