Explore the World in the Company of Women
Way back in the ’90s, readers and critics alike loved the stories of women travelers in A Woman’s World, which won a Lowell Thomas Gold Medal for Best Travel Book. Twelve years later, best-selling author and editor Marybeth Bond continues to champion women’s travel in A Woman’s World Again with thirty-three remarkable journeys ranging from the middle of nowhere to middle America. Whether they are exploring identity in Ireland, sharing tea with a carpet seller in Turkey, or apprenticing with the silversmiths of Niger, these women will inspire you to create your own adventures.
- Learn the samba and keep the rhythm in Brazil
- Reach the summit of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
- Get the makeover of your life from the women of the Dominican Republic
- Discover the appeal of the Virgin Mary in Mexico
- Encounter an alternative view of death and dying in India
- Feel the hunger pangs of Hemingway while studying in Paris
- Flirt and get that warm fuzzy feeling on a Sicilian farm…and much more
Praise for A Woman’s World
“A rare pleasure.” —Travel & Leisure
“A wondrous journey into the heart of womanhood.” —Shape Magazine
“Lyrical, magical and evocative.” —Yakima-Herald Republic
“Pack your bags.” —Self Magazine
“Fascinating perspective of women on the go.” —The Miami Herald
“Funny and wise.” —San Francisco Chronicle
By Marybeth Bond
My writing career began in a most unconventional way. After college and graduate school, I moved from one corporate job to another. I found myself building a career I did not really want. At twenty-nine I realized I was stuck in a successful but unsatisfying job in the high tech industry in San Francisco. I was living in a velvet coffin: cultivated life, tasteful possessions, and plenty of money. But I was bored, dissatisfied, and had no passion for my life. I dated but couldn’t find a “Mr. Right.” I wasn’t ready to settle down to marriage, mortgage, and the white picket fence. I had to do something to get a new perspective on my life and to find the gusto I’d lost. But what? And how?
While visiting my parents in Ohio, I found a box of faded yellow National Geographic magazines in the attic. Leafing through issue after issue reminded me of a childhood dream of traveling around the world. My unfulfilled dream spurred me to action.
A year later, after much saving and planning, I quit my job, put my car, clothing, and career in storage, and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. Why Bangkok? It sounded exotic. I took a sleeping pill on the flight because I was terrified of traveling alone. In fact, I had very little experience in being alone. I had never eaten in a restaurant or gone to a movie without a companion. While some friends thought (and told me) I was nuts, I traveled “single and solo” for two years around the world. It was during my travels that I discovered the “gutsy woman” within and rekindled my passion for life. I found a new purpose: to give women advice, support, and the courage to get out and see the world.
For two years I walked, hiked, climbed, cycled, swam, and kayaked my way through six continents and more than seventy countries, from the depths of the Flores Sea to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, across the Himalayas and the Sahara Desert. I lived with nomads in the Thar Desert of India, Sherpa families in Nepal, the Black Thai hill tribes in Northeast Vietnam, Gamelan musicians in Bali, Gaelic dairy farmers on the Dingle Peninsula, and I even met my future husband, an American trekker, in Kathmandu.
When I got home, Sel and Outside magazines interviewed me about my solo travels. Outside put me on the cover. My travels led me to a career in travel writing; from City Sports, ivillage.com, national newspapers and magazines to creating the books A Woman’s Worldand Gutsy Women. These all helped me fulfill my need to encourage women to “just go.”
The success of these books led to more books: A Woman’s Passion for Travel, A Woman’s Europe, A Woman’s Asia, A Mother’s World, and Gutsy Mamas. Each book reflected my changing life and travel experiences. Gutsy Women even led me to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
After I married Gary, the American trekker I met in Kathmandu, a new chapter of my life began. I shared in the responsibility of parenting and mortgages. For several years my exotic travels gave way to domestic family vacations and business trips. As my books became more popular, I appeared on national television and spoke at international corporate conferences. I participated in literary festivals and presented to women’s groups as an advocate for women’s travel. Speaking to audiences of women stimulated me to write more books and to share stories and wisdom about life on the road.
Fortunately my family life didn’t end my wanderlust and opportunities to travel. Instead we began to travel together. In the last decade, my husband and I have taken our girls to Indonesia, Thailand, Europe, Mexico, and camping across the United States. We survived the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand, “Euro-trekking” with backpacks and rail passes across Europe, and youth hostels in defunct lighthouses along the Pacific Coast. We have bunked down in remote villages in the homes of the Karen Tribe in Northern Thailand and camped with the Navajo on tribal lands in Arizona. We lived with and shared in the daily lives of two Mexican families (in Cuernavaca and San Miguel de Allende) while attending language school. Other families hosted us in their homes in Switzerland, Luxembourg, and France. What did we learn along the way? We discovered that language, culture, and age are not barriers to communication and new friendships.
Through an astounding range of encounters worldwide, I have witnessed that where women go, relationships follow. We move in and out of the lives of the people we meet along the way. The shared experience of nurturing creates a strong bond between us. For many women travelers, including myself, the most meaningful memories involved the people with whom we connected on the journey. Women—complete strangers—have reached out and helped me when I was lost, lonely, or unsure of myself, from Marrakech to Machu Picchu.
My books are a way for me to give back to all those generous women. A Woman’s World Again is my attempt to reach out to female travelers with encouragement and inspiration, through my own stories and those of other bold, courageous women. There is still a great need for advice, support, and a nudge to go out and explore our beautiful planet.
My mother used to tell her three daughters, “Give the best you have to the world, and the best will come back to you.” This collection of women’s travel stories includes just a few of the best experiences women’s travel has to offer. May these stories help you on your journey through life and on the road.
Pulling the Trigger on a Trip
SUSAN VAN ALLEN
On the Fence
One Night on Moses Mountain
DULCE M. GRAY
The Kind of Traveler I Am
MARY TOLARO NOYES
Joy on Kilimanjaro
Abandoned in Uzbekistan
STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST
April in Paris
The Etiquette of Apple Tea
A Place Prepared
How to Strangle a Pigeon
BETH E. MARTINSON
Pilgrimages to the Edge
EILEEN M. CUNNIFFE
A Gringa Learns to Samba
Horns for the Revolution
Walking Backward in the Land of the Buddha
ALEXIS SATHRE WOLFF
In the Dust of His Peacock’s Feathers
The Virgin of Guadalupe
A Conversation in the Dark
Fasting in Paradise
Fast Train to Paris
KATHLEEN HAMILTON GÜNDOGDU
Pilgrimage to Jackson
GALE RENEE WALDEN
The Tuesday Pineapple
Waiting to Die
Taking the Cure in Bulgaria
Woman in the Land of Wa
Killing Me Softly
ANDREA G. FISCHER
Sample Chapter: Pulling the Trigger on a Trip
by Susan Van Allen
How do you know when to say “Yes”?
“I used to be the kind of person who could make decisions,” I tell my shrink as I stretch out on the stiff gray couch. “I mean shouldn’t a woman in her forties be in a position to easily say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a pop-up ad for an airfare sale to Rome, instead of feeling tormented?” It’s these little things that really drive home the fact that my life has become one big unsalvageable mess.
In the silence that follows my outburst, I know he’s giving me time to look deep inside and answer that question myself. Ouch…the thought of leaving town and saving money on these excruciating weekly sessions—using it for something like a plane ticket—seems very appealing. The poor doctor would probably be relieved to have his Wednesday afternoons free of the monotonous saga of my life’s holding patterns. The dilemma of the moment is that of course I want to leap at this airfare sale, but my leaping mechanism is fouled up by a horrid condition I call Traveler’s Block.
Has all that talk about the rising Euro and advice about how a woman in my age bracket should be focused on saving for retirement seeped in and put my Holly Golightly years behind me? No, it’s more like the TB (Traveler’s Block) is rooted in a slow-simmering “I don’t know what’s going to happen next” panic. As in, a freelance writer who doesn’t know where her next paycheck is coming from cannot simply click-click and fly off to Italy…or can she?…or should she?
I could take my friend Mark’s advice. “Buy a non-refundable ticket,” is what he says to anyone “between jobs” in Los Angeles. According to Mark, who works as a freelance film editor, buying a non-refundable airplane ticket has gotten him work every time.
I call him from the car when I leave the shrink and he urges me to make the leap, rattling away in his bulldozing style: “Just make sure the ticket’s absolutely non-refundable and comes with a fat penalty for changing dates. You’ve gotta treat the L.A. business as though it’s a boyfriend who’s not stepping up to the plate. The minute you make a commitment to date someone else—WHAM! Boyfriend Number One is on his knees begging you to come back with the proposal and the ring. Trust me, it’s the only way.”
I give him back some nice “uh-huhs” while thinking his non-refundable advice absolutely cuckoo. With a nearly maxed out credit card, I am in no position to play Mark’s risky game or to even think about travel.
People who think about travel have life plans, steady incomes, dental plans that fully cover root canals. They have those solid jobs that come with vacation time. They’re people like my friend Pam, who calls to tell me that she and two other couples have booked a villa in Provence for the spring vacation two years from now. I can’t make a decision about what I’m doing in two days, never mind two years. At this point, I get sent into a spin when I’m at the supermarket and the cashier asks, “Paper or plastic?”
All I do know is I’ve got to stick around, write spec upon spec, keep my feelers out, check job-site after job-site on the internet…. Which is what I was doing when the ad zapped on to my screen. “do not click—do not!” screamed my inner killjoy.
After sending out two pitch letters with clips, temptation took hold of my devilish right hand, which shot out to click open that ad. Why did they have to include the most beautiful photographs—the Spanish Steps blanketed by pale magenta azaleas in bloom, gushing fountains all lit up in the Piazza Navona? Why can’t it be a bargain fare to any place else but Rome—la citta eterna that tugs at my heart—where on every visit that deep sense of home shoots through me the moment my plane touches down…Rome!
On the phone with my sister, who calls to offer her support through my down time, I joke about chucking it all and heading off to Italy. She finds the idea hysterical—married with children and no ups and downs in her financial department, my lifestyle offers her constant amusement. I blab away, “Yeah, like I’d just disappear for a while and get inspired by great art and beautiful people who don’t care about plastic surgery—wouldn’t that be just nuts?” There’s an edge to her laugh, as if she’s holding back panic, imagining me showing up on her doorstep, destitute and begging to crash in her basement for the rest of my life.
I hang up and mutter defenses: “I mean, isn’t traveling at the drop of a hat one of the perks of freelancing? Aren’t these life-enriching experiences necessary for a writer?” Then I see sister’s face before me: “Admit it, you’re just trying to escape reality.”
I need to do something with that damn ad. I forward it to my Italophile galfriend, Louise. She instantly e-mails back: “Are you going?” and comes up strong against what she calls my “lame-ass excuses” with: “If you don’t spend the money on that it’ll go to your teeth or your car. Years from now you think you’ll regret it? You think you’ll be sitting in some ratty dive when you’re seventy-five eating cat food, complaining: Oh, if I hadn’t spent that money on that trip to Italy I’d be in much better financial shape now?
Well, maybe if something drops out of the sky before the fare sale deadline on Friday, I could consider it.… I could get an assignment for a couple of months from now and then squeeze this trip in as a little celebratory gift to myself. Who knows what could happen?
Aaaghhh.… Why can’t all of this I shouldn’t go/maybe I should/I can’t/maybe I can just resolve itself? I need some sure sign—a burst of a red light that will keep me confidently in L.A. or a green light that could allow me to move forward with absolute assurance to go ahead and buy that ticket.
Betsy, my old friend from San Francisco, calls while I’m back at the computer. As she fills me in on her latest moneymaking scheme, I multi-task. Just for a laugh, I get back on that airline site and punch in some departure and return dates. I stare at the screen as Betsy, who ran a mega-bucks dot com biz in the late 90s, jabbers on about her plan for a new project that’s sure to revive her company, and somehow I’m zapped to a reservation form. I freeze until my session gets timed out. I get booted off as Betsy switches the topic to a friend of hers I’ve met a couple of times: “Kathy felt a lump…”
I cradle the phone with my shoulder and use both hands to reach under my shirt and do that exam I forget to do every month, as Betsy goes on about the horrors of chemo and shaky diagnoses. Everything feels okay.
Betsy finishes up with: “So you never know what’s going to happen. And how are you?”
“I’m fine,” I tell her. “In fact, I’m going to Italy in a couple of weeks.”
The excitement and relief that rushes over me as I click “submit” is absolutely non-refundable.
* * *Susan Van Allen
is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for National Public Radio’s Savvy Traveler and Marketplace, CNN.com, newspapers, magazines, web sites, and the television show Everybody Loves Raymond
. She travels to Italy as often as possible, to visit relatives, eat and drink well, bike through the countryside, wander through museums, and enjoy the flirtations of those handsome Italian men.
Marybeth Bond has not always been a Gutsy Woman. At summer camp, when she was ten years old, she was nicknamed “Misty” because she had a bad case of homesickness. Not one of her counselors would have predicted a traveling future for her. However, several decades later, Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived, and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world, from the depths of the Flores Sea to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. She studied in Paris for four years, earned two degrees, and had a business career in marketing.
At twenty-nine, she took off again, this time to travel alone around the world. These two years of travel changed her life. She met her future husband, an American, in Kathmandu, Nepal, and she returned to begin a new career as a writer, consultant, and lecturer. Since then she has given lectures around the world at such venues as the Explorers Club and Asia Society in New York.
Marybeth’s first book, A Woman’s World, is a bestseller and won the Lowell Thomas Gold Medal for Best Travel Book from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. It is an eloquent collection of women’s writing that paints a rich portrait of what it means to be a woman today.
Marybeth was a featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, with her book Gutsy Women. As a nationally recognized travel expert and media personality, Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX TV, and National Public Radio. She was the “Smart Traveler” radio host for the nationally syndicated Outside Radio show and the travel expert/columnist for the Travel Channel on ivillage.com, a women’s online network. She was also the “Travel Expert” for CBS’s Evening Magazine. She is currently the Adventure Editor for travelgirl magazine and the Spokesperson for AAA, Northern California. Follow along with her at www.gutsytraveler.com.
Marybeth has two children and a husband, and lives in Northern California. She travels as much as she can—with her family, her friends, or alone.
Other Books by Marybeth Bond
A Woman’s World
A Woman’s Passion for Travel
A Mother’s World
A Woman’s Europe
A Woman’s Asia
50 Best Girlfriends Getaways in North America