Whenever anyone is introduced to me as, “Sheryl Kayne, travel writer,” the immediate reaction is almost always the same: “I would so love to be a travel writer.” I heard it so often that I decided to let people know who are interested in writing, immersed in fascinating historical locales, getting to know the people, place and community like a local to enjoy Fredericksburg, VA. I know everything there is to know about Immersion Travel because I wrote the book: Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions (Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton Publishing) and won numerous awards, including the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award in the Best Travel Guidebook category.
I raised my children in Weston, Connecticut, teach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT and absolutely love Fredericksburg, Virginia because that is where I was born and lived until age 14 when my family moved an hour away to Richmond, but I’ve never stopped going back.
My best friend Donna and I rode our bikes all over the battlefields every Saturday afternoon with a hard boiled egg in each of our pockets for lunch. That was our expected day of exercise, our personal outing in our own town.
I grew up immersed in living history. My father’s jewelry store was right on Caroline Street, a few blocks down from Lafayette Elementary. I walked to his store every day after school, stopping by the Rising Sun Tavern to check out the crowds and the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop to practice along with the costumed docent. I memorized her script as she spoke, along with every joke about Dr. Mercer’s favorite leeches, how he cared for Mary Washington, and died in the Revolutionary War. The re-enacted living history programs imprinted me so that I became the Immersion Traveler and an oral interpreter in Denali National Park, Alaska, where I was hired to research, write, and deliver in costume, programs on real women from the Gold Rush, the conservation movement, and Athabaskan story telling.
I used to get into trouble for inviting tourists I met on the street to come to my father’s store or over to our house for coffee and cake. Now I simply invite the people I meet from all over the country and the world to come visit my favorite place, Fredericksburg, Virginia. Each and every immersion trip is a wonderful excursions. Get to know a magnificent part of American history and a beautiful jewel of a community.