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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Beth rides an elephant during a recent trip to Thailand.
Beth Walton
Beth rides an elephant during a recent trip to Thailand.


Beth Walton joins Group Tour

Allow me to introduce myself as one of the new staff writers for Group Tour Media.

My name is Beth Walton and just one month ago I was sure I was doomed.  

Since leaving my parent’s home in Holland, Mich., to attend Albion College at the age of 18, I have lived and worked in six U.S. states, eight American cities, and on one island

I am proud to say that at least three times I packed my red Ford Focus with all my earthly belongs and headed cross-country—once west to Nevada, once north to Minnesota and once east to Maine.  

When I was 25, I backpacked from Saigon to Delhi. I have been to 11 different countries; 12, if you recognize Tibet.

Simply put, I am not very good at staying in one place.  I suffer from a serious case of wanderlust.

So, you have to imagine my disappointment this November when I was working as a Peace Corps’ volunteer in the Republic of Kazakhstan and I received a phone call saying they were shutting down all operations in country.

I had one week to pack my things, say goodbye, and depart from the Silk Road village named Zhanakorgan that I had called home since May. We were being evacuated.

Beth and her husband, John, visit the Taj Mahal.
Beth Walton
Beth and her husband, John, visit the Taj Mahal.


Having spent the last eleven years of my life trying to figure out where to go next, I couldn’t believe it. I was being forced to go back to where I started and there was nothing I could do about it.

Before I knew it I was headed back to Michigan, jobless, carless and homeless.

At 29-years old, I was about to once again inhabit my mother’s basement. This time, with a husband in tow. The depression set in as soon as the jetlag wore off.

Weeks later, during a seemingly impossible Internet search for West Michigan employers seeking carless, vagabond journalist types, I nearly fell out of my chair. Less than one mile from my mom’s basement was a job perfect for me. 

Group Tour Media was hiring a staff writer. Here, I would be able to pair my love for travel with my love for journalism. Through writing, I would be able to help people experience everything North American group travel has to offer.

As the one of the newest staff writers here, I am excited by the possibility of helping people go to a new place for the very first time, taste unfamiliar food, hear new conversations and different perspectives. I’m excited to help organizers plan trips where people bond with their surroundings and each other. To me, these are the things that broaden one’s physical and emotional comforts, and these are the things that define travel.

Distance is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Holland, Mich., or to a county so obscure most people haven’t heard of it. What matters is what you make of it.

For the first time in years, I’m happy to say the last place I travelled was home.

Beth Walton stumbled into journalism after being cut from her high school basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, and softball teams. She has since written for City Pages, Minneapolis’ Alternative weekly; The Las Vegas Review Journal; USA Today and The Holland Sentinel. A graduate of Albion College and Western Michigan University, she currently resides in Holland, Mich.

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