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Karen Gershowitz has traveled to 90 countries and all 50 US states. From the age of 17, when she left home to travel in Europe alone, the New Yorker has embraced travel as an enduring lifelong love and a way of gaining new perspectives. In “Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust,” (She Writes Press), out July 13, Gershowitz celebrates five decades spent traveling to the far reaches of the world, from Thailand and the Galapagos Islands to Crete, Vietnam, Tibet, India, Burma, Cuba, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and more.
“My mother always wanted to travel. When she was older, she had health issues, so we ‘traveled’ while staying in NYC,” says Gershowitz. “We went to museums and performances and restaurants, and I became curious about the world from doing those things.”
It must be in the genes: At age 65, her grandmother Bella began to traverse the country in Greyhound buses, enjoying the experience so much she decided to up the ante by setting off on a months-long trip to the Cold War-era Soviet Union to track down relatives.
For new or nervous travelers, Gershowitz suggests planning a trip around something you love.
“It could be restaurants, baseball games, art, anything,” she says. “Have that be the centerpiece of the trip, and then figure out what’s around it. Knowing you’ll be doing something you love helps you get over some of the hurdles. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you find it personally compelling.”
Another approach: Just find a great travel deal and hop on it.
“I’ll know nothing about the place,” she says, recalling an epic trip to the mountains of Venezuela in 1989. “I’ll just get the deal, go, and have no plans at all.”
COVID has waylaid her travel plans for the moment, but she’s starting back up again slowly but surely, with a June road trip to the Finger Lakes region in New York.
“I’m turning 70 this year. My plan is to go to the South Pacific,” she says. “It’s not happening for my birthday, but it will happen in 2022. The other place is Malta, which I’ve long been drawn to. And when I can no longer travel, I will travel virtually.”
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