Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Am Not A Brave Woman: As Travelers, We Spin Ourselves Around the Globe

Lavinia Spalding does a superb job as editor for 2011 and is gearing up for 2012!
I am thrilled and humbled to have my interview up at Lavinia Spalding's site where she is interviewing several contributors to The Best Women's Travel Writing 2011. Here is a bit of what I confessed about my life as a traveller...

And for the woman traveller in your life, this is THE book for her. Readings around the country and new interviews posted regularly are generating a great deal of interest in the anthology...

Through travel, have you overcome any fears or obstacles?

At heart, I think of myself as a shy worrier. However, when I mention this description to friends, they laugh at me. I’ve conducted human rights work in the West Bank and been an electoral supervisor in Bosnia. I’ve heard bullets whiz past my ears and spent an evening drinking tea with nomadic men on the edge of the Sahara. In South Africa, I lived alone in the country that statistically is known as the murder and rape capital of the world. It’s a mystery to me how these experiences started to accrue. And yet, they have and I’ve become braver for them.

As travelers, we spin ourselves around the globe with only a credit card and a passport for protection. And more often than not, the experiences that come to us are positive ones. In all of my decades of travel, I can think of only one time when things were actually dangerous (and it wasn’t in a war zone). So yes, travel has allowed me to privilege curiosity over fear, adventure over worry. I can’t imagine who I would be without my years of traveling to and living in different countries. So although I still worry about having to ask a stranger for directions and I still obsess about keeping my travel documents safe; I now know the joy of travel so far outweighs the problems.  

What advice can you give to women who want to start traveling?

Do it. Don’t let the voice inside your head dictate or limit your life experiences. Whenever I go somewhere I make sure that there are places or people where I can land. Plan to do more than sightsee. As a writer, these places are often writing retreats or visiting writer friends, but that’s only one way to go. If there is a painting you’ve always wanted to see, you could create a trip around visiting that painting-- or perhaps there is a famous restaurant in Spain you’ve always wanted to try. We live our lives only once. One. That’s not a very big number. I’d hate to miss anything because of my own self-imposed fears.

I am not a brave woman, but I have had travel experiences that have taught me to be braver. The challenges I’ve overcome as a traveler have translated into the skills I need to live my everyday life.

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  1. It's a lovely interview, Susan.

  2. Thanks Maureen,

    I had fun doing it -I hope that shows!