Most people will not hesitate to tell you that travelling the world is on their bucket list, but how many actually follow through—and break a Guinness World Record while they’re at it?
Philanthropist, GIA certified gemologist, and mother-of-two Paige Parker (@iampaigeparker) has done it all, and now she has written a travel memoir that recounts all her exciting, sometimes upsetting, and overall inspiring stories while on the road with her then-fiancé Jim Rogers between 1999 and 2002.
The couple spent three years driving across six continents and 111 countries in their custom-built Mercedes off-road vehicle and trailer, covering more than 245,000 km in Western Sahara, French Polynesia and Gibraltar.
More than a travelogue, Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers: Love, Loathing and Our Epic Drive Around the World is Paige’s honest account of the whirlwind adventure that whisked her from the life she knew in the All-American city of Rocky Mount, North Carolina to face natural and man-made encounters she would never have experienced—from desert storms to escaping from war-torn countries—and also a legacy she hopes to pass on to her daughters, Happy and Bee Rogers.
While a three-year journey around the world definitely isn’t a walk in the park, Paige shares that she wouldn’t say no to another voyage: “Never say never! I will not likely ever do another circumnavigation via car, but there are a dozen places, like the mud mosque in Djenne, Perito Moreno Glacier and the Grand Canyon, where I can’t wait to take my daughters.”
Paige Parker (PP) “Asante sana.” These words, thank you very much in Swahili, I uttered scores of times to our Sherpas on the seven-day adventure I shared with Happy, my fifteen-year-old daughter in June, as we made our way up the tallest mountain in Africa, to the summit of 5,895 metres. With this my third time climbing Kilimanjaro, I don’t quite know what it is that pulls me back: likely the lessons that the mountain teaches in patience, persistence, and overcoming the impossible.
PP Friends from the United States are coming over for my big 50 in November—and the day after we will head to Nepal’s Khumbu Valley, also known as the Everest region. From Kathmandu, we’ll take the exhilarating flight to Lukla, witness some of the highest mountains in the world, trek to Monjo, Namche Bazaar, the famous and mountainous Sherpa trading town, and onward to Tashinga before reaching Tengboche, at 3,870 metres, and Maya Devi Temple, the most important Buddhist temple in Nepal. Truly can’t wait.
What do you love most about travelling?
PP Some new taste always awaits; personal growth is inevitable; we learn more than any book will ever teach us; and meeting new people in the many vibrant cultures, coupled with the rich history of our world, means I return a better me.
So true Rudyard Kipling’s famous words from The English Flag: “And what should they know of England who only England know?” We must leave home to know home, the world and ourselves.
Most memorable travel experience?
PP Surely the three-year drive around the world with Jim! Guinness Record: 111 countries, in 1,101 days. If we can survive that, then we can do anything.
And the worst?
PP Being held at gunpoint in Angola! Read the full account in my book, Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers.
One place you’d visit over and over again?
PP Amalfi Coast—yet funnily enough, I haven’t taken my daughters there yet. I’m on it!
Three places on your bucket list?
PP Maldives, Greece, Antarctica.
Three things you always travel with?
PP Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, dark sunglasses and a no-fee currency credit card.
What do you normally read on the plane?
PP Such a luxury to enjoy newspapers (Financial Times, International Herald Tribune) with a glass of bubbly in hand, then read my book of the moment. Of course, this inevitably progresses to binging on movies!
Best airline to travel by?
PP Singapore Airlines
Favourite travel companion?
PP Obviously, family—and my dear friend Clarinda Martin, who is always up for anything! Cannes, Wimbledon, Niseko…
Aisle or window seat?
PP Aisle always.
Favorite travel app?
PP No travel app for me. I research and have a good team who helps with logistics once the destination is set.
Your best travel tip?
PP Don’t be afraid. To travel is to live! Hit the road.
Any tips on overcoming jet lag?
PP Water, water, and more water. Plus, I try to stay outside and then sleep like a local upon arrival. It’s simple and obvious, but I think it works. And when I do have the lag and can’t sleep, I work or read. I’ve learned not to lie there like a seal awaiting sleep when it won’t come! Nothing worse.
Don't Call Me Mrs. Rogers: Love, Loathing and Our Epic Drive Around the World is available for pre-order at Epigram. Join Paige for the book's launch on October 20, 4 pm at Kinokuniya, Takashimaya.