In this Celebrity Travel Addicts Q&A with Marek Bron of Indie Traveller we learn how he took a month-long break after a trip to Thailand in 2012, which ended up being a full 2 years! Check out Marek’s Top 5 List for the Philippines, Guatemala and Colombia, plus where he is headed to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
Well, there was no real defining moment where I went ‘aha, I love travel now!’. I gradually got into it more and more, simply thanks to having more opportunities to do it.
That said, a bit moment came when I lost my job in 2012. I was deep into a career in the video games industry, but each job I’d had at different video game companies ended in corporate restructuring, canceled projects, and other unpleasantness.
I was burnt out and though I’d go to Thailand for a month or so to clear my head and maybe work on my CV and contact recruiters while sipping cocktails on the beach. I never opened that CV and instead just kept traveling. That trip ended up spanning the globe and lasting 2 years! Obviously, I was hooked.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year?
It fluctuates wildly. I was travelling full-time for some time, then I went the other way and barely travelled for a while. Now I’m trying to strike a balance between living in one place and travelling often: I’ve been on two trips this year so far, and planning five more. I’ll probably end up travelling for about 4 months in the year.
What are the types of places do you like to visit?
I most like to go to destinations that aren’t the most touristy, but aren’t the most remote or punishing either. It’s great when a destination is just the right level of adventurous.
Basically, somewhere in between ‘Patong beach in high season’ and ‘desolate Russian tundra’ there is a perfect place for me.
What is it that you want audiences to gain/ learn from your work videos and photography?
That it’s fun and rewarding to travel independently rather than going with tours or pre-baked itineraries.
And that if you want to go on a bigger or longer trip, you can get easily through the scary ‘oh shit’ phase and prepare yourself for the journey ahead. I actually began writing my book before I launched my blog, as my main goal was to help other people who wanted to go on an amazing journey get through all of the initial preparation stages easily.
Name your top three destinations you’ve traveled?
Philippines, Colombia, Guatemala.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of these destinations, like a mini-guide or to-do list of sorts
- There’s more to this than Palawan and Boracay! Try to go to the other islands.
- The rice terraces at Batad are amazing (better than Banaue)
- Get out of Manila quickly—it’s an overcrowded city and the real gems are elsewhere
- Mayon volcano is known as one of the most symmetrical in the world. An amazing sight at sunrise
- Bogota and Medellin might still having some crime problems but they surprisingly vibrant and metropolitan places. You can spend a lot of time in both of them.
- Tayrona Park has some the best beaches
- Tatacoa desert has some crazy landscapes with hollowed out mini canyons running through the desert. Amazing secluded place for stargazing as well
- Climb the top of Tajamulco volcano if you can, preferably at night so you can see the sunrise from the top. Goosebumps…
- Semuc Champey is worth stopping at if you like a bit of adventure. Lots of great caves and waterfalls to explore.
- San Pedro on lake atitlan is one of those laidback kind of towns where you can easily get stuck for weeks!
How many countries have you visited so far?
It’s been a while since I last counted, but somewhere around 50.
Your top three favorite cuisines?
Thai, Japanese, Italian.
Favorite restaurant in the world?
Hmm, I wouldn’t know how to answer this.
But at least the most memorable restaurant recently was going to Tickets in Barcelona, a molecular gastronomy place run by
Albert Adrià. There you can have a 12-course tapas feast with mousse things that really shouldn’t be mousse, tea that’s actually secretly chicken broth, and olives that have been spheriphied and burst upon contact with your tongue.
I normally like the simpler things in cuisine (like some Pho noodles on a street corner in Vietnam) but I can easily appreciate this sort of innovative madness too.
Your favorite travel movie?
Lost in Translation
Favorite international airport?
Best way you kill time while traveling?
Some stimulating conversation. That can be with your travel partner or, better yet, with a total stranger travelling in the same direction.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
If exotic is something subjective, then I’m going to say Tokyo. It was the first place outside of the more familiar Europe and the US that I visited, and I was enthralled. Tokyo has a way of looking totally like the intro to Blade Runner, especially seen from a 30th floor. But then it also has a way of being overwhelmingly cute in its details, with tiny ramen bars, tiny delivery trucks, tiny everything. And toilets with 20 buttons on them, of course. I still think Tokyo was, in a weird way, the craziest place I’ve been, despite having been to perhaps more objectively exotic places since.
Your best bit of travel advice for someone who is about to embark on a life of travel?
Regularly make backups of your photos. Seriously.
Always check your room for chargers, toothbrushes, soap bottles, and other things before you depart. At least three times. Especially for those early morning checkouts.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Camera, phone (sorry), neck pillow, earplugs.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
With the right company I’d love to go somewhere to deep central Asia. Maybe Kazakhstan.
Your favorite travel quote?
“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” ― Freya Stark
I see you visited South Africa recently, where did you go and what was the highlight of the trip?
As many do, I travelled mostly along the coast between Cape Town and Johannesburg. There were two highlights really: one was visiting the Wild Coast, of which I’ve sung praises on my blog. The other was diving with sharks in the open ocean without a cage (yes, it’s safe – and yes, it’s also kinda scary!).
Where to next?
Looks like it’ll be Nepal!
Marek blogs at Indie Traveller where he aims to inspire others to travel more — and where he shares honest budget travel guides from around the world. He also wrote Travel the World Without Worries, a step-by-step guide to going on the big trip you’ve always wanted to take. You can follow Marek on Instagram or Facebook.