My Story

Kirsten Woodward, the Tripsy Gypsy

I was birthed into a family of missionary parents who, when I was 10 months old, bundled up me, my 2-year-old brother and our meager belongings, and boarded a ship bound for Africa. Settling in apartheid-ridden South Africa, we were required to live in the city due to the color of our skin, but we spent most of our time in the townships.

My father was the administrator at African Bible College outside of Rustenburg, and both of my parents taught there. On weekends we would travel to various tent churches in the townships, where we would spend all day sweating away — sitting on wooden slats between concrete blocks, doing our “business” behind a curtain outside the church, and eating lunch made up of odd foods — including a “gourmet” drink of curdled cow’s blood.

At the height of the apartheid strife, all expatriates were told to leave South Africa, and our next mission as a family was the mountainous area of Mandeville, Jamaica — far from the tourist coast. I was only there for a couple of years, had a short stint at boarding school in Asheville, N.C., and started college at age 16. On the college application form, they asked about the countries to which I had traveled, and my parents and I came up with 37.

My first break during college, I asked my mom if she would join me on a cruise through Greece, Turkey, and the surrounding islands, and — money or not — I figured out a way to seize the travel life by the horns. My parents have been my regular travel companions, but their age is preventing them from getting around as much as the three of us would like. In the height of our adventures, one summer we did Alaska by land and sea in May and June, seven countries in Africa in July and August, and Russia by land and sea in September. And now, as a (mostly) solo traveler (my husband sometimes comes along for the ride), I’m concentrating on finding and sharing my exotic adventures in North America to inspire your future wanderings.

I was born to be a gypsy!

Kirsten Woodward
The Tripsy Gypsy