Learning to Embrace Solo Travel and Self-Discovery

kate on her travel and self discovery journey

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Learning to Embrace Solo Travel and Self-Discovery

In this week’s episode of Our Voices we hear a story of travel and self-discovery. Kate is a travel journalist and writer who lives in London. She talks about the origins of her love of travelling and about the difficult relationship she had with her mother while growing up. 

She also discusses how she found the confidence to take her own path in life in order to have new experiences.

Growing up in “Suburbiton”

Kate grew up in a suburb of London called Surbiton, or, as Kate calls it, “Suburbiton”. She describes her hometown as “pretty boring” and says that she “just couldn’t wait to escape”. Set against the dullness of Surbiton, Kate’s imagination was invigorated by stories read to her by her father. She says

 “I’m really thankful that I had a really loving relationship with my dad.”

A difficult relationship

Unfortunately, this was not often the case with her mum. Her parents separated when Kate was just 11 years old and she finds it very difficult to remember any positive or loving memories of her mother growing up. 

“It’s difficult to say that because that relationship is what teaches you what love really is. It’s the first relationship, it’s the most important one, it’s so primal.” 

Instead of recalling positive memories, Kate remembers an occasion when her mother’s lack of attention led to physical suffering.

 “I was about nine years old and I actually got into a bath that my mum had run whilst on the phone to someone, and the bath was just hot water. And I had really bad burns that blistered up on my feet.”


A need for independence

Experiences such as this generated an inbuilt need for independence. Since her mother refused to take control of situations, Kate felt that she had no choice but to take responsibility for her own decisions at an early age. 

But Kate’s burgeoning independence only served to create greater distance between herself and her mother. This was compounded by Kate’s mother finding a new partner. “That’s when it really just felt like she dropped out of my life altogether.”

First trips abroad

Kate discovered her love of travel at the age of 20 when she studied abroad in California for a year. She describes the experience as “transformative… it really shaped the person that I became.” 

She met her future husband while in California and it was there that she decided she wanted to turn her love of writing into a career. Her time in California would soon be followed by trips around the world to places such as Malawi, Mozambique, Vancouver and Ecuador. But the motivation for Kate’s travelling was initially about the impression she could make on others. “I think in my early 20s… I kind of felt like travel made me a little bit more interesting.”

The need to escape: travel and self-discovery

As Kate grew older, she began to feel a connection between travel and self-discovery.

 “Even though I had all the outward trappings of success, a quite high profile job and a boyfriend and I owned a flat and all these things that you’re told are supposed to make you happy, I just still felt like things weren’t right. And so travel became a way of just escaping from my day to day life for a little bit.”

Following a different path

Attempting to embrace those outward trappings, Kate and her boyfriend decided to get married after having been together for over ten years. They divorced one year later. Making the break from her long-term partner made her realise that her life was going to take a very different course to those of her friends.

Rather than resisting her desire to live a different kind of life, Kate decided to fully embrace the possibilities of travel and self-discovery after reading about a fourth century nun. The nun had travelled around the Holy Lands and Kate felt that it was her destiny to follow in the nun’s footsteps. As a result, she booked a self-discovery trip to Israel, Tel Aviv.


A self-discovery trip

Tel Aviv would only be the starting destination for Kate’s new journey, however. She also had plans to visit Palestine. Many warned Kate to not make that journey to Palestine, especially as a family.

 “Even though it’s only a 30-minute bus ride, you have to go through all these checkpoints to get to Palestine. It feels like you’re kind of entering another world.” 

Yet Kate wanted to challenge herself. Reflecting on the pioneering female travellers of the past, she took inspiration. Kate felt that it was important to realise the connection between travel and self-discovery. 

Travelling alone as a woman

By the time she had made her way to the bus travelling from Jerusalem to Palestine, it was already dark. All of the information at the bus stop was in Hebrew and Arabic, none of which Kate understood. She also quickly noticed that she was both the only female and the only tourist on the bus. 

She was starting to question the wisdom of travelling alone as a woman. But in this part of the world until a man on the bus came to her assistance. He made the crossing from Palestine to Jerusalem daily in order to sell his wooden sculptures. As a result, he was able to help her navigate the checkpoints. Describing her experience, Kate says

 “[it was] pretty intimidating. It’s like Israeli soldiers with massive guns and it’s almost like you’re cattle.” Kate says that she was much more accustomed to reviewing luxury spa hotels than taking bus trips through hostile checkpoints. At one stage she asked herself “why didn’t I just accept that trip to the Maldives instead?”


Travel experiences that change your life

But Kate knew that she was having travel experiences that change your life. During her solo travel experiences, she learned about how it was possible to travel and learn. She felt a sense of communion with ancient wanderers who were so moved by their faith

 In fact, Kate’s travels were so inspirational that they motivated her to write a book called A Trip of One’s Own. It has since operated as an inspiration to others to take their own solo trips and to experience travel and self-discovery.

 “I absolutely love it when I hear that people have been inspired to take a solo trip by themselves after having read the book… because I know firsthand how powerful it can be to have that first experience on your own.”

Discovering motherhood

Aside from travelling adventures, another powerful experience Kate has had is that of recently becoming a mother. Just as in so many aspects of Kate’s life, she has had to pioneer her own approach to motherhood. Reflecting on how she has come to terms with the past in order to make the most of the future, she says:

 “You can’t rewrite your childhood, but you can start the next chapter on your own terms.”

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Our Voices podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Our Voices podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

 

Experience in Industry: 3

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Favourite Book: Northern Lights

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I’m the community manager at Our Voices. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests from all around the world. What I love most about working for Our Voices is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

 

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

 

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Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.

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I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Our Voices podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

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Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

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Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Our Voices’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  

 

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Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

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Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.

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I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Our Voices podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.

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Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

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Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

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Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

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Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live by.

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I am the host of Our Voices. I help to find the guests that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and many of these people had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Our Voices’ because I wanted to give these people a platform to share these stories with the world.

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Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.