RADIO SHOW/AUDIO PODCAST
Solutions...with Courtney Anderson! (SwCA)
Episode 169 -
Originally aired 8/15/2014 9:00 AM -
COURTNEY! I AM CURIOUS series -
"Aren’t You Scared Traveling All Around The World As A Woman?"
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TALK SHOW EPISODE NOTES
This is our COURTNEY! I AM CURIOUS™ series wherein you ask and I answer! Specifically, this is a series for questions about my personal experiences, perspectives and life lessons.
Incredulous. Dubious. These are some of the reactions I have had over the years to my advice when it deviates from the expected norm. If I advise a person to consider something that is “outside the box” or without a box at all they may reject it simply on principle (too outrageous!). The challenge for me is that I often am simply sharing my own life experience and at times am hurt when it is scoffed at by skeptics.
If I am discussing traveling around the world on your own, or starting a new business, or applying for a job that in a new industry; it is because I did so and found it to be a wonderful start of a new adventure in life. Yes, you can! I have received questions over the years that illustrate that there may be a benefit from me sharing my direct experiences that are different from the norm (in some aspect).
Nothing I have done is unique. Going to school, working, buying a home, having fun, etc., are normal events in most of our lives. Going to school and graduating in three years, working for your own firm, buying a first home at age 27, working in live television, having fun in South Africa, Mexico City, Rome, Mumbai, Brisbane, Tokyo, Madrid, Hong Kong, Quebec, and many other places around the world are a bit of an unusual slant on life (apparently from the feedback I receive). So, this series is my attempt to address your curiosity! I hope that my journey through life helps you more fully explore what is probable in your life! This episode is the debut of this new series and the show topic is, "Aren’t You Scared Traveling All Around The World As A Woman?"
I struggle with this question as I don't think of myself as any different from anyone else. So, I don't dream in gender, or age, or nationality, or any other individual trait. I simply dream. Then, I do. To me this question is like asking me, "Aren’t You Scared Traveling All Around The World As A 63 inch (1.6 meters) tall human? I am aware of my height but it is not something that I think about in terms of stopping me from traveling. Of course, there may be some instance where I am too short to reach something (and then I ask for help from a person or for a ladder). There are certainly cultural norms that I must be aware of and respect as I travel (in the US and everywhere else). We all have to do this so I don't think that it is a unique burden for me.
1) Why do I travel?
Because I want to. I travel for work and for the pleasure of seeing my planet. This is my planet just as it is your planet. Why shouldn't we explore as much of it as we are able to (and desire to)? When I travel for work it is because I want to work and I want to learn as much as I am able to in order to provide my clients, students, business partners, investors and you with accurate information. The world is 'out there' so if I choose to stay in one location and miss out on learning about what is happening it will be my loss and a deficiency in my ability to address international business solutions.
Watching a television show about someone eating an apple is not the same as me eating an apple in real life. I need to experience real life to be able to provide real solutions in my work. I also need to more fully understand the context and reality of different parts of our planet. My ability to understand an apple is much greater if I eat it myself than if I read about it or watch someone else eat it on television and it the same with other experiences. I have been to India, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Australia, The Netherlands, etc., in order to better understand my planet.
2) You are a female so it is an issue when you travel. How do you address it?
I agree. I am female. I am not alone (as per my gender identity) in my enjoyment of exploring my planet, “Females are estimated to comprise 50 percent of frequent fliers, according to Travel & Leisure's Begley. If a woman has a family, she may make 70 percent of all her family's personal travel decisions, Begley continued. Forty percent of business travelers today are women, while just thirty years ago female executives comprised only one percent. A glance around any airport or train station confirms that things have changed.” (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4611.html)
I do study the locations that I will be going to (in the US and internationally) to make sure that I have lodging, transportation and logistics to provide the safest probable outcome. This is how I address my gender (and height and everything else that I am). I do not suggest that anyone (of any gender identify) randomly go places without researching the location and planning ahead. Again, I am not alone in my concerns, “In corporate travel, female executives are often interested in two specific areas: safety and connectivity,” (http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20130213-business-travel-gets-a-female-touch)
Here are some potential resources for travel information from the US and Canadian governments (always pay attention to travel warnings):
3) Are you ever alone?
Yes. I am often on a plane by myself. That is not unusual for business travelers, as, “Sixty-three percent of male business travelers say they often travel alone. That compares to 48 percent of female business travelers.” (http://www.cnbc.com/id/48433282#)
4) Don't you travel more than most people?
Yes. I did not realize this but as we often discuss on the show, data is our friend. I talk to my friends and people in my daily life and they are always sharing about some fascinating trip somewhere I haven't been (or not been to recently). So, I am always thinking that I travel an average amount. Also, I grew up as a 'military brat' (my parent had a career in the US Army and retired as a Lt. Colonel). I was born in Germany (Nuremberg) and moved around the world my entire life when I was growing up. I am not 'from' any specific place and am very used to moving around and learning about new parts of the world. I also spent the majority of my time growing up in the US living and going to school on military bases (which are more diverse than many other parts of US society). My personal experience thus skews my perception on travel and exploring our planet (compared to someone who was born and grew up in one town).
I was shocked to read that perhaps only 30% of US citizens have passports! “Despite the climbing number of American passports in circulation, 30% is still low compared to Canada's 60% and the United Kingdom's 75%.” (http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/02/04/americans.travel.domestically/) Without a passport a person is not able to travel at all! The US is a large geographic area yet it is still odd to me that some individuals (the majority perhaps) have never left. Wow. I travel around the US and have worked in 49 of the 50 states (everywhere but Wyoming). Alaska and Hawaii are some of the most beautiful parts of the US (so is the territory of Puerto Rico)! I lived for a few years in Virginia, Washington state, Kentucky, Kansas and Texas (while growing up and moving to different military work locations with my family).
Apparently, even among 'road warriors" (business travelers), I travel more than average, “The women may enjoy the travel more because they do it less: Men average 10 trips a year while women went on three trips on average. One in three Americans travelled for business at least once in the past year.” (http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/03/survey-suggests-women-like-business-travel.html)
I am shocked that people average only 10 or 3 trips a year. I used to work on seminar speaking contracts where I would fly to five different cities in one week. In my heaviest years of travel I did three to four weeks a month on the road (in about 15-20 different cities on average). I traveled over 250 days a year in my busier years. I used to know the airport staff at my home airport as I was there all of the time! I used to have the obsession with my frequent flier miles and air travel perks that many road warriors share. I also used to have my favorite places at my most frequent airports (restaurants, etc.) and had everything timed on my layovers for me to get in my snacks and treats! I cut back to ten trips a month a while ago and thought I was 'barely' traveling! I have cut back even more recently for this show and my other commitments (teaching, consulting, etc.) but I am still doing several dozen trips a year. Data helps me understand that my schedule is a bit of an aberration!
5) Aren't you scared to go places you have never been? Places where you don't speak the language? Places where there could be an issue with your gender, nationality, ethnicity, color, size, etc.?
No. I don't view a trip from the US to Mumbai, India any differently than I do a trip within the US (from Miami to Orlando, DC to Boston, Kansas City to Leavenworth, etc.). For all trips I research and plan ahead for safety and for business resources (internet, etc.). I am not any more or any less scared going to Pocatello, Idaho than I am going to Cape Town, South Africa or Tokyo, Madrid or Mexico City. There are more dangerous areas of town everywhere. I also must note that I have made friends all over the world so I may have a friend pick me up at the airport when I am working in Mexico City but I may not know a single person in Burlington, Vermont. The media is not reality. It is sometimes a representation of part of reality (journalism) and sometimes it is simply advertising or propaganda. We shouldn't base our decisions in life simply on what we hear on tv (or the internet).
This is one planet. Of course, there are some places that are experiencing war, famine, a natural disaster, etc., that we may need to delay travel to for the time being but that does not mean that the place itself is inherently 'scary.' I have met wonderful people everywhere. People are people. When I am headed somewhere where there are serious language weaknesses (on my part) I simply prepare. Learn a few phrases and then pay attention to every other aspect of communication (body language, eye contact, etc.) to do your best to get along. I love being in a city where I don't speak the language because it gives me so much time to listen to people speak (without eavesdropping in the content of what they are discussing) and think to myself. I want to learn every language that I hear (they are all so beautiful and different). I smile, I ask for help, I listen and follow what everyone else is doing (where to wait in line, when to cross the street, etc.).
I have had discussions with people who are curious (just like this show) about my life experience. At different times I have traveled when events between nations may not be the best but I have never met a person who made me feel scared for being who I am (nationality, etc.). People may be curious but aren't we all? Sometimes people are strident about an issue but they know that I am not a politician so they are not angry at me personally. The hospitality I have experienced around the world has been phenomenal. We should all seek to make travelers that we meet in our home location comfortable and feel welcome.
6) What are the benefits of travel?
Everything. You learn about yourself. You learn about your planet. You open up your mind to new experiences, new sounds, new tastes, new music, new food, new friends, new professional opportunities, new romance (if that is your interest), new ideas; you are in many ways reborn every time you explore a new part of your planet!
If you aspire to hold a high ranking professional position, you will most likely have to travel at some point.
Here are some articles with tips:
Business travel helps our global economy. "A recent study commissioned by WTTC showed that business travel was responsible for one third of the growth in global trade over the past decade." (http://www.wttc.org/site_media/uploads/downloads/traveltourism2011.pdf)
Traveling households earn more money (in the US) than non-traveling households (this may be a chicken and the egg issue of which came first). “Traveling households earn more than non-traveling households. In 2012, the median household income for domestic leisure travelers was $62,500. For business travelers, the median household income was $87,500. This compares to $52,800 for the general U.S. population.” (http://www.ustravel.org/news/press-kit/travel-facts-and-statistics)
Some of my favorite airports are Schiphol (Amsterdam), Narita (Tokyo) and there is a soft spot in my heart for the Bilbao (Spain) airport. In Cape Town, South Africa you must take the trip to Robben Island (prison where Nelson Mandela and other historical figures were held during apartheid). In South Africa, you also should head to Stellenbosch to the wineries. In Mumbai, India make sure to stop by the Ghandi museum (small enough to really see everything and fascinating). For my 40th birthday I took myself to Italy and I had the best service at this hotel in Venice, UNA hotel Venezia - delightful breakfast and on a quiet street. Plan ahead or else you will be in a long line at the Uffizi in Florence, Italy (and I brought a small battery powered fan in my bag as it can get really crowded in some exhibit rooms).
I could go on but the key is for you to explore your planet!!
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