Wanderlust and Lipstick
Beth Whitman’s own wanderlust started years ago with a trip to India. While she’d seen plenty of the U.S. at that point, her only trip abroad had been a few weeks in England. But after three months in India, Nepal and Thailand, Beth was hooked.
Since that first trip, Beth has made a career out of traveling — especially to India and the surrounding countries. Not only has she written about the area, but Beth also leads tours to India and Bhutan. Beth says, “I… wanted to share what India has to offer with others. India can be a challenging country in which to travel and by starting out with a tour, it provides a person with a safety net until they get used to the people, the culture and environment. It’s my hope that I can help people feel more comfortable and provide them with enough confidence and perspective to then travel on their own.”
India. Photo credit – Stuck in Customs.
Looking at the itinerary for Beth’s latest tour group as they head to Bhutan, you quickly realize that Beth is interested in heading off the path that the typical tourist might follow. Part of this approach is due to the fact that (ed: unfortunately for me) many of Beth’s tours are for women only, allowing her to lead groups to see nunneries in the heart of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Beth also wrote a guidebook for women visiting India on their own, Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India.
India. Photo credit – jpereira_net.
Beth says that it’s hard to pick just one thing to recommend seeing or doing in a country as large as India — though she says that if she had to narrow it done to just doing one thing, she’d eat!
“Where a person visits really depends on that person’s interest. Someone who’s interested in Buddhism may want to travel in the north and go to Dharamsala. Another person may want to head to the beaches in the south, Goa or Kerala, for example. A first time visitor probably has an idea as to what intrigues them most about the country and they should pursue that interest before simply wandering or arriving without a plan.”
Bhutan. Photo credit – Marina & Enrique.
Making that plan is a crucial part of Beth’s suggestions to travelers planning to head to India or any of the nearby countries. “Research. Research. Research. Read guidebooks, talk to people who have traveled there previously, and read travel stories about other people’s experience. While researching can’t completely prepare you for any journey, it will definitely help take some of the culture shock out of the experience.”
Beth adds, “And, no trip actually goes “smoothly” in India! The sooner you learn that, the more you can appreciate the country and people for what they have to offer. It’s a matter of just accepting what comes your way and embracing it. (Kinda like life in general!)”