The World According to Laura Pedersen

Author Laura Pedersen on why everyone should travel with a pack of Fig Newtons.

8 mins

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?

Ocean. No mosquitos. No allergies.

First travel experience?

Toronto, Canada. Bright lights, big city. Like Manhattan if it were dry-cleaned.

Favourite journey?

Gulu, Uganda, to see my sponsor child. Friendly people, breath-taking scenery, and a stop along the way to see mountain gorillas.

Top 5 places worldwide?

Betty’s Bay, South Africa

Fez, Morocco

Bibury, England

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

East Aurora, New York, USA

Special place to stay?

Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon, England.

3 items you always pack?

Fig Newtons

Jump rope

Bathing suit

Passport stamp you're proudest of?


Passport stamp most like to have?


Guilty travel pleasure?

Salina Cruz, Mexico

Window or aisle?

Aisle unless person sitting in window seat has intestinal complaint.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

I travel alone since I’ve never met anyone who enjoys the same activities as I do. I’ll often visit a school for girls rather than head to the beach.

Best meal on the road? Worst?

Best: Vegetarian fare in Bangkok.

Worst: Train food in India.

Most surprising place?

St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Most disappointing?

Cairo, Egypt. Aggressive entrepreneurs, unsafe neighbourhoods for foreign women, and air pollution.

Where do You NOT want to go?

Chinese cities with air pollution.

Who/what inspired you to travel? Any travel heroes?

Gertrude Bell who travelled across Arabia six times in the early 1900s.

What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

I try and listen to local music. Whenever I hear Beatles songs I think of them being played on panpipes in Cuzco, Peru.

What do you read?

Biographies and travel memoirs.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?

So many strangers have invited me into their homes and helped along the way that my faith is constantly restored and I try to reciprocate when I come across travellers in my hometown.

Anyone who made you lose it?

If women weren’t so repressed in some parts of the world the local men would act better toward visiting single women. Also, I’m currently nursing a grudge agains tLufthansa.

What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

How to say that I’m Canadian even though I’m American.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

Not trying local food because I’m afraid of being ill when I’m on my own and far from home.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

That’s hilarious since I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and we were snowed in for half the winter. Well, you start with the older people telling about the storms they survived as youngsters and work from there.

When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

The back roads of Turkey -- enjoying local customs such as wrestling, festivals, and markets.

What smell most says 'travel' to you?


Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

If your mother is a nurse, like mine, you will always choose the present.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

Cape Town, South Africa and Chicago, USA and Vancouver, Canada.

Trains, Planes and auto RickshawsLaura Pedersen is the author of Planes, Trains and Auto-Rickshaws, which chronicles a journey through modern India. You can order your copy now on Amazon.

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