by Marlan Warren
“Maybe the mark of a good traveler is the stories he experiences and retells and what he learns from those stories." - Judith Fein, Life Is a Trip
What would you do if you were a travel journalist squashed cheek-by-jowl with the sprawling/squabbling family of an unflappable Maori Elder as they pilgrimage from New Zealand through Europe in one of three breaking-down campers? If your name was Judith Fein, you’d follow each “arrow” of opportunity, take care of your sanity, find the most meaningful moment, and then write about it. This opening tale in Fein's debut book LIFE IS A TRIP: THE TRANSFORMATIVE MAGIC OF TRAVEL serves as the portal through which she invites readers to travel with her while she traverses the globe in search of adventure and meaning.
Fein has culled 14 "greatest hits" from her favorite experiences and melded them into a poignant, often funny, memoir. LIFE IS A TRIP transcends the cliché of the "Ugly American" who wishes for a ballpark frank in Tunisia and the souvenir-seeking tourist who believes foreign culture relates little to his own life. It carries endorsements by travel luminaries such as editors Keith Bellows of National Geographic Traveler and Catharine Hamm of the Los Angeles Times, as well as Shannon Stowell, President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and international travel journalist/filmmaker Tahir Shah.
In person, Fein comes across humble and honest, like her stories. So humble you might not guess she is an award-winning international journalist whose travel articles have appeared in over 90 publications, co-founder and editor (with Ellen Barone) of Your Life Is a Trip website, travel editor of Spirituality and Health magazine, vice-president of the Travel Journalist Guild, and former reporter for NPR’s “The Savvy Traveler.” In her non-travel life, Fein is a noted screenwriter, playwright, opera librettist and theatre director.
I caught up with the peripatetic writer while she was living her creed “I live to leave,” packing for a month-long adventure with husband, photojournalist Paul Ross. Sitting down for a moment in her Santa Fe home, Fein, took a time-out for this Q & A interview:
Q: Why did you decide to write this book at this particular time?
JF: I wanted to inspire others to have cultural adventures that can transform their lives—across the world or across their hometown. Cultural adventure is the New Wave of tourism.