I'm loving Look for Me There; Grieving My Father, Finding Myself, Luke Russert's memoir about his recent solitary travels around the world, taken to come to terms with the sudden death of his beloved father, Tim Russert (anchor of NBC's Meet the Press) and to more forward with his own life. It took Luke eight years after his fathers fatal heart attack to garner the awareness that he needed time to grieve, and, the courage set out on his own and face the future.
I love this book because I resonate with Luke's solitary travel. I am reading it with satisfaction that although I have embraced traveling alone, my reasons for doing so are not the same as Luke's. I started traveling alone as a pioneer of junior year abroad programs--no cell phone, and complicated telephoning possibilities. Writing letters was the way my family and I communicated, and as you might imagine, those letters, at best, passed in the air every three or so weeks. I was on my own, figuring out how to get from Paris to the place I was staying in Rome before heading to Florence.
Worrying was not a part of growing up in the fifties; my parents weren't worried about the year-long adventure I was taking, nor was I. At am early age, still in my teens, I learned to figure things out. I can still do that, and without worry. As an older person, what a beautiful way to feel, a beautiful reason to keep traveling.
People often tell me, 'Oh, I could never travel alone like you do! How can you do this with such ease and joy?" My short answer is that I started when I was young, and that I love it.
As children, Luke and I both traveled with our parents. We experienced how it is done. I was 19 when I traveled alone for nine months in Italy; Luke Russert was 32 on his three year trip around the world. For me, the trip was just the next thing I wanted to do. For Luke, it was a leap of courage.
We are the age we are. Although we can't go back to being 19, 32, or 80, we can encourage young people to get out there and begin to travel by themselves. For example, they can experience public transportation: go to the nearest city, hop on the local bus to a museum, and figure out how to enter; enjoy, and then get back home again. Help them learn to keep their money, credit cards and phone safe. I have a special vest with inside pockets with zippers; I've taught my granddaughter my No. 1 rule: Zip, Zip, Zip--always!