Travel Writing and Women: Interview with Jaclyn Mishal and Rachel Sales of Pink Pangea

PinkPangea_LogoToday on #CultureTrav Pink Pangea and Nikki Vargas from Pin The Map Project (who has also contributed to Pink Pangea as a writer) joined us to discuss Travel Writing. Below is an interview to help you get to know Pink Pangea better.

What inspired you to start Pink Pangea, a community entirely focused on women’s travel experiences?
Well if you ask me (Jaclyn), you’ll get a different answer than if you ask Rachel, who’s sitting right next to me. I always loved to travel, so when Rachel asked me if I wanted to create a business with her, I immediately said yes.

For Rachel, the inspiration came from a solo trip to Ukraine. She planned to stay in Kiev, but then decided to explore the countryside too. Yet, she wasn’t sure if it was safe to take overnight trains. Unfortunately, her trusty travel guide didn’t have that information either; in fact, the only advice it had for women travelers was to bring tampons and not to walk in dark alleys. She realized that women needed a place to share their travel experiences with one another.

Do you think women travelers have enough of a voice in travel media? If not, how does Pink Pangea help?
Absolutely. Women are leading the way as travel bloggers. We are no longer in the dark ages. We now have endless platforms to share our experiences with world – and we are using them.

Could more women be sharing their stories? Absolutely. We’re working with women all over the world to inspire them.

How does the Pink Pangea community inspire you before or during travel?
Pink Pangea has published the writing of thousands of women who have traveled all over the world — from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia to Argentina to the Solomon Islands. They’ve traveled solo, with friends, on a whim, and after much planning. They’ve faced language barriers, battled loneliness, found jobs, established communities, and learned so much about their capabilities. These are strong, smart, adventurous women who constantly inspire us to see the world and discover ourselves in the process.

How has Pink Pangea grown since you launched, and where do you envision it going in the next five years?
When we first launched Pink Pangea, we focused primarily on publishing the stories of women traveling all over the world. That has stayed the same, and since then, we have published the writing of thousands of women. We have also launched travel writing, meditation, and yoga retreats around the world– including in Costa Rica, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Israel. We run workshops in partnership with colleges and companies, including Barnard, Mount Holyoke, New York Travel Festival, and REI. We also launched a series of online workshops — including a travel writing intensive course and a memoir writing workshop.

Tell us more about your writing workshops. How do your workshops help people come out of their shell and dig deeper into the emotional aspect of writing?
Most formal education is taught in an informative structure, meaning, the teacher (the expert) is trusted to know and relay the information to the students. This is often done through lectures, textbooks, memorization and tests. Pink Pangea workshops are not informative, they are transformative. The teacher guides the participants through experiential activities which draw out the answers — from them.

We provide activities that awaken the imagination, allow participants to explore what they really want to say in their writing and, of course, provide opportunities to share their writing and receive feedback from the group. The etymology of the word educate is “to lead out, or draw out”. We are drawing out the greatness (or as Julia Cameron describes it, the gold), of each participant.

How do you approach writing during travel? What are some tips you can share to help others who may be pressed for time, or not sure how to begin a story?
Write, write, write. Just write. Whether it’s in a journal, on a computer or sloppy notes on napkins. Write how you feel most comfortable. No rules.

What are the top concerns you hear about in your writing workshops and how do you help people overcome these (i.e. fear of failure, lack of confidence, lack of material to talk about)?
There are infinite ways that fears show up around both writing and sharing our writing. That said, there are about six common fears and most of us hold at least one. No one is exempt from fear. We work with writers to address the fears in creative ways. When we think of a fear, we often want to run away from it.

Fear is one of our greatest teachers. It’s guiding us. The key is to understand what it’s trying to tell us. Once we understand our fear, we can make powerful choices around it. It no longer has a hold on us.

But until we do, our choices will come from our fear – not our power. We have many workshops designed to do just that. These are all taught through experiential exercises, as mentioned above. Want to know more about how we do it? Join our upcoming Fearless Living Online Workshop.

What advice do you have for writers when dealing with unsupportive feedback?
Our Fearless Living Workshop is designed to look at what’s really upsetting us about the unsupportive feedback we receive. We all receive unsupportive feedback from time to time. The question is, what meaning do we add to it? And why? When we understand the roots of our fear, it no longer controls us.

You’ve hosted travel writing retreats in Costa Rica, Tuscany, Barcelona, and Tel Aviv, among other destinations. What makes these retreats so special?
Similar to our workshops the retreats are taught through a transformative style of education and are a lot of fun. We are able to delve much deeper than a workshop, as we spend anywhere from three to 10 days together. Julianne wrote about her experience on Pink Pangea Travel Writing Retreat here.

Where have you personally felt most inspired to write about travel? Any favorite destinations come to mind?
Rachel: I feel inspired to write when I’m out of my comfort zone and feeling my way through new situations. I most recently wrote a piece about staying in a hostel’s mixed dorm as a first-time pregnant woman–and wondering if it was finally time to give up my “hobo” travel habits.

How is Pink Pangea making a difference for women travelers around the world?
Depends who you ask! Our community members have endless experiences to share. Here’s some of their feedback:

“I came out of it a different person than I went in…[Jaclyn] made us linger in our discomfort long enough to compel us to make a change. In fact, she had to relinquish control in order for it to be a catalyst. That’s a mark of a great teacher.” – Stephen Elliot

“The Fearless Living Workshop was so rejuvenating and clarifying. Thank you for the for safe space and enlightenment!” – Kelly Thiede

“I had been struggling to write about certain fears that have recently entered my life, but the support and encouragement I received when prompted to put the words on the page allowed me to write honestly about my fears for the first time.” — Anne Castagnaro

Check out more feedback from our workshops here.

Interested in contributing to Pink Pangea? Submit an article idea here. Have questions or want feedback from them? Be sure to follow the community on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, too! This article originally appeared on Nicolette Orleman’s Culture With Travel website.

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