Stories of Men

kate on her travel and self discovery journey

Learning to Embrace Solo Travel and Self-Discovery

 “I absolutely love it when I hear that people have been inspired to take a solo trip by themselves after having read the book… because I know firsthand how powerful it can be to have that first experience on your own.”

Learning to Embrace Solo Travel and Self-Discovery

In this week’s episode of Our Voices we hear a story of travel and self-discovery. Kate is a travel journalist and writer who lives in London. She talks about the origins of her love of travelling and about the difficult relationship she had with her mother while growing up. 

She also discusses how she found the confidence to take her own path in life in order to have new experiences.

Growing up in “Suburbiton”

Kate grew up in a suburb of London called Surbiton, or, as Kate calls it, “Suburbiton”. She describes her hometown as “pretty boring” and says that she “just couldn’t wait to escape”. Set against the dullness of Surbiton, Kate’s imagination was invigorated by stories read to her by her father. She says

 “I’m really thankful that I had a really loving relationship with my dad.”

A difficult relationship

Unfortunately, this was not often the case with her mum. Her parents separated when Kate was just 11 years old and she finds it very difficult to remember any positive or loving memories of her mother growing up. 

“It’s difficult to say that because that relationship is what teaches you what love really is. It’s the first relationship, it’s the most important one, it’s so primal.” 

Instead of recalling positive memories, Kate remembers an occasion when her mother’s lack of attention led to physical suffering.

 “I was about nine years old and I actually got into a bath that my mum had run whilst on the phone to someone, and the bath was just hot water. And I had really bad burns that blistered up on my feet.”

A need for independence

Experiences such as this generated an inbuilt need for independence. Since her mother refused to take control of situations, Kate felt that she had no choice but to take responsibility for her own decisions at an early age. 

But Kate’s burgeoning independence only served to create greater distance between herself and her mother. This was compounded by Kate’s mother finding a new partner. “That’s when it really just felt like she dropped out of my life altogether.”

First trips abroad

Kate discovered her love of travel at the age of 20 when she studied abroad in California for a year. She describes the experience as “transformative… it really shaped the person that I became.” 

She met her future husband while in California and it was there that she decided she wanted to turn her love of writing into a career. Her time in California would soon be followed by trips around the world to places such as Malawi, Mozambique, Vancouver and Ecuador. But the motivation for Kate’s travelling was initially about the impression she could make on others. “I think in my early 20s… I kind of felt like travel made me a little bit more interesting.”

The need to escape: travel and self-discovery

As Kate grew older, she began to feel a connection between travel and self-discovery.

 “Even though I had all the outward trappings of success, a quite high profile job and a boyfriend and I owned a flat and all these things that you’re told are supposed to make you happy, I just still felt like things weren’t right. And so travel became a way of just escaping from my day to day life for a little bit.”

Following a different path

Attempting to embrace those outward trappings, Kate and her boyfriend decided to get married after having been together for over ten years. They divorced one year later. Making the break from her long-term partner made her realise that her life was going to take a very different course to those of her friends.

Rather than resisting her desire to live a different kind of life, Kate decided to fully embrace the possibilities of travel and self-discovery after reading about a fourth century nun. The nun had travelled around the Holy Lands and Kate felt that it was her destiny to follow in the nun’s footsteps. As a result, she booked a self-discovery trip to Israel, Tel Aviv.

A self-discovery trip

Tel Aviv would only be the starting destination for Kate’s new journey, however. She also had plans to visit Palestine. Many warned Kate to not make that journey to Palestine, especially as a family.

 “Even though it’s only a 30-minute bus ride, you have to go through all these checkpoints to get to Palestine. It feels like you’re kind of entering another world.” 

Yet Kate wanted to challenge herself. Reflecting on the pioneering female travellers of the past, she took inspiration. Kate felt that it was important to realise the connection between travel and self-discovery. 

Travelling alone as a woman

By the time she had made her way to the bus travelling from Jerusalem to Palestine, it was already dark. All of the information at the bus stop was in Hebrew and Arabic, none of which Kate understood. She also quickly noticed that she was both the only female and the only tourist on the bus. 

She was starting to question the wisdom of travelling alone as a woman. But in this part of the world until a man on the bus came to her assistance. He made the crossing from Palestine to Jerusalem daily in order to sell his wooden sculptures. As a result, he was able to help her navigate the checkpoints. Describing her experience, Kate says

 “[it was] pretty intimidating. It’s like Israeli soldiers with massive guns and it’s almost like you’re cattle.” Kate says that she was much more accustomed to reviewing luxury spa hotels than taking bus trips through hostile checkpoints. At one stage she asked herself “why didn’t I just accept that trip to the Maldives instead?”

Travel experiences that change your life

But Kate knew that she was having travel experiences that change your life. During her solo travel experiences, she learned about how it was possible to travel and learn. She felt a sense of communion with ancient wanderers who were so moved by their faith

 In fact, Kate’s travels were so inspirational that they motivated her to write a book called A Trip of One’s Own. It has since operated as an inspiration to others to take their own solo trips and to experience travel and self-discovery.

 “I absolutely love it when I hear that people have been inspired to take a solo trip by themselves after having read the book… because I know firsthand how powerful it can be to have that first experience on your own.”

Discovering motherhood

Aside from travelling adventures, another powerful experience Kate has had is that of recently becoming a mother. Just as in so many aspects of Kate’s life, she has had to pioneer her own approach to motherhood. Reflecting on how she has come to terms with the past in order to make the most of the future, she says:

 “You can’t rewrite your childhood, but you can start the next chapter on your own terms.”

Share this episode

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.