How I Travel: Chris Carrabba


Chris Carrabba is the type of musician that’s a treat to behold: he’s thoughtful, friendly and deeply grateful for where his songs have taken him. As the front man for the band Dashboard Confessional Chris has built a career writing emotive anthems with soaring guitar riffs and beautifully crafted lyrics.

This week, Chris found time to chat with How I Travel. His answers reveal a sense of excitement about the world and its inhabitants and a sincere desire to savor every moment.

My first travel memory is…

going to a lake in Connecticut on summer weekends in a car with crank windows and leather seats. I remember my brother and I were just dying in the back seat while managing to barely be civil to each other.

But the joy we received once we parked in the gravel parking lot and walked barefoot to the hard-shell beach was worth it a million times over.

Travel has made me, in a very simple way, much more worldly.

Anytime you go to a place that’s different than what you’re accustomed to, just being exposed to the surface stuff—not even the nuance—can broaden your mind.

Connecting in the airport in Taipei was enough to make me want to learn about the culture.

Suddenly I’ve found myself hoping to travel there…and soon.

I do what I can to keep from coming off as a loud American…while always being proud of being a loud American.

My personal travel interests are piqued by my travel as a musician.

I play all over the world traveling on a tour and don’t get to see much on those trips—but I see just enough to know where I’d like to go to spend more time. The first time I went to Australia I don’t think we had a minute off, but it made me want to plan a few weeks free the next time around.

Touring is a great way to have a “love at first sight” experience with a new place…

long before you get to have a real relationship with it.

I’ve managed to find a way, on a lean timetable, to get the most out of places.

I’ve become so adept at it that when I travel for pleasure I enjoy just flying by the seat of my pants. I like to see as much as I can very quickly, but I also allow myself to get wrapped up in whatever I’m doing at the expense of the next place as long as I’m really enjoying myself.

Travel isn’t about a checklist for me.

It’s about creating memories that will last.

There are so many places that I see so little of because I’m touring.

I’m dying to get back to Luxembourg. It really wasn’t on my radar but I find it mysterious and earthy. The buildings look like they were made a hundred years ago, imagining what state-of-the-art would look like fifty years from then, which is still fifty years ago. It’s a place kind of frozen in time. Walking in Luxemburg is like reading a novel.

Travel isn’t about a checklist for me. It’s about creating memories that will last.

Indonesia is my new absolute favorite place to spend time.

It’s the opposite of what I normally look for—in that it’s densely populated. I usually feel a little boxed in by crowds. But the energy there is like a rip-current. I adore it, but I also feel like it’s perilous—like I could get swept away and never see my traveling companions again. It’s a thrill ride.

Traveling has kind of shaped me into a utilitarian person that I never really expected to be.

I was always of the mindset “the right tool for the right job” and now I’d kind of just prefer some Duct Tape. Whatever I have to do to patch things together and make it work.

The first thing I do in a new place is to address jet-lag if it’s going to be an issue.

I find it infuriating to get in my own way by being exhausted. I’ve discovered that if I can get a quick cat-nap and spend a few minutes jumping rope I can fool my body into being awake and ready to go. Next I want to find food that is indicative of the region I’m in. Then I look for trinkets for my house and gifts for my family—that offers the chance to interact and get to know what the people are like.

There are some genuinely interesting things happening in hotel bars.

In Manila I was astounded when I saw that they had hired people in uniforms to lead the dancing. It was like spur-of-the-moment dancing in lockstep. It was so theatrical and oddly amazing. Once I saw what was going on I was like “I can follow this guy!” and I started dancing along.

Life is so much more interesting when you stop standing on the sidelines and throw yourself into the moment.

Street food is risky, but can be amazing.

I like to eat healthy at home so that I can eat poorly when it’s adventurous. In some cases I like the idea of street food better than actually partaking in it. I don’t always feel comfortable eating it, but I like the vibe and energy created with all the tables and carts out.

Mind the cues that you receive from the place you’re in.

If something feels dangerous, it probably is. If you feel like you’re in the wrong place, you’re probably in the wrong place. The same predictors apply in big cities everywhere around the world. And don’t be afraid to ask!

I try to mix my travel style.

There are very rugged times where the hotels we stay in are chosen just because they’re close to the venues. Then I like to enjoy luxury as a reprieve from that.

I love going to museums with my band-mates.

Of the four of us, three have art degrees, and I’m the one who doesn’t. So it’s great to get an education and travel with really knowledgeable people.

Bring me to the marketplace.

There you can feel the ebb and flow of the people and get a deeper sense for what daily life is like.

If something feels dangerous, it probably is. If you feel like you’re in the wrong place, you’re probably in the wrong place.

I never forget to mind my voice when I’m traveling.

I’ve learned by being out of the country that we Americans tend to speak loudly, and it can be interpreted as garish. It doesn’t help that projection is part of my trade. But I do what I can to keep from coming off as a loud American…while always being proud of being a loud American.

I like to listen to a lot of voiceless music when I’m traveling.

At least until I feel so far from home that I need to hear English—then I’ll listen to Dylan and Springsteen and Tom Petty.

I wrote the song that really brought our music broader cultural recognition while I was traveling.

I was in Hawaii and skipped a surf lesson that we had planned for days to write the song Vidicated on the beach.

If I could have my choice between luxury travel and road tripping in a van, I’ll take the van anytime.

But my absolute favorite way to travel is on two wheels. There’s no division between you and the people. It’s tactile—you are there, not in a shell.

I love travel because I love reinvention.

It’s very hard for adults to change themselves, but you can change yourself through travel. I love the idea of embracing new habits. You can pick something up on the road that can have interplay with your life back home. It’s one of the few ways that I think adults can continue to really grow.

It’s very hard for adults to change themselves, but you can change yourself through travel.

Travel gets away from you so quickly…you have to remind yourself to enjoy it.

Follow Dashboard Confessional online by visiting their website, or by following Chris on Twitter.

“How I Travel” is a BootsnAll series publishing every Friday in an effort to look at the unique and diverse travel habits of some of the world’s most well known and proficient road warriors. 

all photographs provided by Chris Carrabba and may not be used without permission


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Older comments on How I Travel: Chris Carrabba

07 December 2010

Love Chris and always have! So happy to see him featured here! 🙂

08 December 2010

I really enjoy this series. I had never heard of Chris Carrabba before and now I’d like to learn more about him. Some great insights and quotes!

Stephen Bramucci
08 December 2010

POST SCRIPT: Having talked to all sorts of people throughout the series, I find Chris to be one of the most deeply insightful and genuine that we’ve had yet. He is certainly not caught up in the “machine” of the music business– instead, he’s more concerned with genuine interactions. Really a fascinating, cool guy.

13 January 2011

These are the things that make me fall more in love with Chris. He IS genuine, thoughtful, smart and knows how to make the most of life. I honestly wish I knew him before he became an artist because know I feel like I have no chance of it at all. MA is so close to CT…it could of happened. I guess if it’s in the stars…someday. By the way Luxembourg is exactly as he describes it. Get there someday if you can.