Travels with Susan Spano



You can't be a travel writer forever, for a lot of reasons.
No one wants to pay you, writing is very hard, and after a while you think about doing something else.
I decided to go into the Peace Corps, which took me to Ashtarak, Armenia, to teach English to a bunch of nutty kids.
Then I went on to get an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the estimable Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA, which is not a bad place to hit the books. Once I graduated I got a U.S. State Department English Language Fellows posting, which took me to Muhanga, a small town in Rwanda. For most of 2018 I taught English to Journalism and PR students at the Institut Catholique de Kabgayi. And now I've moved on to Ho Chi Minh City, where I'm the head of a very small English language program at APU International School in District 11.
Recently, the NYT did a story on all the old Frugal Travelers.

As an author and columnist, I've journeyed the world reporting on culture, nature and the curious human race. I launched the still-running “Frugal Traveler“ column for the New York Times, then joined the staff of The Los Angeles Times which sent her to the City of Light from 2003 to 2006 to start the popular travel section blog “Postcards from Paris.”

After that I got to spend six months in Beijing studying Mandarin and researching stories in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics and then moved to Rome--my favorite foreign posting--where I wrote on everything Italian, from Caravaggio to mozzarella.

My articles have been anthologized in collections like Making Connections: Mother-Daughter Travel Adventures and A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe and have also appeared in the Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler and Redbook. She is the co-author of two books: Women on Divorce: A Bedside Companion and Men on Divorce: The Other Side of the Story.

A collection of my travel writing, French Ghosts, Russian Nights & American Outlaws: Souvenirs of a Professional Vagabond, came out in 2014. It was described by Library Journal as "an inspiring, vibrant look at the myriad ways travel can impact and enrich our lives. This book is recommended for those with the travel bug, even if it's the armchair variety.”
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet, says,
"Susan Spano manages that most important travel writing feat: making you want to pack your bag, grab your passport and go!"
Mary Taylor Simeti, author of On Persephone's Island, adds,
"Urged on by a lively curiosity and a large dose of courage, Susan Spano introduces us to unusual destinations, often tempting and invariably interesting."

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

With students at the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi

A Frugal Traveler Reunion, New York Times, July 1, 2018

Simien Mountains in Ethiopia

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Me getting older at a teaching conference in Ethiopia

Middlebury Institute of International Studies, May 2017

Hollywood Farmers Market

Roman mosaic from the Vatican Museums

Mt. Etna in beautiful Sicily

My sister's favorite place in Armenia

From the delightful Parajanov Museum in Yerevan, Armenia

Teachers from Proshyan School

Climbing into Surb Astvatsatsin at Noravank Monastery in southern Armenia.


Photo by Susan Schiffer

Dreaming of a white Christmas in Ashtarak, Armenia

From my Armenian Host Family's Garden

Smithsonian, April, 2014

Due in April

Jalama Beach, Central Coast, CA

David Hockney's Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio, 1980, LACMA

A market in western Sicily

Carpinteria Bluffs Preserve

Arnoldi's of Santa Barbara

La Serenissima

The French coast near Mont St. Michel

Delta of the Danube River, Romania

Powell Plateau on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon


The Libyan Sahara

Carrizo Plain, California

Potala Palace, Lhasa

Selected Works

Nonfiction, Travel, Human Interest
A new collection of travel essays by Susan Spano
Tracking Colette in Paris and Burgundy
A draught sinks Lake Powell, revealing lost wonders of Glen Canyon
Rome's Most Roman Neighborhood
Studying Mandarin in Beijing
Around the world and back to New York
Nonfiction Book
Divorce. Why do we do it? And what does it do to us? fourteen prominent writers have pondered these questions and have set down heir thoughts and personal stories, in this gathering of sometimes irreverent and always intelligent essays. "A disarmingly candid, invaluable collection." --Publishers Weekly
"Anyone who doubts that men, too, suffer in divorce should be required to read this." --Glamour Magazine "A rare, unusually focused anthology of original essays that both entertains and instructs." --Publishers Weekly

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