For most of us, our lives are carefully constructed to spend time with our wonderful girlfriends with small pockets of managed time to meet new friends. A networking meeting here, a get together there, the odd chance encounter.
For guest blogger SHERRY OTT, life is very different. She is constantly on the go, constantly traveling to new places, constantly meeting fabulous women, some of whom become life-long friends. What would your life be like if you were constantly putting yourself in new situations?
I know that it seems unlikely that a girl could go to a foreign country alone and end up coming back with a new girlfriend that lasts a lifetime—but this happens to me all the time. Traveling solo can actually help you make and build new friendships, because being alone attracts people. I know this because I’ve been traveling for 6 years now, solo, around the world. One would think this is lonely—but quite the contrary—I have made more new friendships than I can even keep track of at times!
I arrived in Morocco alone hoping that the taxi driver was taking me to the right address. He abruptly stopped, got out of the car ‘yelled’ something at me in Arabic, and pointed in a direction. I had been through this before, so I got out of the taxi, paid him, and walked in the direction of his finger. In a few blocks I found my hotel where I met the rest of my travel group for touring three weeks through Morocco.
I chose to do an Intrepid small group tour because as much as I love traveling on my own, I didn’t feel like traveling alone in Morocco. These tours are small, and not necessarily glamorous, but they provide what I’m looking for—companionship. I met Janelle, the only other American in the 12-person group and was a bit startled by her chattiness. It had been a while since I had been around Americans in my travels though Asia! But it was nice to meet someone from my own culture who I could easily communicate with and have something in common with.
As we were hiking through the Atlas Gorge, Janelle and I talked endlessly about work and life goals. At that point, I had been on a traveling career break for 11 months and my whole perspective of career and life had changed. One of the biggest benefits of career breaks and travel is that you have time to step away from routine and re-evaluate your life mission and goals. As Janelle talked about her teaching job in Austin—I took it all in and finally said to her—“It sounds like you don’t really like your job. Why in the world are you still doing it and trying to make it work if you are unhappy?”
“What?” I exclaimed. I was startled, excited, and a bit panicked that I had just convinced someone to quit their job. It wasn’t my intention, however little did I know it would lead me to my current mission that I’m on today to help people step away from their unsatisfying careers and take traveling career breaks or sabbaticals.
Janelle did indeed quit her job when she went back to the US. I continued traveling and we both always stayed in touch as by this time I was proud to call her a friend. Then Janelle made a big move—she moved to Taiwan to teach at an International School. This way she could infuse travel and adventure into her life which is what she felt she was lacking. I was living in Vietnam at the time and would go visit her in Taiwan. It was fun to have a girlfriend so close by in Asia!
As global friendships go—we continued meeting up all over the world whenever we could. Janelle’s life completely changed once she started to allow herself to be happy and listen to her heart which was screaming at her to travel and live abroad. She gained direction and I gained a great global girlfriend. I’ve even found a way to include Janelle in my business—she’ll be speaking at my Meet Plan Go Career Break event in Minneapolis this October, telling people about how she left her unsatisfying job to explore the world and find new direction—and how they can do it too.
Who knew that a solo trip would not only help me meet an amazing new girlfriend, but also change the direction of both of our lives. Had I not gone alone, I don’t know what direction my life would have taken. But I think both Janelle and I are thankful that we both decided to go solo. Because when you go alone you open yourself up to meeting others!
SHERRY OTT is a nomadic traveler, blogger, and photographer with one goal in mind—to make you wish you were somewhere else. She’s Co-Founder of Meet, Plan, Go!, a website and national travel event teaching you how to take your own traveling career break or sabbatical. Events are held in 10 cities across the country October 16th. She also spends time seeking out unique travel experiences and writes about her worldly solo adventures on Ottsworld.com.
What adventures have you had traveling with girlfriends (or meeting new friends when you travel)?
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