How I Travel: Best of the First Ten Weeks

The Best of The First Ten

It’s wild to think that we’ve already been publishing “How I Travel” for ten weeks! Hopefully the series still feels as new, fresh and exciting to you as it does to us. After every set of ten we’ll be posting a roundup, whether it’s the “Best Of” (as is the case here) or the collected thoughts of our featured travelers on a particular subject. If you read down the page and find that you’ve missed a few you can view them in their entirety at our How I Travel” archive page. Also be sure to fan us “How I Travel” on Facebook, and follow the @howitravel profile on Twitter to get new articles as soon as we publish them Thanks for all the fantastic comments and feedback!

My greatest travel secret is to be nice to everyone…

…especially the gate agents and flight attendants since they can make or break your trip. I almost always bring them a box of chocolates. (Johnny Jet)

I think it’s hugely important to remember that we aren’t just Nevadans or Americans…

…we are people, and the human experience should speak to us all. By going new places and seeing new things and meeting new people, we come to realize that we are more alike than different. Post 9-11, America reverted to isolationism, but we share this planet, and we need to remember that. Traveling helps us remember that. (Ellen Hopkins)

Rolf in Ethiopia
Rolf in Ethiopia

I’m not an extrovert at home, but I tend to meet people constantly when I travel.

The secret is to take a genuine interest in everyone you meet, and be a good listener. It’s easy to forget how listening is the most important strategy when you’re getting to know people. (Rolf Potts)

I’d describe my travel style as personal.

Meaning I’m less interested in the Eiffel Tower and more interested in the North African immigrant skateboarders doing tricks in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. How did they get there? What’s their story? I tend to spend more time in conversation, less taking photos. When I think about a country, the first images that pop to mind are those of the people rather than the landmarks. (Franz Wisner)

Follow the customs. Dress the part. Do it all the way.

You’ll never regret looking silly for a bit, and even if you do, remember – it’s Somewhere Else. When are you ever going to see them again? (Coleman Collins)

Coleman, unafraid to follow the customs at Oktoberfest
Coleman, unafraid to follow the customs at Oktoberfest

I love it when things go wrong.

When the airline refuses to take surfboards last minute, when the boat breaks down in the middle of nowhere twenty minutes before dark, when the bugs are so bad you have to spend 24/7 in your mosquito net and everyone in the group has diarrhea – you really get to know the true nature of the people around you. I thrive on chaos and I love studying others’ reactions to bumps in the road. It’s a great time to spread the word that every problem is surmountable with the right attitude. (Holly Beck)

My strongest travel influence is Bruce Chatwin or anyone who enjoys getting into trouble when traveling.

It’s the glitches that make you remember life and, certainly, travel – the attempts that failed, the trains you missed, the lines you didn’t stand in. In this regard, I don’t think there’s much difference between travel and life. If you head into both expecting a good time any way it goes, you’re already enjoying yourself. (Don Wildman)

Plan for the unexpected.

Lost bags. Flight delays. Perhaps staying an extra day or two somewhere. The more you travel, the likelier that is to happen. Keep a spare toothbrush in your purse. (Ellen Hopkins)

Improvisation is the only way to travel.

If you plan everything ahead of time, you’re going to miss out on the best experiences. (Stephanie Izard)

I like to leave without even the seedlings of a plan.

My tactic is to follow my nose, ask questions and talk to locals and tourists alike. (Steve Bramucci)

Girl in a church in Fiji
Girl in a church in Fiji

Talk to the locals.

Ask them about the history, about their history. Ask them to take you some place that your guidebook authors didn’t know about. (Stephanie Izard)

Stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.

You can find inspiration in the strangest places. (Coleman Collins)

Holly, making new friends wherever she goes
Holly, making new friends wherever she goes

Travel should be like life – and life like travel.

The point is, in a perfect world it should be one and the same. My everyday life with the people I know and love should be as lively and enlightening as traveling can be so automatically. But of course it’s not. Sadly, I’m as bad as the next guy at living ordinary life in an extraordinary fashion. So, travel is always there to notch me up to the next level, where I ought to be living all the time. And if I put enough good trips together in the years I have left, I might actually live the life I was destined for. (Don Wildman)

My favorite place to visit is wherever I haven’t been yet.

I’ve had many enjoyable experiences in places that I’ve already visited, but it’s always more exciting to enter a new land filled with strange foods and people, and just soak it all in. Luckily the world is really big and there’s always another place to check out just around the corner. (Kyle MacDonald)

If everyone traveled, the world would be a better place.

As Mark Twain said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.” The more you travel you realize that people are the same everywhere and can no longer phrase the discussion in terms of us vs. them. (Holly Beck)

Franz in India
Franz in India

By a long shot, the best memento of any trip is personal change.

Attitudes, priorities, tastes — a good, long, deep trip will shake everything up. I’m someone who needs that push. It’s not that I come back from my travels armed with answers, but at least I’m asking myself the questions. (Franz Wisner)

I used to think I traveled to learn about different cultures or broaden my perspective.

And those are certainly nice ancillary benefits to travel. But I’ve realized that the real reason that I travel is for the brief glimpses of beauty. Whether it’s playing soccer with kids on the beach in Mozambique or spotting my first Orca in New Zealand, my travels have provided me with these perfect moments that will hang in my memory forever. No price tag can be assigned to them, no photo can capture them – but those moments are waiting out there and every time I travel I seem to stumble into a few. That’s why I keep doing it. That’s why I’m in love with it. (Steve Bramucci)

Holly swimming with a whale shark
Holly swimming with a whale shark

Travel is a great way of being alive in the world.

It forces you to appreciate each new day, each new moment. It challenges you to look beyond yourself, to encounter new cultures and new contexts, even if they’re two blocks from your home. (Rolf Potts)

Don’t panic.

(Coleman Collins)

Have fun!

(Kyle MacDonald)

“How I Travel” is a new BootsnAll series publishing every Tuesday 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. Got ideas for who we should talk to? Drop us a note.

You’ll find links to all the “How I Travel” articles on the How I Travel archive page, you can become a fan of “How I Travel” on Facebook, and you can follow the @howitravel profile on Twitter to get updates as soon as new features in this series are published.

all photographs provided by Holly Beck, Steve Bramucci, Coleman Collins, Rolf Potts and Franz Wisner and may not be used without permission