Kalin’s Chronicles: Women’s Travel Resources

Women at Forty Passport to TravelI haven’t started my 2013 travels yet, and I still don’t know all the places I’ll be traveling yet.  But while I’m waiting to hit the airport again, I enjoy reading books and blogs that focus on women travelers.

So I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.  These resources may help you plan your 2013 travels.


Wunderlust and Lipstick:  The Essential Guide to Women Traveling Solo by Beth Whitman – great insider tips for traveling solo and not feeling lonely, including info on the latest technology to use.

Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures:  Funny Women Write from the Road edited by Jennifer Leo — This book had me ROFLOL with its travel essays full of women’s experiences (including celebs like Ellen) that will make you laugh and warm your heart.  I hope to get one of my essays in a future edition.

East Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved this book!  It inspires you to travel and find yourself/your spirituality in the process.

Go Girl edited by Elaine Lee – I’m a fan of this book of inspiring essays by black women who have traveled the world.  You’ll be inspired to drop your fears and open your mind to diverse cultures.

101 Tips for Women Travelers edited by Harriet R. Lewis – This mini book via http://www.gct.com/  has great tips for women of all ages, including:  packing, health, safety, etiquette, shopping, photography and traveling solo.  And it easily fits in your purse or luggage. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Women’s Travel Resources

Kalin’s Chronicles: Forty, Fabulous & Flying High

This past summer I was on an AirTran flight back to Atlanta from Orlando, when the woman next to me and two women behind me started discussing their fear of flying. I was chiming in with my own concerns about flying through a thunderstorm, when the woman across the isle from me said, “If I’m not worried, you don’t worry.”  I thought, “Who is this bold passenger?”

Well, it turns out that Julie Hornwood is an AirTran pilot! (Photo: Julie Hornwood)

Julie is one of more than 42,000 women pilots in the United States – only seven percent of all pilots.  She recently turned 40, so I decided to share her thoughts with you.

Why I love flying

I had wanted to be an airline pilot as far back as I can remember.  I love the cloud formations and decision making abilities and the people I meet along the road.

I fly a 737 as a captain which is the most common type of airplane flown by the airlines today.  I’m on call to fill in for pilots who are on vacation, out sick or in training so my route varies, but most of my trips originate out of Orlando and I fly a lot of Baltimore and Milwaukee routes.

Being a woman pilot

I love being among just a few women pilots because I can inspire girls on my plane to reach for the stars when it comes to their lives and their careers.  And being a tom boy when I was young, I seem to fit right in with the male pilots.  My co-pilots all enjoy flying with me because my tone is professional, relaxed and easy.

Favorite leisure travel

When I’m not working I love exploring new cultures and places.  I love Sandals Resorts, and I love Windstar Cruises.  Sailing and flying are very similar in that a sail is basically a wing turned up to the sky.

Tip for fearful flyers

The pilot has made thousands of successful trips and we are well-trained and very experienced.  It is hundreds of times safer than driving.

Turning 40

There were celebrations from my flight crew, a surprise party from friends and family, and I spent five days in Puerto Rico with friends.  My 40’s are truly freeing of worry about others’ approval.  I’m finally living for me!  Look up in the front as you board your next flight… I just might be there.

I hope Julie inspired you to live your dreams.  Send me your stories about flying with female pilots.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

A Rainy Day in Paris

The plan was to write a post today with some pictures from My Big Fat European Vacation, but you know how well plans and I get along. The site isn’t loading pics properly so I decided to dedicate today’s post to my rainy day in Paris. (Photo: The Eiffel Tower on a rainy day – GW)

The day we made it to The Eiffel Tower was overcast and drizzly. I hadn’t really wanted to go because of the rain and what I thought would be ridiculously long lines – and I’d already gotten a few glimpses of the tower as we rode around Paris.  But the rain kept the hoards away, so we decided to stay and took the elevator up to the second level.  Like everyone else, I’d seen the iconic image of the tower for years, but nothing prepared me for what it would feel like to stand at the bottom and look up at it, just feet away.

Despite the clouds, once we took the elevators up, we could see for miles. Since the view from the top would have been obstructed by the fog, we decided to stay on the second level and view Paris from there, and I’m so glad we did.

Lessons learned from a rainy day in Paris – Don’t let gray skies (the literal and figurative kind) keep you away from where you want to go/be, the crowds will be thinner, the air clearer – leaving you alone with your thoughts and more space to enjoy the view.  And who says the view from the top is always the best. Here’s a link to some of the fantastic views I was able to capture with my camera from the second level of the tower. Enjoy!

Beignets, Boys, and the City of Bath: My Travel Manifesto

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my upcoming big, fat, European vacation and how it had taken me two years to plan because I kept getting in my own way.

But now that the tickets are booked and it’s a sure thing (God willing and the creek don’t rise) I am BEYOND excited. (Photo: Beignets and Croissants via Flickr)

And still a little anxious.

I probably need several hours days on someone’s couch to figure out all the reasons why, but I know a big part of that is my fear of things not turning out the way I think they should. I usually try to deal with that by over-planning everything. But this time, not so much. This time instead of letting the anxiety and worry rule, I intend to let the trip reveal itself to me. There are definitely things I’m planning on doing – as a Jane Austen fan, visiting the city of Bath is a must for this trip – but there are also things I don’t want to do. Planning my day from the crack of dawn until the sun sets is one of them.

So I wrote a manifesto. A travel manifesto. The official definition of manifesto is a public declaration of intentions, opinions or motives. This started out being my travel manifesto, but then I realized that these are all things that I’d like to be doing everyday, especially the part about the men…

Beignets, Boys, and Bath: This Woman at Forty’s Travel Manifesto

I will expect the best, prepare for the worst, and be grateful for all of it as it comes.

I will eat croissants and beignets in Paris, pizza and pasta in Rome, and in London…well, in London I’ll find something to eat, without guilt, without anxiety, and without fear. I won’t eat as though my happiness depends on it (see my struggle with compulsive eating ), but as though my life – the life I want – does.

I will walk. Everywhere I can. Up stairs, around neighborhoods, whenever and wherever it’s a viable option I will choose to move instead of being moved.

I will take pictures – lots of them. I’ll allow myself to be in many of those pictures (more on that in a later post).

I will begin conversations with strangers and hope to end them as friends. I hope a high percentage of these conversations happen with men :-).

I will attempt to speak in the language of the country I’m visiting even though my vocabulary is limited and my accent and grammar are imperfect.

I will live outside of my comfort zone, every day doing at least one thing I wouldn’t normally do.

I will pay attention. To everything. The sights I’m not used to seeing, the accents I’m not used to hearing, the foods I’m not used to tasting. I will be present in the moment during all these experiences not wondering what’s next.

My experiences won’t be overshadowed by my expectations because I will enjoy the journey, regardless of the destination.

I will write. And then I’ll write. And then I’ll write some more.

And if I’m bold enough to share what I’m dreaming, it’s that I can organize a trip like this for a group of Women at Forty in 2014. A tour where we can continue to live out our own personal manifestos.

You don’t have to be in the process of planning a trip of a lifetime to write a personal manifesto. What’s your intention and how will you give direction to that intention? Share your manifestos (travel and otherwise) with the Women at Forty community. Email them to contributeatwomen(@)forty.com (no parenthesis) and I’ll post them here.


My big fat European vacation and why it’s taken me two years to take it

Remember when I wrote this post about what I’d imagined I’d be doing at 40? It involved writing – a blog post, a short story, anything really – while at a cafe in Italy. But it involved a version and a vision of myself that didn’t exist back then. Even if I’d been able to financially swing the trip, in my head I just wasn’t ready.

And I am always in my head.

And my head kept asking “What if you can’t get it together?”, “What if you’re not in the shape you want to be?”,  “What if things don’t go the way you planned?”, what if, what if, what if…

So for two years I let my head talk my heart out of taking a trip I’ve always wanted to take.

This year my heart wins out.

The interesting thing is I’ve made this trip before. In 2005 I flew to Europe, alone, met up with friends and spent 3 amazing weeks in London and Florence.  So what’s so different now?

That trip was pre-40, I was in better shape and was in a completely different mindset. This time, post 40, I felt like I wanted this trip more but that somehow I wasn’t ready for it. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

So what’s changed? Why this year and why now? Because life doesn’t wait for us to be perfect, or even ready, for it to happen. Time passes while we talk about the things we want and think about the things we want. And then before we know it, we’re wishing we’d done it – whatever it is.

I’m tired of wishing and tired of waiting for my life to be perfect.  I’m tired of being so afraid of moving in the wrong direction that I don’t move at all.

My life will never be perfect. I may one day have the financial freedom I’ve always wanted, the relationship I’ve dreamed of having, and the health and fitness that’s been a lifelong struggle for me. But even if those things miraculously fall into place all at once, my life will still never be perfect. But it will always be my life. One that for all its ups and downs I’m blessed to have.

So I’m off to Europe for two weeks in the fall to enjoy my wonderfully imperfect life. It’s my own personal self-indulgence tour, one in which I plan to reawaken my senses. I even wrote my own little travel manifesto, which I’ll share next week. Spoiler – it involves being less self-conscious, more spirit conscious, eating without obsessing, and maybe even a gorgeous Italian or Frenchman or Brit…

As I plan for this trip, I wonder why so many of us put off doing the thing(s) that we really want to do. I wonder what we’re so afraid of and what separates those who “just do it” from those who don’t. What have you always dreamed of doing and what are you going to do to make it happen? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page.