Sober solo traveler
Traveling, sober life, helping others and exploring both one's own mind and the big globe, does that sounds interesting? Then you shall definitely read this interesting interview. We can do so much more than we may think and why not with help and inspiration from others?
Name: Kimberly Anne
Occupation: Author and Healthcare Practitioner
Family: My family consists of my loving dog and supportive friends
Lives in: Northern California, The USA
You are a solo traveler, and a sober one. What is your story?
My story is long, 40 years in the making. My lifelong dream has been to travel full time but I got caught up with work instead. The sober part is that until I was 39 years old, I drank and used alcohol excessively. That's definitely a big part of what kept me from living some of my dreams.
I've always been driven and I channeled that drive into work. I am a workaholic. I had my first job at age 14 and I worked two jobs through high school and just never stopped. Eventually I started my own businesses, but I could never seem to make "enough". I worked to save and travel, which I did. I took solo trips, without my dog unfortunately, all over the United States and abroad. But I couldn't get away for more than a few weeks at a time, because I had to go back to work.
I also didn't know if I could really do it, travel full time. I was afraid that I would miss my clothes; I'm a bit obsessed with clothing. I worried I'd miss my friends. I was afraid of downsizing and getting rid of my "stuff".
So last year I went on a six week solo trip through Europe. The longest I'd ever traveled prior to that was for five weeks and for some reason, six weeks sounded like a very big number. I did it to see if I could. On my last night, in Berlin, I cried. I didn't want to go home. I had no problem living out of a small carry on suitcase for the entire six weeks. I fell into a wonderful rhythm. I met amazing people that I'm still good friends with.
One of my main goals in life was to earn six figures. I worked my butt off and about three years ago I finally achieved that monetary goal. But by doing so, I had to pay the government fifty percent of my earnings for self-employment taxes. I had scrimped and saved the first year I started earning and was so proud when I went to my accountant and told her, "look how much I saved!" and she said: "I'm so glad, because that's the exact amount you owe to the government". I spent the next three years working to pay my taxes. I was on a never-ending hamster wheel of hell.
Then covid happened and basically, I lost everything. My business, which is alternative healthcare, collapsed. I still have it but I am earning a third of what I was earning before due to all the precautions I have to take now. And yet I'm still working the same amount of hours. It's barely enough to survive in Northern California. So I took a long, hard look at what I wanted, what I had been dreaming about for forty years and I realized, now is the time. I'm 54 years old and I don't want to keep waiting.
I want to touch on the sober traveling part because a lot of people don't think it's doable, but it really is. I have a lot of stories where I was either the only sober person in a group traveling and had to leave when things got out of hand. But I have more experiences of meeting other sober travelers, quite by accident and going to AA meetings all around the world.
There is a huge support group at our fingertips that not everyone gets to have. I've been to English speaking AA meetings in Canada, Venice Italy, Berlin, Shanghai and all around the United States. I can show up in a country or a city where I don't know a soul, go to a meeting and have instant connections. With that said, I am pretty extroverted so I tend to make friends regardless.
If you're a sober traveler and you're afraid, make sure you have a sober support group before you leave. People you can call if things get out of hand or scary. I had to call my sober cousin one night when I found myself at a party in Venice, Italy with a dozen women who were pouring bottles of alcohol down their throats. My first thought wasn't "leave" but when a woman showed up with a bottle of something I had always wanted to try but never had before, I jumped up, ran out and called my cousin crying.
In China I was in a restaurant with two women who were double fisting beer. I remember the saying "sit on your hands" and I did. Before then, I had no idea what that even meant. As I was physically sitting on my hands I had the thought, "leave" and so I did.
Another time in China I was with a group of people on Yellow Mountain and it was a harrowing experience. I was pushed down a flight of stairs on a cliff's edge and then trampled. I was shaking, sore and distraught. In the bus on the way back to Hangzhou, people started passing drugs over my lap. I was newly sober and reached out to grab some when I realized what I was doing. Every one of those people knew I was sober and not a single one cared.
When I got back to my hostel, I called another friend in the program who lived in Shanghai and he immediately invited me over for a long weekend. He took me to meetings and introduced me to an entirely new support group. I met him before I went to China by calling World Services and asking for an English speaking liaison in China.
I'm not going to say it's easy to travel sober, especially if you're new to sobriety but I will say it is completely, hundred per cent possible. But you will have to be vigilant.
Well, you are not always solo on your trips, as you have a dog as company. How does it work to travel with an animal?
I have only traveled with my dog on small trips so far. I drove up through California, Oregon and Washington State in my car. He did great. I drive down to Los Angeles several times a year with him too. He loves the car. He's a great travel companion. I had to find airbnb's that would allow him and when we stayed with friends they were very happy he was there.
I haven't taken him on a plane yet but I plan to. He is legally a service dog so I'll be able to bring him in the cabin and he is small, 15 pounds.
But for my next adventure I'm moving into a van and traveling through the United States and he'll be by my side. Then I plan to move, with him of course, to Europe. On my last trip to Europe I met a woman on the plane who has a close friend who is a nomad, traveling regularly (on airplanes) with her dog!
On your web page you wrote this: "My personal mission statement is to encourage people 40+ who are not in the 1%, the 5% or even the 25% to achieve their dreams. I want to add value to your life and inspire you to move past the false impressions, values and ideals that other people are throwing at you. That is their baggage, not yours!" Would you like to develop?
There are three concepts here! Ideally, I hope to focus on people who are 50 and older but I want to encourage everyone, no matter how old they are, to achieve their dreams. Since I made the decision to get rid of all my belongings, move into a van and travel through the United States I've had to deal with other people's judgments and fears. I love psychology and I find it more interesting than annoying. But in the past, other people's judgments and fears have held me back.
There are so many things that I did or didn't do in my life because my parents did or didn't want me to do them. And while I take full responsibility for those choices, I know that if they hadn't been telling me what to do or what not to do, I would have made very different choices.
I am not a wealthy person but I grew up in a privileged family. My upbringing afforded me a look into the way the upper class lives. While my family was not upper class, we knew many people who were. I also had a long stint as a television producer, one of my many businesses and that world also offered me a look into wealthier folks. I have only known one family well, who fit the upper class mold and while they had more opportunities than anyone I've ever seen, they were also the most miserable people I've ever met.
People like me, who are not gifted with money and prestige, have to work harder for basic necessities. People in the upper echelon have a myriad of help and if they don't, they can buy it. But we can't. I want to empower people like you, people like me, people who make up eighty five per cent of the world. Your voices need to be heard. Your dreams need to be reached for and achieved.
There's a concept in teaching (I've had almost every job in the world, including teacher) that's based on "If I can reach just one person and help them or influence them positively, that's enough". I've lived my entire life this way. I went into the healing profession. While I do help many people on a daily basis, according to them, I am fulfilled if I merely help one. And this is the reason I'm documenting my personal journey/adventure and putting myself out there. To help others and to show you that you can do it too.
Please go to my website to find out more. I blog regularly and am starting a podcast to remind all of you: you are never too old to achieve your dreams!
#adventure #solotraveler #greatwomen #wallenborg #womenportrait #california