Essay contest first place winner Lyn-Li Torres Pugh. Photo by Tina Larkin

Hello Gentle Travelers! My apologies for being gone from blog posting for so long as I took some time to revamp and refocus this site. Over these last ten days or so, I have spent some time taking a mini-retreat at a friend’s house in Taos, New Mexico. The time alone was heavenly. As I welcomed the Northern New Mexico fall with a change of colors and weather, I relished in the chance to regroup, focus on self-care and get centered again after a hectic and emotionally-charged summer.  Most importantly, however, I used the time on my mini-retreat to focus on the meat and potatoes of what would make this blog a success.   Most of my time was spent taking on-line classes that centered on the technical aspects of running a blog (and then subsequently trying to figure out how to do all that techie stuff on Word Press). The process of diving so deeply into what makes a blog tick also allowed me to take pause and really evaluate the service I want to provide with my The Gentle Traveler blog.  I really appreciate your readership, fellow Gentle Travelers, and I hope you are as excited as I am about this NEW FOCUS for the website and blog content.  I look forward to growing together into the future as a travel-loving and consciously-evolving community!

Writing about Travel: The Original Intention

A long while back, I had a vision of being able to help people grow in their lives through writing about travel. My ownfirstphoto travel experiences have had such a profound effect on my life and I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I also knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to host just another flashy travel blog where I run off willy-nilly to exotic places all around the world and then write about my adventures with flashy photos and witty punchlines.

I knew that I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to inspire others to take advantage of the opportunities for personal growth that traveling experiences naturally lend themselves to.

So, there I was, on yet another mini-retreat in the hills of Taos. It was the latest of dozens of similar retreats I have taken at various places around the country and the world. Some of these get-aways were simply to experience silence after a period of extra loud worldly noise (this was the case especially during the years I worked as an elementary school teacher). Some of the retreats I took were focused on health and physical wellness. Others, like this one, were project-oriented, a chance to completely focus on one thing with no interruptions in order to let the creative ideas flow.

As I stood outside in my friend’s backyard, bare feet on the chilly ground and my eyes resting lightly on the sight of rainclouds gathering around Taos Mountain, the idea finally occurred to me. Actually, it felt more like the universe was hitting me over the head with a two-by-four:

What has been my own primary traveling experience over these last twenty five years was exactly what I was doing right then: getting away to someplace different in order to center into myself, my relationship with creativity and my relationship to the world.

In other words, what I have mostly done in relation to travel was to GO ON RETREAT.

Looking back, sometimes I didn’t even know that going on a retreat was what I was doing. I just knew that I had to get away. And so I went– for a weekend, a season or a year; for my health or just to hear nothing but silence; to write a book of poetry or work on a blog.

And in the process of heeding the desire to get away, I traveled. I took planes, automobiles, trains and a hand-made Chinese junk ship. I saw different sights and I had experiences that all travelers have in the course of journeying. The difference was, however, that I have always been on “retreat mode” when travel, I have always traveled with periods of solitary reflection in mind and with a focused intent of having my traveling experiences help me grow as a person. I have always wanted to learn something about myself by being immersed in the world of the unfamiliar.

Nikki Lyn Pugh and partner Shane taking a beach retreat at Humboldt State Lagoon in California, 2015

A New Focus for The Gentle Traveler

A brisk wind descended as the idea of a slightly different angle to The Gentle Traveler blog began to nestle into my consciousness. I curled my toes into the raw earth and shivered as brown and gold leaves fell from the aspens and oaks onto the grass around me.

The subject matter of The Gentle Traveler is still on travel and personal development, but now with a focus on intentional travel and personal retreats for individuals and small groups.

Need to simply unplug and spend a weekend in a cabin in the woods? The blog postings and resources on this site will show you how.

Feeling yucky on all levels and don’t quite know why? In the blogs to come, we will dive into the neuroscience (IE what happens chemically in the brain) of stress, relaxed states and everything in between, adding further proof that to retreat and unplug from the ordinary and predictable is not a luxury , it is a necessity in order to live a vibrant, inspired life.

Speaking of which, do you sometimes just feel like life is going too fast and getting too darn noisy? A retreat may be the balm that you need to give you a new perspective on your day-to-day life.

Write What You Know

Someone once said to me: Write about what you know.

Well, if there is one thing I know about inside and out, it is the benefits of taking a personal retreat. I also know that Teen girl with planet earth.no matter what your circumstance in life, with the proper prior planning, you CAN take some time for yourself to simply unplug, refresh and recharge. In fact, I think that time for retreat is absolutely necessary in order to stay sane in this crazy world.

The creation of The Gentle Traveler blog continues to be a learning process for me and I am truly learning as I go along. In blog posts starting this week– which will be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays– I will go deeper into exactly what I mean by “personal retreat” and “intentional travel,” how to structure a retreat experience that is just right for you, and how to integrate your retreat experience into your life once you return home (always a challenge). In addition, of course, there will continue to be Gentle Traveler tips, interviews, reviews and updates designed to make your travel experience rich, stress-free and meaningful to you.

I look forward to the great things to come!

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What does the word “RETREAT” mean to you? Please let us know in the comments section below: