Author Interview - Joe Baur
Joe Baur is a Cleveland native who fell in love with traveling from a young age. He attended Miami University for his undergraduate program before hightailing it to Costa Rica. There, he earned his Masters degree in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies at the United Nations-mandated University For Peace. He now works as a contract writer and film maker while simultaneously managing his personal blog, withoutapath.com.
"Be open to anything and everything...If someone doesn’t seem to understand you, it doesn’t mean they don’t speak English."
Since this seems to be the great travel dichotomy: would you describe yourself as mountains or beach, and why? (Maybe neither?!)
Mountains by a long shot. Beaches don’t strike me as incredibly different from one another in the same way mountains can. Don’t get me wrong -- I love a good beach. But I have a hard time sitting and relaxing, which is generally what one does at a beach. My wife literally needs to bring a frisbee or something for me to chase whenever we go to one. Mountains, on the other hand, have different topography, vegetation, views and are generally just more exciting to me.
Describe your first ever travel memory. Use as much detail as possible (and no sparing any embarrassing stories!).
I’d venture to guess most first travel memories are generally boring or mundane if we’re honest about it. That’s probably because any parent wants to ease their kid into travel, so the first time I ever really felt like I was traveling was when we followed my brother’s little league baseball team to Guelph, Canada. But on paper Guelph, no offense to those fine Canucks, was no different than the suburb I grew up in. Chain restaurants, wide streets for cars, leafy neighborhoods and nice parks. Oh, and there was a weird looking flag waving over the baseball field.
Has food played a major role in your travels and in what ways? Is it true you can know a culture through your stomach?
It plays a memorable role, but it’s never the impetus for anywhere I want to go. But food is integral to any culture, so how can it not play a major role? As far as getting to know the culture through the stomach… Again, it’s a component but not the be all end all. Though it came pretty damn close in Lima, Peru, easily my favorite food destination I’ve visited.
As an experienced traveler, what is the most important piece of advice you have for first-time travelers?
Be open to anything and everything. Read about where you’re going. learn some of the language, watch some movies -- do whatever it takes to be as prepared as possible when it comes to the destination, its culture and history. As far as hotels and whatnot are concerned, plan as much as you’re comfortable with.
If you were playing a trick on them, what “bad advice” would you give a newbie? #hazing
If someone doesn’t seem to understand you, it doesn’t mean they don’t speak English. You just need to enunciate more and speak louder to the point where it looks like you’re yelling. In fact, just yell. Yell commands in English. It will endear you so very much to the locals.