I spent my first 18 years in the northern suburbs of Chicago. My family was your average mild class Jewish clan clinging to the American dream; my grandparents worked in factories, as secretaries, and skilled construction. My parents were the first generation to obtain college degrees. Vacations as I knew them involved stuffing my parents, grandparents, sister, and me into our rusted blue sedan, then driving four hours to a resort in Michigan filled with elderly Jews and mold. World travel was not something I ever expected to do.
However, during my sophomore year of college, I was fortunate to be accepted into a special program at my university. The program offered supplemental cultural activities, like concerts and lectures. It also, once a year, took students on a heavily subsidized trip over winter break. That year, the group planned a 12 day journey to Italy, where they inherited a property in Florence. Although the entire cost to students for airfare, lodging, and two meals (breakfast and dinner) was $100, I initially did not plan to go. Although 'd always wanted to see the museums of Florence, I only had a month off of school, during which I planned to go home to see my family. Also, I was nervous to go to a place where I did not speak the language. Plus, I thought that I should work over my break. My parents saw the opportunity for what it was and insisted that I go. It changed the way I thought about the world.
In Italy, I discovered that I was competent enough to get around on public transportation even when I didn't understand the local language. I could order food and locate bathrooms. I discovered that people want to help others find their way around town and see what is wonderful about where they live. I found that it was fun to explore in a foreign land, even to get lost a little bit. My trip made me look at the world and my own country a little bit differently. I couldn't wait to go on another trip.
Since that fateful first Atlantic crossing, I've been to Germany (Berlin, Meissen, Dresden, and Munich), the Czech Republic (Prague, Pilsen), England (London), France (Paris), Argentina (Buenos Aires), Italy (Florence, Rome, Milan), India (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra), the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo and the southwest part of the country), Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tiberias), Switzerland (Zurich), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, albeit only for a day when I missed a connecting flight). I've learned something about other cultures on every trip, which is also true of all the places that I've subsequently also been to in the United States. Travel made me more patient, more open to new experiences, more tolerant.
Syvia Rimm, the author of See Jane Win: The Rimm Report on How 1,000 Girls Became Successful Women, recommends travel as an important element of girls' lives. She notes that, "Travel provides a spirit of adventure, enrichment, family bonding, and self-confidence." Exactly! The sense of independence that I got from my first trip abroad was great. It's great if people can travel with girls when they are young, but it is never too late to reap the benefits of travel.
When it comes to travel, most travel magazines are driven by advertising, and women are targeted in the most stereotypical ways. This is why I don't bother reading them. I don't like spas. I don't like sequestered luxury resorts that hide the social reality of the place I visit. I don't want to eat in hip expensive restaurants or shop at the trendiest boutiques. Thus, I haven't been this excited about a travel magazine (online or off) in, oh, ever, but Galavanting (and the Galavanting blog, A View from a Broad) is right up my alley. Their mission:
When it comes to travel, we believe women are interested in more than just fashion & style columns and reviews of ludicrously expensive resorts. We know that not every female is in search of the world's perfect facial. And that women without trust funds travel too.
need more inspiration or tips on how to finance a trip? Women of all ages will enjoy the spectrum of blogs at Wanderlust and Lipstick. Nerd's Eye View is written by BlogHer contributing editor Pam Mandel and is amazing. Pam has written extensively on ways to work travel into tight budgets, something that is particularly relevant to most people in these difficult economic times.
The point is that travel is something that women and girls benefit from for a lifetime. It's not just for the wealthy, and it can be critical to success in life. When a woman travels, she's going somewhere in all senses.
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