Note: I originally wrote this post a few weeks ago, in August, 2011, but didn’t get around to finishing it until now. And how perfect that I post it on my birthday, which is today, August 26 🙂

I recently stumbled upon Traveler’s Night In, a wonderful weekly tweetup that brings people together to analyze, critique, reflect on and find the humor in travel. Every Thursday from 3:30 – 5pm EST, a host asks a series of ten short questions on a particular subject.

This past week, the subject was educational travel, but the questions actually inspired me to do a lot of thinking about my own life’s experiences and travel style. These are my answers, and a photograph that best exemplifies each one.

. . .

#TNI Q1. As a travel virgin, what do you wish you knew before your first trip?

A1. That no matter what happens, it will be ok.


A train ride through the Ella hills of Sri Lanka
I chose this photo because it best represents how I like to travel. Slowly and leaning out the window with a great view.

#TNI Q2. Ways to make travel more educational for kids?

A2. Give kids a their own camera and let them learn by documenting their surroundings. They will cherish those photos and see something each time they revisit them.


Galle Lighthouse Sri Lanka Kids Children Motion Blur
My tripod was set up on the ground to take a long exposure of the Galle lighthouse when these three Sri Lankan boys came up and began to peer into the lens in curiosity.

#TNI Q3. What do you think travel teaches us?

A3. Have patience.


A ferry at the Champasak dock, Laos
These men waited patiently for hours to catch the ferry across the Mekong to Champasak, Laos.

#TNI Q4. Dream study abroad? Where? What program?

A4. London, England. I’m pretty sure there’s a university somewhere that offers a course on James Bond’s cultural significance.


London's Big Ben clocktower, as seen at night from the busy streets below
In my opinion, Big Ben is the most iconic of all British architecture.

#TNI Q5. Books, magazines, websites that have enhanced your travels?

A5. My desire to create content for my Web site adds such a wonderful layer to my travels that helps me to better understand and appreciate my surroundings…and put up with the ridiculous situations backpack travelers all find ourselves in.


Me in the space on the floor I had to sleep in for 7 hours en route to Puna
The photo is a recreation of the way I spent the night on an Indian train floor. By the time we took it, 12 hours later, we were all good friends.

Traveler’s Night In Q6. Destination/trip that taught you the most?

A6. For seven months, I joined my wife, Carrie, in a small village in Nicaragua where she was a Peace Corps Volunteer. Living in Murra showed me the calmness of living completely off the grid, the value of a hard day’s work in the field, the absolute kindness of those most in need and the joy found in giving back.

Nayo Finca Worker Frijoles Campo Nicaragua Murra
The man smiling on the far right is Nayo, our neighbor across the street who was my adopted father during my time there.

Traveler’s Night In Q7. Funniest mistake you’ve made during travels and lesson(s) learned?

A7. While celebrating Carrie’s birthday in Murra. I proudly announced that we were going to have “kah-kah” for desert. The lesson learned is that the word for cake is pronounced “kay-kay” and I basically told the entire town we were going to eat poop


Estile Express Murra School Bus Chicken Bus Nicaragua
The Estelli Express, a refurbished American schoolbus, is the best way to get in and out of Murra. Here, it’s waiting for passengers during a town celebration.

Traveler’s Night In Q8. Innovative ways to learn a new language?

A8. The future is here; use your smartphone.


The Roosevelt Island Tram soars above the East River in New York City
I’ve always thought the Roosevelt Island tramway in New York City was straight out of the future.

Traveler’s Night In Q9. What have you learned by traveling that you did not want to know?

A9. How to use a squatty potty, like this one in Dambula, Sri Lanka.


Danbula Healy Tourist Inn Bathroom Squatty Potty Shower Sri Lanka Toilet
Healey Tourist Inn, Dambula, 600rs. Our driver overslept picking us up from this place

Traveler’s Night In Q10. Skill(s) you’ve developed while traveling?

A10. The ability to hike for days at-a-time.


A local building in a rice field in Sapa, Vietnam
The mountains above the already high up town of Sapa, Vietnam, are filled with rolling fields of lush green rice