A life-changing experience while traveling to Mount Everest Base Camp fueled Dave Levart’s desire to see more of the world. Now, he brings his journeys to life through his incredibly photography and accounts on his web site, Dave’s Travel Corner.
1. Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
My first trip out of the country was to the Canadian Rockies and being exposed to that incredible natural beauty made a lasting impression on me. However, it was really my trip to Nepal that truly turned me onto International travel.
It was a college-sponsored adventure trip with the focus being a 10-day trek to Everest Base Camp followed by river rafting and a trek in the jungle in the southern part of the country.
Ultimately, I became extremely sick with both altitude sickness and food poisoning. Both our guide and one of the ladies in our group who was not feeling so well, carried me down the trail for most of the night and all of the next day. I was so weak I was physically unable to walk.
One might think this would discourage with me from ever traveling again, but being exposed to the world’s greatest mountains, that visual beauty and the hardships that I experienced, created bonds with friends that last to this day. The differences in culture, foods and religion were all eye-opening to me (when you see human bodies being cremated in broad daylight in a public setting – things like that leave a lasting impression on you).
After returning to California, I spent nearly a year reflecting on this emotionally powerful trip, and I realized I soon wanted more of international travel in a big way!
2. If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
I would spend at least one to two years traveling to a number of countries that I had not yet visited including Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, more of the stans, Uganda, Rwanda, Mongolia, Tibet, Venezuela and Tahiti among other countries.
For at least part of this trip, I would join an extremely high-end tour operator for access to experiences that I might otherwise not be able to have/find on my own. I would focus on experiences including trekking to Angel Falls, climbing up to the top of the falls and then rappelling down the entire way.
I am also trying to visit, taste and write about every single winery and producer in the Napa Valley. There are approximately 1,100 of them. As of now, I have visited, tasted the wines and written reviews of more then 900 Napa wineries and producers for my Napa Wine Project. I would devote more resources helping me reach out to wineries I have not yet visited and reviewed – and hire someone to help me with the massive and continual updating a project of this scope requires.
3. What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I used to be somewhat afraid of visiting countries that have a bad reputation (deserved or undeserved) as being unsafe. Finding the courage to visit these types of countries came from talking to people who had recently traveled there and could dispel their reputation as being unsafe based on first hand knowledge of recent travels.
4. What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
My number one app that I use when traveling, especially internationally, is Google Maps. Logistically it is made life so much easier for travelers.
5. What place do you wish more people have seen?
The Eastern Sierra Nevada’s in California from the small town of Bridgeport in the north down to about Olancha in the south over to Death Valley and all of the natural attractions in between. This is a part of the state accessible from Highway 395.
Often it seems like Europeans have discovered this part of the state more than those who live here. It features some of the greatest natural beauty in the entire state of California including the tallest mountains in the state, some of the oldest trees in the world, the Bristlecone Pines, beautiful lakes and rivers, epic skiing, fishing, hot springs – but mostly the natural beauty combined with the incredible lighting.
6. Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Be open to a variety of experiences. My friend Jim taught me this many years ago when we both traveled to Nepal together and subsequent trips. Before I started traveling internationally, I was always tentative about trying new things. I did not yet have the perspective one gains after traveling to a variety of countries and being exposed to new foods, cultures, different landscapes etc.
7. When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
I have been to the Middle East a number of times including to Jordan, Oman and Iran. On my most recent trip to the Middle East I visited Iran – I have to say the people I met were some of the most hospitable people I have met in all of my travels. People would randomly come up to me on the street and offer me their phone number in case I got into any trouble, they would invite me in to have food with their families; they would buy me beer (nonalcoholic of course!) – but mostly they were curious about why I was visiting their country.
8.What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
My trip to Nepal certainly was instrumental in this regard. Meeting my wife overseas (Thailand) was also a big factor. We now have property in Thailand and spend as much of every winter there as possible.
9. I travel because…ownership of most things is overrated. Ownership of world experiences is not. I prefer to spend my money on experiences rather than things.
Lastly, can you please recommend a resource for up-and-coming travel writers; this could be a course you know, a book, conference etc.
The annual Travel Writers and Photographers Conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA.
Dave Levart is an international travel writer and founder of Dave’s Travel Corner, a premier travel resource since 1996. He is well traveled; while on the road he enjoys the outdoors, backpacking, mountain climbing, meeting people, and experiencing other cultures.
Combining these interests with his expertise in technology, photography and writing, he shares his adventures on Dave’s Travel Corner and in select media outlets. Dave is most at home in Bangkok, Los Angeles, the Napa Valley or California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
In 2006, he conceived the Napa Wine Project, a challenging endeavor to visit, taste with and write about every winery in Napa Valley, California. He has now completed more than 800 visits and written reviews of Napa producers.
Stay up-to-date on Dave’s travels through:
Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.