Talking travel with e-Marginalia

This month, I am the subject of an interview in the online travel magazine e-Marginalia. Reported by Nana Chen, the Q&A touches on such diverse topics as why I dedicated my book to two teachers, what I read growing up, why I kept my 1999-2001 vagabonding journey centered on Asia, how I balance reading and writing, how I plan to travel when I one day have a wife and kids, where I recently set up my USA home base, and what travels I have planned for the future.

The full interview can be found online here.

Below are a few outtakes:

On pacing oneself on the road: “Pace should be done according to personal style. Some people like to stay in one place for months, while others like to keep moving. My only specific advice is not to get too ambitious with your travels—like, say, trying to pack five continents into a year. It’s better to take one continent at a slow pace than to try and cram all those countries into a single trip. So I’ve found that slower is better when vagabonding. Just so long as you don’t waste away for too long in one place when there are so many great places out there! You can always go back to the places that captured your heart.”

On travel as an escape: “Vagabonding and escapism always dovetail a little bit, but I encourage people to travel as a way of living real life rather than escaping it. In the case of a death or a divorce, vagabonding might make for good therapy, and a chance to get away from that trauma. For milder types of escape—say, getting away from a crappy job or unsatisfying family life, I encourage people to get away from the negative aspect of their travel impetus and just enjoy the road for what it is. Better to seek fresh new epiphanies on their own terms each day than be constantly comparing things to your life back home.”

On other travelers’ reaction to the fact that I’m a travel writer: “First, I often don’t identify myself to others as a travel writer, because it makes people treat me in a different way than normal (usually just through people’s exaggerated notion of what I should know about traveling in certain places). Second, I find that dozens of people on the road identify themselves as travel writers, whether they are doing it professionally or not. That is, in a room of a dozen people, maybe six people will call themselves travel writers, even if they only write for a blog or a mailing list. And I think that’s fine. …I usually don’t get any hostility. Perhaps sometimes from younger travelers, who think it’s unfair that I get to be a travel writer because, say, they are spending less money than me, or having wilder adventures. I just shrug and tell them that it’s the writing itself that makes you a travel writer, and not necessarily the travel or adventures you have.”

Posted by | Comments (1)  | December 16, 2005
Category: Rolf's News and Updates, Travel News

One Response to “Talking travel with e-Marginalia”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    Great interview, and you’re spot-on about the “calling oneself a travel writer” part, too.

    I’ve been reviewing islands for a travel website, and have learned to call myself a “researcher” rather than “travel writer” for this position. Still get too many questions from strangers on travel details, though!