A Lifetime of Travel – One Adventure at a Time

ALifetimeofTravel OneAdventureataTime

My lifetime of travel began when I landed my first pen pal when I was 9 years old.  There had some help. I like to think it was celestially organized.  As it went, my little church somehow managed to wrangle connections outside of the ones I could see each Sunday, which consisted of about 20 people on a happening weekend. I’m pretty sure the pastor’s daughter pushed me in the direction because she was sick of me. For the record, I wasn’t a trouble maker. I did, however, love more than anything to be engaged and she sadly couldn’t pull that off.  Thankfully, our somewhat volatile relationship spurred my love for and a lifetime of travel.

Pen Pals

A Lifetime of Travel - One Adventure at a Time

The pen pal game was easy. I picked Australia and began writing immediately. I was utterly thrilled. It was  my first taste of life outside of my sheltered world and I loved it. My universe was expanding one hand written letter at a time.

Saving for my first trip

At 12 years old, I began working a summer job for one of the many blueberry farms in West Michigan. It was common to work agricultural jobs at the time and I had goals. I was saving for a trip to visit my aunt near Baltimore, Maryland.
With the exception of my older brother, the entire employee base was migrant workers. I made friends with most of the girls on my line and, subsequently, entire families while packaging berries the next 4 summers.  My new friends traveled every year following the seasons and the produce harvested during those seasons. I was in love with the concept. What an adventure. At the end of that first summer I had my plane ticket and new ideas. I was totally stoked. It was the beginning of a lifetime of travel.

 Girls Who Travel | Lifetime of travel

The First Trip

It’s a little difficult to explain the complex emotions I felt upon arrival at the Baltimore/Washington International airport. Dorothy said it best. She captured the sentiments of all travelers on their first venture into the great unknown, making her something of a universal spokeswoman. I was not in rural West Olive anymore. That trip was the first of many visits to the city.  My first time in Washington D.C. changed me. The Smithsonian Institutes were too awesome to be real. I knew I wanted to see more. I wanted to hear more stories and make my own.

Six or seven years later

Fast-forward six or seven years. These were the years I had the most awesome adventures: Parenthood. The years I spent raising my kids, I did my best to travel with them. We had some really great experiences throughout Michigan on road trips. We did a music festival here and there and road tripped it south as far as Florida, east to Maryland, and everywhere in between.

Driving with the kids

When my two oldest were teenagers, I had them drive us to Kentucky. They got the driving hours they needed and we got to share the time traveling together. My goal was to travel wherever we could on as little money as possible. That often consisted of trips to a new beach or park along Lake Michigan. I just wanted to expand their minds beyond what we lived day after day, and to know a lifetime of travel. I wanted to share my love with them in the best way I knew how.

First International Trip

 Girls Who Travel | Lifetime of travel

At 30, I took my first trip outside of the US. Blame it on Sheryl. I met Sheryl at the school our kids went to. We hadn’t known each other long, but she was a doer and a great planner and I was a willing tag along. Our relationship over the years was perfect. She would reach out to me with any off the wall adventures with no pressure. I made it easy on her, too, and did whatever I could to accompany her. I stayed in my first European and American hostels with her.  Neither of us had a lot of money, but we loved to travel. Sheryl and travel helped me get through a couple of decades.

Throwback to the Pen Pal Days

Fast forward some more years. For the first time in my adult life I found myself responsible for only me. It was foreign. I was a little lost. I was prompted by my sister to go online and start connecting. Uncharted territory for me, but I was open to it. I talked for days with guys from all over the world.

The Internet

It was over those intensive days that I came to see that much like my pen pal days, internet writing opened up my world. It happened about a week or 2 in that I met a cool guy. He held the same job I held for years and he liked talking about food and culture. He basically had me at hello. We spoke the same language. That’s funny because we actually didn’t. He spoke Shqip, or Albanian, and was using Google translate for a big portion of our conversations. I didn’t even know where Albania was until we started writing each other.

Falling in Love

 Girls Who Travel | Lifetime of travel

Our story goes like this. We kept writing for weeks and I flew to visit within 2 months. I fell in love with the country and him. I say it was a modern day romance. He made me a part of his family immediately. I stayed for 2 weeks.

Moving across the world – a lifetime of travel

Two months after that first trip I said my goodbyes to my family and moved to Albania. I’ve been here 6 months now. I’m a licensed massage therapist; naturally I wanted to continue my work. With the help of friends and family, we opened a massage center in September. I am learning a new language and new culture, but even more about myself. Every day my mind is open to new possibilities. Life is truly an adventure. Make the most of it. There’s no telling where you might end up if you stay open. Travel wherever and whenever. It’s not too late for a lifetime of travel.


Tara is an earth lover and sun chaser. She is a mother of four and a grandmother of two. Tara is doing her best to live a meaningful life. You can follow Tara on Instagram.

2 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Travel – One Adventure at a Time”

  1. So cool to read how a penpal could open your eyes to the world. I find writing with people around the world to be a great way to travel around the world without traveling!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Subscribe for news, updates, giveaways, and more!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Join our inclusive community
of tens of thousands of women who
share your passion for travel in our
Girls Who Travel Facebook group!


You Might Also Like

A Rejuvenating Trip to Ojai Hot Springs For Women

A Rejuvenating Trip to Ojai Hot Springs For Women

ThankYoutomyEx BFturnedKidnapper

Thank You to my Ex-BF turned Kidnapper

Girls Who Travel | Caribbean Love Story

Caribbean Love Story: Falling in Love on Vacation

Girls Who Travel | A Woman in Wakhan Corridor - Motorbike Travel in Afghanistan

A Woman in Wakhan Corridor – Motorbike Travel in Afghanistan