Feet to Flight is a travel site for trekkers and adventurers and sightseers. I’m Mary Lyons, an international teacher with a serious case of wanderlust. It seems to get worse the more I travel. I’ve been teaching internationally for 11 years, mostly in the Middle East, and I’ve been to 40 countries so far. I didn’t decide to create a travel blog until a year ago. I’ve got lots of content and not a lot of time to spend adding it, so I’ve resigned from my job and as of July, I’ll be jobless and homeless, sort of.
Sometimes people ask me why I travel alone so much and do I really enjoy it. Not all of my trips are solo, but the majority of them are. I love being a solo female traveler. It gives me the freedom to spend my time my way when I travel. But sometimes it’s nice to have a travel buddy to talk to and get lost with.
I’ve always had itchy feet (not literally!) but my desire to travel really exploded in 1996 when I went to a writer’s workshop for teachers and met a man named David Brill, a freelance writer and author of As Far as the Eye Can See, a book about his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail about 20 years earlier. I figured trekking would be a great form of cheap travel. And it is! I still do it! This Feet to Flight travel site is just one result of meeting David Brill and reading his book.
I had never heard of the Appalachian Trail, but I was fascinated. I made up my mind right then that I was going to hike all 2,172 miles of the AT, through all 14 states, even though I had never hiked a day in my life. But suddenly I had a sense of wanderlust I couldn’t shake, but not a lot of money to do anything about it.
Two years later in 1998 I moved to Tucson, Arizona to go to graduate school, but I hadn’t forgotten about my dream to hike the AT. In 2003, I was finally prepared and had saved enough money to walk the entire AT in one go. I hiked for 5 months and 5 days. I lost 30 pounds. When I climbed Katahdin, I felt invincible. It was, and still is, my greatest accomplishment. I finished on September 3, 2003 and this day is etched in my memory forever.
My feet hurt when they weren’t numb. I was ready to sleep in a real bed and take a shower two days in a row. I thought my wanderlust would be over and I could go back to Tucson and settle down with my dog (Oscar who had to be neutered while I was on the trail!), and buy a house, continue teaching, and blah, blah, blah.
Nope. I wasn’t finished yet. Not only did I not want to settle down in Tucson, even though I loved, and still love it. I wanted to see the world. So I began saving money to do another long distance hike in Spain, the Camino de Santiago. At this point, I still didn’t really know about the world of international teaching. Three years later in 2006, I walked across northern Spain in 33 days. This was another wonderful travel experience on foot, and I still wanted to see the world, but more often than every three years, and not always on foot.
How to travel the world on a special ed teacher’s salary (in Arizona no less) and be able to afford plane tickets? I couldn’t. Just six months before I went to Spain, I met another person who would change my life. She had been teaching overseas in Korea for over ten years. She inspired me and educated me, not just about international teaching, but also about traveling solo as a woman. I followed her advice. Six weeks after I finished the Camino, I was on a plane, ticket purchased by the school I would work for, and on my way to live and work in Kuwait at an international school. That was eleven years ago.
I’ve lived in three countries since 2006 and traveled to 43, all on my own dime, many of them as a solo female traveler. I’m not paid to endorse any of the trekking agencies, tour companies, products, hotels, or restaurants, mentioned in my blog. I chose them based on my research and if I like them, I mention them in my blog. I don’t usually book tours or hire guides unless it’s required (Kilimanjaro and safaris, for example) or really enhances the experience (private tour in Egypt). I don’t take cruises, and big buses give me hives, although I survived a bus tour in Sri Lanka and had a great time with great people.
I do a lot of solo female travel, but this blog isn’t really about traveling solo. It’s a blog for any traveler who wants to travel independently. I see lots of young couples and young men and women in their twenties starting travel blogs as they travel the world. But 20-somethings aren’t the only ones who have the time and energy to travel and write about it. While I may be in my forties, and while no one probably wants to see me in a bikini, I have a lot of travel advice and experiences to share. I hope I give you some information on this blog to help you truly be independent when traveling, whether you are solo or a couple or a family.
I recently left a job in Kuwait after living and working there for six years. I taught ESL at a university there and that great job provided me with the time and the money for travel. While I will miss that paycheck and other things about my life in Kuwait, it is time to move on and find a new home base. Now I’m back in Tucson, Arizona figuring out what’s next. I live quite a charmed life.
From feet to flight. I hope the blog name makes sense to you now. Read my tips and advice and get inspired to have adventures of your own. No matter what age you are, whether by feet, by train, by car, or by plane. Just go.