I have this obsession with fun dinner party games, and a good one is always 20 Questions.  In the spirit of good times, good food, and getting to know me (albeit, virtually), let’s pretend your time here on my site is our first date.  Here are 20 Random Questions and my answers.

Frankly, I have been traveling from the get-go.  My first travel experience was strapped to my parents’ back as an infant, headed from Nepal to India, continuing from there through Italy and Greece. I’ve been at home at 30,000 feet ever since

Despite having traveled thousands of times across thousands of miles, I am still not thrilled with rough turbulence.  Thankfully, I’ve never had a truly traumatizing experience, but I’ve embarrassingly grabbed the hand of a stranger a couple of times!

That time I fed him cheese sticks that had been in my purse for at least 3 days of travel without refrigeration.  He returned the favor by throwing up in a cab about 2 hours later.  Repeatedly.  I don’t recommend attempting to recreate this moment and I am much more mindful of the snacks in my purse!

I had the opportunity to do a trip to the Arctic Circle, to the breathtaking Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.  It was a big solo trip and the quiet, peace and the proximity to nature was truly inspiring. I want to wake up with that feeling every day.

Having traveled my whole life, it’s always been easier to just say that there are very few places I don’t want to go.  Motherhood didn’t change that.  What did change is more focused on the “how” and “what” we do together.  I try to be cognizant of how many hours we are on the road, try to include some downtime to just “be”. We do a lot of pre-travel planning and prep together and it’s such a joy to have his input. Most of all, making sure there is time for myself and the little guy to connect.

Bring your own refillable water bottle whenever possible!  We are drowning our planet in single-use plastics and the wastefulness of plastic bottled water is just appalling.  We must do better.

My time living in Phnom Penh truly cemented my love for karaoke, such fun memories.  Bring me the mike!  I love it and I cannot lie. My signature tune is “Flashdance… What a Feeling” by Irene Cara and I make no apologies for this.  Somewhere out in the ether, I am sadly confident that there is a video of such a “performance”.

This is impossible for me to narrow down to one.  I am a huge devourer of books.  I’ve only recently been able to ween myself off the printed word and move to e-books, particularly when borrowing from the library for a trip. I do still adore pouring over pages and writing my own notes in margins though. 

From a travel perspective, I really love Anthony Bourdain’s very irreverent point of view.  I really appreciated that he took the time to sit down with regular people and get to know them, and I never got a sense that he was in it for the fame or looking to earn a buck by appropriating others’ stories.

That being said, Mr. Bourdain does present his viewpoint through the lens of the white male.  I think we continue to struggle to give a voice to much broader representation in the travel writing space.  To that end, I encourage you to seek out local authors who write about their experiences, their home, their history.  I absolutely adore finding local bookstores in my journeys where I can get my hands on local authors more easily.

Generally speaking, I try not to gain too much extra to carry along the way, mainly the photos that I will treasure.  I have acquired some local art, either print or sculpture; I like supporting local artists.  I do have a treasured collection of masks that has been growing for over 20 years.  Since my son joined the journey, we try to collect an ornament (or something that can function as an ornament) to put on our Christmas tree.  Decorating the tree has since become a joyful trip down memory lane as we recall the trips where we collected these treasures.

Years ago, I was visiting Singapore for a team meeting.  My local team members honored me by ordering a “century egg” on my last day, just before I headed to the airport to begin the long journey home.  I generally have a “you have to try it” motto, but I can’t lie, this was tough.  This is an egg that has been preserved or fermented for months in a mixture of clay, ash, and other substances.  While I did manage to eat this with the help of a beer, this story did not end well!

I try to be good about getting the dirty clothes into the laundry so that I can clean and air the luggage.  I typically spray the luggage down and clean it to some extent.  I am seriously grossed out by what my luggage may have touched on its journey, LOL.  Where are my germaphobes at? #germaphobesunite

Ginger Ale.  Bonus points if there is some Seagram’s 7 or Makers Mark added in!  When all else fails, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc will fit the bill.  And water!  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Find something you are comfortable with and just do it.  If you have hesitations, you don’t need to start with a trip to remote Africa or a multi-country multi-week Europe excursion.  Take a weekend road trip to somewhere not too far from you, a camping trip, a new city destination, or a long weekend getaway with a single flight (no connections).  You can even start with a new part of your own home location that you haven’t previously explored!  Find your personal comfort zone and build on it.  Confidence will come with time and experience. Most of all, drown out the naysayers.  Find your team, we are out here doing it, and are happy to give advice and support! 

I think there is a lot of “fake” out there, and a lot of misrepresentation of what travel is.  Lots of accounts have started showing “behind the scenes” so you can get a better sense of what is really happening to create the image you see.  But my brain thinks, well why create a fake misrepresentation to begin with?  Regardless, it has created some true burden on spots that are just being crushed for “the perfect shot”, abuse of animals being used for photographs, and a lack of respect while taking pictures.  Through the stories I cover, I hope people can start to connect more on the “experience” level rather than the perfect “selfie” and think a little deeper about the impact of their journey.  We owe that to each other and the planet.

I definitely think the demand for travel is poised and ready.  People are anxious to get out there and start exploring with gusto.  It will be a while before it starts to look more like pre-pandemic travel (though I am hopeful as I see announcements about the lifting of quarantine requirements, particularly for people who are vaccinated).

I do hope, however, that this time of quiet has in some way helped reset our priorities as we travel. We have a responsibility to consider how and where we travel, to be kind to those we engage with, to be mindful of our own privilege.

To date: 5 — ✔Taj Mahal (India), ✔Colosseum (Italy), ✔Chichen Itza (Mexico), ✔Petra (Jordan), ✔Machu Picchu (Peru)

Christ the Redeemer (Brazil) and the Great Wall of China are calling me!

I am totally a window seat person, not only for the view on takeoff and landing but also so I can lean on it to sleep.  Something about being in the air makes me instantly sleepy!!  I hate the aisle, I feel like you are constantly getting bumped by people, their luggage, and hospitality carts.

So many!  But I’m really loving the content from:

@localpassportfamily – Preethi, like me, is a person of color.  I truly appreciate what she has to say about the privilege of travel and the importance of representation.

@themomtrotter – Karen, her husband, and her son (who is the same age as mine) are showing how families can pay down debt and own their own future, as well as travel on a budget. She also has an honest point of view about stereotypes that black families face in the travel space. She is fun and engaging and I’m hoping to meet her in person this year!

@packslight – Gabby has spunk. She is the girl I wish was my partner in crime when I was in my early 20s.  She is paying it forward, sharing tips for young people looking for opportunities and funding to make their travel dreams come true.  She is an excellent role model and living her best life, showing how to build a “untraditional” career, as a travel content creator, solo traveler, and woman of color.

Antarctica.  I dream of spending a month just soaking in the quiet and the serenity and nature.  I’m really hoping we continue to protect this very special place that remains truly the most natural and untouched place on earth but is being impacted a little more each day by climate change and the strain we put on our oceans.

Sylvia Earle is nothing short of a hero.  She is a trailblazer, a champion, and a role model among role models.  She has paved the way for women in science, demonstrating to little girls everywhere that their voices matter in science and research.  Her resume reads as a long list of “firsts”, and at 86, she hasn’t rested in her efforts to educate on conservation and the importance of our oceans, regularly scuba dives, and leading the charge of her organization, Mission Blue.

I don’t just want to meet her.  I want to sit and marinate in her awesomeness and head 60 feet under the sea with her!

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