The Magical Mystery Tour

Sunrise over the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina
Sunrise over the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina
Several months ago I suggested to my assistant Amy that she set up a mystery trip for me. I instructed her to contact a public relations company or tourism board for somewhere in the world and set up a trip where I would have no idea where I was going.

So, set up the trip she did and all I knew is that on March 29th I was going to start in Charleston, South Carolina and go somewhere by car. Instructions were to be given to me by Amy via Twitter.

Given what is in driving distance of Charleston I figured I would be going to South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee or Georgia.

I ended up driving up Interstate 26 to Western North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains National Park. There I stayed in the small town of Bryson City and spent Friday visiting the park.

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The Top 10 Reasons to Travel Condensed Down Into 1

For a while I’ve wanted to write something explaining why people should travel. Having spent a half a decade exploring the world, more and more I find myself not just traveling for my own benefit but using my platform to encourage others to travel. The problem is, to me the “why” of travel is so obvious that it is hard to put into words. It is also something very personal and different people are going to have very different reasons for traveling.

I wish I could write a top 10 list with semi-obvious bullet points about why you should travel. Maybe I could toss in points to pander to different groups and in the end have something which would generate tons of pageviews.

Honestly, I just can’t do it. I’ve done lists of my favorite things and I do occasional lists of trivia, but for something as personal and intangible as travel, I’m not sure it can or should be done.

The more I thought about the subject, the more I realized that when you cut away all the BS there was at the core one and only one reason why anyone should travel.

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13 Photos That Will Make You Visit Hawaii’s Island of Lanai

The island of Lana’i is one of the smallest and least visited of Hawaii’s islands. With only 3,000 permanent residents, it has a very small-town feel and avoids the crowds and tourist trap aspects of places like Waikiki Beach. (Locals call it the Mayberry of the Pacific) It also has some of the most interesting history and scenery of any of the Hawaiian islands. I visited Lanai in March of 2011 as a guest of the Lana’i Visitors Bureau.

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The Valencia Water Court: The Oldest Democratic Body in Europe

The Valencia Water Court in session
The Valencia Water Court in session
If you should happen to be in Valencia, Spain…in the Plaza de la Virgen….on Thursday…at noon, you will have a chance to glimpse the oldest democratic body in the world in operation: the Tribunal de las Aguas (The Water Court).

Dating back over 1,000 years to the time of the Moorish conquest, the water court was originally set up by farmers to the south of the city to resolve water disputes between them. They delegated certain men to hear disputes between farmers and this tradition continued after Valencia was returned to Christian control.

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My 5 Year Travelversary – Exploring the Globe For Half A Decade

Year 1 - Solomon Islands
Year 1 - Solomon Islands
On March 13, 2007 I sat in a room at a real estate office in Minnesota and signed over the deed to my house. I handed the family that purchased my house the keys, they handed me a check and from that moment I was living out of a bag.

That is the day I’ve marked at the beginning of my travels.

I have a hard time believing it has been five years. It is half a decade. It is over 10% of my life.

When I started my journey, I told everyone that I would be gone for a year or so, but in reality I thought I might be gone for two.

I never, ever imagined that I would be doing this for five. Never.

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Traveling With Technology Part 1: International Electricity

This is part 1 of what will be a multi-part series on traveling with technology. As a blogger, technology entrepreneur and an extreme world traveler, I probably have as good an idea as anyone on what you need to know if you are going to travel with electronic gadgets. I’ll be posting a new update to the series each Saturday until it is over. I expect this series to run about 3 months given all the subjects I have outlined.

Electrical systems are easily the most confusing and least standardized thing travelers have to deal with. Back in the early 20th Century, there was a hodge-podge of electrical systems as different regions developed their grids independently of each other.

Today we are stuck with a bunch of standards that will confuse most travelers.

There are two primary ways in which electrical systems differ in different countries: voltage and electrical outlets (aka plugs, sockets or power points).

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How Amy Got Her Passport

I have known my assistant Amy for over 10 years. During that entire time, she has never owned a passport. In fact, outside an impromptu road trip she joined me on several years ago to Winnipeg, she had never left the United States. Outside of the slightly awkward fact that the assistant of a world traveler doesn’t have a passport is that fact that her husband is a pilot which means she has the ability to fly all over for free! In celebration of National Passport Day in the United States, here is Amy’s story about how she finally got her passport.

This past week, I finally did something that Gary has been trying to convince me to do for over 11 years. Like thousands of people are doing today, I went to the passport office to apply for my first passport.

I can hear all of the gasps now. No, I have never had a passport. Like over 60% of Americans, I have never applied for one. That’s not to say I haven’t been out of the country. I have crossed the border to Canada twice prior to the need for a passport to do so. I have also traveled to 28 states in the United States, so I am not exactly shy of travel. But I’ve always had to limit my travel planning because I didn’t have a passport at the ready.

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