Meet Diana, goddess of travel. This girl has known me since…since, probably longer than anyone outside my family. We met at church when we were like five (I don’t know honestly know the exact time we met, but it pretty much spans my memory) and we were best buds right away. After high school we didn’t get to see each other nearly as much, but a few years ago we accidentally reunited in London and had an awesome time. Thank god we both grew up to love traveling and all things British. The best. I’m so excited to introduce you all to my friend, and travel aficionado, Diana!
My parents took me on my first 22 hour road trip when I was 11 months old down to Southern California. We went once a year every year for the following twenty years. Between those, we travelled to two countries and thirty eight states both by car and plane. I guess I never stopped.
What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?
Be nice! I’ve received countless upgrades just by being patient and understanding. I’ve witnessed people in the customer service industry – especially at airports – get yelled at for trivial problems that are completely out of their control and, being as they’re human, they tend to be more generous with those that don’t threaten them.
What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?
The essence of relationships being above all else. Seattle is known for the Seattle Freeze so that’s what I’ve been used to, but in moving to the East Coast and traveling throughout Europe and Australia it is apparent how much other cultures value their relationships with their families and friends. This has significantly enhanced my quality of life.
What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?
Do it. Be smart, but go for it. I started traveling solo when there wasn’t a lot of information or groups so I felt like I was flying blind. Luckily times have changed and at this point there are so many resources and people that have gone before you that are willing to answer any questions. And if it’s fear that’s holding you back, my motto has always been “The worst thing that can happen to you, can happen in your backyard”. Sounds bleak, but don’t let your delusions of comfort lull you into complacency.
What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?
No amount of planning is going to prepare you. I’ve passed out in the streets of Paris due to dehydration, gotten a concussion in several theme parks, sprained an ankle, lost all means of contact to family back home, been stranded with no money, been robbed. You just have to roll with it and get inventive.
What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?
Speaking to other people. The first time I went international, I was alone and didn’t speak to hardly anyone despite it being an English speaking country. That fear has absolutely worn off.
What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile) and why?
Train! I have a love affair with airports but any airplane trip longer than three hours makes me crazy. I once took the TGV from Cannes to Paris and instantly fell in love.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?
Keep going. Don’t let other people get in the way of traveling because it feeds your soul and you can’t help others if you’re not helping yourself first.
What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?
Belize. At the start of my traveling, I spun a globe and my finger landed on Belize. I have to go just to say that I have.
Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure?
I have this delusional habit in which I decide to go somewhere but don’t lock down any logistics until the last minute. I’m going to Europe in May, with at least a stop in London to see my sister and niece, but other than that, I have no idea yet. When I know I need to get away, I start planning and let it figure itself out.
What has been the best/toughest part of your most recent trip?
I was with someone else. I’m a planner and I’m stubborn so this was not going to be easy from the get-go.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from your most recent trip?
Not everyone likes to travel the way that I do. Up until this trip, I’d only gone on trips with my family – who taught me how to travel – and church groups – who dictated how I travel. Traveling with one other person for fun was difficult not only when we had personal arguments but when we realized we wanted to do things differently. Traveling, like relationships, is something you have to compromise on if you want to do it with someone else.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from your most recent trip?
I learned that I still need to improve how I visit new cities. I let my jet lag or my willful ignorance keep me from exploring and that has been a big hinderance. Since then, I’ve taken several small trips and tried to force myself out of my comfort zones. It’s been very rewarding!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Travel isn’t how Instagram models make it out to be. It’s not all pretty pictures from glamorous hotel rooms, but it’s in the gritty sleeping-in-the-tub-to-avoid-bedbugs that you gain the real benefits. Solo travel teaches a person a lot about themselves and that’s why it’s so incredibly important to do.
Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a message on this blog post! Join me again in April for the next feature!