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What I Learned While Planning for My Next Bucket List Travel Adventure

By Tamera Layton Grieshaber December 20, 2022 Travel

I find pure joy when I’m about to embark on an exciting bucket list adventure that scares the daylights out of me – travelling to a foreign country for one month. Alone. Not knowing the language.

It is shameful that I have reached the mature age of 72 without being able to speak a second language! Yes, I enrolled in classes in high school and fulfilled the language requirements in college, but could never converse beyond, Hello, my name is Tamera. How are you today?

So, I bit the bullet and enrolled in a four-week language program in Valencia, Spain

A Bucket List Travel Adventure

Spain has been on my bucket list. Valencia should be heavenly in January (compared to New England). It is a walkable city. I can travel weekends to Barcelona – high on my bucket list – and Seville or wherever it is warm.

Room and board in the language schools is very affordable. During the winter, I have a good chance of meeting others my age since summers are for the young on school vacations. Low season means no lines for the museums and historical sites.

Theoretically, it is a perfect trip!

A Few Butterflies

As my departure date gets closer, reality is nerve wracking.

Although I have travelled a great deal, it has usually been in an organized group. Fellow travellers. Comfort in numbers. Or within an English-speaking country where I can easily read signs and ask questions.

But never longer than two weeks.

I know all the rational arguments: many people will be able to speak English; locals will appreciate my efforts to speak their language. Map and travel guide in hand, I will be able to find my way. Millions of people have been travelling like this forever! I will learn.

It doesn’t make me any less anxious.

What Can I Possibly Be Afraid of?

I am going to school in a beautiful, historic city – almost like going away to college. And my fears, 50+ years later, are almost the same as that summer before my freshman year.

Will I make new friends? Will I eat dinner alone every night? Will this trip be as magical as I want it to be?

I lasted only one semester when I went away to college. I was too lonely and too homesick. I did not make new friends. I went home and finished my studies while living with my folks. The next time I moved away was after I married and moved halfway across the country.

About 40 years later when I was divorced, I stayed in the same New England town with my friends and job. This trip to Spain is my second truly solo venture – the first in 50 years!

I need to make this trip. I need to prove some things to myself:

I can depend on myself. I am not too old to learn a language. Solo travel is exciting and comfortable. Dreams can come true at any age.

If I cancel the trip, I will be terribly disappointed in myself. I don’t want to live with that feeling. So, I will push forward. Camera and journal in hand to document my experience. Fully loaded Kindle for those times I need to be by myself. Hola, Spain!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What is your ultimate bucket list travel destination? What advice would you give me as I set out on my next big adventure? Have you ever been to Spain? Please join the conversation.

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Freda Doss

Planning my trip to Rome, Spain and Portugal.
Explore Spain to the fullest and be bold and brave.

  1. Advise: Continue to stand tall, (shoulders back) Spain here you come ! There will be no regrets only ‘amazing stories & memories’. ENJOY
  2. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts & feelings (you’ve helped me enormously & no doubt many others reading this too.) am relating to your emotions & thoughts +++.
  3. Advise: Do what you can – while you can (sadly so many people cannot travel)
  4. Life is about learning & growing !
  5. This is a motivating exercise to help us reflect & ensure not wasting our precious time:


  1. Get out your pencil and do the math
  2. Multiple your age x 365 days (that will give you your current age in days).
  3. Subtract that number from 27,375 days (that’s an average life-span (+/-) these days)

Answer: I probably have _________ days left ! Let’s all get going !!! Do take this as a positive, a motivator and a reality check to ‘get up, get dressed & get out !!!’. GET BOOKING THOSE HOLIDAYS EVERYONE !!!


You’ll have a great time! I did french immersion in Nice, France with Apple Languages in a class of seniors; it was so much fun and I did improve my french. My ultimate bucket list is a round the world trip but, although I have travelled solo extensively, I’d like to do it as part of a small group guided tour (at 77 yrs of age and as the world seems more chaotic I no longer want to travel solo).


I am so very, very proud of you, I traveled solo (tour bus) and saw Switzerland, Austria, Germany and loved it. The adventures are worth the nerves.

Devamarga Goldy

Hola ! I admire your courage to have your exciting adventure! Spain is on my bucket list too and I haven’t gone only because I am tired of traveling alone . Your commitment to your freedom is awesome !

The Author

Tamera Grieshaber is a retired gallery owner, photography enthusiast, addicted reader, mother, traveler of life and the world, and a lifelong learner.

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