What’s a common activity among travelers?
And why not? Not only is reading a great way to learn something new, it also can calm the mind and reduce stress.
And Vera Marie Badertscher should know.
Vera is the founder of A Traveler’s Library – a website that suggests books, movies, music, and more for travelers who want to learn about new destinations before they go.
Learn Vera’s best books for women travelers, the pros and cons of using a Kindle, and her favorite female authors in this exclusive interview…
Interview with Vera Marie Badertscher
What are your three favorite books for women travelers? Why?
For a country-specific and woman-specific book, you can’t beat 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go, by Susan Van Allen. Van Allen gives you a guide to Italy that includes things that specifically are of interest to women–like the cult of Venus, women chefs, etc.
I think it is instructive to read books by women travelers who were real pioneers. There were many women who traveled boldly and wrote engagingly, but my favorite is Freya Stark, who traveled to exotic locales, usually alone, in the first half of the twentieth century. I’ve reviewed a couple of her books and have one on my T.B.R. (To Be Read) pile right now.
But for the most part, women travelers should read the same things that men travelers should read, and it all depends on interests–where you want to go and what you like to do. My taste runs to historic and cultural travel, but other women might want to read adventure stories.
What are your three favorite movies for women travelers?
- My favorite travel-inspiring movie not only is not a “woman’s movie”, but it would offend many women. Yet it’s setting drew me to Belgium, home of lace-making and chocolate and beer. The movie is “In Brugge.”
- For a sentimental oldie that will have women wanting to go to Italy, you can’t beat “Three Coins in A Fountain.”
- I watched dozens of movies set in France when I was preparing to go there. I think the movie that best showed off Paris was Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”
What are your three favorite literary destinations for women travelers? Why?
- I think English-speaking readers are going to want to make a bee-line for the moors of England and revisit the territory of the Brontes, or take a tour of Bath and Sussex, Devonshire, London and other Jane Austin locales.
- My own first goal in travel was to visit the Greece of the myths and the great Greek dramas like Medea.
- Paris of course is a draw for following the American ex-pats of the twenties and thirties like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Lawrence. I know it sounds a bit stereotypical, but I do believe that women are interested in the domestic life and families of writers instead of just stopping with the words on the page. So seeing where a writer lived and worked helps bring the work to life.
What are the pros and cons of reading a Kindle vs. regular book?
I like being able to write in margin. Electronic notes are not the same because they will not last forever. Which brings up the biggest advantage I can think of to printed books.
Electronics go out of date and the data disappears while books have survived for hundreds of years.
And I like to gift books to others after I read them.
I find it difficult to flip back and forth in an electronic book as I can in a “real” book.
On the other hand, of course it is nice to be able to take a library in my pocket when I travel.
Read also: 10 Things You Can’t Miss in Munich
How can women get new books while they travel?
You can find English language bookstores most anywhere you go, and often museum gift shops have good book collections. I like buying books about a place on site, or by local authors. Book store owners and librarians often can lead you to what you want locally.
Who are your three favorite female travel authors?
For online writers, I believe the best writing today is by Pam Mandel at Nerd’s Eye View.
What are your thoughts on guide books?
What you can get from a specialized guidebook is informed personal opinion instead of the sometimes questionable judgments that you get on Yelp or Trip Advisor (although I do consult those sources, too).
I like guidebooks that specialize in something like literature or history. (I highly recommend browsing through Interlink Books.)
Read also: 7 Tips to Stick to Your Holiday Budget
What is the greatest lesson you learned from your travels?
I can do a lot more than I thought I could.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman traveler?
I have not traveled alone so have not faced the problems faced by solo women travelers. So other than lacking physical strength to lift a suitcase up the stairs from one railroad track to another, I can’t think of any disadvantages.
What one piece of advice would you give for women travelers?
Always keep in mind that the way people in other cultures do things is not better or worse than your own. It is just different.
How have your travels changed you and your writing?
I have learned that others may see my words differently than I do. While I am generally outspoken about my opinions, I try to leave room for others’ opinions and not take offense if they do not agree.
Any other thoughts or advice for our women readers?
- Do something you are a little afraid of.
- Don’t be afraid to carry a small vocabulary dictionary with you when you’re in a foreign country and talk to someone other than the waiters and taxi drivers.
- Leave space on your schedule for serendipity.