Mother | Worldschooler | Traveler | Peace Corps Mali ‘98-’00 | Top Writer: Parenting, Travel | Founder of Deliberate Detour. Read more

Table of Contents | A collection of my most popular stories. At the beginning of each month, I update this list, highlighting what my readers consider my most compelling stories…

5 tips on how to publish it anyway

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Photo: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Writers write for different reasons. We may use words to process an event or tragedy, unraveling our convoluted thoughts. We may plug a void with our voice or perspective. We may be attracted to the craft itself, using metaphor or other literary devices to express our ideas. We may share our expertise with a wider community.

I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever. - Stephen King, On Writing

While our motivations may differ, writers do share one type of experience: every so often, we’re unable to complete a story. …

How to travel well in 2021

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Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Grounded travelers around the world are tired of waiting. You’ve been gazing at family members or roommates across the living room for almost a year, and your heart craves views of Dubrovnik’s red walls, Costa Rica’s green jungles, and Thailand’s blue water. The most fidgety of you are planning your next journey before being vaccinated.

Formerly overcrowded destinations sit empty. Deals and discounts abound. Airfare is inexpensive.

Some of you cannot resist.

We’re not here, in this article together, to discuss the ethics of your decision. We’re here to discuss how to travel well, how to travel right.

(My family and I canceled a year-long around-the-world trip due to COVID-19, and we anxiously and eagerly hope to reschedule soon. We’re choosing to wait, though, for our vaccinations.) …

The world welcomes 2021 in fascinating ways

Two people in masks holding 2021 candles and a sparkler.
Two people in masks holding 2021 candles and a sparkler.
Photo: Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock

As people around the world settle into 2021 with hope in their hearts and visions of vaccines in their veins, they’re not all fighting off hangovers like many Americans do on January 1. Instead, they may be removing yellow underwear or reaching for potatoes under the bed.

Various rich — and sometimes bizarre — New Year’s traditions around the world may bring blessings, abundance, and treasure in the year to come.

Some of my favorite New Year’s practices from around the world.


  • Germans might melt wax figures (which were traditionally lead) in a spoon over a candle. …

Travel and Mali

A true tale from Mali

West African woman with a child on her back cooking over a fire.
West African woman with a child on her back cooking over a fire.
Photo: Robertonencini/Shutterstock

The canvas bag slung across Issa’s body dripped with blood. The sack changed from its original flax color at his shoulder to crimson red by his belly to deep rust at his hip. At that hip, the bag hung with a weight of something large and ponderous.

Issa beamed. He laid down his machete, a two-foot-long straight piece of steel set into a battered wooden handle, and asked me excitedly if I wanted to see what he’d killed.

Typically, Issa presented bush rats or birds; the former his wife cooked and fed to the family, the latter his son used as a toy, tying it around the neck with a string and swinging it in wide arcs. …

How profound life lessons can come from this approach to travel

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Photo: Eldar Nurkovic/Shutterstock

When we’re not craving a relaxing, slothful beach vacation, we’re often wanting our international travel experiences to be deep, meaningful, and transformative. How do we make that happen? With each of us carrying around our own complex stew of morals, fears, challenges, and strengths, we develop dozens of orientations toward travel planning.

What type of travel planner are you?

Perhaps you are well-researched and take pleasure in a detailed itinerary, knowing you won’t miss out on any sites, pieces of art, or a desired culinary epiphany. You carry a binder.

Instead, maybe you hire a travel agent, book a tour that spans the length of the trip or schedule a series of guides in each city. …

They might just change your life

Women selling produce in a market in Hoi An, Vietnam
Women selling produce in a market in Hoi An, Vietnam
Photo: Boris-B/Shutterstock

Traveling fearlessly and with an open mind unlocks experiences you couldn’t have orchestrated, yielding not just dinner party stories once you’re home, but moments that could transform you and your traveling companions into better world citizens.

An altered worldview and profound personal growth don’t happen all at once, and of course, require multiple powerful moments layered up over time.

Sometimes you don’t even know they’re happening.

You stop to watch a man mixing a deep purple drink at a food cart in Peru, and the next thing you know, you’re taking your first sip of chicha morada with him and his cronies on the curb. You turn a corner in Mahabalipuram, and a teacher invites you to talk about your country to her students; you spend an unexpectedly powerful few hours playing with Indian children with bright smiles. …

How to approach world travel differently

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Photo: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

In the United States, people often use the verb “to do” when talking about travel. “We really want to do France when the borders open back up.” “We did Morocco, and it was fabulous!”

That verb always stops me in my tracks and draws me out of the conversation. The flippancy inherent in that verb, when used about a travel destination, makes my skin crawl.

We do lunch. We do our hair. We do…other things. Here’s why we shouldn’t “do” countries.

We dismiss the richness of the place.

To say we’ve done Egypt, for example, diminishes the meaning of the place for millions of people who live there. They raise their children there; they contribute to their communities; they work to improve their way of life. …

How the mighty have fallen

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Photo: ventdusud/Shutterstock

At age 15, I first noticed the allure of the United States. That summer, I traveled to Greece as an exchange student where I lived with a host family in Thessaloniki, in the north of Greece, who had a summer home in a beach town nearby. My two host sisters, one my age and one a few years younger, spent summer days lounging on the sand with friends and evenings at open-air discotheques.

For a girl from Puritanical New England, the lifestyle felt dreamy and fascinating.

And to the Greeks, I was fascinating simply due to my nationality. They marveled at my Levi’s jeans. Were they real Levi’s, they wondered? Were they cheaper than in Greece, where one pair was barely affordable? How many did I own? Oh, and had I seen Patrick Swayze or Andrew McCarthy walking down the streets (this being 1990, after all)? …

And how they apply to any entrepreneurial endeavor.

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Photo credit: Eva Darron

I spent much of my 20s confused about a suitable career choice. I graduated college with a degree in English and a minor in Psychology and hoped my subsequent stint in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa would clarify a career path.

Prior to that adventure, I’d lived abroad as an exchange student twice in high school and once in college, so the international realm held interest for me.

While I felt hopeful about a career in international development, my years in Africa, which illuminated the complexity of international travel and global aid, disavowed me of that notion.

As I settled down in the U.S., I knew one thing: world travel had changed me so positively and so irrevocably that I wished everyone could immerse deeply into other cultures. I understood the power of travel to create tolerance, nurture empathy, open minds, and broaden worldviews, and I knew too many Americans who needed their ethnocentric tendencies challenged and their stereotypes shattered. …

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