Let fiction take you away. Image courtesy of the CBC.
Growing up in a working class family in rural America, I didn’t get many chances to travel as a child. Instead, I found my adventures to faraway lands the old-fashioned way: through stories. As is the habit of would-be travelers everywhere, I pored through National Geographic and consumed television travel specials — but I picked up my true travel education in fiction. We humans make sense of the world through narrative, through the cause and effect of life, and the emotion and empathy a good story demands. I always knew that, one day, I would travel the world. I made that an abstract-yet-official dream, promising myself world-hopping adventures of my own. In the meantime I lived vicariously through the stories of the girls and young women in my favorite books, movies, and television shows. Here are three fictional female travelers with whom I especially enjoyed catching a ride…
Lucy Pevensie in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
If there’s one movie I’ve seen more than any other, it’s the BBC/Wonderworks’ 1988 television miniseries adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My local library had the video available and, more times than not, I would walk out through the Gordon Nash’s austere door with the tapes lovingly clutched in my hand. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe gave me fictional access to two foreign and equally wondrous places: 1940s England and the land of Narnia.
For those unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar, the plot follows the four Pevensie children as they are evacuated from London during World War II to a grand estate in the country. Lucy, the youngest of the siblings, stumbles through a wardrobe portal to the magical land of Narnia, and the adventure begins. The story is one of good vs. evil, redemption, and giant beavers — and I loved it. I was oblivious to the Christian undertones but learned some helpful travel tips from the frames of this classic.
Lucy Pevensie’s Tips for Travel:
Adventure may present itself when and where you least expect it. Be ready for it. And wear a fur coat.
Don’t let anyone — even loved ones — doubt the validity or worth of your own adventures.
Never, ever accept Turkish delight from a stranger — especially one wearing a pointy crown.
Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables
As someone who spent many of the formative years of my childhood without cable, PBS and its epic mini-series were much of my go-to entertainment. Near the tippity-top of my list: the 1985 Canadian television drama Anne of Green Gables. Adapted from the excellent Lucy Maud Montgomery book series, Anne recounts the everyday exploits of a clever, imaginative orphan girl adopted by an aging brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. In the second installment of the series — Anne of Avonlea — Anne travels to Nova Scotia to teach before realizing the stories and adventures she so desperately seeks can be found at home on Prince Edward Island. Anne’s story might not seem super relevant to travelers, but I continue to relate to her example of an insatiably curious young woman intent on seeing the world for herself, as well as her ability to recognize beauty in the sights others may overlook. This mini-series is also responsible for my very serious yet still unspecific plans to travel to Prince Edward Island. It will happen.
Anne Shirley’s Tips for Travel:
Sometimes, home can be the greatest destination.
Always pack a book (or five).
If you don’t think the given name of a geographical feature is lovely enough, make up your own!
Rose Tyler in Doctor Who
Rose Tyler is my home girl. The winter before I went on my first real trip — my junior year abroad in Prague — I binge-watched the first two seasons of the new Doctor Who, and it was love at first sight. In the classic series’s relaunch, the 19-year-old working class Brit ditches her shop job to hightail it around space and time with an alien known as the Doctor — and she never looks back. She knew that she wanted more than a 9-5 existence and, even as a lowly college sophomore not yet privy to the monotonous soul-crushing of the “real” world, I could relate to that. Rose traveled to the end of the universe, battled werewolves in Victorian England, and hung out with the cat people of New New York. Sure, I (probably) won’t be making it to any of those destination any time soon, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pick up a few travel tips from Rose despite our slightly different travel itineraries. After all, travel is travel — intergalactic or otherwise.
Rose Tyler’s Tips for Travel:
Sometimes, moving forward means learning how to deal with the past.
Empathy is the most important thing you can pack.
You are more than who society says you should be.
Which fictional travelers’ adventures did you live vicariously through as a child? Share the stories and inspirations of your favorite tales in the comments below!