About Barbara Weibel

My name is Barbara Weibel and I’m the owner/publisher of Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel. I’ve always envied people who love their jobs. Unlike those lucky souls, my various careers over the years (marketing, advertising, selling real estate, working in a retail store, owning a public relations firm, and selling snow cones in the largest water park in Puerto Rico, among others) were just means to an end – a way to earn money and have a comfortable lifestyle. I never loved what I did and I can’t really say I was ever really happy, but I plodded on because I was raised to be dependable, to always give 110%, and to work hard in order to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement. All of which meant going to work every day, regardless of how much I despised my job.

Barbara Weibel
Barbara Weibel

I knew I wasn’t being true to myself. My inner voice constantly nagged, “Who am I, why am I here, and what is my purpose in life?” I had often heard that we should do what what we love, what makes us joyful. So I asked myself, “What makes me joyful?” But I had no answer. I knew there had to be something better out there; I just didn’t know what it was. Then I got sick. Really sick.

My health had been failing for some time but the doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong. More than once it was implied that my illness was all in my head. Finally, after five years of suffering, I was diagnosed with what had by then become chronic Lyme disease. During the initial treatment I was practically bedridden. Since I could barely drag myself from the bed to the couch (much less go to work) I had a lot of time to examine my life. I decided that things had to change. I was like a donut – a wonderful outer shell with an empty, hollow inside. I could no longer ignore the need to feel that I was living a purposeful life. I needed to fill the hole in my donut. Again I asked myself, “What brings me joy?” This time, I had some answers. Photography. Writing. And travel. I promised myself that when I recovered I would find a way of living that focused on those things that bring me joy.

As soon as I was healthy enough, I left my job, strapped on a backpack, and traveled solo around the world for six months, determined to visit the places I’d always wanted to see. I traveled without major plans, took thousands of photos along the way, and blogged about every place I visited. Upon returning to the States in September of 2007, I rented an apartment in Florida and continued to travel more than half of the time, while simultaneously pursuing freelance writing opportunities. By the end of 2009 I was traveling so much that it made no sense to maintain a home base, so I sold or gave away my remaining furniture and hit the road full time.

For the next eight years I traveled perpetually, staying long-term in many countries in order to immerse in the local culture. But with age came some new challenges. In my early sixties, I began to experience hip and knee problems that were likely effects from my long bout with Lyme disease. More and more, I found it difficult to carry a suitcase up and down the stairs of railway and Metro stations around the world. I began to worry that my traveling days were over.

Fortunately, I was able to correct my joint problems through stem cell therapy. But the mobility issues I had suffered convinced me that it was time to have a home base again. Thus, in December of 2017, I rented an apartment and became an expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’m still traveling a significant amount of the time each year but now I can return to my home base whenever I need a rest, and I no longer need to carry everything with me all the time. It has made a world of difference, and I once again believe I will continue to travel well into my 70’s or even my 80’s.

Throughout my years of travel, I have continued to publish stories on Hole In The Donut Cultural Travel that feature the destinations I visit, the interesting people I meet, the crazy (and often humorous) things that happen to me along the way, and the never-ending spiritual lessons that come from travel. With its self-deprecating humor and focus on the inner journey as well as the outer, Hole In The Donut has attracted a loyal following of readers who travel with me vicariously. So grab a chair and settle in for some unique and interesting travel stories.

You may also enjoy:

How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World Full Time
Travel Packing Tips
Everything You Need to Know About Booking a Round-the-World Flight
Travel Safety Tips
Volunteering Opportunities Are Not Always What They Claim to Be

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335 thoughts on “About Barbara Weibel”

  1. Hi Barb,
    I just discovered your site today and will definitely be back to read more. I am hoping to do more travel myself in the years to come. I live in Canada and while we have fantastic summers where we live, the winter is quite a drag. I love warm places and prefer renting a house in small towns so that we can live within a community and be connected to the cultural life of a place. I am an artist with experience painting large murals. A few months ago I came across a few places that were asking for people to do a few hours of work per day in exchange for accomodation. Through that I had found a website with such places. I now cant seem to find it. With your extensive travelling perhaps you have come across such places or know of how to find them? I am especially interested in such places in Mexico or countries close to it. Thanks so much

  2. Hi Barbara

    I love your website and gives me the inspiration to do it as well. I still have young children, but maybe we can all travel. I will put this as my goal for the next two years.

    • Andrea – thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Fingers crossed you can find a way to travel. It’s the most educational experience a child can have.

    • Hi Theresa – nope it wasn’t me. There aren’t too many Weibels around and even fewer Barbara Weibels, however I know there is one in California who is a real estate Broker.

  3. Dear Barbara,
    Just saw your blogs and photos, the’re incredible both writing’s and images. It is very pity that you’ve missed western Balkan’s countries, hope that you’ll visit them another time. Please feel free to contact me for any info regarding RS/BiH! I wish you all the best in your next adventures and greeting for upcoming holidays!

    • Hi Ana – I did 12 countries this year and it nearly killed me. I don’t usually travel so fast but I hadn’t done any of Eastern Europe and wanted to “taste” a lot of them to see which ones I liked and might want to revisit. I’m headed back to Eastern Europe again this spring and summer and will definitely be doing the western Balkans! However, I don’t know what RS/BiH is…can you enlighten me?

      • And I enjoy in each of your blog!I just can imagine how fun but difficult in the same time can be! Bosnia and Herzegovina is made of three entity (Federation of BiH, Republic of Srpska and Brcko) but there is no borders in between. If you decide to visit BiH, feel free to contact me! Wishing you all the best in NY 2014 and a lot of new countries on “Where I’ve been”!

        • Hi Ana: I do plan to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014! I’d love to know what places are the best to visit and as you probably know, I really love to find places that are fantastic but not yet discovered by tourists. I’d appreciate any advice you can give me. 🙂

          • Well…we are not so mass tourism country, the most crowded places are Mostar and Sarajevo but they are also very nice to visit. The other places are National park Sutjeska and Kozara, maybe the nicest place yet not so discovered is Trebinje on the south of the country with lovely Mediterranean climate, great religious sites such as monastery Tvrdos with their own wine cellar, and a lot of other great places in surroundings. I’m living in Banja Luka and it is the most beautiful town to live for me but you can check http://www.banjaluka-tourism.com
            This is country with beautiful nature, mostly mountain with east and west mixed together in tradition and in people! Let me know when you decide what to visit, I would be glad to meet you here. All the best!

            • Thanks Ana – if I do get there this year I’ll definitely let you know. I really appreciate your tips!

  4. Hi Barbara, wonderful to find your travel blog. I have been travelling a few weeks every year on my own in between 5 years of some virus which apparently caused me to have chronic cfs for 5 years now.
    You have given me more hope than most of my health professionals and friends that I can get well enough again to follow my dreams. At 50 I am hoping for a full recovery this time and I am needing to make some life changes in career and follow my passions. When I work out what they are. I am really hoping to travel again without being unwell and get back the confidence that I used to have.

    • Hi Karen: Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It always makes me feel good to hear people appreciate my writing and photography, and the fact that you say I have provided you with hope means a great deal to me. Best of luck with your travels and your health.

  5. Thanks for your insight! My husband and I are in the beginning stages of creating a travel enthusiast website. We are selling off and donating all of our belongings and plan to set off in the beginning of ’15 for a full-time around the world volunteer journey. Looks like you and I have been to many of the same places including the wonderful Masai villages of Tanzania -Amazing- can’t wait to follow in your footsteps on other trips :). THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND STRENGTH!

    • Gigi, you are SO welcome.I am thrilled to think that I inspire you in some small way. Best of luck preparing for your departure. Exciting days are ahead for you!

  6. Truly inspiring. Can recommend this website http://www.annesitaly.com. Anne has a lovely apartment in Assisi, Umbria, Italy where peace of mind is guaranteed as you cross the threshold. Assisi is a very special place – a pilgrimage centre, recently visited by the Pope, as the mortal remains of St. Francis, whose name he has taken, are there, as are those of St. Clare.

    • Hi Carol: Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve made a note of it in the event I ever visit Assisi, which I hear is a wonderful destination.

  7. Dearest Barbara

    You are a real inspiration for me. I am also fond of travelling around. To get the real freedom and to find myself I also wish to free myself and follow your path.

    May you Live long and be more happy

    Best regards

    Anwar

  8. Hi Barbara,

    I am so pleased to have found your blog and look forward to taking my time and reading your past postings. I feel a kindred spirit, as my passions include travel, photography and writing as well. My husband and I just sold our home, and most of our possessions (freeing isn’t it) and are about to embark on our own endless travels. I’m just getting my feet wet on blogging and will be striving to constantly improve. Also being in my early 60’s, my travel style will probably now be a bit more gentle than it was back in my 20’s. I think finding a “home base” to stay put for a week or a month at a time sounds much more relaxing. I want to be able to smell the roses, find out where/how the locals eat, shop and enjoy life. Thank you for blazing the trail!

    • Hi Joanne: Thank you for such a nice comment. I’m always reassuring people from the U.S. that international travel is not dangerous, so I’m delighted when I read others are heading out to see this great world of ours. Traveling mercies to you and who knows – perhaps we’ll meet up on the road someday.

  9. Hi Barbara,
    Very neat, sharp site! I stumbled upon your site after reading your article in “I want to travel for the rest of my life”. I look up to people like you. You have the attitude and life that I’m working towards. I’m in my early 20s and trying to get a bit of schooling under my belt before I take off again. But after backpacking for 2 years, it’s hard to shake off the travel itch long enough to settle down and complete a degree. All I want to do is to travel. I’m constantly trying to form plans to get around going to school, but I see it as school=better paying job=can afford travel expenses. I started a blog during my travels last summer after some encouragement. I just don’t understand how it all works, and getting to the point where you’re at seems like an eternity away! Are you one of those lucky people who has a knack for technology and websites? Any tips for a lost little soul like me? Thanks!

    • Hi Anne: I guess I am one of those people who has a knack for technology, but it’s taken seven long years to get where I am, and I’m working just as hard as I ever did in corporate life (though now I love what I do). I’m afraid there are no shortcuts. First, concentrate on being a good writer. Take some classes if need be. Then work on creating unique, high-quality content for your blog.But you also have to be very active in social media and have a thorough understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These are subjects to broad and complex for me to explain in a comment, but just Google them and start reading about them. Best of luck.

  10. Oh, am I glad I’ve just come across you (via someone’s post on FB) – dont have time to go through all your info right now – but from what I’ve read I wish I’d come across you sooner.

    I’m a widow nearly 68 and am planning on selling my home next year, selling the furniture and storing a few things…. this all seems so overwhelming to me – did you feel that way too?

    Like you I’ve worked and not particularly enjoyed my jobs. Love travel, photography but not good at writing, altho I am planning on setting up a Blog. Should I have a special website for my travels and the photos do you think?

    • Hi Elaine: No I felt quite the opposite.For me, it was an overwhelming relief to get rid f the “stuff.” It felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Of course, I’d been very sick and forced to examine my life, so I was very clear about what I wanted. As for your photos and articles, I’d advise just setting up a WordPress.org blog (not a free one). You don’t need both a traditional blog and a website.unless you;re planning to sell something as well.

  11. I was looking for a cross country car to drive for someone and I came upon your site. I am in the process of retiring from teaching and don’t really know what I want to do with myself. Your story is stimulating as I have always loved travel. I am an artist/art teacher by trade and would love to take on what you have done but the money situation and the fact that I am married and I just don’t know how he would take me being on the road so much is daunting. I just turned 59 and you are 60 so I find this so life affirming that you re doing this so kudos to you and I look forward to reading your blog
    Blessings in your travels.
    Cori

    • Hi Cori:Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment. My motto is “It’s never too late.” You don’t have to go into it full bore. Why not do a few test trips and see if my kind of independent travel is for you?

  12. I enjoyed your website and everyone’s comments. Working for an airline I am blessed with many opportunities to travel and try to go to 3 different places every year. Barbara, your story is very inspiring. I hope to travel more and more as I am approaching 58 years. I am single again and I have a 20 year old daughter who is in college. I enjoy travelling with her but never minded being a solo traveler. I am planning a trip to Lima, Peru and go see Macchu Picchu in October. If no one else can come with me this time I am braving it alone. Any tips?

    • Hi Lynn: Yes, my big tip is don’t do it in a day trip. Most people take the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo early in the morning and return the same afternoon, so by 2 p.m. the park starts to empty out and by 3 p.m. you have it totally to yourself. I sat on a high plateau overlooking for two hours before closing, watching the sunlight play across the ruins and turn them to gold. It was magical. Don’t forget to take your passport with you (not just a copy) because you can’t get in without it. You’ll love it – one of the best places I’ve ever been.

  13. Very Inspiring Story…Thanks Barbara for being a source of motivation. Read about your story first from Lonely Planets- Around the World with 4o Bloggers. So Inspired. Best Regards..All the Best.

    • Hi Lanre: Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and so glad you enjoy my blog. It is passion with me, both the writing and the photography, so I love hearing when someone appreciates it.

  14. Hello Barbara,
    What a coincidence! Earlier this year, I was also diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease (in addition to a thyroid problem) in the midst of a successful career. Like you, the illness has made me ask myself the serious questions: What am I doing with my life? How can I REALLY live my passion (seeing the world)? Despite being only 29 I’ve already done a fair amount of solo travel and lived in Eastern Europe for a couple years, but I really want to spend my life traveling and empowering people. Thanks to the Lyme I’ve really had to start thinking seriously about changing my life path – getting out of the cube and not looking back. THANK YOU so much for sharing your stories and inspiring us.

    For the ladies apprehensive about solo travel – DO IT!! it will give you self-confidence you never knew you had!

    • Hi Tabitha: Yay! Another powerful woman joins the ranks of those of us who are following our true passions. Thanks so much for sharing your story, and I hope you’ve fully recovered from the Lyme. As for your final sentence, I couldn’t agree more. Solo travel is a fabulous, life changing experience!

  15. I am looking for a professional driver to drive a very large luxery bus from LARGO FLORIDA to Pugent Sound Washington, with many tourist stops along the way, . I plan on approximately two weeks. Pleas let me know if this is something that you do , I am planning for July.
    Kathleen Tedder 727 4663190

    • Kathleen, I sure would love to do that, if only I were a professional driver! I’m just your casual, average, civilian driver. If you are still looking for one I’ll be glad to post it on my Facebook page and maybe people will share it until someone comes forward with the experience you need. I love to meet other women travelers!

  16. Hi Barbara, I just saw your blog and I’m really inspired on how you are going after the things that make you really happy. I am from the Philippines and I come from a what I consider an average family. Leaving everything behind right now won’t be that easy for several reasons. When I did travel alone last year to India (my most adventurous I think so far), I met a girl from Hong Kong who happens to have the exact birthday as I do. However, unlike me, she never let her fear decide her fate as she left home to see the world. It’s amazing how she is surviving.. Your blog will do for now, but I hope I may bump again into people like you in the future when I get that spirit and courage to follow my dreams.

    • Hi Joel: Sounds like you’re well on your way to finding out what you need and want in life. Just be open to it, so you recognize the path when it is shown to you.

  17. hi barbara, nice reading your travel blog and knowing that you appreciate the beauty and comfy of travels. This reminds me of a friend called fede of maitravelsite whom once invited me to showcase an article about myself as a safari guide in kenya which he published in his blog. A day in the life of a safari guide/ maitravelsite. Cograts for being a traveller.

  18. Hi Barbara ,I like your way that you divert your life in the different way .you are one of the lucky person cause u knew your weakness that kept you sad.iam suffering like in your first stage .i couldn’t decide myself what am I going to do?sometime I fell like to start hitting the road and some time I fell too early to do that cause I m 30 yrs old now I do have wife,family specially my grandmother who is already over 100 yrs old now ,all are aspecting something from me and in the other hand they are waiting to see filled up hole of donut .i don’t know what to do Barbara .whatever i plan there are lots of barrier like physical,environmental,financil and so on..anyway whatever u doing keep going on that and try to keep more happy yourself.i was so happy to read your article .good luck…

    • Thank you Samman, for your comments and good wishes, and I’m glad if my story could bring you a bit of hope. Just focus on the positive and stay entirely present and you will see what path you are supposed to take. All the best.

  19. Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of this website; this weblog consists of remarkable and in fact good material for readers.

  20. Hi Barbara,

    I am from Nepal presently working in India. Today just by google find your blogsite with wonderful pictures of Nepal mostly from westernNepal Pokhara and like to share some of my feelings with you. I think you have spent a quite quality time in Nepal and hope you betterstand the innocentness of Nepalese people. I also belongs to nearby Pokhara village called Ghyampesal of Gorkha District.

    Regarding peace and happiness any people searching it in entire life never ends. You are getting it thru travelling all over the world. Great and wonderful.

    Here I would like to share with you my personal experiences how it difficult to people like us to visit not the world just your country (USA)? visa problem. If you not given the visa then how it possible to travel? forget peace and happiness. You know the story is my parents who are presently with me are the age of 65 -70. I have my elder brother and a younger sister both of them are in NY. My parents desperately wants to see their grandchildren from my brother and sister in NY before they die I hope the peace and happiness for them is this. For which I try to manage their trip to NY but visa got denial from US Embassy, Nepal. Now tell me how one can expect their peace and happiness if they not allowed for travel.

    Anyway, goodluck for your world tour and thanks for beautiful coverage about Nepal in your blog.

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