Meet our new Woman of the Week: Rachelle Gordon! This working woman has found a love for travel, internationally, but also in her own back yard in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s an advocate for exploring your hometown through the lens of a tourist, and also an advocate for travel as a practicing Mormon. Rachelle’s story reminds me that travel knows no bounds of gender, religion or even distance. Anyone, anywhere can be an explorer with the right attitude and sense of adventure. Check out her interview for more about Rachelle and her travel adventures.
Connect with Rachelle
Tell us about yourself?
Hey what’s up? My name is RJ and I’m The Mormon Adventurista! I was born and raised just outside of Los Angeles, California, but moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and currently work as an IT Manager at the University of Utah. I didn’t catch the travel bug until my late 20s, when 2 girlfriends and I trekked out to New Orleans for a week-long trip that ended up changing my life. Since then, I’ve studied abroad in Germany, traveling to 5 other countries in Eastern Europe, driven all over the American West, island-hopped in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands, and recently booked a flight to visit my dear friend in Romania for a week.
In addition to my professional responsibilities, I also am a community volunteer through my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I work with 12-13 year-old girls in my neighborhood, plan mid-week activities and teach class lessons on Sunday. I’m also the assistant choir director for my church choir, and often lead the music during our Sacrament service on Sundays. Needless to say, I’ve got a full plate between church, family, and work responsibilities…but I never let them keep me from my love of travel!
Why do you travel?
I’d love to be able to eloquently deliver some awe-inspiring message as to why I travel…but let’s be real. I travel for 3 reasons: #1 – Travel is fun, exhausting, enriching, horizon-widening, thrilling…all the superlatives! #2 – I love to learn about other cultures, destinations, histories, myself, etc. Travel wraps all those up into one giant educational experience! #3 – There is a stereotype that all female Mormons are married and have a bucketload of children by their mid-20s…or at least should be. Not only is that completely unfair and wrong, it also leads to weird pressures that are put on female members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most often by themselves or their family members.
I travel unabashedly under the moniker The Mormon Adventurista to break said stereotype. I’m not bitter about it, rather I am trying to be a catalyst to help the world and fellow Mormons understand that we choose our own path and can be whoever we want to be. There are wonderful solo female travelers out there that I admire, look to for support, and follow along on their journeys…and I want other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have a traveler that they can relate to. Someone who can juggle attending Church regularly, holding callings/volunteering, and still manages to have amazing adventures without compromising who they are or what they believe in.
How do you balance work and travel?
I honestly wish I worked for a company that sent me to exotic locations, but alas, it doesn’t. I have fortunately worked with the same company since 2009 and accrue paid time off a little quicker than I used to. I mainly utilize weekends, work/bank holidays, and dedicate a lot of time in exploring my own backyard. I’m the queen of weekend road trips and have been known to sleep at truck stops in the middle of the desert to save myself a few hours in a new location. I try to take a trip every month, whether it’s to see my mom in Los Angeles, explore a ghost town in Southern Utah, or a random weekend trip to a new location because I found a killer deal on a flight. I’ve adopted the mindset that I don’t have to travel far to find a new destination and experience.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
Echoing what I mentioned above: you don’t have to travel far to find a new restaurant, a new Insta-worthy photo location, a new road to travel. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to visit a tropical island, or find yourself in a land where nobody speaks your language…but some of my favorite adventures have been within a day’s drive of Salt Lake City. Think you need to travel far to find a good time? Try Googling the “Top 10 Things to Do” in your current hometown and see how many you’ve actually experienced!
Share one of your favorite travel memories.
I’m not a huge soccer fan (or football, depending on where you’re from). I don’t understand the rules, can’t see how any kind of strategy can be used, and quite frankly, I get bored easily watching. That all changed in 2014 when I was studying abroad in Germany. I arrived in Germany at the start of the World Cup and got roped into the hype as Germany rose in ranking. My classmates and I would get dressed up, paint German flags on our faces, and head to the Uni to watch the games with thousands of German students. The moment that Germany won the World Cup has been etched in my mind forever, along with the street parties that followed!
If you could share one travel tip with other women, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to break a stereotype. I’m single, a Mormon, in my 30s, have a job, car, and all the debt that goes with it. I still make traveling a priority and so can you!
THANKS FOR READING RACHELLE’S STORY!
Looking for more interviews? Head to our Woman of the Week archives for the full library.
I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:
- 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
- 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
- and 30 Jobs to See the World.
After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.
After you sign up, you’ll start receiving the following freebies: 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF), 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist), and 30 Jobs to See the World.
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