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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Give Yourself A Gift Next Year

{ The fabulous Ms. Karen Chase at La Tour Eiffel }

If you're a regular reader of Austen Hill you will most definitely be familiar with the work of my wonderful friend and neighbor, Karen A. Chase. I'm thrilled that she offered to do a guest post so you can all become better acquainted and enjoy her work as well. Today, Karen reminds us that taking care of ourselves can be the best present of all. Be sure to check out her blog here and stay tuned for a fun announcement about her book Bonjour  40:  A Paris Travel Log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds! 

xo Kelly

Wise words from Karen, Author - Blogger - Designer - Traveller 

It's the holiday season. And while everyone is running around getting gifts and giving to others, I think we women need to remember to plan some time for ourselves. I don't mean a manicure before a holiday party. I mean a trip. A lovely trip in the new year that you take on your own. Last year I went to Paris for three and a half weeks on my own, and several people asked how I could do it. Some asked why, and my answer was why not? I'm generous with others, and so why not for me occasionally, too? 

{ Touring a museum }

But the practicality of how to take a trip like that is daunting to many, and especially to gals who rarely travel alone. So here you go. A few tips to plan, save and make a trip by yourself–regardless if it's to Paris, or the next town over.

1) Plan
I planned the trip for a full year. I took French lessons, studied maps, spoke with those who had gone before and I gave myself plenty of time to prepare clients and my own life for the time away.

2) Save
Every time I saw a new outfit or a pair of shoes I figured out how many nights that was in Paris. I did not invest in my IRA that year, and instead invested in my L-I-F-E. It added up quickly, and in a year, the money was there.

3) Risk
Traveling alone to a place like Paris or a foreign land isn't what I would recommend to someone who has never spent a night away on their own before. So start small. Stay in a B&B in a nearby town. Then take a flight to a city for a few days. Positive experiences build on your willingness to take risks. You can do it.

4) Relish
Traveling alone brings women a few things. Insight. Independence. Self-reliance. And the freedom to get up and answer to absolutely no one. If you want to spend all day on a beach, reading trashy novels, no one is going to judge you but you. So you can let go and soak in that ocean of erotica until your fingers get all pruny.

Allow yourself to try new things. New foods, new languages, and new customs. The advantage to you, is that you'll come home with a great big bag of knowledge about how others live. Tolerance will be your souvenir.

6) Read
Other women before you have traveled alone. And guess what? They’ve not only survived, they’ve thrived! Hit the travel essay isle at your local bookstore, and you’ll find inspiration and a whole lot of gumption.

{ Karen's adorable apartment in Paris }

 Karen A. Chase is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40years. 40 days. 40 seconds.). She is a writer, and owns, a design studio dedicated to creating bookcovers, trailers and materials for authors and publishers. She happily lives with Ted and their two cats in Richmond, VA.

Twitter: @KarenAChase



  1. Wow thank you for sharing this! I LOVE to travel, and Paris is one of my favorite cities. She is so brave to do that trip alone - I'm not sure I could do it, but I love her suggestions for starting small. I've been with my husband forever (so it seems) so it feels weird to think about traveling alone but it's something I've always wanted to try. Maybe I will just start with a weekend trip somewhere he'd have no interest in. This is so amazing!

    Strive to Thrive,

    1. Oh, you must! You will not regret the time alone, and the lovely bit is you will come home refreshed and with a little piece of you that he has never seen before. Even though it might be too far to try Paris, do share with us where you end up going!

  2. One of my favorite head nurses used to travel alone. She did book with a group but was still essentially by herself. She came back with such stories and met so many people - many of which she kept in touch. I was pretty young and envied her sense of adventure and her confidence in taking off by herself and not having any worries about doing so.