Q: 50 by 30 is a fun title- I get it!
A: It's simple, really: I was 30 when I visited my 50th State; completed all 50 by 30. It's catchy! However, if I'd known when I titled the book the importance of key search words, I might not have chosen a title that blends in with extension cords and men's pant sizes in Amazon search results.
Q: What’s your favorite state to visit and why?
A: That's tough. Who can pick a favorite out of fifty?! Overall, my favorite state to visit has to be my home state of Pennsylvania for its green trees, distinct accents, historic stone farmhouses, and mouth-watering greasy foods. (YEAH PA!!)
Outside of my home state, there's Utah, which is filled with raw beauty; California, which has more variety than one could ask for, from mountain to ocean with desert and Sequoia trees in between; and, as a fan of roadside America, South Dakota.
Q: Globetrotting is your job right now- what’s a challenge you’ve overcome?
A: It's tough living away from family and close friends. (Kari and fam – husband Paul, daughter Sequoia, and doggie Flash- currently live in Germany) The novelty of expat life, the novelty of globetrotting--it wears off after a while. I've had to overcome the resulting isolation, which in our move to Germany was compounded by my inability to communicate. I had to learn German, fast. Although I can get by in several languages, my languages don't cover the whole globe. I don't let communication barriers stop me when deciding on destinations, though. There's always charades.
As a writer, being an expat is difficult because you can't beat the pavement like emerging authors in the States can do. I can't do book signings, tours, etc. That has been another definite challenge.
Q: What is a travel tip for someone who’s never had their passport inked?
A: You mean, more than just, "GO!"?
I find it essential to keep a sense of humor about your travels. Whether you've walked several miles in the heat of August in Rome (Rome in August again, Kari? Will you never learn?) to a restaurant that's closed or found yourself trekking through an unexpected snowfall and flooded trails in sandals and socks in Croatia, you need to be able to laugh about it. Remember that the most memorable trips aren't just the ones with amazing views--they're also the ones that go awry.
But more practically, know your travel party and know yourself. My favorite thing to plan is a group trip. For example, I enjoy finding a destination that is simultaneously fun for my 8-year-old, relaxing for my husband, and quirky for me. It's important to understand each member in a travel party so that everyone has a great time. Also, know yourself. Where are you willing to splurge and where aren't you? Figure out how to spend your money ahead of time. If you're a foodie, maybe stay somewhere cheap and splurge on restaurants. If you're looking for amazing service and views, splurge on the hotel. If you're not looking forward to a long flight, splurge on your ticket to make it a direct flight if possible, perhaps with extra legroom or an upgrade, and think about going directly through the airline and not a discount site if you're nervous about being bumped or separated from your companions--airlines worry about their own customers first.
Q: What is one of the best souvenirs you’ve ever gotten and where?
A: Hmmm...lately we've been trying to be practical about our souvenirs, so my current favorite is probably all of the dishes we brought back from Poland. Every day, we use these vibrant works of art and remember picking individual pieces out from stacks on shop floors and eating pierogis out of deep dishes in local restaurants. Of a less practical nature, I really like the cow bell we picked up in the Alps. It reminds me of the unexpected procession of cows and traditionally-dressed locals walking down the street right past our car as the sound of the bells echoed through the misty valley.
Q: What brought on the desire to write this book?
A: To be honest, I was working a fictional novel when, during Nanowrimo 2013, I happened to be casually re-reading my own writing about various trips. I realized that I had enough to write a full-length book. I then culled old journals, emails, photos, scrapbooks--everything--and found that I'd documented so many details that I could accurately represent the experiences even years later, often in my original words. I think it's a little self-indulgent to write a memoir-esque book, so I tried to focus on the adventures and not too much on myself.
Q: Anything new up and coming?
A: Absolutely. I just finished a humorous children's picture book, "The Day Flash Couldn't Even," which is currently with an illustrator. We will try the traditional publishing route, but if it doesn't pan out within our desired timeframe, we'll go indie. I have another, more serious children's book that I finished a few years ago, "Sophia's Surgery," which I'll have him look at next if our visions continue to mesh.
Right now, I'm working on a novel based on my travels with Some Guy's Hat--a typical 1950's felt German hat filled with souvenir pins. I picked it up at a flea market in the Black Forest and am now visiting all of these towns that some guy found interesting enough to visit 50+ years ago. Although the novel started out as non-fiction, I'm looking at fictionalizing it. Depending upon which way I go, the working titles are either "Some Guy's Hat" or "June's Hat." When I'm not inspired to work on that one, I revisit "It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature," the fictional novel that I've been working on for years. I'm stuck about two thirds of the way through. I just don't know how the main characters are going to logically get from the US to the Middle East for their purposes, in a manner that won't break the suspension of disbelief.
Q: Where’s your next trip?
A: The next trip that lasts longer than 2-3 days, is a road trip with a family of five. There will be 8 of us (and that includes an 11-month-old) sweating in August in a van crossing Germany, Belgium, France, England, and the Netherlands. It should be a hot mess.
I'll try to find the time to live tweet (@ingermanyabroad), instagram (karilogue), and blog (karilogue.com) the adventure!
Read this book! Then read Kari’s blogs! As a writer, finding good writing is essential, and finding a friend who has this much adventure, fun, humility, and talent makes Kari the rockstar traveler of Europe! One of the best things about Kari is that she says/writes what others are thinking...because you KNOW you are thinking it too.
I love reading her posts, and you will too! Read 50 by 30 and follow Kari on her travels.
(All pictures are from Karilogue.com)