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Maltese female solo explorer uses retirement to live out her dream of travelling the world
“Each country leaves great memories and an imprint on my life!”

Caroline Curmi

For most, retirement means time with the grandkids and an overall tranquil way of life, but for one extroverted and social Maltese nomad, it involves living out her lifelong dream of travelling the world.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

Born in St Julians in 1959, Christine Aquilina never considered Malta her forever home: “In those days I felt my only role according to Maltese society was to get married and have children - this was not me,” she says.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

After years of dreaming, Christine finally found a way forward at age 13: “A career talk at school included working in the hospitality industry, eh voila, that's what I decided to do as I knew it would allow me to travel and leave Malta,” she explains.

Determined in her goal, the travel enthusiast secured herself a scholarship in hotel management offered by the Swiss government in 1978 at the Centre International de Glion. Once completed, Christine returned to Malta but found it incredibly hard to settle: “it was extremely difficult to find a job as a female in the food and beverage sector in hotels,” she explains.

Instead, she worked as a restaurant manager, and later in marketing with NSTS, before eyeing (and landing) a job with Thomson Holidays. “After two years I asked for a transfer to Italy for the 1989 ski season and I never returned after that!” she explains.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

Italy has been her main residence ever since, and her move into the hospitality industry proved the perfect arrangement: “Between 1989 and 2009 I travelled for approximately three months a year when I was not working in between seasons,” she says.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

Christine does not plan on moving back to the Maltese islands: “Of course, I miss my friends and family,” she elaborates, adding that she visits every year for about six weeks each time. 

Rather, Christine considers herself a citizen of the world: “I have been a full-time retired nomad and traveller since 2015,” she explains, adding that at present she estimates to have visited one third of the world, with a lot of countries left on her bucket list to be experienced and explored.  

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

Asked about her favourite country so far, Christine admits it’s a hard choice because every country is different: “Right now I am in love with South Africa and the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana,” she replies. Indeed, she is currently travelling through Africa in her 4x4 Toyota equipped with a rooftop tent. Most of her accommodation involves camping, but in the past, she often made use of private rooms in hostels and there was also the occasional 5-star hotel here and there.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

“I would like to inspire females of all ages to take hold of their lives and have the freedom to live their lives as they wish and dream,” Christine says, adding that women should not be seen as a possession and merit respect and freedom. “We are not taught how to respect ourselves and love ourselves first and foremost, and we are not taught how to look after ourselves, how to expect respect, how to defend ourselves and most of all how to stand up for our rights and also report all sorts of bullying and abuse by others,” she elaborates.

For Christine, travelling equates to empowerment and fulfilment: “It’s amazing how you can open your mind to different cultures, different religions, different races and people,” she says. Obviously, there are several things to be mindful of and the world traveller shares some lessons learnt during her adventures: wear no jewellery, be aware of your surroundings, photocopy passport and credit cards and leave a copy at home with a trusted person, never walk through dangerous areas and always carry a torch and pepper spray, if legal to carry.

Maltese female solo adventurer

Christine Aquilina

However, these are not drawbacks but points of reflection, and Christine is travelling’s greatest advocate: “Do it. Do it today. Do it for yourself. Follow your dreams. Spread your wings. Allow nothing and no one to stop you. Start living not surviving. Material things do not buy you happiness,” she concludes.

Would you like to know more about Christine’s travelling tips as a solo traveller? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

18th February 2020


Caroline Curmi
Written by
Caroline Curmi
When she’s not having a quarter-life crisis, Caroline is either drawing in a café, frittering her salary on sushi or swearing at traffic in full-on Gozitan. There is also the occasional daytime drink somewhere in the equation. Or two. A creative must be allowed at least one vice.

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