Paige Parker on her favourite destinations and solo travel for women
The art of travel
Not many happy endings begin with a Guinness World Record drive around-the-globe. But for gemologist Paige Parker and her then-fiance Jim Rogers, it did. Between 1999 to 2002, the couple took off in a custom-built off-road Mercedes Benz and travelled across 116 countries over six continents, before settling down in Singapore. Now, Parker has finally published their epic adventure in her personal travel memoir titled 'Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers'. We caught up with the multi-hyphenate to find out more.
What do you love most about travelling?
The education that results from travel is what feeds my soul, especially overland travel, like my Guinness World Record drive around-the-world to 116 countries, over six continents, for three years with my husband Jim, detailed in my memoir. I came home a smarter, stronger, more compassionate woman — a better human after meeting extraordinary, but mostly ordinary people of the world. I like to think that travel helped me become the woman I was meant to be.
You've travelled to 116 countries over six continents in three years. What sparked off that idea and could you list your top five favourites?
My husband is a nomad, happiest out there exploring. He was the catalyst that took me to the road, but soon after we set off, the journey became mine. In my book, you will quickly learn the trip was too difficult to complete if not one's own.
Picking my favourites out of the 116 countries feels akin to picking a most-loved child. How do I compare Iceland to China? They're both extraordinary but vastly different. Yet, if I must..
1. Singapore, we live here by choice.
2. Italy — Amalfi Coast in magic.
3. China — let's watch her keep rising.
4. Bolivia for its extraordinary mountains, strong indigenous culture, the spectacular salt flats, rich history, iconic Lake Titicaca.
5. Tie: India/Egypt. THey're both filled with more sites, experiences, cultures, foods, history than any of us could explore in a lifetime.
What do you do to combat travel fatigue?
I try to limit my writing, reading and watching movies on long-haul flights so I have real time to sleep. Then, I immerse myself into the new time zone immediately. No naps. I go for a walk or jog. I find that staying outside in the natural light is great to combat the jet lag.
A place in the world that you would visit over and over again?
Shanghai. A new energy and vibe awaits with every visit.
Best hotel you've stayed in?
Best is subjective. My preferred hotel is Le Sirenuse in Positano.
Weirdest souvenir you've taken home?
A massive, carved, very old tortoise shell bought in Angola. It is now mounted on the wall in our home. Recently someone asked if I killed it! No way. It was already carved and awaiting us when we happened upon it, I assure you.
Most expensive item you've splurged on abroad?
Not sure about most expensive, but most special is a sapphire necklace from Gem Palace in Jaipur.
Where in the world would you travel for food?
It's tie between Japan and Italy. No explanation needed!
Do you use any travel apps? If so, which would you recommend?
I do not. I enjoy researching myself and using my trusted agent or travel company.
Solo travel has become more popular amongst women these days. Do you encourage it? And how do you think a woman can protect herself while enjoying a solo trip to a foreign land?
Honestly I am asked this often. I think my daughters will be smart and wise enough for solo travel, but it's the patriarchy and sexism out there that should warrant a pause before any woman sets off solo. Research the place. Know what you are putting yourself into before making the calculated decision. Read what female travellers have written of the location. Once you're there, respect the culture. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen tourists behaving badly.
I hope with my memoir, my girls will read of my struggles and strengths, my frustrations and forthrightness. They too will gain a glimpse into a passage of my life that will inspire them to go forth to the unknown, to fight what is wrong and to possess a curiosity and keenness to learn and explore independently. And likely travel solo.
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