Eat, Pray, Love…It Or Leave It

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Sherry Ott

Sherry Ott

When the book Eat, Pray, Love was released in 2006, it became a runaway hit and inspired many women to achieve their own extended travel dreams. And because of its success, you would think that Elizabeth Gilbert was the first woman to take off and travel on her own. But we know that is not true. There have been many women before, and after her, who have done this (and without book deals in advance). In fact, three of them have already been interviewed on Amateur Traveler!

And now with the movie coming out, people can find just as much inspiration in these women as they can in Julia Roberts character, if not more. So I thought it would be fun to see how Sherry Ott, Lisa Lubin, and Lillie Marshall have been inspired by Eat, Pray, Love and how their own experiences compared.

Amateur Traveler interviewed Sherry Ott back in September of 2007 – well into her 16-month career break – which incidentally began around the time Eat, Pray, Love was first published. And coincidentally, Chris interviewed her about “Solo Travel As A Woman”.

Nearly two years later you met Lisa Lubin and learned how she “Worked and Traveled Around the World”.

And most recently you heard how Lillie Marshall spent three months volunteering in Ghana during her round the world journey.

Lillie Marshall

Lillie Marshall

Marshall found great inspiration in the book. “Her journey has so much to teach us and thus I think she has done a great service to us all. When I was getting cold feet in the months before my 9-month voyage, it was Eat, Pray, Love that gave me the faith that everything would turn out all right and that my life would be better for taking the risk and traveling.”

Ott was a big fan of the Eat section. “I loved the first part so much that I would read it and highlight sections that I felt like I could relate to or agree with.” She was skeptical on the Pray section, yet was won over. But Love lost her. “I thought nooooooo…don’t do this…don’t make this about a relationship and finding a man! It pained me to think that simply the story about a thirty-something woman going out and finding herself through cultural travel wasn’t enough. They had to throw the romance in.”

Lisa Lubin

Lisa Lubin

And don’t count Lubin as a fan. “I honestly didn’t love it. I have read so many other travel narratives already that I think are far better, funnier, and others that I simply relate to more.” Some of those books include Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach, Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman and Shutterbabe by Deborah Copaken Kogan.

Though all three ladies differ on their opinion of the book, the one thing they do agree on is how different their experience was from Gilbert’s.

“While Gilbert’s journey was structured on self-healing after an awful divorce, my journey was structured around first decompressing from a really crazy 6 years of teaching in Boston. And then going on to explore learning and teaching around the world,” says Marshall.

Ott adds, “I didn’t do it to run away from anything. I did it out of a huge sense of curiosity and an overwhelming desire to live every day to the fullest. I thought that there must be more to life than my commute and cubicle.”

Lubin concurs, “I felt less like I was ‘escaping’ something and more just going after a dream and something I’d always wanted to do.”

Eat, Pray, Love certainly conjures up very strong opinions – both positive and negative. In my opinion that is a good thing. After all, it has inspired conversations about fulfilling travel dreams. Though not everyone will have theirs wrap-up with an ideal ending, those who take the leap won’t regret it – no matter the outcome. “I’ve had many people tell me that I should write a book about my travels like Eat, Pray, Love,” Ott shares. “This makes me laugh because I know that it’s already been done and my story doesn’t have a Hollywood ending that is really that appealing to the general public. However, I have joked that if I do write a book it will be called Eat, Pray, Reality.”

Inspired by Sherry, Lisa, and Lillie’s travels? Come meet them in person on September 14th at one of 13 Meet, Plan, Go! events being held around the nation.

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Michaela Potter

by Michaela Potter

Michaela Potter is co-founder of Briefcase to Backpack, where she serves as editor and creative director. She also collaborates on marketing efforts and outreach, with the goal of making "career break" a recognized and acceptable term to Americans. And in September 2010, Briefcase to Backpack will be hosting a nationwide event - Meet, Plan, Go! - to offer in person inspiration to career break dreamers.

3 Responses to “Eat, Pray, Love…It Or Leave It”



brava!! i loved parts of the book (like when she was really trying to be quiet, in india, and they made her the social director. ha!). but you’re right – it’s a bigger world! the good news is that hopefully people will be more interested to travel, themselves.

Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts Coming to a theater near you! | LLWorldTour


[…] did read the book and have a mixed review of it.   Many who asked me about it said it reminded them of me and my trip and understandably […]

Mariellen Ward


Looking forward to MeetPlanGo – I think it’s a great idea and I hope it’s a big success.

My original six-month trip to India was the best thing I ever did and I write and blog about the transformational possibilities of travel and how much I love India for this reason

I was however very disappointed with Eat, Pray, Love – because the Liz/Julia character doesn’t change. She just falls in love again. Here’s my review if you’re interested

But I hope the film will inspire people nevertheless!

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