Welcome to the Journey. I am Jodie Hopkins, your trusty guide through the world of solo travel. I am the oldest of three daughters and the aunt to two of the world's greatest humans. I know, because I have been all over the world and haven't yet found another nephew and niece I'd take in their place. I spent the first 50 years of my life in Colorado, much of that teaching in elementary schools and as an instructional coach in an inner city school district in the Denver area. After 29 years of being an educator I was eligible to retire but I wasn't ready to sit home and knit. I wanted an adventure. I'd always wanted to learn German so I figured it would make sense to look at either Germany or Austria. A good friend was living in Vienna, Austria and with his detective skills and my resume, within two weeks I had a job and an apartment. I spent the next 11 years teaching children with special needs and English as a Second Language at the American International School in Vienna. It was the most amazing time of my life. I traveled extensively, met amazing people, formed a family of friends that I treasure, and had the honor of teaching the most amazing kids ever. One year ago I knew it was time for another change. I retired again and returned to Denver to pursue my lifelong dream of writing a book. I feel very blessed to have the amazing life that I lead.
My great grandmother was in a nursing home in a teeny, tiny farm town in Kansas before I emerged on the planet. She had been a farmer's wife and lived a hard-working but happy life. Great Grandma Kathryn's roommate was the banker's wife, one of the richest women in town. One day during a visit, Grandma Kathryn announced to my mom that she was richer than her roommate. My mom was certain that grandma was losing her grip on reality. Grandma Kathryn said, "Oh, I know she has more money in the bank than I do, but my scrapbooks are thicker than hers." Since the first time I heard that story I have known that those were the guiding words for my very own life. It's all about doing things and making memories that are worth keeping, sharing, and treasuring.
I made my first solo journey at the age of 5. I wrapped up some cookies in a red and white bandana and tied it to a stick like the hobos did and headed out the door. I was running away. That journey lasted about 5 minutes, until the cookies were gone. I have taken many solo journeys since then to 32 different countries, 6 of the 7 continents, and lived in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and Austria and would not trade any of them for all of the money in the world.
In the spring of 1987 my new boss announced that he had signed me up for a conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The registration was paid, the plane ticket had been bought, and my hotel reservations were waiting. I didn't dare tell him that I had never traveled alone, well, except for the cookies on a stick thing. I walked out of his office determined to find a way to get the courage and strength I needed to make that solo trip and most importantly, to enjoy it. That was the beginning of a life-long love of solo travel. People would tell me that they didn't think they could ever travel alone. It was just too frightening for them. I shared, time after time, my method of getting yourself ready to travel alone and the idea of the book, Journey for One was born.
I have "been there, done that and have the t-shirt" as they say. I've had good trips, bad experiences, fun, and fright. But, through it all I have known that I was richer for each and every experience and that, for me, solo travel brought me great joy, introduced me to amazing people, and have made my scrapbooks amazingly thick. I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I do mine.
My favorite destination is always the one I'm getting ready to see. I have an insatiable curiosity. My family says I'm nosey. Whatever it is, I love to wonder. Wonder and wander. I want to see everything, meet everybody, and engage in the life of wherever I am headed. When I was a kid, my mom taught me that even a trip to the laundromat can be an adventure. It all depends on how you handle it. I have found over the years that she is absolutely right. Having said that, I will share a few of my favorite adventures over the years that met my criteria for curiosity. I love (in no particular order) New Zealand, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Slovenia, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bolivia, Peru, Poland, Austria, and of course the United States. If your favorite country is not listed it is only because I ran out of room or haven't been there yet.