1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
It’s difficult to pinpoint one place, but I remember going to Tokyo having a big impact on me. It was the first time I had set foot anywhere outside of the more familiar Europe or the US, and so it felt hugely surreal and otherworldly. My hotel room was on a high floor and so I had this incredible view of all of the skyscrapers with red lights blinking, I saw bullet trains arriving at a station down below, and then—holy crap—a massive airship floated past! Tokyo felt so huge but then all the details were so cute and lovely… all the tiny ramen shops, the tiny delivery trucks, the narrow multi-story buildings.
My visit to Tokyo was a business trip (I was working at a video game company at the time) and it was well before I went backpacking around the world, but I think it planted the idea of wanting to see much more of the world.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
I’m not sure if I feel that constrained by resources to be honest, so I don’t give this a lot of thought. Travel has made me realise that even though I make an average Western salary, from a global perspective I am basically part of the one percent. I have the option to travel just for fun on a regular basis, which is a wonderful privilege.
Most places around the world I think are very accessible even if you don’t have crazy amounts of money by Western standards. Perhaps it would be cool to have $10k to spare to go to Antarctica or climb Mount Everest something, but who cares if you can also buy a crappy car for $500 and go on a road trip adventure. This might sound like a cliché but the most important resources are time and imagination.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
Travelling solo is a little scary. I wasn’t exactly afraid of it but I did have my concerns. It turns out it can be a wonderful way to travel, giving you additional options on top of travelling together.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
I love the MAPS.ME app which lets you download maps locally so you can find your position even when you don’t have a data connection abroad. I do like getting lost on purpose sometimes as it opens your mind and lets you discover new places, but this app has been very useful to find my way back. For example, it was super handy when trying to navigate the seemingly infinite maze of the medina in Mez in Morocco, to name just one place. I also frequently use the XE currency conversion app.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
Hmmm. Let me give a shout out to my original hometown of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Everyone goes to Amsterdam but few bother to visit the more laidback charming cities such as Haarlem or Leiden, even though they are just 20-30 min away and far less touristy.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Before my first long-term trip, a friend of mine told me not too plan too rigidly and play things by ear. I think that got me in the right travelling mindset from the start.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Being on a road trip in Mexico constantly stuck with car troubles was awful, but it would usually take just seconds for people to come up and offer their assistance. Within moments you have like three truck drivers all trying to bump start your car. I’m also reminded of the many times that people around the world extended invitations to me, for instance to come to an event or to eat at someone’s home. People are cool.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time?
I’d like to pretend that this was always my dream, but it was really born out of circumstances and a desire to escape. A bunch of years ago I lost my job and felt hugely discouraged by my career path, so I decided to use some of the redundancy money to travel for two months… but then things escalated, because I fell in love with travel, and that trip turned into two years. Now that I know what wonderful experiences are possible, I want to go back to that every now and then and experience those feelings again.
9.)I travel because….
It expands my mind. Every time I come back from a trip, I feel a little bit reborn.
Marek Bron blogs at IndieTraveller, offering destination guides and practical tips for travelling independently. His book, Travel the World Without Worries, teaches you how to prepare for a big trip abroad and hit the trail with confidence.
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