Ric Gazarian (Why ‘extreme traveler status’ is worth chasing)
In this episode of the Judgment Call Podcast Ric Gazarian and I talk about:
- 00:04:49 Ric’s motivation to go to all 193 countries and why he intends to finish the challenge.
- 00:20:01 How Ric experienced Thailand during the last 12 months with almost no tourists. Why it is such a great place (even) for experienced travelers.
- 00:22:01 Ric’s surprising recommendation for an affordable, high value, safe country with culinary highlights
- 00:25:03 Why Uzbekistan is such a rewarding place for travelers.
- 00:40:23 How destinations deal with over-tourism and why the ‘best places’ remain in flux.
- 00:48:01 How Ric prepares and deals with potential dangerous situations in his travels.
- 01:04:21 Why the epic drive from Yakutsk to Magadan is so tempting.
- 01:08:21 Can we predict which individual will become an explorer?
- 01:10:01 How Ric got into making travel movies.
You may watch this episode on Youtube – #49 – Ric Gazarian (Why ‘extreme traveler status’ is worth chasing).
Ric Gazarian is the host of Counting Countries. He is the author of three books: Hit The Road: India, 7000 KM To Go, and Photos From Chernobyl. He is the producer of two travel documentaries: Hit The Road: India and Hit The Road: Cambodia. Ric is also on his own quest to visit every country in the world. You can see where he has traveled so far and keep up with his journey at GlobalGaz.com.
Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, a podcast where I bring together some of the most curious minds on the planet. Risk takers, adventurers, travelers, investors, entrepreneurs and simply mindbogglers. To find all episodes of this show, simply go to Spotify, iTunes or YouTube or go to our website judgmentcallpodcast.com. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes or subscribe to us on YouTube. This episode of the Judgment Call Podcast is sponsored by Mighty Travels Premium. Full disclosure, this is my business. We do at Mighty Travels Premium is to find the airfare deals that you really want. Thousands of subscribers have saved up to 95% in the airfare. Those include $150 round trip tickets to Hawaii for many cities in the US or $600 life let tickets in business class from the US to Asia or $100 business class life let tickets from Africa round trip all the way to Asia. In case you didn’t know, about half the world is open for business again and accepts travelers. Most of those countries are in South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. To try out Mighty Travels Premium, go to mightytravels.com slash MTP or if that’s too many letters for you, simply go to MTP, the number four and the letter U dot com to sign up for your 30 day free trial. I’m just curious, where does your inspiration come from? When did you get started with travel and when did you decide to go more extreme and change the 193 countries? I had a number of starts and stops when traveling. I did a fair amount of traveling with my parents growing up. Then I went dormant or let’s say I did a ton of domestic travel associated with my job in the US and then in the 2000s, I started spreading my wings again, doing some international travels. I got laid off a couple of times. Each time I got laid off, I use this as a catalyst to start doing some extensive travels. I got laid off during the financial crisis in 2008. I was quite excited about this. 2009, I planned a trip for about 12 months around the world and rather randomly without really any great thought put into this. My goal was really only to visit new countries on that trip. In the back of my mind, I said, I’m just going to travel to every country in the world and I’m going to start knocking off countries off that list. I went to about 30 countries that year, probably about five repeats and about 20 plus new ones as I started traveling in South Korea and made my way west until I got back to the US 12 months after that. It’s such a fascinating idea and I think it definitely caught on to me too. I didn’t really notice that I collected countries, so to speak. I just wanted to see something new. I think we all shared this love for being exposed to something new and then mastering it as well as we can. The idea of going to 193 countries, all UN recognized countries, wasn’t something I ever focused on, but at some point really appealed to me because it gave me this challenge. There is another challenge out there and I know there is people who count regions. I know there’s people who count traveling to as many places as possible quite differently than necessarily countries. It definitely appealed to me over the years. I’m falling out with that a little bit because I feel a lot of countries impose challenges on my travel style that I’m not ready to compromise with. That’s either the security situation, that’s the visa situation, that’s what you can actually expect in terms of tourist infrastructure. So I’m a little hesitant. I’m somewhere around 130 countries right now and from what I’ve seen you you’re in a similar place and I feel that some of these 60 countries that are relatively hard to travel to and I’m trying to figure out should I go there or should I really focus on the places that raise my curiosity. How does that feel for you? How committed, so to speak, are you to go to 193 countries right now? Yeah, I think you touched on one of the big age old debates in the travel community, right? So I’ve spoken to some people who are so well traveled or spend so many months overseas every month but they might focus on one or five different countries or then you have someone like myself who is chasing 193 trying to go to every country in the year in the world and then again yes you’re having this debate you go back to the places you love or are you constantly exploring new territories, new land. So I’m very committed to completing the 193. This was not the case when I mentioned I started doing this in 2009. For a couple years after that I don’t think I was visiting more than one or two new countries a year after that and then just to build on this around 2014 maybe I read Chasing 193, a book about extreme travelers who have traveled to every country in this world. This was the first point I was kind of realizing there’s an actual community of people doing this and when I read that book I kind of integrated within the Chasing 193 community and this kind of sparked the flame to start pursuing this quest more seriously. This and I know you run a really interesting podcast it’s called Counting Countries correct? Yes and I think you have a really great mix of travelers on that podcast and you do really in depth interviews I really enjoy listening to a couple of the episodes and what I’ve noticed and that’s to your point is there’s a there’s an interesting community that really focuses on extreme traveling that to me was news until a couple of years ago to be honest and there is something called ETIC if I get this correctly so that’s that’s a community of extreme travelers that go to some of the places that don’t really show on maps like islands or that that are in the middle of the Pacific and nobody’s ever been to really I mean there’s definitely nobody living there and then there’s a bunch of others how do you how do you make sense of these communities because they seem to all look at the same thing from slightly different perspectives? Well I mean I think that’s anybody in the travel community you’re chasing 193 so you know as we touched on you have people doing fast travel very in depth travel you have people chasing 193 then you have some of the travel travelers clubs like Traveler Century Club which divides the world into 329 places most traveled people I hope I get the number right 989 and Nomad Mania 1301 so yeah I mean what is your goal what is your passion what is your interest and then you know you’re gonna lay out this goal this objective and then go out and try and accomplish that goal you know the motivation is different for everybody chasing 193 and maybe one night a country and that will keep you sufficiently happy that you scratch the surface and then you’re touching on these other individuals who will spend 60 days on a boat to visit a spec in the South Atlantic ocean that’s a couple miles by couple miles which doesn’t have a living soul on it so you can see the level of dedication or passion that some of these people are employing to reach their goal I think the board we are looking for is insanity and I would argue that you are correct and I mean I’m talking about Charles Ville who you know it’s hard to say there’s a definitive best travel there most travel but Charles Ville is the founder of most travel people he’s definitely on the list of one of those most traveled people in the world I interviewed him and I have to be honest or said I mean at some level my jaw is dropping on the ground so he went to visit Buve Island again it was a 60 day 60 days on a boat all told to be able to visit this island for a couple of hours and to put this to put this in context he had just had his first kid a month or two before he set out on this journey and I believe he missed Thanksgiving and Christmas so the passion the extreme dedication displayed by some members of this community are you know pushing the the bounds of sanity at some level I feel we this this this really inner circle of the heavy travelers and I spoke to Collier Spurry a couple weeks ago he’s one of those outliers I feel this dedication that we see kind of resembles the explorers you know the 14th 15th 16th century explorers who went around the world basically on a one way mission so I mean there was they had some idea where to go but they really didn’t know what’s gonna expect them there they were not so happy Indians they would encounter there would be seas that would be scurvy there would be lots of challenges and often they did it anyways and we there seems to be a certain part of our population that is conditioned to behave in such a way it’s a relatively small number so it’s probably just definitely less than one percent of the population probably 0.1 or even less and they are looking for outlets for this extreme curiosity or maybe it’s it’s a psychological disorder whatever it actually is it seems to be something we we have built into our genetic structure because it seems to be stable over a long time frame the problem now is or maybe these phases come and go where we have a technology that allows us to explore something we haven’t but currently it seems to whole planet earth seems to be completely discovered and travel seems to be so easy that anyone can do it you don’t really need any real fitness you don’t really need any huge bank accounts you can go anywhere you want on the before covid that is and hopefully at one point we go back to this at least to some extent and you could go wherever you want without a real challenge but we can’t go to mars yet hopefully we can in 10 15 years but there isn’t something where we easily kind of experience the wild west and maybe these extreme travelers are chasing that same dream right they are trying to find that lasting that’s just is a unique experience and stays unique for quite some time it agreed so i mean maybe you can even place that into two categories you have the travelers who are checking boxes and checking lists and are propelled by this ocd ish level of collecting things and then the other part of that community is what you’re describing people who are explorers who want to learn who desire to see things that no one else has seen or very few people have experienced and again you can also be a combination of those two different categories as well which category are you i would argue that i am in both categories so i enjoy this idea of keeping excel spreadsheets and keeping lists and tracking my travels and checking boxes but in the same way i am so excited and you know motivated to go have these incredible experiences to see these amazing things and do these incredible things so both for me i read a bunch of books by karl jung and he has a lot of he’s one of the freud disciples and then he besides his psychological work he also traveled to a lot of places and he read a lot of books about other cultures mostly primitive cultures at the time that’s where they were called so countries and cultures in africa and in asia that hadn’t advanced to in his view higher level of civilization and he had a very i really enjoyed reading those he had a very interesting perspective on that he really wanted to find out what what drives the people in these countries how did these cultures work and actually what’s overlapping so there’s there’s a lot of overlap that he could find between different cultures that seemingly never had any contact with each other that’s one of the great inspirations when i go somewhere that i can talk to people as much as i can understand them if there’s a there’s a ability to speak the language or find someone who speaks english the ability to realize you know what is what would we have in common from from our point of view how the world works and how people in that place think and there’s a lot of globalization going on so i think the difference between the u.s and australia is very small and even most places in asia you feel like people have been integrated in this global level of thinking but if you go outside of this there’s still lots to be discovered in terms of what’s what’s ancient heritage what i can’t really understand is is how would you put yourself under all this pressure to literally just go for a country for one night or just to get the password stamp for one hour like people have done um there’s a bunch of travelers who went to all the countries they’re not even 20 years old or they are under 25 i can’t really understand why would you why would you do this why would you see this enormous potential of exploring other places but you literally just go there for one night or what’s the payoff there psychologically well i i guess from my perspective of having interviewed a lot of these people i can maybe share with you their mindset uh mindset um so i think the fast travelers one explanation they’ll share with you is i want to quote unquote get it over with and then i’m going to know what countries i’m interested in and i’m still young enough and i’m going to be traveling and going back to these countries after the fact that might be number one number two they’re so excited about completing this goal and the reality is they might have a job where they only get three weeks of vacation so the only way they can complete this goal goal in conjunction with their their life is by doing fast travel and then maybe the third category is a smaller subset of people trying to actually break records um fastest and youngest um so i would say those are the three explanations i typically hear for people doing fast travel that that makes it sound much more reasonable i always felt it’s a waste it’s a waste of resources um but i i that definitely helps me understand the motivation a little bit more um you’ve been living in thailand for quite some time i understand you grew up in the us um you’re back in the us now but you spent the last couple of years in thailand correct me if that’s incorrect um well on a typical year for the last seven years i spent about 90 days in thailand the exception to this rule has been march 17th 2020 to march 2021 where i spent my year of coven in thailand never leaving the country for 12 months which is you know for me unique seems like you’re wasting a lot of travel time on thailand um yeah well i mean that goes to the other debate which tons of travelers have had the last 12 months do you travel during coven or do you wait during coven why is it thailand that’s so dear to your heart um i think you all love thailand in the sense of we all heard of it many of us have been there um it really comes close to this travel matrix that i feel a lot of people ask about so it’s it’s relatively affordable the locals are friendly it’s great food great cuisine um it’s tropical and there’s even places that are a little cooler if you really need that so it’s it’s definitely one of those countries we all love but it seems to have gotten an enormous amount of crowds so i think it was one of the based on population size the most traveled most inbound tourist country on the planet and it kind of spoiled it for most of us why is thailand still your favorite i think thailand is a fantastic country um a lot of those reasons you just shared so it’s a i mean from the perspective of a western or it’s an interesting place in culture it’s eastern but nonetheless if you’re looking at let’s say comforts or familiarities you can get as many of those as you want in Bangkok so if you want starbucks mcdonald’s you want peruvian fusion food you want to have 10 chicken shlorm is delivered or deep dish pizza that’s all doable in Bangkok so combination of east and west uh you know western comforts and interesting things from the east great cost structure great people and the one thing i’ll say torsten is this past 12 months gave me a much greater appreciation of what thailand has to offer so even though i was locked down in thailand the country most of this year was open for travel and on a typical year i really i don’t travel or explore that much of thailand because it’s 90 days in and out i’m planning for my next trip so this year gave me the opportunity to visit a lot of places i would never get to visit and this country is an onion you can peel this onion back so many different layers in this country offers so much and then the one extra giant bonus is this is thailand 1990 meaning it’s like going back 30 years there’s virtually no tourists when you’re traveling in the country so uh you know the tourism industry is always concerned about over tourism and that is a giant giant threat to thailand um it wasn’t these last 12 months and as a person staying in thailand that was a major benefit to exploring the country the last 12 months yeah i mean um we are very jealous that i am um i can imagine um and i think thailand that was the the only major criticism i could level at thailand was the overcrowding um especially in places where tourism played a major role on the the incentive structure that was built there and how it changed the country and if that goes back to 1990 or whatever the healthy level is doesn’t have to be going back in time i think thailand has a very bright future um ahead what other countries would you recommend that are in kind of a similar spot and i don’t mean this geographically i mean countries that are relatively accessible it doesn’t take two years to get a visa it’s relatively affordable and has maybe some good food but it allows you to explore it um relatively easily and um ideally those are countries that um people haven’t necessarily heard of most of us have heard of thailand and maybe of bali but maybe places that are a bit outside of the beaten path um well i have i have two thoughts um which are my usual go to answers for this first one is a shout out to my ethnic homeland of armenia so this is really a small country of about three million people sandwiched between turkey and georgia and iran and it has a lot of those elements that you just touched on it’s easy to visit in terms of visa in terms relatively easy in terms of just getting a flight there the cost structure is fantastic probably better than thailand it’s cheaper um cosmopolitan capital which you could spend a week or a month in between cafes restaurants music museums um then the next best thing is if you can rent a car um rent a car and drive around this country and again you could spend a week a month and you can visit you know beautiful mountains and valleys you can go to the forest of dilijan you can go to thousand year old monasteries you can go to germoog for the spas um so yeah i really and the food is great as well so it really hits a lot of those buttons that you need to hit to make it be one of these very attractive countries uh on many of these elements that we discussed to to visit that’s not super exciting i heard good things about aminia before but i’ve never been in another country that’s in the region i don’t know if you you have insider information there too is albinia which is being described to me as the the italy the atria of the 1990s and 1980s so it still has a lot of those amenities is great food um a great lifestyle um has gotten much safer now it used to be a country seemingly i can’t really watch what happened on the ground that had a spike in crime um 20 30 years ago but it’s gotten to a much better place now what do you think of albinia as a place to go so i’m a big fan of the Balkans in general and i need more time to explore that region um about 10 years ago i entered a rally like a car race where i drove from budapest to yerevan so it was a 17 day uh 11 country 7 000 kilometer rally through those countries so what i’m getting at is i’ve been to albinia just two nights and it was about 10 years ago i spent one night up in the north and the mountains in one night camping on the lake orid um so my brief impressions were very positive and i’ve read and i’m aware of the some of the same things that you shared and albany is definitely a tree i want to get back and and to visit and see more deeply yeah what other country would you recommend or place doesn’t necessarily just have to be a country um maybe one in africa one in asia to just make it a little bit more more white our focus okay well i was gonna i was gonna share with you berma which is one of my favorites but to to spread out the geographical distribution i’m gonna say uzbekistan and uzbekistan had been on my list for such a long time because this uh you know this thought or the fables of being on the silk road was just so high on my list to visit in uzbekistan until just several years ago was a unpleasant country to visit in terms of visas and regulations and rules and customs um they switched in e visa they got rid of a lot of the soviet esque rules and it was in such i was there for a couple weeks i cannot recommend uzbekistan highly enough so great infrastructure for tourism easy to get around cost structure is great and torsten so much to see so much culture in history uh and amazing stuff to see so big big fan in that country oh i fully fully agree i think uzbekistan is extremely undervalued i went for two weeks and i thought like especially summer kind of this kind of like going to jerusalem but there’s basically nobody else there there’s a bunch of people from the ukraine from russia but nobody else and the food is fantastic and it’s it’s you know the informal uber which you have in many of those places i went a couple years ago so that was when it was still tricky to to go there and there were a lot of regulations in terms of where where you exchange your dollars and where you don’t exchange your dollars on the minimum of that and where you can stay and where you can’t stay and you have to produce a paper for every night so they know where you’ve been um but this informal uber style i thought that really interesting this is kind of common in many many of those countries and i use that all the time you can basically just hail anyone off the street doesn’t have to be a cab um because they don’t have any cabs but literally everyone um who has space in their car and you tell them where you’re going and they take you and prices are like a dollar or two across the city and i did this at 4 a.m at night and never never felt worried i thought that’s this just incredible it’s this distrust that you can expend to pretty much anyone in that that region or maybe i was a little bit too enthusiastic but i thought it really tells you something about the country but then on the other hand it was one of these places where i really felt spied upon in a massive way i mean it’s not that the big tech companies don’t spy on us they do but i felt like in touch camp i always had someone following me uh when i left the hotel it it was something where i felt like every single step of mine is being so wailed and Uzbekistan is known for this especially in the capitals probably was i didn’t feel it in summer can’t maybe just the agents were a little more pleasant than they stayed back a little bit so that felt really strange to me and i couldn’t really make sense there’s a lot of politically motivated i don’t want to say the word atrocities but there’s there’s some strange politics going on in Uzbekistan i can’t really vouch if they are they are correct or not if they actually happened but that really gave me a better aftertaste despite being Uzbekistan such a perfect place other ways to visit and just one thing i mean you’re you know commenting the lack of tourists so in Bukhara is the Registan which is one of the most beautiful sites in the world to see it’s a series of three madrasas and i like to do a lot of photography and you know you’re always chasing the light so you’re you’re getting up at 6 a.m to take photos of the Registan in this example and again this is the amazing thing this site is just as beautiful as the Taj or Angkor Wat or whatever but when i show up at 6 a.m or 6 30 whenever it was i am the only tourist there i’ve got my tripod set up you know there’s a couple of locals you know doing their exercise or walking to work but otherwise i own that place and to be fortunate and lucky enough to see something so amazing and to own it for yourself i mean you can’t discount that experience and that is why people should be going to Uzbekistan to be able to partake in something like this yeah there’s definitely the hope and i’m sometimes these politics get to me where i feel like man this isn’t a place i should support but on the other hand you know there’s a small sliver of government who i don’t know what they’re actually up to but there’s a huge population that i know i really support when i go there and i can talk to them and i can find out what they’re up to and Uzbekistan and i speak quite a bit of russian so russian is widely used but they spoke a lot of english there too so it was very easy to at least have a basic communication with most people yeah i mean i did uh you know kiva samarkand bukhara tashkent but i also went out to nukis uh which is the far west and i did a uh stayed in nukis for a couple nights but did a very very long drive to the aral sea and slept overnight by the sea so um there’s a great company i’ll give a shout out to i am tours a why i am based in nukis like this great family business they’ve done well until covid you know they own two little small hotels um in nukis and a unique experience and this is also great to be able to get to the west see some nature see some outdoors to balance these amazing towns of kiva samarkand and bukhara and tashkent so when you think about the places you went to in africa which one would come to mind where you feel like they also would feel would fit into this matrix well i mean there’s so many amazing countries but falling into the matrix makes it a little tougher um you know because like thailand armenia usbekistan you can i mean you can do all of that 100 by yourself um so i mean a lot of people mention mention morocco as a place that’s very affordable and um pretty good cuisine has some amazing sights i always felt a little hunted in the streets of marrakech let’s put it this way um it is a little rougher you need to be ready to for some rougher interactions um but if you are um and that also goes for other countries like egypt or turkey if you are these countries are extremely beautiful very affordable and if you can kind of make your peace with that part um of of your daily experience on morocco is as often the place that people recommend yeah i mean 100 percent morocco i mean offers so much i mean it’s not like there’s just one place to visit it’s the entire country you could road trip for weeks or months on end yeah i mean i mean i had maybe a couple of irritating guys in marrakech in the the square i mean that’s almost part of the visit and then i had one other scam star in my way to says um but yeah i think you have to be a little bit prepared if you’re not used to those type of interactions um that that could and most likely will happen to be uh take place in morocco but that should not preclude you from visiting because it’s a fantastic country like you said one can be visited 100 independently great cross structure great infrastructure very good food and so many amazing things to see and do so 100 would back you up on your recommendation when you think of the places that you still haven’t visited yet what seems to be the biggest challenge out of those countries where you feel like well they they are kind of the opposite end of this decision matrix they’re hard to get to the food is terrible and is extremely expensive um well i mean one country i’m very excited to visit uh well two of them the first one will be libya uh which i am so excited and static to visit hopefully sooner than later um and it’s not it’s it’s one of the least straightforward places to visit meaning for all intents and purposes they don’t issue tourist visas so so the travel hack is there’s one or two companies that basically all the extreme travelers know about and are aware of that you contact and they got to make a business visa for you i think it costs like $500 or so so expensive you got to jump through some hoops um and then once you get there there’s a security issue and only very limited parts of the country you can visit but again this is untouched territory meaning you’re not going to be running into over tourism and it’s this you know old culture old country um where you’re going to be able to do some amazing things when you’re in libya when you when you look at countries what is your say your m o when you get there what what are things that you check out traveled with other um travelers and they for instance find um all the uh all the religious institutions in that country so they really are interested in churches they go there because say they’re really interested in the beginnings of early christianity so they try to find those or um they try to find a mosque um what is kind of your m o if you get to a country what what are the things you really want to see and check out once you’re in a new place yeah so my m o i mean i don’t know if this makes me a general list but in general i am excited and motivated to see the thing that the country is known for so in other words if you’re in polo i’m not my my motivation is not to hunt out the churches my motivation is to get out into nature to start snorkeling to start kayaking and see these you know amazing awesome things in the ocean um if i’m in lala bella ethiopia it’s famous for its rock carve churches so there i want to see these you know ancient churches i want to see all the orthodox priests doing a service i want to take in all the people who are there on the pilgrimage um so yeah i’m and if i’m in tanzanaya i want to go see safari so if i’m in namibia i want to go see the world famous desert so i definitely want to see the highlights of each country for what they’re known for yeah that makes a lot of sense and when when i started traveling i didn’t really know what to expect to be honest and i didn’t know what is just a tale what is kind of marketing right and what is real and one thing that i noticed is that every country has something that they’re very competitive at and that might be a cultural behavior that might be something they produce that might be something you can actually ship say in germany it’s usually high quality products so you can discover something where where a um you can enjoy something that is world class at usually very affordable rates and b you can see there seems to be similar ways of dedication that the locals have or the local culture has to a certain thing but then there’s also a pastime there’s something might be surfing it might be hiking it might be running whatever it is i felt wherever and irrespective of the expectations i had and the knowledge i had about this country it became relatively soon apparent it is a few things in that country that i often didn’t expect that are fantastic to enjoy and see what what what people made out of out of their circumstances and created something that is highly valuable um i was really surprised by this like i i felt and maybe that was just my my idea of perception wherever you go that is something that is world class and it’s sometimes hard to predict what it is sometimes you know enough about the country and there’s enough literature about it and you kind of easily figure this out but to your point i feel like it’s it’s not necessarily a tourist experience right i mean the serengeti maybe is so to speak right that is something very touristy but there is things in Tanzania the way people go about their life and you go through stonetown for instance this is just amazing and i sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don’t see it coming and it really gives you this at least what when i count myself it gives me this euphoric travel experience i discovered something i can always go back to and irrespective of what happens to me there’s always this place of perfection i can go back to and now i need an example um yeah that would be here’s a good example and i think this is this is the the the problem we i don’t know if you have good idea how to solve it this the islands in in thailand right so they were perfect for the longest time and then they just got ruined by over tourism and it seems that was easy to predict but it was also very sad to see okay but give me give me one of the so the example that you’re utilizing is the thai islands being perfection yeah i went to copp in the mid 90s and it was just beautiful it was it was perfectly clear water it was it was a great infrastructure there were guest houses there were bounty um bountiful restaurants there was a small community of travelers that seemed to be really in the know and was really really cognizant of the environment tried to protect it and then it just fell apart and i went back in like 10 15 years later and that was not even recognizable it’s ruined yeah um well i mean speaking very specifically to that um you know i don’t know the exact number of islands in thailand that’s you know thousands there’s always a new and an upcoming island so for instance one of my great finds uh the last 12 months in thailand is an island called ko mak ko mak is next to ko chang ko chang is either the second or third biggest island in thailand it’s near the border of cambodia ko mak is is tiny that there’s about 400 permanent residents and the benchmark i utilize of whether something is developed is if there’s a 711 so for those who’ve been to thailand you know 711s are ubiquitous they’re everywhere they’re both good and bad uh but for instance ko mak doesn’t have a 711 there’s only one atm there’s no bars there’s no clubs the beaches are unspoilt and untouched and it’s not over torsted so uh that would just show you it’s all it’s a game of inch warm meaning one island in thailand gets ruined and then you have to move to the next one that’s in the process of development and discover that one and enjoy that island until it’s ruined yeah we we we all know the story from the beach right from the movie and the novel and it seems there is this motivation to keep these places kind of to yourself to not talk about it that was the story of the movie and once you start talking about this secret beach right then it it it will always end in the same scenario and then the crowd moves on and there’s tons of places left in the world so it’s it’s not really running out of places like that right but there seems to be an insider advantage that’s built into this it’s kind of like a like a hedge fund right so you don’t want to give away your secrets because if you do then you can’t make money anymore and the same seems true with this kind of travel which is again a sub sector of travel but it seems everyone tries to maintain that secret I mean the secret is out then the place is gone yeah so I mean I think two comments on that and I mean Komak isn’t a secret I mean people know about it per se but I was tweeting about it and some you know long term expats in thailand jokingly harangue me saying hey don’t let this secret out we want to keep it undeveloped and then the second comment I’m gonna make I don’t know if you’ve heard of Joe Cummings Joe is in the Joe is an American who moved to Thailand let’s say in the early 80s and he’s the individual that wrote the first book for a lonely planet on Thailand so the guy’s completely fluent in Thai and some of the local dialects and a comment that he made that I found so interesting and kind of explanatory is you have this argument of instagramers ruin a landmark in a certain country and that can be true but what Joe said is Joe says I have been promoting isan for 30 years isan is the northeast region of Thailand it’s the Alabama of Thailand it’s the farm country it’s very poor and what he said is I’ve been promoting isan for 30 plus years and he has a pretty big megaphone when it comes to Thailand and only 2% of tourists after 30 years go to isan so I mean there’s so many different mechanisms that goes into the buying decision of where a tourist will end up but you know you’re always going to have the comox of the world and you’re always going to have the isans of the world I think for you know hopefully generations to come yeah those are very wise words it seems to be somewhat unpredictable so where where this journey goes and what takes off I was talking about that in another episode there seems to be some kind of viral movement that’s unpredictable which plays as a destination takes off and I made this example because I know that from from Germany my German relatives they all very well experienced in going to Dubai and you would think oh they go there for certain business transactions they go there for shopping but what it’s really known for is as a beach destination which seems really odd because it’s either too hot for the beach or it’s relatively cold in December January and the beaches aren’t that great in the first place it’s not that cheap and there isn’t a really beach vibe about this place it’s just not that kind of place there’s lots of other good things about Dubai but certainly not a great beach destination but Dubai and Abu Dhabi are widely recognized all over Germany as one of the best places to go in winter and northern hemisphere winter to have a beach vacation which it doesn’t seem to wipe with anyone else in the world but it’s it’s it’s known as a fact and it’s their country to look at when you when you’re looking at beach vacations which is silly when you think of it but it’s it’s been like this for 20 years and I find this fascinating how how these themes of travel take off that often don’t have to do much with reality and even if people go there and they come back a slightly disappointed because it doesn’t fit what they have in their mind they would still recommend it and it keeps strengthening this map. Yeah I mean yeah I mean there’s probably hundreds of different factors that go into that you know whether you know what the Dubai tourism board is doing what you know what partnerships Emirates is making with uh you know people in Germany with what tour providers in Germany are doing to promote Dubai and what the media is doing what the influencers are doing yeah so I don’t ever view Dubai as a beach destination for myself I’ve been there several times I’ve never been to the beach but yeah what I think nobody outside of Germany does so I find it really fascinating how it takes how it took off that way one other thing I wanted to ask you about is there is for a lot of people a lot of anxiety to go to a new place in the first place and there is always this worry that you’re being exposed because you don’t have insider knowledge because you don’t know the place and you don’t know which neighborhood to go to you don’t know what’s safe what’s not safe what might really create issues with the locals how do you deal with this how do you prepare yourself to go to a new country that you consider dangerous? Yeah so let’s pretend I am going to Mali so this was kind of a case study for me last year I was in what’s it called I was in Burkina Faso in the I can’t remember the name of the city Bobo yeah yeah Bobo I was in Bobo on the west Burkina Faso’s second biggest city and I was with my friend slash guide who has a car and we’d been driving all around West Africa the plan was to go from Bobo to Bamako and I was sort of going to do a check the box visit from Mali spend a couple of days Bamako the capital and walk around and at the last minute he said we should go to Jenne Jenne is in the middle part of the country and it is famous for the largest mud structure in the world it’s a incredible mud moss the the grand moss that was built in Jenne so it’s one of those things a traveler has to say so now we start doing research because Mali in general is not the safest country and you know I would say it’s sort of like a funnel so very quickly you go on the US State Department and you see what the threat is and there is and you know it says do not travel it’s the highest it always says that you’re right so yeah so the highest level do not travel you know and that gets you that gets you a tiny pit in your stomach you know because it’s it’s obviously not a hundred percent accurate based upon what’s happening but it gives you a guideline that this is you know not one of the safer countries so now you need more information on the ground and it’s almost like being like a detective or journalist you start calling your sources so there’s a famous um hostel in Bamako that I was staying at it’s owned by a expat I reach out to email I’m like should I go to Jenne you know because this guy’s been living there 10 years he goes to be honest we do not recommend that you go there we don’t recommend any of our guests go there we had an incident five years ago someone got kidnapped okay so that’s you know that’s a vote for no then I reach out to this local provider near Jenne a Dutch woman her company’s called Papillon and she’s been guiding foreigners there for you know for years she goes you know I think you’re okay in Jenne but don’t go any further east than that then I go to Instagram and I find a couple people that had been there within the last couple months and I send them a quick message then I go to my travel community and reach out to other friends of friends in my travel community who’ve been there so then you you create this mosaic you create this picture of how safe it is and there were enough votes saying yes go for it that my guide and I drove off to Jenne there was one final intersection and our goal was to get there before sunset and this was like a nine hour drive to get there from Boba Boba to Jenne says long drive so we had like we had like a good 60 90 minutes left before sunset and there’s one final intersection so to the right you were going to Jenne and then to the left I think San and there was a police checkpoint there so we get out and we go to the policeman he’s like what are you guys doing and we’re like oh we’re going to Jenne and he says something like in French I don’t speak French he’s like oh sector Rouge sector Rouge so no red sector don’t go there he says don’t go there sector Rouge and then I had I had a legitimate pit in my stomach but we had come so far I said let’s go went to Jenne only spent one night there it’s amazing and one of my highlights of Africa yeah I mean a lot of people say that when they really prepare for danger it doesn’t really happen to them but if they are relaxed if they are in their comfortable environment they often get hit by dangerous situations more often even if it’s still relatively rare and I’m kind of curious you strike me as very methodical it’s extremely planned out you know what you’re doing you don’t get into a lot of chaos how much of randomness and serendipity do you think is in your travels and how much is actually preplanned and you saw that coming yeah I mean you brought up a great point of you know the safety versus security and I think one of the biggest challenges in the travel community is oh I just went to you know Burkina Faso is another country that’s rated as like do not travel by the State Department and there are you know a regular fair amount of violence and terrorist incidences in that countries and some of them directed at westerners so I think the the biggest one of the dangerous pitfalls the extreme travel or community falls into is oh I just went to Burkina Faso it’s extremely safe nothing happened to me and of course that that can happen and you did have a completely safe trip to Burkina Faso but that doesn’t negate the dangers and threats that are found in that country and I think that’s a slippery slope that you look at that one data point of that one person who didn’t have a negative you know violent interaction in that country so I think that’s something everybody has to be aware of that one or two or three people going to that country doesn’t negate the threat or danger of that country uh uh yeah it seems like this is more like a like what children do right so they have very little data points um say my children they they they run with their bikes over really crazy intersection and they tell me later on well nothing happened but I didn’t get it I’m like yeah you got really lucky but they don’t understand these two and I think this mental model is still something that’s that’s that’s growing in children is they have this one mental model that I think is bit like AI where we feel like we relearn from a large set of data set of data points a huge data set and then it’s a purely statistical analysis and we have this in our minds and I think this is this is called well I don’t know what it’s called but it’s part of our brains and then we have the other and the best example is when we get into an accident we suddenly realize it’s dangerous that’s only one data point we might have crossed the same intersection a thousand times but if you have one accident we will always think of it as dangerous it’s our model and I think what you’re describing is the opposite right so we have this we expect this enormous amount of danger then nothing happens and we think it’s safe but it’s silly right it’s the same what a child would do if you tell them it’s dangerous they cross the street anyways they are fine that doesn’t make it anymore safe it’s just they got lucky and I feel this is very hard to evaluate what my personal safety or security will be once on the ground that my tail is from from Lagos where I felt arriving at the airport people were extracting bribes just to get out of the airport I immediately had to get a police escort to just get to hit the mainland but then it was on Victoria Island and most of the time even during the day I was able to walk around I felt no security threats I felt there is it is nothing that really prohibits me with a little bit of disguise with a little bit of making myself less visible not having my camera hang out and stuff but I could walk around uninhabited and discontinued at least during the daytime as long as I was there during the night it was a little more shaky but it could still maybe would have been fine so even the locals seem to be very worried about crime violent crime directed against them especially on freeways and carjacking is very frequent but I didn’t see it so I would come back and say oh it’s completely safe you don’t have to worry about it which probably wouldn’t be correct I agree yeah I mean it’s all based upon so often your personal experiences your personal perspectives and then it could be as something as simple as the neighborhood that you walked around is statistically safer but one neighborhood to the east or one neighborhood to the west is not safe so you know you just interviewed James from untamed borders recently and I went to Afghanistan with James’s company and I went with them because that’s in my opinion one of the most challenging countries to visit from a security standpoint and I wasn’t going to do that independently I know people have done it independently and that’s I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it and we’re up in the north for example and Marzi Sharif and we do a day trip to Baal which is relatively nearby and our guide that day was a little you know tiny tiny bit edgier and he was going okay guys let’s move it come on next place next place and then as we’re you know as we’re leaving Baal he says oh 30 minutes to the east is ISIS and 30 minutes to the south is Taliban and obviously these borders are not you know thousand foot walls any guy from the Taliban can drive 30 minutes into Baal with poor or bad intentions so again you know if you’re not a local and you don’t know the deal you could by luck be on the safe street or by luck be in the street one over that is you know not as safe yeah I think this is the anxiety that people feel I think is not always justified but sometimes it is and it was in the 90s I think when Miami got a really bad rap for at some neighborhoods when people picked up their cars at the airport and there’s some bad neighborhoods that you have to drive through and they could spot them as rental cars with the big stickers and it would just relieve the tourists of their their luggage and of their car if there was no tracking at the time and for a lot of Europeans that was something they couldn’t wrap their mind around because the US was known at least until that point as you know safe place Europe is very safe there’s not a lot of shaky neighborhoods in Europe so to speak this doesn’t mean crime doesn’t exist but it doesn’t have this neighborhood divide and in the US it’s enormous and people didn’t even think about that like they didn’t they just didn’t know what to expect and then they hear some of those tales probably wasn’t like hundreds a few thousand and they couldn’t really wrap their mind around it their mental model was just not explaining it and I think this is the problem for for the relatively unexperienced travelers that there is no mental model but once you hear about it once you once you learn more about it you can you can massively situations almost all instances I feel if you just put enough thinking into it you can still get unlucky right so there is an attack on the hotel you’re staying that’s it that’s the end of your life which would not be good it wouldn’t be good well we all have to die one day but hopefully not in a hotel attack that would be pretty pretty sad but I feel I don’t know what your your impression is when I when I look in the eyes of some of these extreme travelers you might not be one of them but I feel like it is something they it’s it has appeared to them and they’re willing to still take that risk so it doesn’t discourage them and they’re kind of they feel like the risk that they are taking is worth it and I see this also with extreme athletes who you take an enormous amount of risks for them it’s becomes more manageable because they have a lot of training because they have a lot of skills but it’s still they put their life at risk in pretty much every day they go out there something can go wrong and in a matter of a couple of seconds I’m sorry Delirion if if something changes if the snow there’s more ice under the snow which you can’t 100% predict until you’re there that’s that’s it like there’s no second chance you only have two seconds to to control this and if you don’t react immediately and you know that’s someone’s perception obviously is higher if you’re an extreme athlete but you still need time to actually evaluate that they they know there is a high price of potentially what they do but they’re still going for it and I’m curious why that is right well why are they so different than most people would say well this is too close too close a call I’m not doing it well I think one is this idea of challenging yourself or you know what when you know for most people your first trip overseas is not Afghanistan most people I think start off you know let’s pretend you’re US based so your first trip is to the Caribbean or Cancun or London and then you start expanding your horizons right so okay you know London was pretty good what about this police Budapest it used to be behind the Iron Curtain but maybe I can do that you build up your experience you build up your comfort zone and then I think for some people you know everybody has a finite point so maybe your finite point ends in Europe but then it might be okay Europe was amazing but what about this place Morocco which is just right over the border so I think for the vast majority of people it’s building up experience and also expanding your horizons in terms of the concept of what you find compelling what you find interesting and this desire at some point to learn and explore more so again even when I did you know even though I was doing a lot of travel let’s say in the early 2000s you know I didn’t Afghanistan never crossed my mind so it was this game of learning gaining more experience feeling more confident and also learning I think another major part of it is the internet social media has given us these communities so if your community is lunchboxes from the 1970s it’s Pokemon cards it’s baseball it’s extreme travel your everybody’s easily and readily able to find their community of like minded souls and this group community provides you with the basis of confidence experience and network which allows you to expand out and do and see more yeah absolutely I feel it is something that has gotten easier also obviously it’s gotten cheaper but that’s also more countries to visit than there was like 40 50 years ago one of these examples and I’m still wrapping my mind around it but like when I hear these stories I’m immediately couriers and I want to do it is this this road from Yakuza to Magadan and I went to Yakuza again dinner and I thought it was was fantastic it was cold and you have to be careful literally do not get hypothermia but it is a different very dry cold so it’s it’s it doesn’t feel as bad as it sounds and it’s very sunny there even if the sun only comes up for a few hours and the first thing I wanted to do is drive to Magadan now I have no idea why right so it’s it’s extremely dangerous if you if your car stops if you’re for whatever reason can’t restart your car which in that cold is very likely everyone has to have their car in garages overnight for instance if you live in Yakuza it seems to be really silly but when I got to Yakuza all I could think about was driving to Magadan and I couldn’t really identify why right obviously it was something people tell me about this is tales a tale of adventures a tale of the ultimate challenge but also it’s extremely dangerous a lot of people die on this there is a lot of backups there is a bunch of locals who have to do it but they’re like there’s no they hate doing this because it is dangerous cold and it’s boring why would anyone do this but you get the Yakuza and that’s all I could think about I couldn’t really trace my for me it would be something where I’m really unconsciously drawn to but I can’t really explain it to myself so if I left the Yakuza it was kind of over I was like okay let’s do this in another decade so did you end up going to Magadan or not no I know no I flew back next trip yeah yeah well I I mean again I think it’s is you know and I haven’t been there but it is 100% on my list and it’s on my list because I’ve gone to some website and read about a tour to Magadan I’ve spoken to one of my friends who’s been there and if you love learning learning you love exploring you’re going to see something different and unique when you go to this slice of Siberia and also I think there’s I think it’s also compelling for so many of us because so few people from a tourist perspective have these experiences so we go back to Maya Beach or Maya Bay and co pp and you go there there’s 80 speed boats that hold 40 people each all on the beach at the same time and again this is one of these pristine slices of high beaches that’s spectacular to see but not with 3200 people on the beach there’s there’s the specialness evaporates it disappears but when you go up to you know Spitzbergen or the far east in Russia or you go to Jenna and see the grand mosque at sunrise and there’s no other western or there that makes that experience more special more unique more personalized I believe and I think that can be another main driver both from an experiential level but also for those who want to check the box level as well so again it could be singular for either one of those or twofold combining them together yeah I when I’m trying to get it there seems to be something subconscious that drives us there and we then we come back and say oh it was all worth it right oh that’s that’s what people who go in these highest mountains have to the mountaineers they go up there and they get this rush and it’s all worth it and from a rational perspective it seems silly and it is silly but it’s something baked into our genes that we’re I think we’re not we know it exists but we don’t really have a good model to describe it to see whether there rises we do have certain categories we know that it happens and I think it’s been very well known throughout ancient history but I think it’s not really well explored from psychological perspective there isn’t a lot of forecasts you can do okay this person will be who would be really enjoying this at this person will go to the extremes when someone is 20 years old you can’t make these predictions I mean looking back we know right so you go to do you have this amazing experience in Burkina Faso and you know it was all worth it and you would do it again and you would take the risk but you didn’t necessarily know that before you went that 100 percent yeah I mean who yeah from a psychological perspective I have no idea what the actual driver is for this I mean I guess the general thing is man has been exploring this world and beyond ever since man came into creation so at some level at least for a subset of the population it has to be hardwired for part of the population to want to push the boundaries and to explore yeah I feel it’s amazing that we offer a lot of these ultimate drivers of ourselves we just in for the right which is the passenger in our body or in our mind we don’t really steer it which is when you think about it a big debate about free will well I don’t want to go there where I want to go is you made a couple of movies and documentaries how did that happen and what do they illuminate your personal travels or a specific country yeah so this was really like lightning striking serendipity to go back in time in 2004 I was living in Armenia for several months and I was volunteering at an after school group I kept in touch with the owner of the school over the years and I would go back to Armenia every year to visit so I developed you know a nice relationship with these people one of the times I was visiting was in 2010 and I mentioned to you I drove from Budapest to Yerevan 17 days 7 000 kilometers the race ended in Yerevan and I spent some time in the the city and I went to visit my friends from the after school group the owner of the after school group had three sons who I taught briefly at that school in 04 and back in 2010 they were now like in their early 20s and they were professional filmmakers so I sat down with these guys these young guys and I’m like oh I just went on this amazing adventure I drove from here to here the car broke down we met this guy and I was regaling them with my adventure one thing led to another and the sun said that would make an amazing documentary so two years later I was in India with my friend Keith we drove a Indian rickshaw for 2000 kilometers from Mumbai to Chennai and I brought along two of these brothers that I had met eight years previously so we created a full length documentary 80 minutes called hit the road India and it was all by serendipity because it’s like you know you’re talking about you know are you going to be this explorer when you get older or are you going to be couch potato like looking back I would never imagine I would be in a film or producing a film but due to these unlikely events all cascading together that’s where I found myself in 2012 filming this documentary is it available on YouTube or Netflix it’s on neither those it’s it’s almost old school media meaning it’s available on iTunes and Amazon for purchase but not streaming for free anywhere at this time I’m trying to I’m trying to get it on Netflix or Amazon to stream but haven’t had any success yet I heard Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and the Grand Tour jokingly saying you know he was asked about his his future plans maybe outside of the Grand Tour and he said you know what else is there what is better in the world than traveling the world with a couple of mates a couple of friends and in old cars new cars whatever it is and seeing the world kind of from you know bantering about what’s going on in that moment and I think he’s he’s right obviously we would agree with them because we love travel anyways but there is something really special about a bunch of people and this draws me back to maybe the explorers of Asuka Dagama and and Columbus what else is better than to take this journey and again maybe not as much risk that you might kill yourself would go to something that’s relatively safe and maybe he’s not just joking me maybe he’s actually right I was thinking of that when I saw your movies yeah I mean yeah I mean how what is more awesome than the road trip so get together with your friend or friends and then drive around explore meet the locals eat good food have a good drink and again go to these places that you would never in a million years thought you would have been visiting so the great thing about the rickshaw as you know or the tuk tuk is they’re very accessible meaning they’re open on the sides so you know you could have been doing this drive in a hundred thousand dollar Range Rover with the AC on and your surround sound listening to great music or you can be in the rickshaw where you can just start talking virtually at any moment with the guy driving next to you on a bike or another tuk tuk or someone at an intersection so it’s a great catalyst or mechanism to make your experience even more genuine or more local so this was a great way to to see India and do this adventure how much of it was scripted so how how many of their conversations were freely going or you had a certain script or things that you wanted to talk about and how much of the footage was done in a way that you knew you would be there so you knew you did certain things made it look like you were doing this the first time but you actually had to repeat it maybe because of camera issues or how much of that was was really spontaneous very little I mean there’s probably only one or two percent of that film was scripted so they were just trying to capture everything in real time and unscripted and again reshot or redone again probably only one or two percent you know there’d be a point like we’re driving down a valley and they’d be like okay let’s you know let’s do this three different times but most of it was completely spontaneous or or we’ll call it real and unscripted yeah that’s awesome I I feel like we’ve seen very few of those or maybe it’s just I’m not looking at the right places we’ve seen very few of those spontaneous but worthwhile documentaries from other travelers right we’ve seen their travel videos we’ve seen their travel pictures on Instagram for sure but say a 60 minute 90 minute whatever format it is three hour format this is my really entertaining 90 minute cut down version of my two year trip to a year or six month trip whatever the length is it seems to be there is one skill as a traveler and to to take it all in and maybe even document it but then there’s a whole other skill and then maybe they don’t combine this often in one person or in a team then to make it entertaining and make it 90 minute formative people actually want to watch and find engaging it seems to be relatively rare right it’s not something that you can see all the time on YouTube yeah I mean I think the vast majority of travel videos well I mean the ones we’re watching I would say are scripted meaning you know the real successful travel makers like a Drew Binsky he has professionalized his videos over the last several years and these videos are tight and short and scripted and that’s successful I mean I’m sure there’s some video on YouTube that’s 60 minutes of just some guy you know walking and talking in some monastery or a mosque but you’re not watching it because it’s it’s probably boring so yeah I mean a 60 minute video that you want to watch that’s professionalized that’s completely free flow and spontaneous but yeah I mean I’m not watching those I guess too often or seeing those you may be they’re probably out there I just haven’t found them yet and there I think this is kind of a holy grail and I was talking to Tobores Kester about that he was saying you know there is a good chance that a good part of travel goes virtual and I think this would be one core experience right so maybe you recorded in 360 or 3d that’s relatively easy and cheap equipment now but you immediately you relive this experience of the traveler the explorer so to speak you relive it doesn’t have to be a live stream but you relive it in in real time later on and this is the question what would it lead to would it lead to people travel less because the virtual trip might be better and safer and more comfortable and they can stay home don’t have to worry about any viruses or or they get so interested in it that this extreme traveling becomes the norm right the factor so what I’m trying to say is we have this this change of travel patterns when you think about the 1920s finding someone who had the ability the time and the resources to go to every country in the world was basically unheard of it didn’t happen but now there’s thousands maybe 10 000 people who’ve done this or maybe 5000 whatever the number is it seems to have gone mainstream and maybe extreme traveling is the next thing that goes really mainstream not mainstream mainstream but it has taken off in a wider wider group maybe this is what everyone is going to do everyone’s going to go to 193 countries using VR as a preparation tool do you think it’s going to happen are you saying do I think chasing 193 will become mainstream in real life or mainstream in in VR both maybe I would be of the camp that chasing 193 would never be mainstream it is without a doubt vastly expanded from just 20 years ago but I mean tourism at some level is not mainstream I mean I don’t have the statistics but you know what percentage of people have passports in each one of these countries and so yeah I would disagree that chasing 193 will become mainstream in real life I think if we’re looking at youtube travel youtube travel videos are incredibly successful and widely widely viewed so at some level I would just imagine VR supplanting you know the 4k or the 8k technology and at some point the platforms and the technology will simply transition from a 2d video into virtual reality video and this um and obviously I’m making all this up Thorsten but I imagine all the people who love watching Drew Binsky in Kurdistan will love Drew Binsky VR in Kurdistan and the same people who love Drew Binsky in Kurdistan on youtube and fall in his footsteps and go to Kurdistan will be the same group that will fall in his footsteps after watching VR so I would say from the chasing 193 perspective I don’t think VR will move the needle to get people to go to Afghanistan unless they are they are the type of people who would want to go to Afghanistan to begin with yeah a lot of travel is said to be we we travel through that person so for the majority of the population it’s more interesting to have them experience at first hand but then use the second hand experience which seems to be working very well with travel it does work so well with like food for instance but we even have a lot of food charts right and we don’t we still enjoy them even if they just make us hungry even if you don’t eat afterwards so just traveling through some travel is a great experience you can experience through someone else and I feel like VR is or any kind of better technology that makes it more real if it’s VR whatever the technology will be has a great future for for that niche of traveling and I don’t know what that means and that’s what I’m so curious about will that mean will we just stop traveling in these crazy amounts that we seemingly have just before 2019 or will it lead to even more travel and we basically become all become these global nomads these digital nomads out there yeah I mean this isn’t something I’ve analyzed at great length great length but I’m gonna stick with my theory that VR doesn’t move the needle meaning if you were you had a proclivity of traveling to Syria before on your own I don’t think VR or a video will be I don’t think VR will will move the dial in terms of saying point zero zero one percent of Americans want to travel to Syria today and then great VR technology comes out with a great narrator I don’t think that point zero zero zero one changes to 10 percent and I think it’s it’ll remain constant because at some level the people have this impetus to visit quote unquote challenging or dangerous places are not going to be swayed by the VR and the percentage who are the armchair travelers whether it’s on YouTube or whether it’s on VR the technology of the future will remain constant and consistent talking about predictions where do you feel we’ll see major changes in the travel landscape and that’s a pretty broad question I understand but where do you see the biggest changes going to happen in the next 20 years when we look at the the travel industry as a whole but also into the more extreme travelers on the other side okay so a lot to unpack there I’ll comment on extreme travelers in 20 years and we just touched on this a moment ago meaning 20 years ago traveling to every country in the world was basically not a thing and I don’t know the exact numbers 20 years ago it might have been 20 people had traveled to every country in the world something like that in 2019 approximately 40 people traveled had finished the goal of traveling to every country in the world so I mean that’s a magnitude of difference so as I said in the age of internet in the age of social media you can find your tribe very quickly then couple that with the you know getting the Instagram getting the gram so there’s one school people who are doing it for this incredible experience and richness and exploration then there’s another subset of the chasing 193 community who is doing it for the gram so to speak because it’s the in thing to do I’ll get a record blah blah blah so 20 years ago there are 20 people had done it now there’s about 250 people who have accomplished that goal so looking 20 years out I mean I’m expecting that number to expand both you know the people who have accomplished the goal but also the increase of the people from a quest or hobby want to partake in this adventure but I don’t think it ever would go to being mainstream but the subset of people who are traveling that subset I think you know might grow by factor of five or 10 or 20 over the next 20 years as you know the internet flattens everything out and the airline industry flattens everything out so that’s my thoughts on extreme travel 20 years going out well I’m definitely excited that sounds really positive and I hope maybe we inspired some people today with the podcast thanks for doing this Rick thanks for coming on the podcast thanks for taking the time for us then thank you appreciate it