Anna Wexler is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and adventure traveler whose trip ideas are a continual source of concern for her friends and family. She has yet to top the solo bicycle ride across Mexico, but volcano boarding in Nicaragua, motorcycling through northern Vietnam, and seal hunting in Greenland all came pretty close. When Wexler isn’t on the road, she writes about science, travel, and food from her sea view desk in Tel Aviv. Her work has appeared in a number of print and online publications, including Maxim, 18, Glimpse, Budget Travel, and Mir Afishu, and the books A Stingray Bit My Nipple: True Stories from Real Travelers, and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & obscure. Visit her at www.annawexler.com
In what ways does writing inform your relationship with travel? Do you keep a journal? Conduct interviews? Write on location?
I try not to think about the story while I’m traveling. That being said, if I feel like a given experience will make a good story, I try to take notes as soon as possible. The tiny details only stick in my head for a few days, but once I have those notes, I can structure the story months or even years later.
Is there something you always do whenever you’re on a trip?
I love browsing grocery and convenience stores. I always try to buy a few strange looking snacks, just to see what the locals eat.
What advice can you give to women who want to start traveling?
Travel gives me perspective. Whenever I need clarity, or need to take a step back and wonder if I'm on the right path in life, I travel.
Also, whenever any of my friends goes through a rough breakup, I recommend “Wexler therapy,” which consists of purchasing a cheap last-minute plane ticket to a country that you haven’t visited before. No planning or research allowed. That way, when you’re standing in the middle of Bucharest and you have no idea how to get around, what to eat, or where to sleep, you’re going to be thinking about Bucharest and not about your ex.
What’s one important lesson you’ve learned from your travels?
If you’re traveling with another person, make sure to take frequent breaks. That way, instead of the dreaded dinner silence (yes, it happens to the best of us) you can regale each other with tales of your day’s adventures. Plus, when you go solo you’re more likely to meet new people, which is one of the most interesting aspects of travel!
Do you think women and men approach travel-or travel writing-differently? How does being a woman affect the way you travel or experience the world?
A solo woman is perceived as unthreatening and harmless, so in that sense, being a female traveler has definitely opened doors. On the flipside, though, in many countries a lone female is perceived as loose, or openly desiring of sex. In these places, we solo ladies are often subjected to a fair amount of hassle: ogling, incessant staring, catcalls, whistling, and vulgar comments. While the “hassle factor” hasn’t put me off completely from traveling to a new place, it’s certainly something I take into consideration before booking my flight.
What’s on your list of future destinations?
Shh. That’s a secret.
In your opinion, what is the greatest reward of traveling?
Travel gives me perspective. Whenever I need clarity, or need to take a step back and wonder if I’m on the right path in life, I travel.