Rome, Italy. After the long transatlantic flight from USA, a long train ride from Rome’s airport to the main city train station, and a subway ride, my physical and emotional exhaustion was overcome when I saw the Colosseo. Still my favorite travel memory.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
A southern RTW (round the world) trip is something on my radar: Puenta Arenas, Antarctica, Cape Town, Maldives, Tasmania, New Zealand, etc., followed by a northern RTW, a drive from Prudhoe Bay to Puenta Arenas, and just plain old exploring this amazing world.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
My first trip to a place where everything was different than my normal (language, alphabet, skin color) was a necessary challenge to become a confident world explorer. This was prior to smartphones, too, so I could not just pull up Google Translator.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
Yelp is the app I use most because on every trip I eat and I like to find offbeat local favorites. Other apps I use depend on whether I am on a road trip, visiting a city or exploring remote places, and staying in vacation rentals, hotels, inns, or just sleeping in my car.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
What Rick Steves calls the back door experience. If you are from Iowa, go to Turkey with a tour group of people you know, stay in a conglomerate US brand hotel, and eat familiar food, what did you really experience? I wish more travelers would stay with locals, eat where locals eat, and hire locals as guides.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
Do not worry too much about packing. You can buy whatever you want/need at the destination and it is often fun. For instance, buying local toothpaste in Morocco or Korea.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Researching an ancestral village in remote Germany, I knocked on the door of someone with the same last name (not McCool!). She knew no English and I knew very little German. She walked me about 1 mile to the home of the only person in the village who spoke English. He treated me to an afternoon of stories, food and wine, and more stories, while he translated between myself and the many visitors who came by. When I departed he gave me supplies I was intended to buy at a store that night.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
I spent a solid 16 months traveling simply because I wanted to. It was a conscious decision to spend a summer in Europe, which turned into road trip explorations around the United States, which became 1 year off (with more road trips and another Europe trip). When I decided to stop traveling, a former co-worker recommended me for a fabulous 1 year contract position. That proved to me that it is always easy to find work (if you have skills and or desire). Having the guts to walk away from the comfortable life to really explore the world is the hard decision.
9.)I travel because….
My soul is happy when I explore new places.
The McCool Travel mission is to create a world of Happy Travelers, by showing people how to find destinations and deals that fit their travel style and budget. Charles McCool is a how-to travel expert, author, trainer, and blogger, whose articles and travel advice have appeared in hundreds of online publications, including Condé Nast, Frommers, Orbitz, Smarter Travel, TripAdvisor, and USA Today. His road trip travels seeking epic ice cream, BBQ, and mojitos have taken him to all 50 states in the USA, to several dozen countries, and to five continents. In fact, he once traveled to four continents without paying a dime—read about his 4 Continent Free Flight Adventure.
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