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WomanOf the Month 3-04: Marybeth Bond

What better way to rejuvenate yourself than through travel? Our WomanOf the Month, Marybeth Bond, believes travel is particularly valuable for women. "Through travel we test and stretch our limits," she says. "At its essence, travel is about discovering confidence, opening new vistas, learning new cultures and cultivating new ways of thinking about life." Bond is the award-winning author/editor of five women###s travel books in the Travelers### Tales series, the adventure editor for TravelGirl Magazine, and a popular speaker.

Bond###s passion for travel was nurtured early on when she, her parents and three siblings traveled for a month every summer, often crossing the country by car and camping. After high school she worked in the Grand Tetons and then attended the Luxembourg campus of Miami University of Ohio for her freshman year of college. She graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris, earning her master###s degree in French and comparative literature. A move back to the U.S. landed her marketing jobs with corporations such as Zerox and Honeywell in the San Francisco Bay area, but all the while she was saving up money for her long-term goal: a trip around the world. When her 30th birthday arrived, she gave herself the gift she###d always wanted and took two years off to travel. "I credit my mother for my passion for travel," she says today. "She was a high school history teacher and never discouraged me from trying new things. Also, growing up in Ohio, I think we Midwesterners have a great awe factor about the world."

Bond believes women often travel at a changing point in their lives, using voyages as a cocoon stage from which to metamorphosis into something different or greater. She followed that path herself, as her two years off provided a jumping off point from the corporate world into the courageous leap of entrepreneurship-a cottage industry of travel writing focused on family and women--and thinking outside the box.

"For women to take the first step to travel is a great act of courage," Bond says. "We travel differently than men do in that we###re more aware of the dangers of travel, with good reason, but also we interact with other people. Where women go, relationships follow. That is key. You meet people, try on new identities and come back changed."

Bond###s books include Traveler###s Tales: A Woman###s World; Gutsy Women; and A Woman###s Passion for Travel: More Stories from a Woman###s World, which are collections of travel essays by women; and Gutsy Mamas: Travel Tips and Wisdom for Mothers on the Road and A Mother###s World: Journeys of the Heart.

"After I came back from traveling, ###You can do it!### became my rallying cry," she says. "It###s easy to find the gutsy woman within. She###s within, just waiting. You won###t be any lonelier on the road than you are at home. Life on the road is life at home."

Over the years Bond has traveled to six continents and more than 75 countries. She loves to travel with her husband and two daughters; this year she and her girls plan to tour the U.S. South. She celebrates the growing trend of women taking trips either alone or in the company of other women. "It###s a break from the routine, from the family, the marriage, the job," she says. "Even if it###s only two days off, take the break and come back rejuvenated and recommitted. We need to take time for ourselves."

What are some of Bond###s favorite destinations? "I love Europe, including Eastern Europe," she says. "I love the Grand Tetons, backpacking through the Tetons. Biking in Ireland. Hiking in the Cotswolds. Diving off the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Wildlife viewing in Tanzania. And I also love seeing everything in this wonderful country of ours."

While travel has become more limited given additional terrorist threats since 9/11, Bond notes that it is more affordable today than a decade ago. Further, women no longer must go under the protection of men, and they do so with the full support of the men in their life. "It###s a societal shift," she notes. "Men are encouraging and paying, if necessary, for women to take a trip. Also, women are traveling differently than before, more often alone, or with other women, and more often paying for themselves. Ninety percent of all travel decisions are made by women, regardless of who travels and who pays."

In June Bond, along with other founding members, will launch Activewomen.com, "a premier travel and lifestyle resource for active women" providing women-reviewed and approved resources. As Bond says, "Every woman is gutsy in her own way."