Most travel bloggers are young, adventurous types who’ve quit their jobs to explore distant lands. I am the opposite: an old guy who craves routine and order, slightly OCD with Aspy tendencies, a fear of flying and heights, anxious about new experiences I can’t control, but who explores Europe to run headlong into the unknowns that make me uncomfortable, desperate to challenge assumptions I’ve held my entire life. Join me on my trips as I make history come alive (so you don’t have to read long books!), connect with people very different than me, and try not to get arrested.
I have a real job, a gratifying one. My family founded our own company to help kids with learning disabilities. It’s called www.CelebrateCalm.com. We are all involved in taxing emotional work, so travel is a release for us that’s also a common bond.
I am a lucky man—I get to do what I love while helping people and working with my son. The same son I used to battle as a child now accompanies me (or leads me) on many European adventures. Since it is my company and we value learning, I give generous sabbatical time so we’re often in Europe 10 weeks each year. Very fortunate.
Sometimes I travel alone to really push myself—I find when I’m alone, I have to be more resourceful and end up meeting more people. Sometimes we travel as a couple, which usually means slowing down a bit and more romantic locales. Sometimes I travel just with my son because we share many common interests. Plus we trigger each other so the dynamic is more combustible!
I embrace the nerd in me. Before each trip, I will read 15-20 books so I understand the history and context of the people and society I’m about to meet, or the country and buildings and architecture I’m about to encounter. History is not boring dates and facts—it’s about how events shape people and people shape events. The best way to understand our present times is to understand our past.
I meticulously plan most trips so that I maximize my time. I don’t always follow the plan and often call audibles, but I find the structure allows me to actually be more spontaneous and flexible.
My curiosity sometimes leads me astray. I am a little bit of a contrarian so I am skeptical when everyone is heading in the same path—I prefer to go the opposite way and avoid the crowds. I like discovering things beneath the surface, making human connections, observing people.
The posts from my trips are largely emails sent home to my extended family and friends about my specific encounters. They are personal and make reference to my flaws and insecurities. They are also filled with history that I find interesting. Some of it is simplified to be concise and entertaining. And all opinions are my own. You will probably notice my views changing from year to year as I encounter new cultures and keep learning.
Primarily, these letters home are written for my mother. She’s a wheelchair-bound badass of a woman who has fought and beat MS, breast cancer, a heart attack, and much more in life. Every morning, she waked up, fires up her iPad, and lives vicariously through my emails. If you see lots of pictures of dessert, that’s because my mom lives on sweets. I know they aren’t good for her, but she’s 86 so cut her a break.
I have never used a travel agency. I don’t like group tours. You can do this yourself. Half the enjoyment of a trip is the anticipation, the research, being bummed about not being able to go to Italy, but discovering Slovenia instead. And falling in love with a place you’d never heard of.
I hope you enjoy the insights into people, different cultures, and history. I hope it makes you want to explore. I hope it challenges you and your mindset. And mostly I hope you find your own adventures and create memorable experiences more valuable than anything you own.