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Journal Blog

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Journal Entry #1

Karyn Planett

What kind of traveler are you?  Hmm.  What kind of traveler am I?  Well …

I am an “out the door long before daybreak” person who photographs night fishermen hauling ashore their meager catch, bakers pulling buttery croissants from hot ovens, and school kids dawdling along in matching uniforms. I’ve eaten in no-star back-alley dives and dined properly in three-star, starched-linen, rooftop hotspots with lots of look-at-me people in designer eyewear. And I always follow the map’s green route unless I want serendipity and curiosity to be my only guides.  In that case, I throw the map away entirely.

I’ve launched this website called Planett Traveler for people who want to get more out of travel than just a vacation.

I’ve traveled all my life. Everywhere. Far beyond all the bends in all the roads.

I’ve been served tea by Balinese royalty and been shadowed by a waiflike ragamuffin Bombay girl who gave to me her only possession — a rusty little bobby pin. I’ve skimmed under the sea on a Maldives atoll drift dive and lifted high into the African skies on a hot-air balloon.  I’ve caught an offshore breeze on a wooden dhow, lumbered along on elephants and camels, and navigated many famous footpaths.  I’ve done so much … from first class to no class but feel I’ve yet to scratch the surface.

Along the way, I’ve scribbled a journal of my adventures and taken a billion photos of so many faces and faraway places.  I’m a pretty good writer, a pretty good photographer, and a great storyteller, a gift from my Dad.  I believe good fortune has paved my way.  I also believe it would be a waste not to share these impressions I’ve formed of the people I’ve met, as well as the images I’ve stumbled upon, with travelers who may never make these journeys themselves or who might be sparked to follow along.  

To achieve this goal, I know I must be able to tell a good story.  I’ve learned to do that.  And, that’s exactly what I want this website to be all about. Planett Traveler is the visual and verbal story of my life on the road, the journey that has taken me to more than 150 countries (so far).

Oh, yes, my name.  Well, some people are convinced I made it up. I didn’t. “Planett” is a German name and I’m pretty sure I’m the last Planett in America because we’re a family of weak non-breeders. Can’t imagine what our coat of arms would look like if we had one. 

Many of those same people believe my wanderlust was written in the stars due to this name and, perhaps, that’s true because it all started when I was only six years old. Dressed in something resembling a starched pinafore and black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, I clambered up the gangway of the SS Ile de France and set sail from New York to Le Havre, France … parents and nanny in tow. For four months I was a wide-eyed traveler who gazed at my reflection in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, skimmed through Venice’s narrow canals in an obsidian black gondola, ate giant pretzels with mustard during our train stops in Germany’s Black Forest, was served mystery cheese in Switzerland’s finest hotels, and sang songs with kids in languages unfamiliar to each other. At that point, my fate was sealed. From that moment on I orchestrated an entire lifetime to keep this journey alive.

I went to college on a ship. I escorted groups of travelers all over the world, from Asia to the Middle East, Africa to South America, India to Mongolia. Sometimes by private jet, other times in trucks with oversized tires and survival gear.  I’ve designed luxury adventures for a major cruise line and written destination articles (hundreds of them) for another. After my husband retired we lived on a ship, circling the globe, for thirteen years.  He’s also a writer and photographer and, together, we began publishing books on these travels. And four summers ago, we accompanied 700 students on Semester-At-Sea’s trip around the Med.

As I wrote and photographed, I learned languages and made lifelong friends. I also discovered cultures so unfamiliar to me that I was the “alien.” In fact, I feel like I’ve had 1,000 teachers and smiled in 100 languages.

I want this website to open more doors like that not only for myself but hopefully for those who visit me here, as well.