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

Guide to my most popular stories | February 15, 2021 Twice per month month, I update this list, highlighting what my readers consider my most compelling stories. Medium has named me Top Writer in Travel and Parenting, and I dabble in other topics as well.

New + Noteworthy

Newest story: Stories of Adventure and Calamity Make Us Who We Are

Most viewed in the last two weeks: So You’ve Decided to Travel Abroad During the Pandemic

Newest Travel: What We Lost When World Travel Ground to a Halt

Hidden gem: When You Decline the Dinner of Puff Adder Snake, You Know You’ve Arrived

Most Popular by Category


5 tips for making world travel meaningful for you and those you meet

Mother and her son are tourists and sit on a boat in the Mekong River, Vietnam.
Mother and her son are tourists and sit on a boat in the Mekong River, Vietnam.
Photo: Denis Moskinov/Shutterstock

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that individuals in one corner of the world can profoundly impact people in another corner. The emergence of a virulent virus in Asia can provoke the loss of 30 million jobs in the United States.

The closure of a factory in Mexico can create a dearth of produce in North America. The cessation of travel by wealthy residents of the Global North can compel desperate Kenyans to marry off their daughters as young as 9.

While millions of people have lost their lives, loved ones, homes, or livelihoods in the last 12 months, millions…

Travel- Quiz

A light-hearted quiz for those stuck at home

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Photo: qoppi/Shutterstock

As you wait to travel the world again, take this quiz to see what type of traveler you are. Mark your choices on a sheet of paper, and scroll to the bottom to learn how to score your answers.

  1. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
  • a.) Resting on a beach in Cancun
  • b.) At the Uffizi Gallery in Florence with the da Vincis and Botticellis
  • c.) Gazing up at the Parthenon in Greece
  • d.) Spending time at home with my best friend
  • e.) All of these sound great
  • f.) Hiking the Todra…

The power of the moment

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Photo: ymphotos/Shutterstock

We knew the bus had no windshield when we boarded it, but we felt unconcerned. Maybe we’d been in Africa too long at that point to be surprised. Perhaps we couldn’t envision what the ride might be like without glass. Maybe we didn’t care.

Jimmie and I knew enough to walk far down the aisle, though, and we settled into the back row of the bus. We’d chosen to travel at night hoping sleep would help the 12-hour journey pass more quickly.

As the vehicle made its way south, Mopti, the dusty city on the Niger River, had already begun…

And what to eagerly anticipate in 2021

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Photo: Sushiman/Shutterstock

Grounded travelers have been pacing the perimeter of our rooms like caged animals since March. Many of us have canceled more than one journey or forfeited visas. While it’s unsympathetic to complain when people are risking or losing their lives to COVID-19, we can certainly feel gloomy, fidgety, and confined.

Thankfully, the global community has come together to sustain one another as best we can.

Curious souls can stare at Bran Castle in Romania, the former home of Vlad the Impaler on whom Count Dracula is based, or watch people traverse intersections in Tokyo. British writer Robert Macfarlane, famous for…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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