I learned everything I know about traveling from my older sister. Some gems of knowledge: When staying in a 20-person hostel, always go for the top bunk; always learn the phrases “hello,” “one,” “please,” “thank you,” and “bathroom” in your destination’s native tongue; and never be afraid to go on an adventure. Now, my sister—author Nicole Trilivas—is bringing more travel tales to life in her debut novel, Girls Who Travel. I spoke with my London-based sister to get the scoop on the lighthearted travel-based book.
First off, tell us about your book Girls Who Travel. What inspired the story of diehard, bohemian traveler Kika Shores?
Girls Who Travel is a romantic comedy about getting lost in the right direction. Ever since she returned from traveling, Kika has been steeped in misery. Getting back on the road is all she wants, so when she’s offered a nannying gig in London, she’s thrilled. But as Kika’s about to discover, awesome adventures can happen when you stay in one place. I like to say that Kika is inspired by all the badass ladies out there who have absolutely no qualms about treating the world as their oyster.
I loved the characters—they are legit laugh-out-loud funny. (Author’s note: I legit LOL’ed at a line of dialogue on page 248). What do you think makes a great character?
A great character is someone you can root for. A character has to change from the start of the book to the end of book—everything should be a journey. (And I’m not just saying that because I write travel fiction). My favorite character is the precocious Gwendolyn. She’s basically the human embodiment of “the Id.” She does and says whatever she wants, which is really fun and cute in child-form.
Why did you choose travel as the theme for this novel?
First off, I myself, am a girl who travels. And I could chat about traveling forever, which made it a natural topic. But to be more specific, I choose to write travel fiction because so many of the great travel reads out there seem to be nonfiction. I wanted to add the dreamy sheen of fiction to this ever-entertaining topic.
What makes it so romantic?
Travel is so moving and romantic because with every new trip comes the promise that you can be someone else. It’s a starry-eyed reminder that we are free, and lucky, and alive. We learned this from Dorothy: take a trip to a new land and all of a sudden you’re seeing in Technicolor!
I know you’ve had some unique travels as a backpacker yourself. What was your most memorable trip to date?
I’ll always remember my first trip to Europe when I went to the Czech Republic at age seventeen. It was only a few years after the fall of communism and the whole country was buzzing with a youthful spirit. I remember walking through the countryside, under this path of lime trees, and for the first time in my life feeling true wonder. I was in awe of the fact that I knew so little about the world and myself, but it was mixed with the piercing desire to learn more and more and more.
Why do you think travel is important for young women today?
Traveling is eye opening. It’s the best education a woman can get. You learn not only about the rest of world, which will make you a more compassionate (and just better) human, but also, you’ll learn about yourself.
What advice do you have for recording all of your travel memories? Everyone wants pictures, but no one wants to be “that girl” taking selfies in front of monuments…
I say take the damn selfie! You do you.
What’s next for you? Next trip? Next book?
My next book is more travel-themed fiction: this one is set in the alps. Next trips on the horizon are New Hampshire (live free or die!) and then South Africa.
What do you never leave (your) home (country) without?
Hand sanitizer. The world is a hot mess. Never forget that.