Travel diary connects women around the world during pandemic isolation


2005 gave moviegoers “The Brotherhood of Travel Pants”. Fast forward: 2020 gave women around the world a travel journal.

Kyra Peralte of Montclair, New Jersey, used a travel diary to connect women around the world during the pandemic’s deep isolation. She started keeping a journal on the challenges of COVID-19, then began sending it to strangers, inviting other women to fill in the remaining pages of her black-and-white marbled composition notebook with their own stories.

Now the Visit the travel journal has over 700 members worldwide in places such as London, Australia, Portugal and Hong Kong.

The Travel Diary (courtesy of Kyra Peralte)

“Connecting women around storytelling has always been something I’ve always had in my heart and in my mind,” she says.

One of the women who received the newspaper was Chanda Leigh in Atlanta. Leigh is the lead singer of 3D The Boss, a health and fitness pop group that puts on cardio concerts where people come to dance and sweat.

“So you can imagine, when COVID hit, how we just had to shift gears completely,” she says.

Her career is all about bringing people together, so she says she felt discouraged that social distancing was becoming the norm. But around this time, Peralte contacted Leigh through a mutual friend about the travel diary.

Peralte says she was delighted to find in her mailbox a “physical journal that I could hold in my hand and write with a pen, like the old-fashioned way.”

The first thing the singer did when opening the package was to smell the notebook.

“I smelled it because I got this thing about the smell of books, like that smell of a newspaper or a magazine or that old book that Grandpa left,” she says. “This stuff really takes away my memories.”

Then instantly the tears started to flow.

“It immediately felt like I was connected to people whom I had of course never met, but whose stories were already in the book,” says Leigh.

She sat down and wrote the fourth entry in the notebook.

In her pages, Leigh describes the heartbreaking moment when she believes COVID-19 spread through her family even before the virus was considered a pandemic.

She was visiting her adopted sister, who had given birth prematurely. Her sister swore she quit smoking, drinking and doing anything that could harm the baby during pregnancy, Leigh wrote in her entry. But upon entering her sister’s house, the smell of cigarette smoke hit her – Leigh wanted to deny it, but she couldn’t, she wrote.

Legih woke up the next morning with a cough that quickly turned to chest pain and fever.

“This illness lasted for two to three weeks, and during that time, my beautiful niece, she died of respiratory failure,” she wrote in the diary. “My whole family was heartbroken and we cried for a long time. I have never seen such a small coffin.

This experience, as she writes in the journal, reminded her to continue to lead a life of love despite the fear. She is still choking on rereading her diary entry from a year ago.

For Leigh, Peralte and many others, the pain and isolation during the pandemic has served as a reminder of the importance of human relationships, relationships and personal health. Discussing these values ​​with strangers in a newspaper “seems cathartic,” Peralte says.

Just because the pandemic is turning a corner with ongoing vaccinations doesn’t mean the newspaper will stop making its way around the world.

The narration “has always been there, it’s not going anywhere,” Peralte says. “And as the travel diary community continues to grow and connect, women find authentic connections in a space that feels safe and real.”

Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Jill Ryan. Serena mcmahon adapted it for the web.

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