Talking Travel

Meet Julie Lovegrove, a professional photographer with a passion for travel and a mission to combine them both to help us improve our photographic skills. Here Julie shares how volunteering in Africa sparked her love of solo travel, her top tips for solo woman travellers starting out in mid-life and her own solo travel style. 

Tell us a little about yourself and what’s your mission?

I’m a 58-year-old professional photographer who specialises in photographing women and babies. That’s the day job. However, my passion is travelling abroad and recording those travels with my camera. My mission is to expand on this to do two or three trips a year and take others with me. The main emphasis of those trips would be to concentrate on improving their photographic skills as we go, with some dedicated ‘classroom’ sessions followed by plenty of practical practice.

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Doing nothing in Rio

It’s Monday and the grey, damp weather has returned to Rio. The workshop that I was supposed to present tonight to our group of budding social entrepreneurs has been cancelled due to lack of sign-ups. I had planned an afternoon of preparation but as this is no longer necessary I find myself wondering how to fill the day. I’ve decided that I’m not very good at doing nothing, especially on a week day. It’s my northern work ethic kicking in, plus many years of full time working  Monday to Friday, which means that unless I’m officially on holiday, I need to be sat at my desk working on some deliverable, preferably up against a deadline, in order to feel ‘right’.  I suppose, being honest, if it was a gorgeous sunny day I’d be content on the beach with my book and a cold coconut juice. But that’s not an option. It’s strange. I feel guilty, but then not guilty. Worried and then fine. I think about it in detail and it makes me realise that I am going to have to find a way to deal with this if I am a) going to get through the next 4 weeks here and b) build the life of a digital nomad that I have been dreaming about for the past year.

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Taking Havaianas to Brazil

I’m not very good at travelling light. Normally it’s the shoe dilemma that stumps me. But when I found myself packing Havaianas to take with me to Brazil, it was time to have a word!

In my defence this is a longer trip that usual. Two months that will start with a week or so of pure vacation and then onto six weeks of  volunteering to mentor young entrepreneurs who are starting up social enterprises ahead of the 2016 Olympic games. I’ve never done anything like this before and I am both excited and nervous in equal measures.

Don’t rush through your 50s. Take your time, enjoy. They’ll be over soon enough.

Words of advice from my Uncle Ronnie on my 50th birthday.   I wish I’d acted on them sooner. But here I am, on the wrong side of 55, and a testament to the perils of working alone from my kitchen table for far too long.  Sitting for much of the past three years has meant that my behind has now spread to fit the shape of my dining room chair, my waist has expanded to the point where my Pilates teacher has something substantial to hang onto as she corrects my postures, and my shoulders are permanently tensed up around my ears. It’s time for a change. Time to shake things up. Time to get moving.

Notice period complete, I am excited to start this new phase of my life. Why Rio, you may ask? Quite honestly, when I think of Rio I think of fun  – samba, smiling faces, carnival – and I feel as though I am ready for some of that.  Add to that the challenges of volunteering and travelling with a purpose and it feels like a pretty great way for a solo traveller to become immersed in a whole new culture and way of life.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out – warts and all. I’ll be sharing my experiences, tips, tricks and anecdotes along the way. If my camera doesn’t get stolen in the first week  (yes, I’ve been warned by many people about staying safe and avoiding being mugged) I will also be sharing photos of my travels.

I’d love to read your comments and thoughts on my posts and any tips that you may have on getting the best out of Brazil. For now, it’s back to my packing. I think I can probably remove that sixth pair of jeans. After all, I’m pretty sure they have shops in Rio.