What are the chances I shit myself today?

What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.

– Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

I’m sitting in the backseat of a car on a 2.5 hour drive from Phuket to Krabi (Thailand) asking myself this question, while doing my yoga belly breathing to calm my nervous system of course. To be honest, I ask myself this question frequently. But always when I travel, and especially abroad.

I could blame it on the fact that I used to suffer from panic attacks (who wouldn’t panic at the thought of shitting themselves) or that I have a sensitive stomach. But let’s be really honest, more often than not the culprit is alcohol (hence well pickled). I like to explore the local beverage offerings wherever I go…I believe it’s my moral imperative as a tourist to sample all the Chianti Tuscany has to offer, the Malbec Argentinian’s are so proud of, and the pure 4 ingredient beer in Germany.

And I know I’m not the only one with this fear because it’s been cinematized. You know that Sex In the City Charlotte moment, the one where she let’s go of her inhibitions in the shower in Mexico and accidentally gets water in her mouth and then proceeds to shit herself in front of her friends. Well lucky for her she does it at her hotel right next to her room. Knowing me I’d be in the middle of a city, hours from my hotel, wearing white pants with shit running down my leg.

There must be a word for the fear of shitting oneself, I need to look that up. Yes, these are the thoughts going through my head while I travel. But hey, if it happens, at least I’d have a great response to the “what’s your most embarrassing travel story” question on Hinge. Although I don’t think my answer is likely to score me a date…shit’s herself in public…that sounds like a woman I’m dying to date. And if it does get me a hit, that dude likely has some fetish involving shit and that’s not the kind of fetish I can compromise with. Now that I think of it, I haven’t thought about what kind of fetish I can compromise with…hmm.

So what if I shit myself, what’s the absolute worst that will happen:

  • Embarrassment = yes
  • Ruined garments = yes
  • Good way to end a bad date = absolutely
  • Failure in adulting = depends on how you look at it
  • Death = not likely

What’s the point of me telling you this? To say that while I think about this predicament way too much, I don’t let it stop me from doing what I love, whether it be hiking or traveling or hiking while travelling or any other adventure. Sure, there are things I do, or rather not do, to try and avoid my fear becoming reality (which it will someday, I’m convinced).

The point is I don’t let it control what I choose to do, I don’t let it control me! How scary is it to admit this, very! How much grief will I now endure from any of my friends choosing to read this, a ton…Natasha, I can’t wait to see what you come up with. But the more you talk about your fears, put them out in the open, and laugh about them, the less “fearful” they become. And if I had let it control me, I would not have gotten the awesome pic at the top of this post!

Who the heck is the Well Pickled Traveler?

Me and Sophie on the summit of Bandera Mtn

Hi there, my name is Tara and I’m a dog mom to the most awesome and ball obsessed Golden Retriever, Sophie. After that I’m your average hot mess, amateur blogger, outdoor enthusiast, super stoked ambassador for Women Who Explore, and finally… sufferer of wanderlust.

I grew up a Michigander hailing from the city of Saginaw, or as we affectionately like to call it – Sagnasty. I’m grateful to now call the Pacific Northwest home and try to fit as many outdoor activities into my life as my work schedule will allow. Growing up, each year my family took the typical mid-westerner trips, e.g. going to Cedar Point and Florida. While I was fortunate we were lucky enough to take any trips at all, I longed to travel abroad, to visit in person the places I had only read about or saw pictures of in magazines.

So what did I do about it, well right after graduation I moved to Florida, settled down into a relationship and got a job that offered very little vacation time, essentially tucking my dreams of wanderlust away. Fast forward to 2014, the year I had to put my beloved dog, Roxy, to rest after 15 years together. A couple of months after that, I divorced the man I shared 16 mostly wonderful years with. I was 35 and realized I didn’t have a clue as to who I was as an individual, having been one half of a couple since I was 19 years old!

The only thing I did know was that I was ready to travel, and I wasn’t about to wait until I had someone to go with me.

Me in Vernazza, Italy

I kicked off my first solo trip abroad end of summer 2014 by going to London, and late that same year I went to Germany and Austria. I hadn’t figured out who I was yet (not sure we ever figure it out fully), but my wanderlust was in full swing. Trips to Italy, France, Thailand, South America, as well as around the US have since followed. In 2016 I moved to Washington and fell in love with hiking, which has changed the way I travel for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

Why did I start this blog? Because I know it can be hard, scary, and uncomfortable to think about going on a solo adventure…let alone actually doing it…especially if you were headed down one path in life and now find yourself going in another direction. 

Camping at Devil's Dream

I was 35 when I took my first solo trip abroad and 40 when I completed my first solo backpacking trip! I remember the first time I flew to LA post-divorce and had to drive in that dreaded LA traffic. My first thought was…shit, my ex would have done this, can I do this and without having a panic attack? My second thought was…well you won’t know until you try so buck up and do it Tara. Yes, it was scary driving in LA but heck, people who live in LA are scared to drive there! And ya know, each time I did something that was a little scary and a little uncomfortable, it gave me the courage to try something a little bit bigger next time.

I want to share my travel and hiking stories with the hope of inspiring you to get out and embark on a trip, a hike, or any adventure that you’ve been thinking about but have been scared to commit to. I want to share my crazy fears with you (which inspired my first blog post) so you don’t feel alone with your crazy fears, and to know that it’s ok to have them as long as you don’t let it stop you from doing that thing you want to do! I’ll share what places I stayed in, what gear and what strategies worked for me, what books got me through the long flights.

I can’t promise what worked for me will work for you too, but I do promise what I share will at least be real, honest, more than likely grammatically incorrect, mixed with a little bit of humor and a little bit of cursing too (that’s just how I roll). Oh, and if nothing else, I will be sharing a ton of pics of my super sweet, cute as hell, adventure partner, and best all-around Golden Retriever, Sophie!

Sophie at the beach