Indie Travel Podcast Articles, Inside My Head, Interviews, Q&A

Eat Pray Love – A Travel Movie

9 Comments 26 August 2010

Me traveling near Ubud Bali

The movie Eat Pray Love has hit the big screens around the world (yet sadly not where I’m currently at in Belgium), however it has caused a flurry of activity in the world of travel writing as people pick apart the adaptation of the book-to-movie, Julia Roberts’ laugh/smile, and the story in general.

When I first started travel blogging in 2006, every other email I received compared me to Elizabeth Gilbert – I was flattered, but also a bit jealous I didn’t have a book deal! With the movie being released, it has brought up all of those questions again. I recently was asked to answer a few questions about EPL and my relation to it for another website, so I decided to share my answers with my readers too since you all seem to be so intent on comparing me to Elizabeth Gilbert!

How often has someone recommended EPL to you?
Quite often. Many women who read my website will often start off with the sentence “You are just like Elizabeth Gilbert”. This always confuses me because I don’t think I’m anything like her – except for the travel part. And the fear of commitment part. And the wanting no kids part. Hmmm…maybe I need to give this more thought.

Have you actually read EPL and what did you think?
Yes, I read the book before it really became a phenomenon in early 2006. A friend who knew I was preparing to take a career break and travel gave me the book as a gift. I didn’t really know a thing about it at the time, but was immediately absorbed into the story. I loved the first part, ‘Eat’, so much I would highlight sections I felt I could relate to or agree with. I was skeptical about ‘Pray’ since I’m not really into yoga or meditation, but it surprisingly won me over. However the book lost me at the ‘Love’ part. I honestly loved the book so much up until that point and then I thought Nooooooo – don’t do this…don’t make this about a relationship and finding a man! It pained me to think the story about a thirty something woman going out and finding herself through cultural travel wasn’t enough; they had to throw the romance in. I have nothing against romance, but I thought it was good enough to stand on it’s own before the ‘Love’ section.

How often has someone compared your travel experience to EPL?
Many times people try to compare it but I’m not thrilled when they do it since my 15 months of travel certainly had no love connections in it. I used to have people tell me before I left that I would meet a husband somewhere exotic in the world. But when you travel solo, I find that it’s hard to meet the opposite sex as you always have to have your guard up, be in control and aware. That’s especially the case if you move around a lot.
I think if you slow down and spend more time in a place like Elizabeth did, then you an start to let down your guard as you become familiar with the area and make friends.
I’ve had many people tell me I should write a book about my travels like Eat Pray Love; this makes me laugh because I know it’s already been done and my story doesn’t have a Hollywood ending which is really appealing to the general public who are always looking for fairy tale endings. However, I think if I did write a book it will be called Eat, Pray, Reality.

What makes your travel experience different from EPL?
First, I didn’t do it to run away from anything, I did it out of a huge sense of curiosity and an overwhelming desire to live every day to the fullest. I thought there must be more to life than my commute and cubicle. Second, I was on the move a lot more covering 23 countries in my career break travels. I also did a variety of cultural exchanges and volunteer work.

Is there any book, movie or traveler that inspired your own journey? If yes, who/what?
My inspiration to travel evolved over a long time and many different small inspirations. It started strangely with the adventure race show called Eco Challenge which in which people would do adventure racing in parts of the globe I had never heard of. Since I was a marathon runner I was intrigued by the athleticism AND the strange, exotic places they raced in. Then I read the book Honeymoon with my Brother and loved the thought of escaping it all. I loved reading about Africa. But most of my inspiration came from my short ‘vacations’ abroad where I would meet Australians or Europeans who were traveling long term. They fascinated me and I realized how narrow minded my culture had made me. I looked up to these grizzled travelers and then it became a challenge to me to see if I could do it. I wanted to really understand the mindset of traveling long term and not worrying about what was to come next. Ultimately it was the mix of curiosity, desire to be different, and the mental/physical challenge that were my inspirations.  However, I will admit that I did go to Ubud in Bali thanks to reading EPL – so I guess it did have some influence on my itinerary!

In addition to this interview, I recently did a guest post on how the story of Eat Pray Love teaches you 5 important travel lessons. Please go check out the post and leave some comments on The Indie Travel Podcast – it has sparked some good conversation!

Finally –Eat Pray Love was the inspiration for my co-creation of Meet, Plan, Go! If you are looking for more ‘real life’ travel inspiration, then check out Meet, Plan, Go! events happening in 13 cities across the US and Canada. For those of you longing to take a career break and do extended travel, this is your chance to meet real life people who have done it and learn how they accomplished it. You may never get to meet Elizabeth Gilbert – but you can meet our wonderful Meet, Plan, Go! hosts in your area!
Find information on Meet, Plan, Go! locations and sign up at our site –

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Liv says:

    Nice post! I’m actually bit insulted if someone compares me to Gilbert – 1) I’m not running away from anything 2) I hope I don’t fall into that category of “priv-lit” as I’ve worked really hard to fund my travels and 3) I hate being called the “next” or “another” anything… makes me feel generic. But that’s not to take away from what Gilbert did… boy, this movie is generating a lot of heat within the travel writing community, isn’t it?

  2. islandmomma says:

    Had to smile. I have lots of markings and highlights in the first part of the book, too….I should go check what they were. After Italy it became more like reading fiction, although I appreciate that it wasn’t, and one has no control over whether or not one falls in love!

  3. Dan says:

    Hi Sherry,
    Amy Riley of “Roaming Rileys” fame recommended your site to me. This is the first posting of yours I am checking out, but I look forward to reading more. My wife Francesca and I did something similar in 2009 – quit our NYC corporate jobs to travel around the world – and kept a blog entitled “Eat, Play, Love” – a nod to the Elizabeth Gilbert book. We substituted “Play” for “Pray” as, like you, we were not as much into the spiritual side of things. In Bali we met with Ketut, the healer in the book and film, but found him to be a bit of a scam artist. You can read our posting on the subject if you wish.

    I look forward to catching up on your journey and comparing notes from our common travel ground.

  4. Gray says:

    Haven’t read the book, but based on your description, I have a feeling I’d have the same issue with the “love” section that you did. Why is it not enough for a woman to travel and have a great time and learn about herself? Why does she always have to find a man in order for the story to appeal to the general public? “Eat Pray Reality”–I love it!

  5. Dan says:

    Hey Gray et al, I’ve read the book and seen the movie and have had some healthy discussions on the “love” part of it and I think that many people are missing the point. It’s not that she (either Gilbert the author or the Julia Roberts character) is selling out because she found a man (ie “love”) at the end of her journey. I think the message is, she wasn’t happy with the person she had become in the relationships she was in previously (both her marriage and her rebound guy) and so she traveled the world to “find herself”. What she found was that she can have BOTH a self-love and confidence that she was missing before AND be in a healthy, loving relationship. That’s what Julia Roberts’ character struggles with at the end of the movie when she almost walks away from Javier Bardem’s character. She thinks she’s giving in or selling out by falling into a man’s arms, but she realizes that it’s okay for her to have it all – self respect and a loving relationship. There’s nothing wrong or selling out about that. And as for it being a Hollywood ending let’s remember that this is a true story (the book anyway) and this really happened. Elizabeth Gilbert actually met a man and ended up marrying him. So its not as if she ended up single and Hollywood producers decided they needed a happy love story ending.

  6. I couldn’t care less about the movie, but I do love the connection that led you to develop Meet, Plan, Go! It’s SO needed in this country and you must be terribly excited as the date approaches for your nationwide seminars – I hear many are already sold out and there are waiting lists – congratulations!

  7. Efrutik says:

    If I had only known about the events in D.C. would have so attended :(

    Shacks! At least I found your blog though, I’m cooking something of this sort myself too :)

  8. Danielle says:

    While it inspired me to travel as much as any other travel writing piece, I wasn’t a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. Give me “Tales of a Female Nomad” ANY day over E,P,L. I found the author to be equally shallow and out of touch with reality at the end as she was in the beginning. I think while in India at the ashram, she should have taken a field trip to the local slums. That might have woken her up a bit. I did, however, enjoy the characters Richard and Luca Spaghetti. I felt they added a much-needed depth to the story and the film. Just my 2 cents! :) PS- I enjoyed “Honeymoon With my Brother” too!

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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Minnesota/Wisconsin -> Nebraska

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