This Week’s Travel Inspiration: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

Each week, I’ll be recommending a movie, t.v. show, book, or song, to help you feel inspired to travel! 

This week’s travel inspiration is brought to you by the novel, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, by Kristin Newman.  Comedy writer, Kristin Newman, gives us a memoir of her off-season travel, through a decade of adventuring abroad and “doing the thing you’re supposed to do, in the place you’re supposed to do it”.  This often meant with the person you’re supposed to do it with too.  She boldly states that she is not a slut in the United States, but she loves to travel, and she loves foreign bartenders, an Argentine priest, a Brazilian surfer, an Isreali soldier and more.  While her friends were settling down, getting married and having kids, she was out exploring all the she could. Now this book is more than just hook-up stories, but reflections and inspiring tales which teach you to go out and fall in love with everything in this world.

There is humor and adventure, celebrating women who travel, those we fall in love with while traveling and what you can gain from travel.  Here are five quotes which help to illustrate those traits, and help you fall in love with travel and Kristin, just like I did!

On women who travel:

“I love that I am but one of millions of single girls hitting the road by themselves these days.  A hateful little ex-boyfriend once said that a houseful of cats used to be the sign of a terminally single woman, but now it’s a house full of souvenirs acquired on foreign adventures.  He said it derogatorily:  Look at all of this tragic overcompensating in the form of tribal masks and rain sticks.  But I say that plane tickets replacing cats might be the best evidence of women’s progress as a gender.  I’m damn proud of us.  Also, since I have both a cat and a lot of foreign souvenirs, I broke up with that dude and went on a really great trip.”

On travel love:

“The greatest thing about vacation romances is you don’t have to break up, or say hard things to each other about what you are or aren’t feeling.  You don’t have to talk about what isn’t working, or why.  You get to just tell yourselves that it would have lasted forever if not for the geography.  You don’t have to break up. ”

On what we gain from travel:

“When you travel, you’re forced to have new thoughts. ‘Is this alley safe?’ ‘Is this the right bus?’ ‘Was this meat ever a house pet?’ It doesn’t even matter what the new thoughts are, it feels so good to just have some variety.  And it’s a reboot for your brain.  I can feel the neurons making new connections again with new problems to solve, clawing their way back to their nimbler, younger days.”

“I love to do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it.  That means always getting the specialty of the house.  That means smoking cigarettes I don’t’ smoke at the perfect corner café for hours at a time in Paris, and stripping naked for group hot-tubbing with people you don’t want to see naked in Big Sur.  It means riding short, fuzzy horses that will throw me onto the arctic tundra in Iceland, or getting beaten with hot, wet branches by old naked women in stifling banyas in Moscow.  When these moments happen, I get absurdly happy.”

And bear with me for the final quote, as it’s a good one!

“I probably should say that this is what makes you a good traveler in my opinion, but deep down I really think this is just universal, incontrovertible truth. There is the right way to travel, and the wrong way. And if there is one philanthropic deed that can come from this book, maybe it will be that I teach a few more people how to do it right. So, in short, my list of what makes a good traveler, which I recommend you use when interviewing your next potential trip partner: 1. You are open. You say yes to whatever comes your way, whether it’s shots of a putrid-smelling yak-butter tea or an offer for an Albanian toe-licking. (How else are you going to get the volcano dust off?) You say yes because it is the only way to really experience another place, and let it change you. Which, in my opinion, is the mark of a great trip. 2. You venture to the places where the tourists aren’t, in addition to hitting the “must-sees.” If you are exclusively visiting places where busloads of Chinese are following a woman with a flag and a bullhorn, you’re not doing it. 3. You are easygoing about sleeping/eating/comfort issues. You don’t change rooms three times, you’ll take an overnight bus if you must, you can go without meat in India and without vegan soy gluten-free tempeh butter in Bolivia, and you can shut the hell up about it. 4. You are aware of your travel companions, and of not being contrary to their desires/needs/schedules more often than necessary. If you find that you want to do things differently than your companions, you happily tell them to go on without you in a way that does not sound like you’re saying, “This is a test.” 5. You can figure it out. How to read a map, how to order when you can’t read the menu, how to find a bathroom, or a train, or a castle. 6. You know what the trip is going to cost, and can afford it. If you can’t afford the trip, you don’t go. Conversely, if your travel companions can’t afford what you can afford, you are willing to slum it in the name of camaraderie. P.S.: Attractive single people almost exclusively stay at dumps. If you’re looking for them, don’t go posh. 7. You are aware of cultural differences, and go out of your way to blend. You don’t wear booty shorts to the Western Wall on Shabbat. You do hike your bathing suit up your booty on the beach in Brazil. Basically, just be aware to show the culturally correct amount of booty. 8. You behave yourself when dealing with local hotel clerks/train operators/tour guides etc. Whether it’s for selfish gain, helping the reputation of Americans traveling abroad, or simply the spreading of good vibes, you will make nice even when faced with cultural frustrations and repeated smug “not possible’s. This was an especially important trait for an American traveling during the George W. years, when the world collectively thought we were all either mentally disabled or bent on world destruction. (One anecdote from that dark time: in Greece, I came back to my table at a café to find that Emma had let a nearby [handsome] Greek stranger pick my camera up off our table. He had then stuck it down the front of his pants for a photo. After he snapped it, he handed the camera back to me and said, “Show that to George Bush.” Which was obviously extra funny because of the word bush.) 9. This last rule is the most important to me: you are able to go with the flow in a spontaneous, non-uptight way if you stumble into something amazing that will bump some plan off the day’s schedule. So you missed the freakin’ waterfall—you got invited to a Bahamian family’s post-Christening barbecue where you danced with three generations of locals in a backyard under flower-strewn balconies. You won. Shut the hell up about the waterfall. Sally”


What do you think about this novel?  Did you love it like so many other female travelers or did you struggle with the stories?  Let me know in a comment below!


One thought on “This Week’s Travel Inspiration: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding

  1. Great post! I also just blogged about this book and thought it was great. Her humor really shines through and made me feel like I’m not alone in this world when it comes to my feelings about kids and travel! Awesome job!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s