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Emily Pennington - Adventurer, solo traveler and Author of “Feral: Losing Myself and Finding My Way

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Emily is an adventurer, solo traveler, mountaineer, quote collector, and all around lover of things that get people out of their comfort zones. Put on her first international flight at 3 weeks old, she's been adventuring in one way or another ever since.

From wandering the forests of Sweden alone at the age of nine, to solo trekking in the Himalayas of India, to joining the circus as a professional aerialist, Emily is a big fan of the "just get out there and do it" mentality. She considers it her mission in life to inspire others to go outside, travel, and get curious about everything. As John Muir so aptly put it, "going out is really going in.”

Emily is a columnist and longtime contributor to Outside. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, Adventure Journal, REI, and Backpacker, among others.

Emily has visited every national park in the United States, and her book Feral: Losing Myself and Finding My Way in America’s National Parks, came out in February 2023.

About Feral: A bracing memoir about self-discovery, liberating escape, and moving forward across an adventurous and volatile American landscape. One year. One national park at a time.

“After a decade as an assistant to high-powered LA executives, Emily Pennington left behind her structured life and surrendered to the pull of the great outdoors. With a tight budget, meticulous routing, and a temperamental minivan she named Gizmo, Emily embarked on a yearlong road trip to sixty-two national parks, hell-bent on a single goal: getting through the adventure in one piece. She was instantly thrust into more chaos than she’d bargained for and found herself on an unpredictable journey rocked by a gutting romantic breakup, a burgeoning pandemic, wildfires, and other seismic challenges that threatened her safety, her sanity, and the trip itself.

What began as an intrepid obsession soon evolved into a life-changing experience. Navigating the tangle of life’s unexpected sucker punches, Feral invites readers along on Emily’s grand, blissful, and sometimes perilous journey, where solitude, resilience, self-reliance, and personal transformation run wild.”

We first spoke with Emily on 17th December 2019. You can listen to that episode here

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Show notes

  • Who is Emily

  • Working as a journalist and writing for; The New York Times, The Guardian, Condé Nast Traveler and Lonely Planet

  • Speaking to Emily on the Tough Girl Podcast - 17th December 2019. You can listen to that episode here

  • Going back to early 2020

  • Saving up $30K for the adventure of a lifetime

  • Having a goal to visit all 62 National Parks in the United States

  • How Covid impacted her life and work as a travel journalist

  • Having a home base in LA and quitting her job

  • Starting her adventure on 6th January 2020

  • Living out of her mini van #VanLife and what life was really like while on the road

  • Being mindful of climate change and the impact her travel would have

  • The transition to full time travel and living in a different way

  • Having anxiety about travelling especially solo travel

  • Expectations verses reality

  • The importance of having downtime while travelling

  • Tips for managing her anxiety

  • Leaning into meditation, online therapy, and medication

  • Being caught in the smoke from the wild fires

  • National Parks and the amount of people wanting to use the space

  • The challenges of meeting people while being on the road and the challenges during covid

  • Magical moments

  • Adventuring with a partner and the impact on their relationship

  • Spending time in Alaska

  • Thinking about what home really means

  • The writing experience and why it was like intensive therapy everyday for 6 months

  • Reflecting back on the journey and the experience of writing the book

  • The key takeaways from the experience

  • The importance of rest and scheduling in downtime

  • Getting comfortable sitting with discomfort

  • Making better choices and having more compassion

  • Wanting to travel to meaningful places and learn more about herself

  • Deciding to move to Colorado and work full time as a writer

  • Reflecting on her quality of life and wanting to spend more time in the mountains

  • Plans for a second and third book

  • How to connect with Emily

  • Final words of advice for women who want to go on a big trip or take on a new adventure


Social Media

Instagram: @brazenbackpacker


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