Dreaming of travel? These women show you how to do it solo and transform your life in the process : )

When my Prepare to Be Loved clients and I dream-storm about things they would most like to add to their lives, and things they can do that would most excite and inspire them, travel is always at or near the top of the list.

But, with whom to travel?  And, would we agree on where to go and what to see once we reach our destination?

A recent article by Susan Spano for the AARP Magazine (gasp!) has some great advice on traveling alone -- and notes that solo travel is becoming very popular among women of a certain age.

She notes:  "As I stopped wherever I wanted to eat spaghetti alle vongole and sunbathed on the rocks above the Ligurian Sea, my recent divorce faded into the background and I forgot my fears about no longer being one-half of a couple."

Check out the link above, which also includes videos on subjects such as safety for the solo traveler.

There's an interesting book on the subject of women traveling alone, though it wasn't quite what I first expected.

When I heard about the book Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength, Confidence, and True Self-Knowledge by Janice Holly Booth, I thought that it might be a 21st century version of one of my favorite books, Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers.

Thinking about traveling alone myself at midlife brings back memories of my previous solo travels in Europe, narrowly escaping sexual assault in a couple of instances.  And, no, I wasn't in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.  In one instance I was visiting a medieval walled city in Spain in broad daylight.  In another instance, I was assaulted on a train, again, in broad daylight at noon, but alone in a second-class car.

Hmm, perhaps being less than young may make me immune to such things these days?  Yet, much as I enjoy being alone, recent solo travel has made me wish for someone with whom to share all the extraordinary experiences.  But, here's the rub:  Someone who wants to visit the same locales that I'm pining for.

Anyhow, I thought that Booth's book would be along the lines of Unsuitable for Ladies: tales of women traveling alone on various continents.  (The aforementioned book, excerpts from diaries and published accounts of women traveling unescorted by men from the 18th century to the 20th, is pretty fascinating.) 

However, this book is about solo adventure travel within the western United States -- nothing that I would ever think of doing myself, but absorbing reading nonetheless.  Interesting, even if only for the idea that a woman would be obsessed to take on of the highly dangerous undertakings that Booth feels compelled to experience. 

Along the way, Booth reveals a lot about her background, spotty romantic past, life challenges, and what drives her to confront her fears again and again, in a variety of ways, through the years.  She shares the reasons she feels we should do the same, and gives us plenty of room for self-reflection.

If, like me, the thought of rapelling down the sheer walls of a slot canyon, or driving a dogsled team appeals to you not at all, I still recommend to you this book.  If Janice Holly Booth was able to fight her demons and accomplish these dread, so-called vacations, then what's your excuse for not starting that class, that diet, that home project?  Or, traveling alone à la Eat, Pray, Love?

Buck up, ladies.  Some very impressive women have paved the trail. {tweet this}

For more about Only Pack What You Can Carry, here's a synopsis.

And, Janice Holly Booth also writes an occasional blog, with an unique perspective.

Post-Divorce Self-Help Books, and . . . Books for the Bar

Author Dawn Powell, 1914
I'm a great lover of cocktail culture, but it just doesn't feel right to hit my favorite craft cocktail bars alone on the weekends.

However . . . opening time, at around 5:30pm on a Saturday can be great.  No one's there, no one is coveting your seat at the bar, and it's a great time to crack open a book and enjoy a creative libation.

But there is a quandary here:  I want to recommend two of the books that helped me most in getting through my divorce and post-divorce trauma with one mini-tragedy after another, but do you really want to take a self-help book into a bar?

I self-helped myself like crazy, reading literally dozens of pop-psych books on depression, anxiety, stress, divorce, co-dependency, positive thinking, midlife dating, and more.  But I don't want you to have to read through all of those thousands of pages.

In particular, the midlife dating guides were worst.  The conventional wisdom:  Get cracking, sister.  You'll have to claw like a tiger and be ready to serve your man like never before just to get a sub-par guy to pay attention to you.  Because, sorry, at midlife, available single women are the cream of the crop, while their single male counterparts are the maladjusted, misanthropic leftovers.  And, we have to fight over them . . . or spend the rest of our lives alone.  Don't read these books, ladies!

Here are my top two woo-woo must-reads:

Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
I Need Your Love:  Is that True? by Byron Katie

Both of these books will put your mind in a better place, without dozens of complex steps or mind-bending concepts to internalize.  Both are straight-forward, clear, and you'll have your aha moment inside of an hour.

But . . . do you want to be seen reading the aforementioned woo-woo in public?  Hmmm, probably not.

So, let me recommend the following tales of women who made their own choices in life, and wouldn't be afraid to have a cocktail on their own:
The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
The Women by T.C. Boyle
Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers by Jane Robinson

In the spirit of the cocktail's heyday, I also recommend any novel by Dawn Powell,but especially my favorite, Angels on Toast.  Here's a wonderful salon.com encomium about Powell, "How Dawn Powell can save your life," from 1999.  And, find her Wikipedia bio here.  If you're fascinated by Manhattan from the 1930s through 1950s (as I am), you'll want to know about this neglected author.

Try it:  If your friends are all occupied, and you're just dying to get out of the house on a less-than-beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon, hit one of your town's upscale cocktail bars, and kick back with a book and a little borrowed panache.  Pretty soon, the charm and charisma will be all yours.

Let me know how it goes and what you decided to read : ) .