Welcome to A Wandering Sole

Just as in life, this blog has taken many shapes and forms over the last five years. What initially started solely as a travel blog has now grown to encompass my other passions in the development and entrepreneurship sectors, as well as my love for refugees. While adventure and travel are still a large part of my life (and this blog), I hope to include other parts of my life to better represent myself as a person, a writer, and a wandering sole.

I currently reside in Portland where I run Amsha, an accessories and home goods brand produced in East Africa. We work with artisans in Kenya & Rwanda to make beautiful accessories, mostly jewelry, and we focus on skills training and employment for artisans living in extreme poverty and affected by disabilities. You can read more about it on our website, and shop for a little something special if you’d like.

In addition to running my business, I work as a job coach for newly arrived refugees in my city. I work with clients from all over the world, and use my limited knowledge of Swahili to serve Congolese clients. However, I also serve clients from the Middle East, Asia, other countries in Africa, Central America, and Cuba.

Sometimes standing up for what is right, requires one to do far more than they thought they were capable of.  That describes me in a nutshell. I have the following quote, by a Buddhist monk, on a sticky note on my computer. It’s a wonderful reminder to me of who I am, or rather, who I’m always striving to be…

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

I love chatting about traveling, running, volunteering, Africa, social enterprise, economic development, refugees, 80s movies, hiking and other outdoor activities, among many other things. I can always be reached at awanderingsole[at]gmail[dot]com. I’m a bit slow to respond to blog emails, but I promise I have every intention to respond, and I would love to hear from you! You might also have better luck by sending me a tweet. Find me on Twitter at @awanderingsole.

A male dance celebrating circumcision in a Turkana village in Kenya.

And now, my former self  (ie what my blog was about a few years ago):

I ama twenty-something southern girl with a background in design. I’m a runner, a volunteer, an Africa enthusiast, and a bit of a free-spirit. I graduated from college in 2008, took a 10-week trip to Africa, and returned home to a crappy economy with $200 in my pocket. My sister and brother-in-law graciously let me move in with them, and shortly after, I found a job. And then I got antsy. So instead of waiting for the economy to turn around and for that dream job to appear from thin air, I took things into my own hands. I pulled out my travel guides and started planning. In December 2009, I took the plunge and bought a one-way plane ticket with no regrets. In March 2010, I set off on an around the world trip and returned home just days before Thanksgiving. I ran to the lowest point on Earth (the Dead Sea), tracked gorillas in Rwanda, climbed a volcano in DR Congo, went on a few safaris, got blessed by a monk and hit by a motorcycle, hitchhiked 500km., volunteered in Kenya, Malawi, and Thailand, danced the night away in Barcelona, snorkeled in Bali, and explored Petra…. just to name a few. Since then I have spent a summer working in a rural village in South Africa and most recently took a US cross-country road trip. Now I’m just taking life one day at a time and seeing what comes next.

This site is home to these adventures. I enjoy writing about travel, culture, design, and running.  Through A Wandering Sole, you can read about places, people, and adventures, and experience these for yourself through photos. My ultimate goal is to reveal that underneath drastic cultural differences, there is a common bond among us all. I hope my travel tales will give you inspiration for your next itinerary or maybe just a laugh along the way.


Join me on this journey. You can subscribe to updates via email, RSS, or follow along on Facebook.


35 thoughts on “About

  • Just found you randomly on twitter and thought your blog title was just too clever. What a wonderful, amazing adventure! My family has had the opportunity to travel and live in few countries (including Italy) but nothing like the round-the-world trips that so many bloggers and tweeters are doing. At least not yet! Looking forward to learning more about your volunteering opportunities and ways that you learn to travel frugally.

  • Laura, I was so excited to get your calling card how cleaver and how exciting. I will keep up with you and can’t wait to check in an get all the scoop on your adventures. Let me know how I can make a donation as well. You are an amazing girl and I know you will make a difference in all the places you visit. Take care and I will check in on you later.
    Cathi Lunceford

  • So happy to have come across your site! And what a great way to use one of your passions (running) to get connected with other cultures and support them. Looking forward to following along!


  • Received your card and love it! The design is clever and fabulous. Loving reading your blog and tweets. It’s almost like I’m travelling with you (I wish!).

    • Hey Johnny-

      Thanks for stopping by! I have a rough itinerary as I need to go where I can find marathons and also where my budget will last. But there’s a lot of flexibility. I’m in Jordan now and next is Kenya. I’ll be going overland for 3-1/2 months in Africa and then 2 months in SE Asia, and 1 month in Nepal. It looks like you’d be able to give me a lot of advice for Asia considering your travels!

  • Hi Laura,

    I found you via Google and I was wondering if you would mind answering some questions I have…I am headed to Watoto Wa Baraka in May and I have some questions for you about your experience! Please email me at emilyrtanner@gmail.com if you can!

    Thank you,

  • I am so happy to have come across your blog! I am living in the South too..well for 5 more days until I move to London! I think it’s awesome what you are doing! I am not a runner (i’m more of what you call a “Sprint to the Bus Stop” kind of girl), but the idea of running across the globe sounds so amazing. I’m definitely subscribing. :)


  • hey laura,
    I feel nice to come across ur amazing travel blog.. I am from India and i love travelling.. although i haven’t been to any overseas location but have been to many places in my country… One thing I would like to know is how to plan an economical yet comfortable trip???? Btw i loved ur article where u shared ur first hand experience on problems faced ny single female travellers…
    keep doing the good work..

  • Stumbled across your blog on a twitter RT. I love it. I adore traveling to, and have been fortunate to do much the same as you, but it changes when you have kids =) so its great to relive traveling through your blog – very inspiring, keep up the good work!

  • Omg! I found you randomly checking stuff in worldnomads and I’m amazed by this blog ! I’m from Puerto Rico and this July I’ll make a trip to Africa for three months (it can be more because I don’t have a ticket to come back yet..) and reading about your experiences there makes me more anxious and excited to get there!

    It makes me happy to see that they are people like me that wants to travel an live/enjoy the diversity of the world! You can be sure that this month i will be asking you a lot of questions of Africa :) Also we can share experiences because last year I was in India ;)

    Congrats girl !

  • So glad I found your blog, and having been born and raised in Africa, as well as living in Barcelona your experiences hit home. I will be looking out for your tweets and travel experiences for 2012….happy travels

  • I absolutely love your blog. I’m an avid traveler, runner, and volunteer myself and your adventures are so inspiring. Let me know if you are ever looking for a travel buddy :)

  • Hi Laura,
    Love your blog!
    I’m really enjoying reading about your experiences and looking at the photos you post.
    I haven’t been overseas yet, but your blog is definitely inspiring me to travel.
    I also really love the design and the bobbleheads :)
    Looking forward to reading more about your travels!

  • Laura, I saw your questions about .php and all that in the WordPress support, and to see what your problem/solution was I visited your site. Well, I still have a problem with my site because I got lost in yours! What an inspiration at such a young age to travel adventurously throughout the world. I am going to do an AmperArt piece based on travel; hope you subscribe in time to see it posted (it will be a month or two away). May you enjoy your travels and continue inspiring others. I don’t like beer either.

  • It is wonderful to see a person travel like this. I was a young traveler and the world inspired me as well. I will be following you if I can figure out how to get that Twitter stable. :)
    I am older now and have the freedom to travel more often the job does not hold on to my as firmly.
    Take care, young one and follow your heart.
    “If you take care of you the rest will follow”

  • I took a photo in Petra from the EXACT same spot! Just stumbled onto your blog and am really enjoying it. Always nice to find kindred spirits who also love to travel & explore. I used to live overseas, but haven’t been abroad in a few years. Reading about your adventures is awakening my travel bug!

  • Hi Laura,
    I am from Nairobi and so excited by your blog and you have inspired me to fulfill my dream of travelling the world…You have made it seem doable, am definately starting as soon as am through with college. All the best, keep the fire burning

  • what an experience Laura, there is a lovely country you have not visited yet and that is Ghana. it is located is west Africa.rich culture and the tourist destination in the world…… Ghana is the country to be……….. I like your blog…keep the good work up

  • Was John finally admitted to Gaichanjiru High School?.
    This is where I studied for 6 years. Those days we used to take 6 years in High School. I now live in Michigan.

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