Barbara Weibel is the publisher of Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel, one of the world's first travel blogs. Prior to launching her blog in 2006, she held corporate positions for 36 years and worked 70+ hours per week at jobs that paid the bills but brought her no joy until a serious illness forced her to reassess her life. Though Barbara had all the material comforts - big home, new car, jewelry, successful career - she realized that she felt like the proverbial "hole in the donut" - solid on the outside, but empty on the inside. She vowed that if she recovered, she would walk away from everything to pursue her true passions of travel, writing, and photography. A year later, at age 54, Barbara threw a backpack over her shoulder, started her blog, and headed out to recreate herself as a travel writer and photographer.
Why I Started Traveling Solo And Why I Still Do It
I have always preferred traveling solo. It allows me to do what I want, when I want, without the need to consider the desires of others. This is particularly important as a travel writer and photographer. I need to be free to pursue potential stories that arise in the moment. Often, capturing the perfect photo requires waiting for the right light and conditions. That's not possible when traveling with others. I also find it serves me well in meeting locals. If I'm traveling solo on a local bus, I will be sitting next to a local person, with whom I will almost always be able to strike up a conversation. Traveling with a companion automatically precludes that.
I’ve Met Some Of My Best Friends Through Travel
With a few exceptions, most of my best friends have come about as a result of travel. I spent eight years traveling the world with no home base, staying in hostel dorms. I've met some of the most fascinating people, and many of them remain friends to this day.
In Ecuador I met a teacher from Peru. When I was in Lima, she and her mother took me to their country club and treated me to a meal with Peruvian delicacies.
On a European river cruise I bonded with the activities director, a wonderful young woman from Bulgaria. I've met up with her numerous times and even stayed at her home in Sofia.
Years ago I was "adopted" by a family in Nepal and I continue to visit them every 18 months or so. I still tear up when I recall the first time I was invited to their home during the Hindu holiday of Tihar. When I thanked them for allowing me to be part of their family for the day, they corrected me. "No, no Didi (elder sister), you don't understand. Now that you have celebrated Tihar with us, you are part of our family forever."