Friday, May 7, 2010

What in the world is all this travel for?

I get a lot of questions posted to me by email and Facebook and Twitter (and sometimes even in person). But one I don’t get very often is the one posted above. After all, what is my raison d’etre for getting out and going and doing these things?

The simplest answer is that I have an incurable sense of wanderlust. When I was in my early 20s this manifested itself in a need to move house about once every six months to a year… we moved 10 times in 8 years around Arkansas. When we landed here at our house in Little Rock, we decided we were done with that. Since that decision in 2001, we’ve tended to take weekends seriously and go explore wherever we could reach by car, sort of a method of therapy from the news business.

Then I left the TV station and started doing this. Well, it was never as simple as that. I started writing this blog when I left the station and I found I enjoyed just going out on a drive and finding something to document (see A Block of Malvern for a good example). Then there was that first magazine that wanted me to do travelogues. Suddenly I find myself taking planes to destinations here and there and hopping around the U.S. And that was thrilling, but two things grounded me -- (a) I wasn’t really getting paid enough to cover that sort of travel and make a living (at the time), and (b) I got pregnant. The latter was a lovely planned thing but it did take me off the road for a while.

In December 2008 our daughter Hunter arrived, and that certainly turned my world over. It took a lot to even dream of leaving her behind for the slightest bit of time, so she traveled with me (thanks to help from my mom and my husband), and we started crossing the borders again.

Well, she’s 17 months old now, and somehow I manage to convince myself that I should go travel again -- now it really is a monetary issue, with newspapers and magazines paying me decent contracts for my work. It’s always hard, but I’m comforted by the fact that most people have to leave their kids for eight to ten hours a day to go to work. For me, it’s a couple of days a month. When I’m in-state, she’s usually with me, and when I’m at home I write around her schedule.

That does get me away from what I was going to talk about -- which is why I travel and why I share those travels. Frankly, I like to tell a good story -- and there are tons of good stories out there, in places and things and people. I tend to lean hard towards food-related stories, because there’s nothing more intimate in this world (on a wide-scale basis) than the sharing of meals. Food is the universal language that transcends politics, religion and even bad accents. It’s something that can be celebrated.

Now you may have noticed that this website’s received a bit of rearrangement lately. I wanted to be able to share more of what I do and who I do it with -- hence the links in the right hand column. Scroll down and you’ll discover other bloggers who are featured through Lonely Planet, people who have really gotten out in the world and done something with their travels. With these chronicles, you can share a more intimate experience of their world and perhaps learn a bit about yours.

See, this world travel is something not everyone has the opportunity to do. But you can experience it right from your own computer, right now. And really, how cool is that?

There is an easier way to experience those world travels, though. We're all gathered together, all us Lonely Planet bloggers, at Squidoo. So click through and wander the world. Me? I'm on the bottom. My travels far a-field are still limited to where I can get in the states... for now.

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