Jane Wilson-Howarth

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Women Travellers

Friday, 01 March 2019
Dr Jane, you’ve written nine travel-related books, are a long-term contributor to Wanderlust magazine and have had pieces published in travel anthologies including Bradt's To Oldly Go. Which writing are you most proud of?
My memoir A Glimpse of Eternal Snows took the most time and emotional effort to write and I believe communicates my passion for Nepal, warts and all. Readers have said they can smell the spices and imagine the vibrancy of the country. But Your Child Abroad is probably the most useful book I’ve written and I hope it empowers intrepid parents to strike out and explore exotic destinations with the children. Kids are such great travellers and introduce you to so many people you otherwise wouldn’t meet.
 
What travel writers do you admire?
I love travel writers who understate their skills and competence. Mary Kingsley is my all-time favourite; it is astonishing how she glosses over having to wear her ‘good thick skirt’ and leaky boots in her travels through the steamy jungles of West Africa. I also delight in fiction set in exotic places, for example the powerful novel Red Dawn Rising by Katrina Butterworth which poignantly portrays a family surviving the civil war here in Nepal.
 
When you are in the jungle or on a remote trip, what are your essential pieces of kit?
Torch, repellent, squirty water bottle (to avoid the need for buying water in plastic bottles AND toilet paper) and a notebook. I’m not a great diary-writer but find I can hand-write inspired descriptive pieces by the light of the fire in the evenings.
 
Is travelling with women different to travel in a mixed group or with a male partner?
I suppose this can depend on the destination. In Pakistan disrespecting a woman means disrespecting her father / brother / husband / travel companion. Here in Nepal it is unusual for local women to travel alone so foreign women travelling without men might occasionally need to remind locals of what is honourable behaviour, but this is rare. Even in challenging destinations, I’ve had lots of positive encounters – albeit slightly chauvinist experiences – where I’ve been championed and protected by both male and female strangers.
 
What top tip would you give to women who want to travel?
Network and choose your location carefully according to your temperament especially if travelling alone, be culturally sensitive in your dress and then relax and enjoy the adventure. You’ll meet lots of wonderful hospitable people who will mother you!