“I often don’t know what I’m getting into because if I knew it wouldn’t be as exciting.” ~ Rita Golden Gelman
In 1987, Rita Golden Gelman divorced, sold her possessions and left behind what many would have considered to be a glamorous life in Los Angeles. She hasn’t had a permanent address since. She makes friends wherever she goes, she stays as a guest, she rents apartments but wherever she is, her belongings fit in her suitcase.
You may know Rita as the author of Tales of a Female Nomad in which she chronicles her first 15 or so years of her travels. I read this book when it first came out in 2001. And although I had already been traveling for many years by then, it really did help shape my future travels. Basically, by reading her stories and adventures, I was emboldened to travel more. She made seeing the world really quite possible. And she taught me the value of making connections with local people.
Rita is also the author of Female Nomad and Friends. It’s a book from which all the proceeds have helped children from a slum in Delhi and that includes a $55,000 advance that she received. Rita is also the author of more than 70 children’s books, some of which are still in print and sold through Scholastic.
At 80, Rita is still traveling. She’s still connecting (which is her big message). And she’s still inspiring others to do the same.
In this episode we talk about how she was living that “dream life” in LA, attending events and parties with movie stars and how she ended up walking away from that and her marriage to follow her dream.
We talk about why she doesn’t want to return to Bali even after she spent 8 years there living with a royal family.
We also talk about friendships, those she’s lost as a result of her extended travels but also the lifelong friendships she’s made as a result—and that includes many fans of her Nomad book.
She’s got an amazing vision of a changed country where young people go travel the world for a month or a year (what many know as a gap year) before they go to school so they can experience other cultures.
Rita shares her best tips for how to connect with people at every destination.
Like a true anthropologist, she calls herself a participant observer.
All in all she’s got some great advice for bringing the world together.
Please enjoy this conversation with Rita Golden Gelman.
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