Seven Years After Solo Travel

An account of what happens seven years after solo travel. The good, the bad and the truth.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” the ticket agent said to me before we hung up the phone on that winter night in Atlanta in 2010.

Pure joy shot through my veins after we disconnected. Sitting in my apartment in the 100-year-old house, listening to the cars pass my house on their way home from work in the bustling city, there was more excitement pumping through me than I’ve ever felt before.

I’m going to travel the world. Solo. 

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Midnight in the Garden of Good

Midnight

There’s a cacophony of crickets, frogs and dogs barking that wake me before my friend, Jodi, does.

Laying on the bamboo floor in her hut constructed of the same at Elephant Nature Park, I am still. Present in the total darkness as the world softly whispers outside the slats in her walls.

Her soft footfalls come from the bedroom and into the main room where I am splayed out, tucked under some thick blanket a top a Thai mat typical of what people sleep on.

She approaches me, and in a hushed voice so as not to wake her son in the other room, or the two dogs and cat somewhere nearby, she asks if I’m awake.

“Yeah,” I whisper back, slowly peeling back the blanket from my body and standing up. The floor creaks softly the way woven bamboo does when walked upon. It’s a sound I haven’t heard for months. Since I left the park in December 2014 to start one of many new chapters in my life.

“Follow me,” she instructs, opening her front door.

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Not sure what to do at night in Chiang Mai? From casual beer to upscale bars to hip nightclub, this Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai has something for everyone from dtravelsround.com

Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai

Not sure what to do at night in Chiang Mai? From casual beer to upscale bars to hip nightclub, this Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai has something for everyone from dtravelsround.com
Compared to the thumping and thriving nightlife in Bangkok, Chiang Mai at night is sleepy and reserved. But, sleepy and reserved in a way that isn’t really sleepy or reserved at all.

From backpacker enclaves to seedier lady bars, to local dives and the places where the hip and fabulous hang out, there’s something for everyone.

The Drinks

Before we get into where to go, depending on what you’re look for, let’s talk about the booze and prices.

The cheapest bottle to be had that guarantees a buzz, if not more (as well as a hangover the next day) is the popular Sangsom. A dark rum, but referred to by locals as Thai whisky, is one of way to kick off an evening. Often combined with soda or soda water, you can also order it by the bucket. Yes. Bucket. There are some other liquors out there that are cheaper than Sangsom, but I don’t recommend them. Yes, I’m looking at you Hong Tong and Lao Kao.

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Everything you need to pack to survive rainy season in Thailand and SE Asia from www.dtravelsround.comEverything you need to pack to survive rainy season in Thailand and SE Asia from www.dtravelsround.com

What to Pack for Rainy Season in Thailand

Everything you need to pack to survive rainy season in Thailand and SE Asia from www.dtravelsround.comEverything you need to pack to survive rainy season in Thailand and SE Asia from www.dtravelsround.com

Rainy season is my favorite time of year in Thailand. Without a doubt. I love the fresh air that washes the smell of diesel away. The sound of the droplets hitting the metal roofs. The downpours that come charging out of nowhere, and then disappear as quickly as they came.

During the months of July through October, mainland Thailand is privy to rainy season, also known as monsoon season.

Considered to be low season – although this is when the bulk of Americans travel thanks to our antiquated leave system and schools being out of session — prices tend to dip a little, making it the perfect time to head to this gorgeous part of the world.

Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s humid. No, it doesn’t get chilly at night. Unless you are wearing soaking wet clothes. And, even then, it is more of sticky wet than chilly wet.

Expect the days to be mostly overcast, although the sun does show its bright little face every now and then. And, expect bursts of rain showers that don’t last long enough to ruin your plans … just make them damp.

What to pack for rainy season in Thailand?

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Planning a trip to Krabi, Thailand? Add kayaking to your list!

Getting Prehistoric in Krabi

Planning a trip to Krabi, Thailand? Add kayaking to your list!
Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand during my time in Krabi.

My paddle dips into the glassy green water of Bor Thor, and the shrimp start dancing.

Hundreds of tiny creatures pop out of the water, hop across it like rocks skipping, and then dive back down into its depths.

“We’re almost there,” our guide, Man, who also graciously volunteered to steer my kayak, informs us.

Our three fire-engine-red kayaks skirt around a small turn and into a mangrove forest and then we see it: a half-moon emerging from the water and moving upward into a towering karst shrouded in palm trees and other jungle foliage.

We’re kayaking in Krabi — something I honestly never thought I’d do. Mostly because, let’s be real, I’m not so skilled at kayak navigation.

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Because Sometimes You Don’t Realize It’s Love Until It’s Gone

Sometimes you don't know love until it's gone. A look at returning to Thailand, a former home, after being gone. A personal essay on loving a place and leaving.
My heart races as the cab driver pulls up to the International Terminal at Madrid. I’ve been here before, but this time, it’s different. This time, I’m not hopping on a short flight to London, or heading to the States to procure my Spanish Visa. This time, I’m going back to Thailand. The longest place I have called “home” in what seems like a lifetime.

I stand outside, looking at the cloudless blue sky and the barren hills which line the airport.

In 20 hours, my view will be a tropical paradise.

I’ve flown in and out of Bangkok more than any other airport in the world, and yet, on this occasion, I’m not flying to my moat-encircled city in the north of the country. I’m not returning to my Thai house. To the elephants. I’m heading to Thailand to speak at an event, and with that comes a tidal wave of raw emotions.

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What is Home?

What is home to you?Home, by definition, is the “place where one lives.”

As a former corporate-world-woman, long-term traveler, and now a serial expat, home has been many places and continues to morph into new and different places where I wake up.

It was where I grew up, with my family, in the middle-class suburbs of Washington, DC. It was where I spent three semesters trying to fit in and find myself in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was three years in Towson where I finished my degree and then didn’t leave because I was in an emotionally abusive — and addictive — relationship. It was Las Vegas, where I spent the bulk of my mid- and late-20s. Then, it was Atlanta, where I attempted to have a more normal (and less glitzy) existence for a year.

After that, is was the road. Hostels, hotels, trains, airports, were my home as I navigated the world doing some solo female travel. When I returned to the States, home was again (albeit briefly) with my parents, and then back to Vegas.

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Thailand: That Old, Familiar Smell

Have you noticed that Thailand has a distinct smell? Thoughts on the scent and returning to what was once home.
“There’s a smell,” the man seated next to me explains as we circle the airspace above Bangkok. “I can’t describe it … but … it’s this smell. It’s distinct. It’s Thailand.”

I smile at him, weary from traveling for 24 hours and not looking forward to an overnight at the airport.

“Ah,” I remark half-heartedly. “I’ve never been.”

“Well, you will know when you step off the plane, it’s unmistakeable.”

When we step off the plane a few minutes later, it’s hard to get a whiff of anything as we move slowly from the jetway into the massive airport. But, when I step outside, it hits miss.

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The Best Beaches in Phuket

The best beaches in Phuket

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: johnlembo

Exotic food. Exotic beaches. Exotic attractions. In Phuket, exotic is the name of the game. This idyllic seaside town in Thailand is a main draw for tourists, thanks to the paradise it offers. Even the Phuket hotels transport guests to a world very different from what they are used to. But, isn’t that the point of taking a true vacation?

While Phuket Town and the other areas of the city can get crowded and are more gritty, there is a world which awaits outside the main drag where people come face-to-face with sea life, pristine beaches and the jungle. It’s all there; you just have to know where to find it.

Not all beaches are created the same. Sadly, mass tourism to Phuket has made many beaches which were once gorgeous and peaceful into tourist traps. However, if you know where to look, you can find some perfect spots to unwind at some of the best beaches in Phuket.

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