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Have you ever traveled solo? Gotten out of your comfort zone? Contributed or given back on your travels? I'm an empty nester and travel all over the planet, and have been to all 7 continents. Ask Me Anything!

Tam Warner Minton
Dec 2, 2017

I am an empty nest adventurer who loves to travel solo all over the planet, get out of my comfort zone, do volunteering or citizen science on most of my travels, and I blog about my crazy adventures on www.travelswithtam.com. I am an avid scuba diver and photographer as well.

My first solo volunteer trip was to Tofo, Mozambique to do fish surveys and study whale sharks! I went with a group called All Out Africa. So off I went, a midlife woman with a passion for diving and animals, off on my very own adventure.  I was tested physically, emotionally, and mentally. There were times, especially at the beginning, when I thought there was no way I would be able to do it. The experience empowered me and made me understand my abilities and my strengthes in an entirely different light. The trip was challenging, the environment both exhilarating and disturbing, and certainly the living standard was not what I was used to.

Diving in rough water was a new experience because the currents and surges off of Mozambique are strong. The water is cold. I was used to the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean. It took me a few dives to get comfortable, and my first two dives were pretty awful. But, I adapted. I learned, and I kept at it no matter how inadequate I thought I was.. I stayed in a house of volunteers, sharing a bathroom with the house and a bedroom with a roommate, and ended up with some great friendships. I was the oldest one there, most of the volunteers being Europeans in their twenties, but we came together in our love of the ocean and its life. I have seen these friends since the trip, we keep in touch, and we have enjoyed diving together in other locales.

Since that time, Summer 2012, I have been on several citizen science expeditions (trips spent assisting scientists in research) and volunteer trips. I have traveled all over the world meeting new people and making new friendships while contributing to our knowledge of the ocean and its animals. I have been to Thailand, Ecuador, the Yucatan, Bali, Komodo National Park, Raja Ampat, the Great Barrier Reef, St Lucia and Mexico. Most of my adventures have taken place with Andrea Marshall’s Ray of Hope Expeditionsas I have an affinity with Manta Rays. I have been diving in the three large oceans, the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. I may travel solo, but once I arrive I meet new friends who share my passion. I’m never lonely when I travel alone!

Have you ever wanted to do something you thought was “out there” or just downright crazy? Do you have a desire to get out into the world and make a difference? There are volunteer programs all over the world for adults. Most of them have nothing to do with scuba, and there are plenty of them on all continents. There are so many opportunities, and in some cases, for little cost. I have some advice for you: be bold. Why not look at it? Eco-tourism, volunteer tourism, or citizen science will take you to places you’ve never even dreamed of.

You want to do something? Do it now. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and in midlife who knows what is coming next?  Do something extraordinary for yourself, you won’t believe how empowered it will make you feel, and how it may change your perspective on life! It certainly changed mine, and for the better.

Ask Me Anything!

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Conversation (43)

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How many countries have you been to?

Dec 8, 10:45PM EST1

Doesn't one feel lonely or unsafe to travel alone?

Dec 4, 8:12AM EST0

One has to exercise common sense and caution when it comes to safety. Know where you are and how safe you are. I don't travel into sketchy places alone, that is for sure. Lonely? No, but alone, yes. There are always people to talk to if you want...it certainly gets you out of your comfort zone and talking to the locals and other travelers!

Dec 6, 8:35PM EST0

How does it feel to travel alone? Don't you feel lonely?

Dec 4, 12:31AM EST0

No. Being lonely is a different experience, Solo travel is solo, but there are always people around to talk to! Especially when you combine your travels with a passion!

Dec 6, 8:33PM EST0

Of all the place you visited what place is the most expensive in terms of prices?

Dec 3, 9:14PM EST0

The most expensive place I have gone is Antarctica. It is a very, very expensive endeavor. I've been in England when the dollar was just awful and it was very expensive. Another expensive place to go is Hong Kong. Majorly expensive! The Cayman Islands are also expensive! For inexpenisive, Mexico is the place to go right now!

Dec 3, 9:24PM EST0

What is the most perfect time to travel and why?

Dec 3, 8:18PM EST0

The best times to travel are the times when it is "in season" where you are going. If you want to see the Christmas markets in Europe, you have to go in December or January. If you want to see Manta Rays in Ecuador, you need to go in September. The perfect time to travel is when the activity YOU want is at its best! I wanted to experience Lake Tahoe in the snow....so I went in December one year and it was absolutely magical! Of course, Lake Tahoe is magical any time of year!

Dec 3, 9:23PM EST0

What is the most memorable experience of your flying solo?

Dec 3, 6:45PM EST0

Well, I have a bad habit of misplacing things when I travel alone. I generally lose things in airports, and sometimes even on the plane. I tend to be an absent minded professor. I had a flight from Johannesburg to Inhambane Mozambique which was a bit nervewracking since I could see through the bolts on the plane! I've had more interesting flight experience when traveling with family...like having my passport stolen in Nairobi International Airport, between gates 4 and 9!

Dec 3, 9:19PM EST0

What is the best advice that you can give to the people who loves to travel but they no less budget?

Dec 3, 6:06PM EST0

One doesn't need to go far to enjoy travel! Wherever you live, there are places to go to! In the USA, I recommend driving to a state or national park and enjoy the scenery. Truly, wherever you live, even if you take one day and go somewhere, that is travel! If you want to travel far, look at volunteer trips, they are generally less expensive, you get your room and food as well. Plus you are contributing! Teach English, build houses, do citizen science. Check out GVI, Responsible Travel, All Out Africa and that will give you an idea!

Dec 3, 7:44PM EST0

When you say "gotten out of your comfort zone" do you consider the other side of you?

Dec 3, 2:25PM EST0

When I say comfort zone, I mean being in a place where you are not challenged. It might be nice, but there is no challenge or growth. For myself, traveling solo to Africa to do volunteer work in Mozambique was a huge challenge. I went for a month to dive and work on fish surveys and whale shark identifications, but the trip was very challenging physically for me, and in many other ways. I felt so empowered when the trip ended,...I thought, I can do anything. I can take care of myself, do what I want, and I am more capable than I thought. I felt like Wonder Woman! I loved it. I don't have a dark side lurking where I go somewhere and do dark and nefarious things, if that is what you mean. I mean getting out of your normal routine and trying something new!

Dec 3, 9:16PM EST0

Of all the place you travelled, what is the place that truly captured your heart and wants to go back again?

Dec 3, 1:18PM EST0

Wow. Hm. Thailand is probably the first that comes to mind. I did a week's dive trip followed by a week in Bangkok and time at an Elephant Sanctuary. I truly, truly loved it, and want to go back. Thailand is a very spiritual place, with Buddhist temples and spirit houses everywhere. Everything is gold...the Golden Buddha, there are so many incredible temples and monasteries. Yes, I want to go back, and this time I want to go to Chiang Mai! And btw, the street food is amazing! They have the very best mangoes on earth.

Dec 3, 7:39PM EST0

For the first time travellers, what place would you recommend to go first?

Dec 3, 12:54PM EST0

First time solo travel? It depends on what you are passionate about or into. If you are a foodie, you might sign up for a cooking class in Italy. If you are a diver, sign up on a dive trip. Love to hike? check out hiking groups and locations. And that is what I mean by not being lonely. You go do something you love or are interested in and you will meet like minded people.  I have many passions, the main one is the ocean and its conservation. By traveling solo I have opened up an entire tribe of awesome people. I can honestly say I have friends all over the world. And we keep in touch, especially from volunteer/citizen science trips. I love it!

Dec 3, 7:32PM EST0

When you go to places which is more important to you, the place itself or the specialty of the food of that certain place?

Dec 3, 12:33PM EST0

Definitely the place! I love great food, but I am not a foodie traveler. I have been to some places where the food is terrible. Like Mozambique. Not my cup of tea! I have been to great places with great food...Italy, Thailand, but England and Germany are pretty mezzo mezzo on the food side. I travel for the culture, the experience, the activities, the people, and of course, scuba diving and animals. My main passion is the ocean, and I can eat pretty dull food in order to get in the water!

Dec 3, 7:26PM EST0

Have you ever travelled with peers and experienced somewhat crazy things to do?

Dec 3, 11:59AM EST0

Crazy? Have I ever done crazy things? Yes, most people would think so. Cage diving with Great White Sharks ended up to be somewhat crazy since the shark came into my cage. http://travelswithtam.com/?s=great+white. I've walked among Komodo Dragons, been diving with sharks...but I don't consider any of that crazy. I walked in Africa with lions which was probably not crazy but stupid. You might want to check out Burning Man in Black Rock City, NV, a music festival where people go to go crazy....there is a tent for whatever turns you on! LOL. 

Dec 3, 7:22PM EST0

Which place do you think that you will never forget and will keep coming back over and over?

Dec 3, 11:39AM EST0

I have been going to Cozumel for over 30 years, and I love the island so much I will always go back. It has wonderful diving, a laid back atmosphere, good food, and nice people. And, from Dallas, where I live, it is a two hour flight! My family has so many memories there...yes, I always return, and I am always happy that I did.

Dec 3, 7:09PM EST0

How do you rate the travelling solo experience? 1 being the loneliest and 10 the happiest.

Dec 3, 4:31AM EST0

I'm never lonely when I travel solo...there are always people to talk to! When you travel by yourself, you don't have to worry about making anyone happy but yourself. I enjoy traveling solo, and I enjoy traveling with family and friends as well. I don't know that I can really rate the two, I don't consider them either/or. It's a preference based on destination, activities, etc. I love traveling solo, but I also enjoy traveling with others...most of the time! 

Dec 3, 8:24AM EST0

Have you encountered any bad experience when you were travelling?

Dec 2, 8:28PM EST0

Oh yes! And some of them occurred when traveling with others. I've had my passport stolen in Nairobi Airport which meant I was "in transit" for two days since I couldn't leave the secured area; I was pickpocketed in Buenos Aires, they stole my phone and money but left my credit cards; in Paris I reached into my purse only to find a man's hand in there trying to steal my camera and wallet; I was so ill in Mozambique I thought I was a goner...there was no doctor in the little village I was in. Fortunately for me, I've never been physically threatened. But oh yes, I fall on flat surfaces, cars I drive light on fire, I seem to draw these things! So far I've been ok!

Dec 2, 10:44PM EST0

In choosing the next place to go, what do you consider first?

Dec 2, 5:53PM EST0

I love traveling to places I have never been before! That is one of the first considerations because I have many places I want to go and haven't gotten to yet. There are, however, places I return to again and again. I went to Antarctica in January 2017, and that was a tremendously exciting destination! It included Buenos Aires and Argentina as well, which was incredible. I leave tomorrow to the Sea of Cortez to dive Cabo Pulmo and snorkel with whale sharks and sea lions...I've been to Cabo San Lucas, but this is a first for me to the Sea of Cortez! I'm actually a co-sponsor of the trip. My next planned citizen science dive trip is to the Revillagigedos Archipelago which is off of Cabo San Lucas about 24 hours, and this will be my third time. It is such incredible and interactive diving that I plan to return again and again.

I want to go to Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, the European christmas markets, Lembeh, Palau, Fiji, Costa Rica....I could go on and on! Yellowstone and Alaska are big ones I want to do!

Dec 2, 6:01PM EST0

What is the most important thing to bring with you while travelling?

Dec 2, 3:46PM EST1

Aside from personal medications and items, it is definitely my camera! Aside from my iphone 7, which is a great camera, I carry an Olympus OMD EM5 markii, a mirrorless camera. I love photographing the world, especially under the water. I am especially addicted to underwater photography because I love love love the life under the waves, and as a conservationist, I am very worried about the state of our oceans. I often do citizen science with Marine Megafauna Foundation, and I recently wrote a book called ALL FISH FACES, Photos and Fun Facts about Tropical Reef Fish! (you can get it on Amazon.com or on my website, www.travelswithtam.com/tam-warner-minton-author-page/). I also give tips about how to help preserve our oceans and 10% of the profits will go to Marine Megafauna Foundation to help in their ocean research and to saving ocean giants! If you have interest in the ocean you may want to check it out! I find anything and everything in the ocean fascinating, and I never dive without a camera!

Dec 2, 5:08PM EST0

What are the advantage and the disadvantages of travelling alone?

Dec 2, 2:54PM EST1

Solo travel increases confidence in yourself by getting you out of your comfort zone. If you stay in your comfort zone, where you are never challenged, you don’t grow as a person. For me, growth is necessary, I want to constantly learn. Many people think traveling solo is lonely, but it is not. I may travel solo, but I’m never alone unless I want to be. You meet all kinds of interesting people who are on their own journeys. It isn’t just about the travel, it is about you. Making your own decisions, solving your own problems, doing what you want to do when you want to do it. When I travel solo, I find myself being completely authentic. There’s no one to please or anger. For me, there are plenty of people who laugh, with me or at me! Scientific research suggests that travel and learning about other cultures makes you more creative. When in Rome learn why the Romans do it that way! 

Disadvantages are you are alone, so if you become ill, you are the one who has to make sure you are taken care of. When traveling solo, you do need to keep your eyes open to who and what is around you...one person is an easier target than two. Find out where it is safe to go and where it isn't. Also, I don't always travel by myself, I love traveling with friends and family as well. Often I find that they don't want to do the same things I want to, so I go solo. I have always enjoyed it!

Dec 2, 3:04PM EST0

Of all the seven continents you have been, where do you think is the best place to settle for retirement?

Dec 2, 2:23PM EST1

"Best" is different for everyone of course, but right now Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Columbia are hot. Mexico's peso is generally 10p to the USD 1.00, but at the moment it is 18 or 19p to the dollar, which makes it very attractive for retirement! You can live cheaply there, and live well. Cozumel is our second home and we are seriously considering residency and moving there. I love the laid back atmosphere of the island as well. I love Europe, I'd love to spend a few years just moving around there. If you like warm weather, the beach or ocean, I think Mexico is a perfect location.

Dec 2, 2:52PM EST0

What do you think is the most important thing to do first when you arrive at your destination?

Dec 2, 2:02PM EST1

It depends on where you are going. When I travel to a city, in the USA or abroad, the first thing I look for is the "tourist bus" that gives you a tour of the city. As touristy as this may sound, it is the best way to get the lay of the land, find out what interests you and where it is, check out restaurants on the roads, neighborhoods, shopping, history, museums...you name it. Often there are private tour guides who perform this service a little more in depth, but no matter what your budget is, I recommend touring the city. If I'm headed off on a dive trip, a boat, or into the wild, I ask the guides a lot of questions, find out if there is anyplace I can meander alone safely, or if I should stick with the guide/boat/divemaster. For instance, when I went to Rinca to see the only wild Komodo Dragons left, I didn't go by myself! Always, always be safe, or as safe as possible! If you don't know, ask someone who does!

Dec 2, 2:11PM EST0

Your best memory of a trip?

Dec 1, 12:51PM EST1

Wow! I cannot think of just one trip, but one of the most meaningful trips I ever took was with my family. In 2009 my son graduated from high school and my daughter from college. We celebrated with a trip to Africa, and the trip was magical for us. We experienced our first safaris together, and it was also the first trip any of us took to Africa. It is a memory that always makes me smile, and that we often talk about as an incredible experience. Also, my first dive trip to Indonesia was a solo trip that stands out as a fantastic travel memory. I went to Komodo National Park and did citizen science on The Arenui Boutique Liveaboard (fabulous!) with Dr Andrea Marshall, aka Queen of Mantas. I love doing citizen science, especially in the ocean. The life underwater in Komodo is almost unfathomable, and I mean that sincerely. It has the most unbelievable fish and coral diversity, and every dive was an adventure. I love photographing and watching manta rays, and all of the people on board were fun and enjoyable to dive with. Thank you for asking the question and bringing these trips to mind!

Dec 1, 6:21PM EST0

Does travelling solo makes it fan for you?

Dec 1, 11:24AM EST1

Yes, it does. When you go solo, you make all the decisions, go where you want to when you want to, and consider only yourself when making plans. I find traveling solo to be empowering, exciting, and also relaxing at the same time! I'm never lonely because there are always people around. I exercise caution of course, but there is generally someone I can talk to if I want. When I am traveling solo to a dive trip I find people with the same interests when I arrive. Also, I think I am my very authentic self when I travel alone because it's just me, and I don't have to be anything else, ie a wife, a mother, a writer, etc. I have no role except doing what I want to do and what I am passionate about. It works very well for me! Do you travel solo?

Dec 1, 6:41PM EST0
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