Q&A: Shawnie Kelley

  • Photo by Jodi Miller
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From the December 15, 2011 edition

Shawnie Kelley has traveled across Europe and started tour company Wanderlust for Women to help ladies explore the world. Though she’s a seasoned international voyager, much of her expertise centers on the city she eventually called home. The author is working on her third edition of “Insiders’ Guide to Columbus,” which is expected out in late 2012.

She shared about a life of discovery, both near and far.

In 1997, I quit my job in Pittsburgh, came here and went back to school at Ohio State. I studied art and architectural history. I ended up going to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland on a fellowship to do research on a castle. I traveled all over England and Scotland and France.

I’ve always had my travel bug. It really stems all the way back from probably when I was in ninth grade French class and art history classes — and really wanting to see the world, see art, see architecture. I’ve been traveling for 25 years nonstop.

My favorite place to travel in the United States is the Nemacolin Woodlands and Fallingwater.

My favorite place to travel internationally is France. These days, I’m addicted to southwestern France, just west of Provence.

I moved back in 2002. I had to decide where was home, and Columbus felt like home. There were a lot of factors that drove me to stay. All my stuff was here. My sister was here. Every time I came back to the city to visit or to pay my dues at Ohio State, something about the city sat well with me.

I had no intentions of writing a travel guide. I was trying to find a travel guide for my friend who was coming to visit — a German girl who kept insisting I was from Idaho. I contacted the Insiders’ Guides, just sort of pleading the case for Columbus to have its own guide. They’re like, “Well, why don’t you write it?”

They had a guide for Cincinnati. They had a guide for Pittsburgh. I was like, “Dude, we’re the capital of the state.” We have a flourishing arts community. It’s a young city. It’s modern. The first edition came out in 2006. The second one, which is in desperate need of an update, came out in 2008.

Three things I would want with me on a desert island are my iPod, my Le Creuset Dutch oven and probably one of my cats.