Interviews with Each Other

Dispatches from the Road, Group Travel, Ideas, LG Press & Media, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Planning — By on April 17, 2007 at 8:30 am

We have some fun news: Budget Travel magazine’s annual special issue, Girlfriend Getaways (on newsstands today), thought we were quirky enough to include in their publication. They asked us some questions, and, as usual, we had no problem talking (and talking, and talking…). You can check it out at Budget Travel Online Since they asked for only a few hundred words and we gave them a book, we thought we’d share the unabridged version. Here are some highlights from our trip thus far.

Who is the leader?
All: There really isn’t a traditional leader in our threesome. Part of the reason that we rarely fight is that our individual personalities-likes, dislikes, priorities and values-balance out the group dynamic. We all take turns getting our own way, and conversely, toeing the extra weight (literally, our backpacks are beasts!) to help each other out. Though we consider ourselves to be fairly well-rounded women at home, on the road, specific sides of our personalities do tend to take charge and we naturally fall into certain roles. In a nutshell, here’s how to define us and our travel personalities:

Amanda (a.k.a. “The Regulator”): Instigator for the big ideas (such as taking a yearlong trip and launching the blog), Amanda is happy to turn over detail planning to Holly and Jen and simply enjoy the ride once everyone has agreed. She’s take charge when it comes to matters of bargaining for a fair price, getting the best
possible hotel room and defending the group verbally against unwanted advances. When it’s it time to get tough, the tough get Amanda.
Famous Quote: “Um, excuse me. Can I help you with something?” [Directed at
strangers who stare a little too long at the LGs]

Holly (a.k.a. “The Diplomat”): Eternally optimistic and rarely moody, Holly can find the positive in almost any situation (barring insects in her bunk and lack of sweets) and usually motivates the group’s activities on a day-to-day basis. Her high energy level prompts her to rise well before her fellow Lost Girls to go running, plan a shopping excursion or find an internet cafe within walking distance. Each and every day, Holly has a mission to accomplish (must find new flip flops!) and very little will stand in her way.
Famous Quote: “Guys, can we swing by Antarctica and Turkey on our way to
Australia??!”

Jen (a.k.a. “The Chameleon” or “The Weekend Warrior”): Once the brainstorming results in a big idea, detail-oriented Jen steps in to manage the production. Typically the one to book the hostel, find a restaurant and double check that Holly and Amanda haven’t lost anything, she often finds herself referred to as the ‘responsible’ one. However, when it comes time to take it easy, sip cappuccino at a neighborhood cafe or party ’til dawn, Jen throws herself in 110 percent. She works hard, plays harder and usually outlasts her fellow LGs during a night on the town.
Famous Quote: “Don’t wake me before ten!”

Best moment:
JEN: Conquering the second day of hiking the Inca Trail, which is notorious for it’s sheer vertical climb to over 13,000 feet. With all the loose ends I had to tie up before taking this big trip, hitting the gym fell to the bottom of my priority list. But reaching the summit, a.k.a. Dead Woman’s Pass, where dozens of other hikers cheered the three of us on, showed me I was stronger than I gave myself credit for.
HOLLY: Scuba diving for the first time off the coast of Kenya. I had planned to get certified later on in Thailand, but had the opportunity to take a test dive with Amanda and Jen. It was a feeling somewhere between floating and flying that I didn’t expect to experience that day. Now I’m hooked and plan on fitting in as much diving as I can during the rest of the trip.
AMANDA: Having the opportunity to teach dance class to pre-teen girls in Africa, many of whom were orphaned by AIDS or were victims of abuse. I’d never seen kids get so excited to hear Jay-Z and Shakira blaring from my iPod speaker. By the end of the course, even the shy girls were busting a move and showing off the steps they now knew by heart.

Worst moment:

JEN: Thinking we all had an intestinal parasite. Holly had spotted a red, thread-like worm in the toilet that we all shared and, started crying for the first time the entire trip out of fear it had come from her. I hugged her as she collapsed into hysterics on the bathroom floor and consoled her by saying it could have come from any one of us. Of course, realizing that, we made a collective beeline for the urgent care clinic in Mombassa, Kenya, where we all gave, um, samples. Luckily, we each tested negative but were prescribed stomach-churning meds anyway as a precaution. All for one, one for all, right?
HOLLY: Sleeping with cockroaches. It’s hard enough to get a good night’s sleep on the road when we’re constantly switching locales without sharing my mattress with wriggling buds that could survive a nuclear fallout. Luckily, Jen was kind enough to let me sleep head-to-toe in her single bed. She even tucked me in with the mosquito netting. Notice the insect theme here?
AMANDA: Well, my moment involves a different kind of pest. I’d met Raul at a bar in Lima. I thought he’d make a good candidate for my first Latin lover, but he morphed into a slime ball with every drink he tossed back. Telling myself I’d never see this guy again, I grabbed the girls and blatantly blew him off. Leave it to Murphy’s Law: In a city of several million people, who did I run into at my birthday dinner a week later but Raul? With his back to me, he ran his hands through his unmistakably greasy hair as I tried to hide behind my birthday cake.

Have you been given a key to a hotel room and walked into a honeymoon suite and thought, well this is awkward?
HOLLY: Well, we’ve never gotten the honeymoon suite, but we have been treated like newlyweds. While staying at Shaanti Holistic Health Resort in Diani Beach, Kenya, the owner encouraged us to try the indulgent “star baths.” We quickly agreed, but little did we know, it involved two outdoor sunken tubs overlooking the Indian Ocean, lots of scented oil and a bottle of bubbly. Three women, two tubs, you do the math.
JEN: Talk about beds, baths and beyond! No one wanting to be left out of the experience, we all happily leaped into the tubs like little kids. At this point in the trip, we had grown so comfortable with each other, this otherwise awkward situation didn’t even faze us.
AMANDA: Yeah, we were pretty unconcerned with what passersby thought of us. But that could have had more to do with the rum I snuck into the resort and ran back to the room to grab when I saw that the complimentary champagne was nonalcoholic. Even at a cleansing retreat, girls just wanna have fun.

One item we miss most from home:

HOLLY: My boyfriend! Okay, he’s not an item, just a sex object. Kidding! Seriously though, if it weren’t for being able to talk a lot on the internet-based phone service, Skype, I don’t know if our relationship could survive the year apart.
AMANDA: Celebrity magazines. The girls have to forcibly restrain me from spending $15 on a single issue at the airport newsstands abroad.
JEN: High heels. Flip flops are far more practical and take up less space on a trip like this, but nothing makes you feel more feminine instantly than slipping into a pair of stilettos. I wore them almost everyday in New York City and am going through withdrawal.

Reactions to us traveling together:
HOLLY: While running is a daily activity I take for granted back home, doing it abroad often turns into a spectator sport. During my jogs in Kenya, the locals looked at me like I had three heads and shouted out in confusion, “Sister, where are you trying to go?” The kids would get their daily dose of entertainment by pumping their arms and attempting to keep up with me as they erupted into giggles. Overtime I felt like I had a more devoted following than Lance Armstrong did during his last Tour de France.

JEN: While Brits have their Gap Year and Aussies have their Walkabout, it’s uncommon for Americans to travel for a whole year-and rarer still for three professional women in their late twenties. Being the anomaly that we are on the road can draw quite a bit of attention. In places like Rio de Janeiro, where gorgeous international travelers and finely chiseled locals pack the beaches, we were happy to oblige their curiosity by taking them up on their offers for caparinas and late night samba lessons.
AMANDA: At tourist attractions throughout India, I lost count of the number of times that giggling women and groups of young guys in aviator shades asked us to take a picture. At first we thought they wanted us to take their photos, but were shocked to realize they meant for us to be in the shots with them. For the first time in our lives we had a rough estimate of what it might be like to be D-list celebrities.

Favorite souvenirs:

AMANDA: Fertility dolls from the native Yagua tribe in Peru’s Amazon River Basin. They weren’t for me, but a gift to my dad for his third marriage. I figured he could use all the help he could get.
JEN: The red exercise top I bought from one of the original capoiera schools in Bahia, Brazil where the three of us trained. Although, after a week spent working up a sweat with private lessons, what I really wanted was a sexy capoeira instructor. But all I got was this lousy T-shirt!
HOLLY: I bought an enormous, sparkling citrine ring from the Hippie Ferria Market in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not normally one to treat myself to such a big piece of jewelry, but I took the opportunity to buy a beautiful item I never could have afforded back home. And, after admitting to the girls that I didn’t care about getting a flashy engagement ring, they insisted I have at least one big sparkler, even if I had to buy it myself.

Have you found yourself buying so much stuff that you have to ship it home along the way?

HOLLY: I’ve wanted to buy so much stuff that I’d have to ship it home, but I’ve managed to curb my shopaholic tendencies. Having to carry everything I need for an entire year on my back has forced me to recognize the difference between a want and a need. Plus, it’s often too expensive to send things back to the States.
JEN: When we do buy things, they tend to be small items that we can carry with us and that won’t break our bank accounts, such as interesting jewelry from street vendors and local handicrafts.
AMANDA: Sometimes for fun we treat each other to small indulgences. Like I bought the girls sugar-free lattes at Starbucks in Lima, Holly got us all matching scarves in India and Jen purchased Toblerone chocolate bars for us in Kenya.

How the trip has changed our lives:
HOLLY: It’s made me realize that the world is both a classroom and a playground. I can learn more about the political landscape of a foreign country by traveling through it rather than by reading about it in the Economist. As a woman, I’ve seen firsthand how lucky I am to have been born into this country of wealth and privilege where I have almost unlimited freedom of choice about what to do with my life. And witnessing how other people across the globe live their lives has inspired me to blaze my own path rather than make decisions out of complacency or fear.
AMANDA: I thought a year on the road would satiate my desire to travel so I would feel more comfortable with finally settling down in my 30s. But with each place we visit, the list of destinations I want to explore only grows. I’ve learned that no matter where I’m at in my life in regards to marriage, kids and career, travel will always be among my most important priorities.
JEN: Travel has always been a way for me to reevaluate my life and explore the world beyond my own borders, but after this trip I now view travel as a way to make a real difference in the lives of others as well.

Have we reached our goals?

HOLLY: My goal for the trip was to take advantage of this opportunity to see the world with two other like-minded women and figure out where I was going with my life. And while experiences such as attending yoga school in India and hiking the Inca Trail in Peru have helped me grow as a person, it’s often the small moments that invoke the greatest epiphanies. Case in point: When taking a 17-hour train ride in India, I didn’t realize you had to pack your own food. A mother of two toddlers wearing torn clothing saw that I didn’t have any lunch and offered to share hers-part of a banana. Feeling guilty, I tried to refuse but she adamantly insisted and nodded in approval as I chowed down. An otherwise mundane ride helped to remind me that, no matter what direction I’m headed, practicing small acts of kindness and generosity will keep me on the right track.
AMANDA: With Spanish classes costing hundreds of dollars a semester back home, I figured the best way to learn the language would be to head to a Latin American country. While the girls and I all learned dozens of useful phrases during our travels through Peru, I felt frustrated that I still hadn’t mastered the art of conversation. It wasn’t until I arrived in Brazil where I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese that I realized how much I’d come to depend on my basic Spanish skills to communicate. Now I’m looking forward to improving even more by heading to Colombia next year to attend a language school and a month-long homestay.
JEN: After watching the PBS-special “Flame Trees of Thika” as a young child, I vowed that some day I would volunteer in Kenya. Through the Village Volunteers, a U.S. based non-profit organization, I was not only able to realize a life long dream, but also witness firsthand how even small gestures can have a big impact on a community in need. The three of us had such a powerful experience that we plan to create our own nonprofit foundation to benefit women and girls from around the globe.

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    8 Comments

  • aishu_here says:

    Thanks much to ‘Budget Travel’..I got to listen in detail about most questions I personally felt like asking.!

    Cheers!

  • Dellie says:

    The Girlfriend Getaways article was fun and I enjoyed the slide show. It was interesting to read a self-synopsis about the Lost Girls. Sounded accurate to me! Boyfriends, Celeb Mags, Stilettos-all the important things in life…I understand–you’ll be reunited with those things before you know it. In the meanwhile, enjoy your freedom, “real-life” magazine, and comfy feet…

  • BethE says:

    I really like your blog! I’ve done a lot of travelling, but you guys are really amazing. I want to go to all of those places! Most of my travels were in Europe, plus Morrocco, India, Mexico… It really is addictive, isn’t it? But every once in a while you just need to pig out on Easter candy, or the American comfort food of your choice!

  • Anuhea says:

    You are living my dream! How do you afford it (money and time wise)? Your interview looked great and I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog!

  • Net Visitor says:

    India is full of beautiful girls faces looking gorgeous. We just have to see with our eyes. This is really beautiful in the Picture.

  • madeboutique says:

    You ladies are such an inspiration! I hope to do the same thing one day. In the mean time I’ll keep checking your blogs for tips!

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