I started travel writing at seven years old. The yellow and black school bus lumbered out of the parking lot and disappeared behind a white flurry curtain. I had a choice — wait or wander?
I struck out on my own zigzag path home. On the way, I mitten-scribbled my thoughts on the blank white snow drifts, ending my trek’s story hours later (to my mother’s relief) in the front yard on my back swooshing a choir of exclamation point snow angels. I caught heaven’s chunky flakes on my tongue. Oh, the tingly, sweet first taste of solo travel! Ever since, I’ve hungered to explore the world and write about it.
Looking back in life’s rear view mirror, my snowy trek as a first grader shaped my life’s course. I come from a family of travelers: my grandparents were Italian immigrants passing through Ellis Island; my father, a traveling salesman driving the Midwest’s backroads selling roofing supplies; and my mom, a high school English teacher taking summer trips gathering material to supplement her classroom curriculum and broaden her daughter’s horizons beyond our small Illinois hometown.
I was born in Indiana, but grew up pretty much in a middle class subdivision carved from cornfields 50 miles west of Chicago. What little extra my parents had after paying all the bills went straight into a Mason jar saved for travel books, museum memberships, gasoline and airline tickets for that summertime, two week vacation. My mother always said that what you saved for reflected your passions. And for my family, it was education and travel.
We packed up for day trips to bike forest preserve trails and explore nearby museums. Weekends we drove to neighboring states’ capitals and parks. And when there was enough in the Mason jar, sometimes we boarded airplanes to far-flung places. And we always went to the library to check out books on places we dreamed of exploring.
By age 12, I’d traveled to most Midwest states, Hawai'i, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. By 22, I’d moved to Lugano, Switzerland to work as an international college tour coordinator. Then packed up my apartment to live in a village near Taormina, Sicily to work as an English language instructor for an Italian family. I returned stateside at age 25 knowing that only a career in travel would do.
Over the next decade I worked my way up the corporate ladder to senior executive positions for leading travel industry companies and marketing agencies. And all the while bopping around the world for work, I wrote freelance travel articles. Then I met and married Bob, a fellow traveler. United in our love of roaming the globe, we left our corporate jobs and backpacked around the world.
Today, I freelance full time as a travel journalist, editor and photographer. I’m also a writing instructor, travel marketing consultant and industry speaker. And, like my mom, I save for frequent family trips with my husband and son exploring places close to our Midwest home and around the world. No matter where I’m off to, I savor the snowy childhood memory of my first tingly taste of travel.
So, really, some things haven’t changed much since I was a kid who missed her school bus ride home. From blank snow banks to empty journal pages and cursor-flickering screens, I’ve always recorded my wanderings — so far, to six continents and more than 55 countries. Now, through my website KitTravels.com and blog KitChat, I share my journeys with you.
Want to know more about Kit? Download Kit's full resume here.