Women on the Edge of Travel Interview by Jamie Anderson Travel is food for the soul, but some people have difficulty getting to the travel feast. Fear and nerves sometimes prevent travellers, often women, from taking the leap and realizing their lifelong dream of European adventure. Leslie Strong, Air Transat life coach and author of the book The YOU Factor, has some smart solutions to help women have the trip of a lifetime. Canadian Living: What stops people, especially women, from travelling overseas? Leslie Strong: I have about 10 reasons why people don’t get out there, get off the couch and travel. One would be that the process overwhelms them, booking and organizing can be an overwhelming and daunting task. The tip that I have for that is to look to the experts to take care of things if you’re not good at details. Also, find someone you can travel with. This tip is especially for women because women don’t typically like to travel alone. So grab a girlfriend, go somewhere and have a wonderful time. Canadian Living: Are a lot of these concerns justified, or are most of them based on perception? Leslie Strong: I would bank on that a lot of it is the assumptions that we make, that there’s a language barrier or that currency is tough to manage. People do it all the time, but it’s an assumption for some that would get in the way. When we talk about a fear of going places, people don’t usually know that excitement and fear are the exact same emotion. And all it is that determines what you are feeling is what you say in your head. So some people would say ‘I’m really scared,’ while other people would say ‘I’m really excited.’ It depends on the type of person you are, so it’s a great tip to say check in on that emotion because that fear is also excitement. Canadian Living: For someone who has always dreamed about travelling, what’s the first step that they should take in order to make it happen? Leslie Strong: The first step they should take is to get in to action. I think what stops most people is if they don’t get in to action quick enough their head starts to buy in to all the reasons why they shouldn’t go. ‘I don’t know where to go, I’m overwhelmed by the process, the money, it’s not safe, I don’t have the time,’ all of that starts to come in to play because people love excuses. So my first tip would be pick a place. There are two new destinations Air Transat has that are direct flights, Prague and Marseille in France. Pick something fun and exotic like that. Just get to the computer and book it. When you get in to action that step is life-altering because you then go from being a procrastinator to somebody who is a doer. Canadian Living: What, in your experience as a life coach, is the major benefit to travelling? Leslie Strong: I see a huge confidence boost because there are those assumptions that travelling is not safe or it’s a little bit outside of some people’s comfort zone. As soon as you get out to the airport and on that plane you’ve got yourself out of your comfort zone and that is a huge confidence booster to say, ‘I can do it … I’m a person who is capable of going places.’ Canadian Living: Is thinking about the airport and going through that process a barrier for a lot of people? Leslie Strong: I think it’s more that they think about the flight, they think about having to change flights, which fabulously, Air Transat has taken that out of that realm because they have so many direct flights. Planes themselves, jetlag and things like that can be daunting for people. Canadian Living: Crossing items off one's bucket list, how does that nourish a person? Leslie Strong: Well I believe that filling yourself up is the first step in creating your own happiness. We’re responsible for making our own lives happy and fulfilling and a lot of the time women don’t take care of themselves, they put everyone else first. One of the great ways to fill yourself up is to look at a fabulous destination with your spouse, your girlfriend or a family member and just give yourself something you’ve always wanted. And then it just gets ticked off your bucket list. Canadian Living: What are some important things for women to know when they’re going abroad for the first time? Leslie Strong: It’s important for them to know that they are capable of travelling, being safe, having a great time, and they’re worth it. Some women don’t always feel like they’re worth it, so they don’t travel. They think, ‘Oh, my cousin Bob, he can go to Europe,’ but they think well ‘I could never go to Europe.’ So I say to women … you can have a great time, be safe and you can handle it. Paris awaits!