JourneyWoman Love Letters: Sharing Wisdom With Your Younger Solo Self

Celebrating Self-Love and Our Love of Travel, Together

Curated by Nadine Lavoie, JourneyWoman

On February 14, we celebrated Valentine’s Day a little differently. Instead of embracing a more traditional approach to romantic love, we embraced our love of self and the love for what we are passionate about – TRAVEL!

We received beautiful letters – heartfelt, honest and memorable from many women around the world. And then we shared these letters on a special Valentine’s zoom call that was full of laughter and wisdom.  I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for your participation, openness, authentic conversation, and contribution to creating a safe space for all of us to share.  

I hope you enjoy these 31 love letters, written from the heart, to our younger selves. Women marked with a (*) are on our JourneyWoman Advisory Council or Contributors to our editorial. You can read my letter here.

A love letter to my younger self…

Jane C – Pompano Beach, FL USA

Dear Young Jane,

I want to give you some advice to prepare you to enjoy traveling for a long time to come. I have enjoyed my travels over the years and certainly wish that I had started sooner and I have a few other ideas that might help you as well.

One of the things I think is very important is to take language classes and practice using those languages as much as possible. I always tried to make sure I had a small basic vocabulary before I went anywhere. It was helpful to know numbers and directions and of course helpful to ask and find out where the bathroom is. Menu items are good to know also, I never lived down the time I insisted that I wanted to eat tripe soup.

On my first trip to Europe I went with a school group as a participating but not chaperoning adult. That was a great experience but the best part of it was the day that I went off in Paris on my own for the entire day. I felt brave enough to walk and take the
metro system and to order food and I even spoke to a few French-speaking people. It was especially good because it happened to be my birthday. Maybe my 25th?

Try to be brave enough to go out on your own whenever possible, sometimes you may worry about your safety, usually the people at your hotel or other advisers can tell you what is safe and what is not and it is up to you to see how far you push that. You already know that it’s not smart to be referring to a street map on the corner of a street. Pay attention to your surroundings, not just for safety but for curiosity and knowledge.

Look at the people, try to make eye contact. Find the out of the way streets and restaurants where you might be eating with local people. If you can’t read the menu, look at other diners’ foods and let the server know that you’d like something someone else has. Be brave about food and drink as well. You’re not traveling to eat the things you eat at home.

Young Jane, one of the things I really regret is the time I had an opportunity to drive cross country from western New York to California with two girlfriends. My husband objected and I followed his desires. His reasoning was that those two single women would be looking to pick up and meet men on the whole trip. So I didn’t go and I have never gone cross country in a car. To my knowledge there were no men on the trip…

Young Jane, I’m proud of some of the braver choices I made in my life. Like the summer I lived in Key West, only knowing one person there at the time. And I moved to Florida, leaving my job of 14 years, to travel the entire state, as a traveling sales rep. And deciding to stay in Florida. No more shoveling snow for me.

So, my young friend, the biggest advice is, Enjoy your life.

More mature Jane

Jane Claud crouching overlooking the cliffs onto the ocean north of San Francisco.

Marion B – Edmonton, AB, Canada

My Dear Younger Marion,

Life changes everything, plans change, life changes, hopes and dreams change along the way.

Never give up on your dreams and hopes!

There will be a day when you can see the world out there, visit places that make your heart race! Meet people who can tell you their stories!

Your time will come! And you will love every minute of your journey!

Love,
The older Marion

A portrait of Marion Broverman infront of a city skyline

Angela D – Tallahassee, FL, USA

Dear Younger Angela,

Keep asking questions! Your curiosity, honesty, and compassion will guide your travels as you learn how fascinating the world is.

Your knack for knowing what to ask will have you interviewing artists, chefs, and local leaders in destinations you haven’t even begun to imagine.

The thrill of discovery will bring you great joy as you share their stories in heartwarming ways. It will be awesome…and you will be exuberant!

With deepest love,
older Angela

Angela Dowdy standing amongst tree branches

Christine L – Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dear Younger Christine,

I remember the first time you knew you wanted to travel overseas. You were in High School in a small Aussie town in the 1960’s. A classmate asked you what you wanted to do when you “grew up”.

“I want to travel overseas, I want to visit Russia,” you said. “Russia?? Most folks in this town haven’t even been to Sydney!” replied your classmate.

But, I’ve got to say, when you did get to first travel overseas it wasn’t to go on an adventure, but to escape.

My dear young woman, it wasn’t necessary to feel shame at being unmarried at twenty three, it really wasn’t! You, and all the other spinsters on board, fleeing to the Mother Country to escape the humiliation of your unwed status…….

Your first port of call outside Australian waters was Djibouti, in what was then the French territory of the Afars and Issas. The culture shock was unforgettable. You spoke to a soldier in the French Foreign Legion. (The Legion really existed not just in movies!)

The seed was sown. You couldn’t wait to get to England, meet your Scottish Dad’s family, and earn enough to travel to Europe in the Summer. Remember how fascinated you were to see that your Great Uncle had the same mannerisms as you Dad even though your Dad left Scotland when he was still a boy?

What will you learn, why will you become addicted to travel?

You will learn that there simply isn’t a “right” way to do anything so much of what we learn is cultural. This is a very important lesson it frees you from prejudice and teaches you empathy. There may be language barriers but humour connects when words fail. You will learn resilience for those times when you are ill or injured, and just want to just go “home”.

You will get to experience with your own eyes the natural beauty this world has to offer, and to feel gratitude at having had the opportunity denied to so many, of experiencing it firsthand.

But, most of all, you will learn that the greatest journey will be an internal journey. All these travel experiences will shape the person you become.

Oh, and you needn’t of worried you will marry a wonderful man and enjoy travelling together. Now a widow, I remember with great fondness, those nights we dined in Madrid’s beautiful squares….

Finally, you will travel across Russia, and you will surprise your Intourist guide, Galina, with your knowledge of her amazing country.

Love,
Older Christine

Christine Longfoot riding a donkey

Grace D – Toronto, ON, Canada

Dear Younger Self,

The three countries that you were fortunate to live in on three continents have given you a whole new perspective on life and the inhabitants of the world. Your love for the traditions of Europe while at the same time in love with the warmth and friendliness of cruising the Caribbean gave you a happy feeling meeting people and forming new relationships. 

Keep exploring those travelling opportunities to enjoy the company of others just meeting for the first time.

Sincerely,
Older Grace.

Mary M – Orleans, ON, Canada

Dear Younger Self,

Try to relax more and let yourself be immersed in the travel experience. War is not going to break out during your stay in the United Kingdom, preventing you from getting home. Try to be more open to the things your traveling companions want to do: seeing ruins, taking guided tours of stately homes, etc.

Try to appreciate this travel experience fully, because there will come a time when it will not be as easy to travel, and the things we once took for granted will seem miraculous.

Enjoy every minute

Diana Eden – Las Vegas, NV, USA*

Dear Much Younger Me,

You are about to embark on your tour of Europe, and oh my, you have so many cities planned and so little time in each! Rome, Florence, Venice! You want to see everything with the hunger of someone who doesn’t know when you’ll be back. That’s OK. You SHOULD see the great monuments and museums of the world. You must visit the Coliseum in Rome, and the Forum and of course St Peters. In Florence, you can’t miss the Duomo or the treasures in The Uffici, and in Venice, the Grand Canal will enchant you.

But promise me this: at some future time you will return to Italy and stay in the countryside. Until then, you cannot fully appreciate Italy’s culture and the joy and kindness of the Italian people. Slow down and spend an hour having coffee in the piazza before heading out to a neighbouring g hilltop village. Wander over to the village’s evening fiesta, where the locals will invite you to taste their pasta or dolci and beam with pride when you say “delicioso”! Take a walk in the evening and see the grandpas pushing the babies in strollers while the grandmas chat and walk arm in arm. Drop into the local churches, and they will dazzle you with their paintings and statues, even in the humblest of towns. Eat in the local restaurants where you may not always understand the menus, but all around you will hear the sound of the Italian language being spoken.

It will be a slower, less scheduled trip, but rich in ways you can’t even imagine yet.

Love,
Your much older self,
Diana

Diane Eden sitting in a gondola in Venice

Anne F

Hey!

When you graduate from high school and think the only way to get paid to travel is either to become a flight attendant or a travel agent, let me assure you there are many other ways.

I’ve been fortunate to work with a private group composed of the chairmen of international banks…and now I’ve been paid to travel to SIX continents (there are no banks in Antarctica).

The places I’ve been and the people I’ve met have been truly life-changing. Please keep on searching until you reach your goal.

Blessings from the older me

Patricia S – Courtenay, BC, Canada

Dear Pattie,

I would like to encourage you to explore the world.

Broaden your horizons, meet new people, view beautiful nature, hike mountains, hills
and trails, experience joy and happiness, learn new languages.

In the meantime, read books, watch films, plan voyages and then go.

Have fun.
Love from Pattie

Nekessa Remy in a white shirt smiling at the camera

Dr. Nekessa Remy – Mississauga, ON, Canada* 

Dear Younger Nekessa, 

I know you are afraid of not being in control. I completely understand your need to make lists, plan things way in advance and try to stick to what you know. However, once you learn that not being in control will allow you to discover a new part of yourself that you had no idea existed you will want to pack that backpack and head to the unknown immediately.


Know that you don’t need permission to be yourself, you are resilient and capable of anything. Travelling will teach you more about yourself than any textbook ever could. You will explore, overcome obstacles and learn from women outside of your bubble. You will not regret one single thing.

Proudly, Older Nekessa

Alana H – Calgary, AB, Canada 

A Travel Letter to My Younger Self:

There are so many messages and words of wisdom that I would like to share with you before you set out on the adventure of your lifetime as you make your way overseas to explore Southeast Asia and New Zealand for six months. You have worked so hard to save for this trip and I’m so proud of you for making this happen.

When your parents couldn’t fathom why you were wanting to fly halfway around the globe to travel to some foreign countries where you couldn’t even speak the language, and your colleagues at work couldn’t believe you were taking a sabbatical to gallivant abroad… and then when the massive tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004 happened a week before you left Calgary, and everyone thought you were crazy for still wanting to go… you followed your heart, trusted your intuition, and left.

And I’m so glad you did.

Because you see, it was on that trip that you changed. You learned so much about yourself and you grew. You experienced opportunities that some can only dream of and it was because of your courage, that you were able to manifest such incredible outcomes and memories for yourself.

From the extraordinary people that you met along the way, to the bizarre and fascinating things that you witnessed. The sheer delight of such unique cultures and customs, mirrored by the complex and confusing myriad of situations that were hard to explain.

You witnessed it all. You soaked it up and took it all in. You didn’t take anything for granted and you were rewarded in a big way. That trip opened doors for you. It set the stage and created a strong foundation which you have continued to nurture within.

At the time, you didn’t even realize how this trip would have such a profound impact on your life and it wasn’t until years later when you embarked on your own journey of self-discovery that you would realize just how special a trip this really was.

You are the best version of yourself when you travel Alana. You are in service to all the people you interact with and meet from far and wide. From Mother Gaia, to the Galaxy and beyond, travel is part of your soul blueprint through and through.

Never forget this.

Sending so much Love,
Alana

Christine Longfoot riding a donkey
A young Stephanie hugging a light pole

Stephanie T – Guelph, ON, Canada

Dear Younger Stephanie,

You have come a long way from this 4 ½ years old shy and frightened child who went on her first airplane flight from then Saigon to Quebec City with your family as refugees. This picture of you was taken when you went on your first “Solo” trip in May of 1986 to Ottawa with your fellow high school classmates. This was a HUGE deal since it was the first time you had not travelled with your immediate family.  You felt such joy, freedom and excitement then at travelling on your own and those feelings have intensified over the years.

What has not changed since your first flight is that you still LOVE to fly and your love of travel has morphed into a passion over the years! 

Travelling allows you to open your heart and mind; it gives you perspectives that you had never thought of before.  It allows you to meet kindred spirits, sage teachers, and to acquire greater empathy and compassion for people from different cultures and countries.  Travelling makes you want to better yourself, it inspires you, and makes you want to continue to spread seeds of kindness and love wherever you go.

I know you had wanted to belong and to follow the pack as a teenager, however, always remember how truly unique and special you areYou can discover so much more and experience magical moments if you let yourself be YOU; follow what your heart calls you to do as opposed to what others are telling you to do or what you feel you must do.

With travelling solo, I assure you that you will be exposed to endless wondrous and awe-inspiring moments, and you will meet people and experience moments, that will touch you forever.

Be Courageous, Be Curious and Be Open Minded, and let the Joyful Adventurer in you come out! You will see that you will be forever changed by the people you will meet, the cultures you will experience and the knowledge you will gain.

The world is a magnificent place and there are people who will welcome you with open arms when you meet them.  Enjoy every single moment of your travels and DO what makes you HAPPY and be IN JOY!  

Make travel what you want it to be and cherish the excitement and joys from each trip long after you have put away your suitcase.

With my love always,
Older Stephanie xox

P.S. I am very proud of how you have grown and have transformed into this confident and passionate woman and travel enthusiast!

Joy Fox – Parksville, BC, Canada*

Dear Younger self:

This is your Winter self sending what I know will be your first valentine, to your Spring self.

Right now, you are wishing things were different, that life would get better, so that you could be like your peers, who seem to have so much when you have so little. One day, and it may be a few years away just now, you will not want to be like your peers, or follow the crowd. You will be joyfully independent, strong enough to be just who you are meant to be, not a carbon copy of any other person. You will have your first taste of international travel when you will be brave enough to get yourself to Italy. It will change your life and the travel seed will be planted. 

Italy was just the beginning. After you work hard at 3 jobs to raise the money to emigrate, you will meet and marry a man who will take you across North America to many wonderful parks. You will belong to an organization that holds many international conferences and you will travel to many of them. You will start an organization later in life and me, your winter self, is at present enjoying the 25th Anniversary celebrations of that organization. You will go back to school to get a degree, and Certifications relating to International Protocol and Etiquette, and you will embark on a successful training program to teach what you have learned. You will win awards and have an award named after you. You will be invited to Japan, travel on your own to many beautiful parts of the world. You will embrace solo travel, in order to answer only to yourself, but socialize with people everywhere. You will host women from around the world and be hosted by others when you travel.

Your travel journeys will teach you that people are people, no matter the language or colour of their skin. You will learn that once you have exposed yourself to people and places in other countries, you can never be a stick in the mud, you will always be looking for the opportunity to go where you have never been before, but still go back to the places that are close to your heart. 

Be brave younger self, conquer the fear you have, there is nothing to be afraid of. All will be well. Your journey is unfolding as it should. It will be an amazing journey so enjoy each day to the fullest, through all the Seasons of your life.

Love
Me

 

An old photograph of Joy, wearing a white blazer and pearls
Brenda McCrank

Brenda McCrank, Toronto, ON, Canada*

To My Younger Self,

Travel to your heart’s content – your home is in your heart and it’s ok to have many homes …

Whoever said, ‘You can never go home’  didn’t know you … nor that the only true constant in life is change!’

Embrace it and it embraces you! Sometimes you can go back. Never say never.

Marillee Caroll – Dana Point, California, USA*

Dear Younger Marillee,

I’m proud of you, my younger self, at 34 years old, post divorce traveling solo for three months throughout Europe, where your curiosity, adventure, and bravery came alive.

You took on the challenge to rediscover yourself and found your best friend, you, gaining self-compassion, increasing your resilience, a sense of worth, willingness to discover new places, meet new people, and revealing yourself in the process.

You’re an accomplished survivor and a wanderlust traveler, and I’m proud of you!

This is only the beginning of your world traveling experiences!

Love,
A more mature and wiser Marillee

Marillee Carroll sitting at a white table
Marille Carroll sitting on a bench holding an open umbrella

Nancy C – Richmond, BC, Canada

Dear Nancy,

You’re off to a great start! Continue to explore new places and meet new people.

Try to get off the beaten path and challenge yourself to feelings of discomfort.

Find a way to get fluent in at least one other language.

Live somewhere to make that happen.

Also spread your wings beyond Europe: explore Asia, South America and Africa!

You won’t regret it!
Nancy (at 66)

Nancy Chappell, sitting in-front of a sign that says "Land's End"

Diane C – Pakawau, New Zealand 

Dear Younger Self,

You had to put your travel dreams on hold because you have a young family now, but don’t give up on those dreams. They will call you and take you on journeys that will open your mind and your heart and connect you to a life so rich you could not have imagined it.

Your dream of living in France and speaking fluent French, for example, when fulfilled, will be even richer from the waiting.

Traveling will allow you to develop and polish your skills as a writer and that will become a deep passion that you can cherish for the rest of your life.

Trust yourself and believe in yourself. The world is waiting for you.

Three women in a black and white photo

Amit Janco – Bali, Indonesia*

Dear Little AJ,

Not until you the moment that you step off a plane in Bangkok and take in those first whiffs of scents, mesmerizing sights, tantalizing dishes, and neck-craning architecture, will you really appreciate the wonders of the world.

Not until you check into a hostel, dine on real pad thai, gaze at locals eating grilled insects, ride buses through lush countrysides, will you understand how vastly different other parts of the world look, sound and smell.

Not until you meet a Khmer couple who saved your life will you comprehend that, essentially, we are all the same. Be not afraid. Practice awe and courage.

Dare yourself to hop onto the world’s merry-go-round without fear.. it will be a wild ride!

Much love and compassion,
from your Older AJ

A young girl sitting on a wooden swing

Kimberley F – New York, NY, USA

Dear Younger Kimberley,

You’ve grown up out of the box, so you aren’t really bound to the normal expectations, and your spontaneous nature, adventurous spirit will take you everywhere, even if you can’t see it now.

Travel will end up teaching you important life lessons, and you will thrive, grow and become a caring, giving, empathetic human being. You will fall in love while traveling. You will also experience heartbreak. You will value experience over things. You will learn patience. And spontaneity. And how to make friends out of strangers, and a smile is a universal language.

Travel will always be your first love. From growing up in Alaska, to seeing all of the United States and dozens of countries, you will always welcome new environments and situations.

Take with you the feelings and experiences, and never stop learning, growing or exploring.
-Kimberley

A woman standing on a field with monkeys in the background.

Teri F – Oxnard, CA, USA

Dear Young Teri,

Remember the day you joined three girlfriends from college on Caledonia Airways for a summer in Europe? It was 1968 and you were just 20 years old and had never traveled out of the country. You were not only excited beyond belief, you were brave. Venturing across the Atlantic with only a backpack and some comfortable shoes, you had no idea of the adventures you would have, the people you would meet, and the things you’d learn that would change your life. There were no smartphones, mail was slow, and payphones would prove too difficult to use due to language barriers and currency issues. So communication with home was rare. Being truly on your own for the first time and in places with different languages, cultures, and ways of navigating the surroundings was challenging. Successes and failures ended up creating the person you are today.

There were no Euros then so planning ahead and hoping strangers would give you the correct change, helped you realize that people are trustworthy. Every new country required a fresh course in getting around. Reading maps and discovering that missteps could often be the door to a new adventure made you more confident and open.
People you met were patient and as curious about you as you were about them. Amazingly enough, these challenges were a huge part of the fun. You four leaned on each other and discovered that each had talents that contributed to creating the adventure of a lifetime.

So all in all, that brave step onto that airplane opened your world, expanded your mind, and brought the realization that everyone is unique and that diversity is a gift to be treasured. That is why since then you have jumped onto an airline whenever the opportunity presented itself and that’s why your life has been so enriched. So don’t stop now. It’s never too late to step outside your comfort zone and find a treasure.

Sincerely,
Older Teri

Teri Foster sitting in. front of London Bridge

Judi S – Palm Springs, CA, USA

Dear Younger Judi,

I love that I was afraid to fly so found a different way to travel. It was the sea. Not on a fun, busy cruise ship but as frequently the only passenger-only woman, on a cargo ship. I fell hard in love with the sea…and me. It was in that place away from the noise of the world that I saw the power and beauty of nature that is not experienced in land-life.

There is nothing like “going to sea” to compare with. This form of travel for me was away to “steam-clean” the brain of life’s clutter and stress. It gave me the chance to see what really was inside my head and heart. One’s existence on a ship is conducive to creativity, contemplation, and most importantly, appreciation of the vastness of our universe and the diversity of its life forms.

The world takes on a new perspective from a freighter, even before one has the chance to become familiar with foreign ports. Newspapers are few, radio broadcasts unavailable, and television unreachable. Problems magnified out of proportion at home, sink back into their rightful niches at sea. Saving the world doesn’t seem half as important as it did on land.

I saw the world from a different angle. Many times I missed the big cities of a country to only walk the ports and communicate best I could with the locals. I saw a different world than most tourists. It was real and full of the history of sea trade and exploration. The only disappointment in this travel life of mine was, going down the gangway for the last time.

Judi S “Seesea”

Erin J -Edwardsville, KS, USA

Hello Younger Erin,

Exploring the world is part of your soul. Remain confident and don’t always take the safe choice. Soon enough you will figure out that stability is nice but oh the stories you will have and the confidence you will gain through travel.

You are the best version of yourself when wandering the streets of London and people-watching at a cafe in Paris. There may come a day when travel isn’t easy and your passport sits in a drawer for a moment. Don’t let that time pass you by. This is the time to share your journies with others and figure out what’s really important to you.

I’m proud of you. Every chat with a local and trip out of your comfort zone will continue to make you a better person. Keep on dreaming and keep on traveling. It will be ok!

With love from the older, more mature, and also more traveled you!
Erin

Erin Jones posing with a mannequin in an old fashioned outfit.

Kate S – San Diego, CA, USA

Dear Younger Kate,

Today, you are like a barely opened flower, contained within the external demands of your life, and dreaming about the freedom of traveling the world solo.

Keep dreaming! Those daydreams are your salvation now, keeping you sane amidst caring for elderly parents, a failing business and your own illness. And keep reading all those guidebooks! Both are more than a mental escape giving you hope that this too shall pass. They’re also your lifeline to your future.

Because you will travel, my dear. Oh yes! And your travels, when they come, will not be an escape, but an expansion into more of who you truly are. Those travels will make you feel alive! Like a flower finding the sunshine. And after a few solo trips abroad, you’ll bask in traveling so much that you’ll make continuous travel your lifestyle. So, hang in there! All will unfold in good time, like a flower fully opening in its season.

Love you,
Older Kate

Kate Savory holding a pink flower

Mary K. Clark – Detroit, Michigan, USA* 

Dear Young and Curious Mary K.

Your traveling adventures began when you were about 5 years old. Your mother opened a brown paper grocery bag and that became your canvas to construct your own world to travel.

She gave you a box of crayons, a small toy car, and she showed you how to create a world to explore.

After your little hands took the crayon and created the roads to travel and the places to visit, you would spend hours driving around your paper bag world on roads to nowhere or anywhere. The only limit was your 5 year old imagination.

What you didn’t know, little Mary K., is that the seed for solo travel had been planted and your mother would continue to help you nurture your love of travel even though she feared traveling too far from home. You would later understand that your travels were her travels. That the postcards you would send to her allowed her to visit the corners of the world along with you. She would visit London, Paris, Dubai, Hawaii, and Alaska each time you stepped foot on any of those locations.

Although your mother would never board an airplane, her spirit would travel the world each time your passport would take you to a faraway place. So, my little adventurous soul, continue to explore the world, as a solo traveler or with a group, but always know that your mother continues to enjoy the journey along with you as she rests peacefully, somewhere over the rainbow.

Carry on and remain curious,

With Love,
Your Seasoned Traveling Adventurer,
Mary K

An old photograph with a women and three young children

Phyllis S – Phoenix, AZ, USA

I see you skipping and side-stepping down an uneven cobblestone path on a warm summer day in Santa Fe. You are nine years old. As you run your hand along the navy blue & white tiles adorning the mansions’ cream stucco walls, your Aunt Kay tells you about its’ history. A history dating back to early days in the 1900’s when this ‘palace’ was built. Wide-eyed, you imagine traveling to Mexico one day to see more casas like this one, more tiles, and more wrought iron fences capturing the dreams inside.

You didn’t know then, but I can tell you now, that the excitement of travel in your dreamy eyes would carry you to many charming places in your future. Oh, so many to cherish. And, the one that would always tug at your heart would draw you back to Santa Fe each summer for years to come. This time with you daughter, two other moms, and their daughters arriving from the four states where they reside.

The annual “Opera Trip” deceptively titled, builds on that tradition from your past now connecting six women to enjoy food, margaritas, shopping, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and oh yes…the Opera. Our goal is making new memories of that special place that has always been forever in my heart, which we have done for over a decade.

-Phyllis J. S

Two women in hats holding a cocktail
A family wearing accessories to celebrate New Years Eve

Doni Belau – New York, USA* + Paris, France*  

Dear Doni,

Girl, stop worrying. Your kids are going to turn out fine. Yes, they really will thank you later for taking them to Paris, helping them to each start their own garden, refusing to allow computer games and forcing them to try a whole lot of weird vegetables. In fact, they turned out amazing, I wish you could see them now! It’s too bad you worried yourself to sleep on so many nights-worrying that you weren’t a good enough mom, or a good enough person.

Looking back and reflecting as your wiser self, all you really needed to do was to take it slower and appreciate it more. Every moment they wanted your attention, all you needed to do was just listen to them. Make time for them, a whole lot of time. Don’t rush. There is no place to go and nothing to do but to be here right now. And yes they are proud of you for what you did, for your work starting a not-for-profit in South Africa and for taking them there to work with HIV-positive kids and for your work with President Obama. Boy, you’ll never believe how deep they both are, how profound. They both bring you both such pure joy.

The point is…. it’s all good. The good the bad and the ugly….it all worked out.

Love, Olrder Doni

Diane W – Laval, QC, Canada

Dear Much Younger Self,

As you begin to identify and assess your priorities and make decisions about the resources necessary to live the life that you want to lead, don’t forget about your dreams of travel. You’ve had an insatiable curiosity about the world, near and far, for a long time; so, grab every opportunity to feed that curiosity to travel the world.

What type of traveller will you be? Beach vacations are good and relaxing; but, think about the real value of travel. Allocate funds and look for opportunities for adventurous, curiosity-seeking travel. It will give you a chance to connect with and learn from people in different parts of the world, to explore and appreciate the beauty and richness of their culture, to taste their food, and to enjoy the sounds and the smells of their markets. If you do, years later when you’ve come home, you’ll be able to smile when you close your eyes and the memories of those travels will bring you right back there.

No matter what, don’t ever let go of your sense of adventure and wonder. It’s a wonderful gift.

Love,
Your Older Self

A woman wearing a white graduation gown and cap.

Nora Livingstone – Vancouver, BC, Canada*

Dear Younger Nora,

The universe is much more imaginative, creative and adventurous than you give it credit. Keep on saying yes to things and let it do it’s magic. But remember that saying no is okay, too. Do not worry about perfection, that is a lie sent out by the patriarchy to try and stop people from trying.

Just keep listening to your heart and doing the best you can with what you have, this will change as you learn more. Know that even falling forward is forward movement and you are always getting closer to who you really are.

Think about baby Nora, she would be so proud of where you are now and I am proud of you because I know how much things hurt at times. You will continue to travel, to love, to be loved, you will pay off your student loans, you will be left speechless from the wonders of Earth, you will cry from happiness, you will grieve deeply.

You are anything from ordinary but remember to be where your feet are- it’s always a magical place if you are willing to see it that way.

Love
Older Nora

A woman standing infront of a sign that says "Norita"

Karen B – La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Dear Younger Karen,

How lucky you are! This big beautiful world is out there for you to explore. I know you are a little afraid to go. But you can do it! You will definitely be all right. Your good friend Kim, who inspired you by traveling around the world, came back safe and sound and full of adventure stories. Now it’s your turn. Go!

Traveling will open your heart to many different types of people and cultures. The breadth of natural beauty you will witness will make you thrilled to be alive. You’ll find kindness & laughter in the most unexpected corners of the planet.

Travel, especially solo travel, will give you a core of confidence, resolve and accomplishment that you will draw upon your entire life. It will carry you when the going gets tough. And no one can take that away from you. Travel is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give yourself.

Well, I must go. I’m sailing across the Sea of Cortez tomorrow. Headed south to La Paz!

Love, Your Older Karen

Two women smiling at the camera
A woman peeking out from behind a rock
A woman standing in a European square

Carolyn B – Synder, NY, USA

Dear Carolyn Zee –

You have far more years before you than behind you in your life’s journey – take advantage of every glorious moment. I’ve discovered that how you live life will what be defined by matters most, so follow your passion to Travel.

Travel Words of Wisdom…Be curious. Explore. Dream. Discover. Connect with strangers. Eat the pasta. Savor the vino. Reminisce. Bring a map but venture off the beaten path as well. Be adventurous. Bring a book you can’t put down. Be Spontaneous. Wear Sunscreen. Invest in good hiking shoes. Pack less. Embrace the unknown. Embrace different cultures. Take a walk through the wildflowers. Be Bold. Be Engaged. Hike. Visit the National Parks. Watch the Sunrise. Watch the Sunset. Strike up conversations with strangers. Journal. Mail yourself a postcard from every destination. Go to the local Farmers Market. Revel in history. Shop the local bookstore. Nap. Do something scandalous like skinny dip in the Mediterranean (or something that won’t make the front page of the NY Times).

The Joy is in the Journey, and the travel memories you make will endure the test of time and enrich your soul. You’ve been given the gift of life.

Live it to the fullest.

Bon Voyage from your 56 year old self

Carolyn Ray – Toronto, ON, Canada* 

Dear Younger Caroline

At this point in your life, you haven’t discovered the joy of travel yet. Living in a small town in Florida, your only exposure to new places has been visiting family in Toronto and a cruise to the Virgin Islands with your family. But soon, you will have a chance to step away, to step out and discover a whole new world when you move to Europe for school. You may not feel like you fit in – and that’s okay – but look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn. Embrace your curiosity. Ask questions. Learn. Don’t be afraid. Step into the unknown and trust that the universe will look after you, no matter where you go and what you do.

Always a late bloomer, you will find your way and when you do, you’ll look back in gratitude and wonder why you didn’t see it all along – that the universe was always there, pushing you into new, uncomfortable experiences, encouraging you to discover – and rediscover – yourself. For without travel, you would not be the woman you are – empathetic, courageous and wise – qualities your daughter (yes, daughter!) will exemplify tenfold, making your heart swell with joy. Be patient, younger Caroline. Have faith. Your time will come, and when it does, it will be extraordinary. Travel will transform you. It will bring joy into your life.

Love,
Older Caroline

two women on a boat

Nadine Lavoie

Originally from Montreal, Nadine is a solo female traveller who embraces life with spontaneity and gusto! She loves dancing under the stars, bringing joy to people, laughter and anything sparkly! At JourneyWoman, she's bringing her unique style of JOY into our community!

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