Writer Wednesdays – Jessica Voigts
I first came upon Jessica Voigts through her travel site that I was immediately impressed with by its vast content and because it is geared towards promoting education through travel. Her dedication to bring young people and travel together is inspiring and so is the scope of her reach – with being involved in so many big sites, Associations and programs, I’m thrilled she found time to contribute to my Writer Wednesdays series.
Writer Wednesdays would like to introduce you to Jessica Voigts.
I have a PhD in International Education, and am constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). I’ve lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. I run WanderingEducators.com, a travel library for people curious about the world.
How many countries have you visited?
Not enough! I’ve lived and worked in Tokyo and London, and traveled as much as I could when I’ve lived abroad. We’ve traveled as a family overseas, and, of course, haven’t seen as much of the US or Canada as I’d like.
What is your favourite place and why?
My favorite places are by water. Give me a lake – any lake, whether it is Lake Michigan, Loch Ness, or even an ocean, and I’m happy. All of my travels revolve around water – where we go, stay, and even what we do. I love to swim and have done so in the craziest places.
If you could describe your method of travel in one word, what would it be?
Accessible. I have several disabilities, and so we travel slowly and find accessible housing, transportation, and activities. We also look for great food and a chance to interact with locals as much as possible. I love visiting libraries and finding local events to attend and learn from.
What is your most memorable travel moment?
Swimming in Ireland in October, during a huge windstorm that pelted us with very sharp sand from the beach. Yes, it was freezing cold, we turned blue quickly, and yet we were one family of many that were out swimming that day! The old German couple that stayed in the water for an hour, as well as the many surfers, made me feel like a complete ninny for getting cold so quickly.
What is your dream destination?
Drum roll… yes, anywhere with swimmable water! You guessed it! J But there should also be amazing food, because we love to eat.
How has travel changed you?
I started traveling at a young age, and went to Japan by myself for a youth exchange program when I was 14. Since then, I’ve been amazed to learn and experience some the cultural differences in the world, and look forward to more. Travel has introduced me to intercultural learning, made me aware of ethnocentrism and the importance of intercultural awareness, and led to my degrees in international education. It’s led me to mentor travel writers, and create our youth travel blogging mentorship program. It’s changed my life!
As a writer do you feel you see the world and approach travel differently than if you didn’t write?
Yes. I feel that a writer pays more attention to detail. It might be the waiter’s shoes, all worn down at the edges from standing on his feet all night, or a shop clerk’s harried look, as she’s waiting to go on break and there’s a huge line of people she has to check out first.
How long did it take for your first book to come to fruition? (From concept, writing to published)
My first book was actually a guide to raising intercultural kids that I’d been working on and publishing bits and pieces of for years on our website. It came together within a few weeks. I’ve since edited and published several travel guides, and those take up to two years!
Do you have any new books on the horizon?
Yes, Wandering Educators Press has a fantastic new book coming out this spring, written by Barbara Adam and Vo Vu, called ‘Vietnam: 100 Unusual Travel Tips and a Guide to Living and Working There. We also have a very special book in editing, written by Laurel Perry, on the Costa Concordia disaster. Entitled Stories from Giglio Island: The Human Side of the Costa Concordia Disaster, it’s an insider’s look at how the Costa Concordia has affected this small Italian island.
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, to where?
Right now, we’re focused on moving (finding another lake to live on!) and being present for Ed’s mom, who is 96. All of our travel is centered around the Midwest, within a half-day’s drive of her home.
What is your must have travel accessory?
Batteries (of all kinds) and chargers! Besides phone and computer batteries/chargers, camera battery backup is critical. As is wheelchair battery backup!
What is your favourite travel book?
That’s a tough one! I love the in-depth guides by Approach Guides, as they are a smart traveler’s guide to learning about different places around the world. I also love The Hobbit – it’s a perfect blend of travel stories, including disasters (although ours are much less fraught with danger) and joys.
What is your favourite travel quote?
Another literary gem:
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – JRR Tolkien
I’d like to thank Jessica Voigts for all she does for the travel community and for our youth! I’d also like to thank her for her time and contributing her photos for this piece.