Since leaving home for Europe alone at age seventeen, Karen Gershowitz has traveled to more than ninety countries.

In pursuit of her passion for travel, she lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change. She learned courage and risk taking and succeeded at things she didn’t think she could do: She climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. She visited remote areas of Indonesia on her own and became a translator, though only fluent in English. She conquered her fear of falling while on an elephant trek in Thailand. And she made friends across the globe, including a Japanese family who taught her to make sushi and a West Berliner who gave her an insider’s look at the city shortly after the wall came down.

An example that will inspire armchair travelers to become explorers and embolden everyone to be more courageous, Travel Mania is a vivid story of how one woman found her strength, power, and passion.

Travel is Karen’s addiction—and she doesn’t want treatment.


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I was 17 years old, traveling alone, when I boarded a plane to Europe. Living in a different culture I experienced the world in new and surprising ways and discovered myself. My love of travel was born. I didn’t return to the US for three years.

Since then I’ve traveled to more than 90 countries. I climbed Kilimanjaro, conquered my fear of falling to go on an elephant trek in Thailand, spent time in Berlin shortly after the wall came down, stayed with a Japanese family who taught me to make sushi and made friends across the globe. [read more]

Karen Gershowitz
November 2, 2022Blog, Italy,

Italy Day 10 – Cefalu forecast rain for today. But what they didn’t say was whether it would be a drizzle or a downpour.  I woke up to a slate gray sky and fine mist.  That wouldn’t stop us from our plan to tour Palermo. While sipping my mor...

November 2, 2022Blog, Italy, Uncategorized

Italy Day 8 – Cefalu, Sicily

We were up and out early this morning, largely because we didn’t trust Ditzy, the GPS. We were scheduled for a food and walking tour of Cefalu.  Giving ourselves a lot of time was a good decision because Ditzy misdirected us several ti...

November 2, 2022Blog, Italy,

Italy Day 7 – Cefalu, Sicily

Kathy and I were both awake for the sunrise show—the sky morphed from pale blue to deep pink to orange.  After that, we had a lazy morning–breakfast on our terrace, laundry, drawing (Kathy), writing (me) and both of us reading intermi...

November 2, 2022Blog, Italy

Italy Day 4 – Milan

Kathy and I made reservations to see Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper while we were still at home.  We decided to go explore the neighborhood and have lunch nearby prior to our 1:15 reservation time. The refectory of the church of Santa...

November 2, 2022Blog, Italy

Italy day 3 – Milan

Milan has dozens of tantalizing museums—nearly all are closed on Monday. Instead, we returned to the Duomo. As impressive as the cathedral is from a distance, the exterior is even more remarkable close-up. The walls are embellished wit...

November 2, 2022Blog, Italy

Italy – Day One – Milan

I’m in Italy with my friend Kathy for the next two weeks. The first day after a long flight always feels disorienting, especially when you arrive early morning. It was a long ride from the airport into the city, but I can’t tell you ...

July 6, 2022Blog, United States, ,

Southwest USA

My first trip to the southwest in 1979 began in Albuquerque. I’d never spent time in the southwest before, or in any desert environment. Everything seemed as different from New York as it could be. Buildings were low. Instead of steel ...

Welcome to Valance Sign
May 14, 2022Blog, France, ,

Valance, France

Last night we took a short scenic cruise to see Avignon’s famous Pont Bénezet (bridge) lit up. It’s famous due to a song about it.  Most tourists assumed (as I did) that it was destroyed during the second world war.  In fact, it w...

May 12, 2022Blog, France, , ,

Travel Travails

It’s 9:15PM and my friend Sue and I are in Marseilles, France.  We just enjoyed a glass of wine and wonderful Bouillabaisse dinner, in a restaurant with a view of the old port.   But since last evening it has been a crapshoot as to w...

March 25, 2022Blog, , , ,

Stained Glass

When I think of fine crafts and the arts, stained glass isn’t top of mind. Perhaps that’s because it is usually associated with religious themes and houses of worship.   Still, the best examples are exquisite. Sainte Chapelle cathed...

February 7, 2022Blog, , , ,

Balinese Food Market

I joined a tour of the local market.  Usually, I observe but don’t know what I’m looking at. This time I could find out. “What is that gelatinous, green goop?” I asked. “An herbal drink meant to make you strong. It’s got grea...

Grand Old Lady Mansion
January 15, 2022Blog, Finland, , ,

Finland 2006

Hanko a small town in SW Finland has grand seaside villas built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was a glamorous retreat for Russian nobles, czars and artists.  Many of these “old ladies,” as the villas are referre...

August 5, 2021Blog

Columbia River Gorge — Oregon

(Excerpt from my travel journal in 2001 when I was on a 9-month road trip) On the drive to the gorge the sky was a patchwork of clouds and hints of blue but not a single ray of sun.  Paralleling I-84 and the Columbia River, but a whole l...

August 2, 2021Blog

American Museum Of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, New York City The newly reopened Hall of Gems and Minerals is a stunner. If you have any interest in geology, this is the place for you. If like me, you just like seeing beautiful things, get...

July 21, 2021Blog

Fes, Morocco

As I passed through ancient key-hole gates, I traveled to the past. A world heritage site, this medina is believed to be the largest walled city on earth. Narrow lanes create a massive maze; without a guide any non-local is certain to get...

July 12, 2021Blog

Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY

Twenty years ago today, I was was well into my 9-month road trip. The first sign I saw upon entering Lexington read “Leave racing to horses – work zone ahead”. It was non-stop horses for days; the town is horse crazy. There was hor...

July 1, 2021Blog

Seneca Falls, NY

Most people know Seneca Falls as a central location of the women’s rights movement. It is certainly that, but also so much more. But let’s start at the beginning. We started this morning at Connie’s, a timeless diner. Apart from ha...

June 29, 2021Blog


My first book, Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust will be released in a few weeks. I’m already at work on the second book—more travel tales. Today I’ve been revisiting a trip to a very remote town in the Australian outback, Andamo...

June 24, 2021Blog

Bryce Canyon, Utah 1991

I’ve been focusing a lot on my extended road trip twenty years ago, but my ramblings around the US go much further back. The southwest has particular appeal for me and over the decades I’ve explored the area many times. In 1991, I tr...

June 18, 2021Blog

Indonesian Kids

Each Indonesian Island has a unique culture, partially based on the prevailing religion (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic). On each of my trips to Indonesia I’ve been impressed by people’s friendliness on all of the isla...

June 17, 2021Blog

Kentuck, Northport Alabama

Located about an hour south of Birmingham, the Kentuck Art Center is a mecca for outsider artists. There are studios, a gallery and shop. Once a year they host a huge outdoor festival. I’ve attended the festival twice and each time hav...

June 11, 2021Blog

Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Michigan

Twenty years ago today, I started with a cruise on Lake Superior to see the Pictured Rocks; a sight I’d been told I shouldn’t miss. I had some misgivings about going out on a gray, cold day, but assumed we’d be in a warm dry cabin....

June 10, 2021Blog

Why I travel (Part 7)

Travel has confirmed that music and dance bring universal joy. At a concert in Fez, Morocco I watched women dressed head to toe in jellabas, stand on chairs dancing and cheering to the music of the gospel group, Five Blind Boys from Alab...

June 6, 2021Blog

Why I travel (Part 6)

I travel because even when I’m not traveling, I like to think about it. I derive great joy from anticipating my next journey and sharing my experiences from previous trips. I travel because there are places in the world where I can liv...

June 4, 2021Blog

Why I Travel (Part 5)

I travel because it reminds me that no matter how savvy and smart I think I am, there’s always more to learn. There are people across the globe with very great talent and skills. They’ve had different life experiences, so think and d...

June 4, 2021Blog

Why I Travel (Part 4)

I travel because it makes history real for me. Ancient Egypt doesn’t seem so ancient after seeing the pyramids and Valley of the Kings. The Incas and Aztecs aren’t just civilizations that I learned about in school – they’re livin...

June 2, 2021Blog

Why I Travel (Part 3)

I travel because I like to shake up my routine. A college professor convinced me years ago that experimentation with different ways of doing things and breaking routines is exercise for the brain. It makes people more alert, healthier an...

June 1, 2021Blog

Why I Travel (Part 2)

I travel because it makes for good stories, even the bad experiences. Especially the bad experiences. How could I ever forget being on a converted fishing boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with seven people I couldn’t stand and m...

June 1, 2021Blog

Why I Travel (Part 1)

I travel because deep within me burns an insatiable hunger to try new things. I’m an experience junkie. When traveling it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen, who I’ll strike up a conversation with, what I’ll learn, wha...

May 17, 2021Blog

Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia

Thirty years ago, I spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur before leaving for an extended trip through Indonesia. At the time the city hadn’t raised the towering skyscrapers for which it is now known. It was an eclectic mix of British influe...

May 16, 2021Blog

Faces of India

A good friend told me before I traveled to India ten years ago, “You’ll see some of the most beautiful sights and some of the ugliest, and they’re often right next to each other. Focus on the beauty.” She was correct. One constan...

May 5, 2021Blog

Amish Market – Belleville, PA

On this day 20 years ago, I stayed with friends in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Close by is a large valley populated primarily by Amish and Mennonites. We spent the day taking in the beauty of the area and its unique culture. The valley is ...

April 29, 2021Blog

MoPOP, Seattle

When I last visited the Museum of Pop Culture, it was called the Experience Music Project. Since being established by Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 it’s been evolving, changing exhibition focus, programs and its name. The one...

April 24, 2021Blog


In 1993 I traveled several times to Australia on business. Each trip I took a few extra days to explore. Sometimes I had plans, other destinations were set by whim or the recommendations of Australians I worked with. I decided to go to T...

April 23, 2021Blog

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

I traveled to Boise several times for meetings with Idaho’s iconic company – Ore-Ida Potatoes. On one trip I took extra time, rented a car and traveled around the state. Craters of the Moon national monument was an unexpected delight...

April 21, 2021Blog

Abel Tasman Park, South Island New Zealand

I’ve told many travelers to New Zealand that Abel Tasman National Park is a must-see destination. It’s difficult to get to, but well worth the effort. A boat ride is needed to get inside the park. Once there, there are pristine hikin...

April 14, 2021Blog

Cape Town, South Africa

In Cape Town’s center city we serendipitously came upon the Minstrel’s Parade. It commemorates the freeing of the slaves in the early 1800’s. It’s a bit like Mardi Gras, but more loosely organized. Teams, each from a different ne...

April 13, 2021Blog

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Ghost Ranch is about an hour’s drive from Albuquerque. Formerly the home of Georgia O’Keeffe it is now a retreat center. As I drove closer, I recognized some of the surrounding landscape from her paintings. Landscapes in the US south...

April 10, 2021Blog

St. Brendan’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Newfoundland is a wild, largely untouristy place. On a road trip across the province, I stayed in B&Bs in remote areas and enjoyed unobstructed views of the land, sea and sky. It was an amazing place to stargaze; there is almost no ambien...

April 5, 2021Blog

Chinchero, Peru

When I traveled to Peru fifteen years ago, I visited a weaver’s co-op in the village of Chinchero. Located high in the Andes, not far from Cusco, the setting is breathtaking. It’s also literally breathtaking because of the altitude. ...

April 2, 2021Blog


In 2001 I took a nine-month road trip around the US. My intent was to travel to difficult-to-visit places. Most of the vast state of Wyoming was new to me. Yellowstone lived up to its reputation of natural beauty. The drive through the S...

April 1, 2021Blog


This scene looks as if it could be an antique postcard from one hundred years ago. It’s old, but not that old. I shot it in Vienna nearly thirty years ago. I never felt quite comfortable in Vienna, despite its elegance. It felt formal,...

March 31, 2021Blog

Naguar Camel Festival

One highlight of my travels to India was the camel festival in the desert town of Naguar. I had no idea what to expect other than a lot of camels. That was certainly true—more camels in a glance than I’d seen in my lifetime. The unex...

March 30, 2021Blog

Silk Market – Seoul, South Korea

Entering into a massive building, probably two city blocks long, we saw household goods, ordinary clothes and a few paltry silk shops. Could this really be the famed silk market? After stumbling about we went upstairs. We entered into a ...

March 24, 2021Blog

La Jolla, CA

The La Jolla coast is known for its population of wild seals and sea lions. On any sunny day it is easy to see large numbers of them lounging or swimming along the shoreline. It took me a while to see the differences between the two mari...

March 22, 2021Blog

One World Trade NYC

The deep blue cloudless sky made yesterday the perfect conditions for viewing NYC from above. A discount coupon and controlled occupancy made going there irresistible. I’d been planning to visit ever since the observatory opened in 201...

March 16, 2021Blog

Crane Foundation – Baraboo, Wisconsin

Driving through Wisconsin in pursuit of outsider artists and the environments they create, I came upon a sign for the Crane Foundation. Upon entering I was transported from the wacky worlds of fantastical animals and people made from scr...

March 14, 2021Blog

London’s Sky Garden

One year ago today I visited one of London’s newest attractions – the sky garden. Located in the financial district, this free public space opened in 2015. Starting on the 43rd floor of an office tower is a three-story climbing garde...

March 12, 2021Blog

Pennsylvania Station

When I was a kid, Pennsylvania Station was a glory of NYC. The ceiling of the waiting room soared 148 feet high. Sun poured in through huge windows. In 1963 it was demolished to make way for the new Madison Square Garden. Its replacement...

March 9, 2021Blog

Uros Islands, Peru

At an altitude of 12,500 feet, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable body of water. It’s also home to the Uros Islands – manmade islands that float on the lake. There are roughly 120 islands that are home to about 1,200 pe...

March 5, 2021Blog

Detroit Angels

In 2005 my friend Maggie took me to see the Delray neighborhood of Detroit. Maggie, a native Detroiter, told me that it had once been a vibrant neighborhood, but had fallen into decay. A local artist, Carl Kamulski, decided to help by de...

March 3, 2021Blog

Thai Puppets

The intricate, life-sized puppets moved so realistically that within minutes I’d stopped noticing the puppeteer.  Performed in Thai, I didn’t know what was said, but between program notes (in English) and their actions a clear story ...

February 27, 2021Blog

Torres del Paine National Park

The dramatic skies changed minute by minute, dark clouds scudding across the sky creating constantly changing patchworks of sun, clouds and swirling mist as a backdrop to dramatic mountains. The strong winds propel tall grasses into an e...

February 23, 2021Blog

Plitvicka Lakes National Park

After one day in Zagreb recuperating from jetlag, I departed heading towards Split. Along the route is must-see Plitvicka Lakes National Park. Unfortunately, I was traveling in August, height of the tourist season. The park was gorgeous ...

February 20, 2021Blog


One year ago, I was in Curaçao enjoying warmth, sun and fabulous street art. I anticipated the perfect weather, had seen photos of the colorful buildings lining the harbor of Willemstad, had even read about the floating pedestrian bridg...

February 19, 2021Blog

Burma / Myanmar

When I hear the news about the military takeover in Burma it breaks my heart.  I visited the country in 2012 as the political situation was beginning to improve. Aung San Suu Kyi had recently been released from house arrest and everywher...

February 18, 2021Blog

St. Martin

Every winter, except this one, I escape to some warm location for a week of soaking up restorative sunshine. Often this travel coincides with Mardi Gras and I’m treated to more than beaches. Sometimes I’m aware that there will be par...

February 16, 2021Blog

ARCs — Advance Reader Copies

The Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of my book, Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust, have arrived.  It is a thrill to finally hold a bound book in my hands after so many years in the making. Thanks to the many people who have helped make th...

September 30, 2020Blog

Walking Beside the Camels on a Camel Trek

An excerpt from my upcoming travel memoir, Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust On the first morning of the camel trek, I walked at the front of two parallel lines of camels. A gentle Moroccan camel tender led each line, singing and chant...

September 25, 2020Blog

Yaks at the Roof of the World

An excerpt from my upcoming travel memoir “Travel Mania:” “As our plane passed over, I got my first glimpse of the Himalayas. At first they didn’t look much different from the Rockies—snow-covered peaks with deep valleys and the occa...