In this Celebrity Travel Addicts Q&A we chat with my good friend Nathaniel Boyle from Holocene Podcast. Learn how this New Englander caught the travel bug at 5 years old and how he transferred his life by starting a podcast and community to inspire people to embark in a life of travel through transformative journeys.
How did your passion for travel get started?
When I was five, my parents split and my mother took me and my sister to England for a few weeks.
Somehow, without the existence of the internet, she managed to pull off a weeklong homeswap that traded our house in Massachusetts for an entire castle in the Lake District. This castle had suits of armor, swords and capes, secret passages, canopy beds, acres of rolling green fields and crumbling stone walls, and even an old caretaker with a sheepdog who slept in the carriage house. We didn’t have castles where I grew up, we only read about them in books. So I found myself completely immersed in a fantasy realm. I celebrated my sixth birthday in that castle and, according to Freud, it’s at this age that children begin to develop an awareness of space and their surroundings. Sure enough, some of my first lasting memories, or fragments of feeling, came from this trip. And over time, I believe this experience imparted on me an appreciation for two things that have become the focus of my work: Our opportunity to use travel to find healing or transformation and a belief that I maintain to this day: Magical worlds really do exist if we allow ourselves to find them. It’s this feeling of childlike wonder, to return to the castle, that I’m always looking for in my travels.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places do you like to visit?
It varies but I would say I travel a couple months out of every year, if you include domestic travel and speaking opportunities. Admittedly, I would like for this to be more. I don’t have a preference of place. I just seek out new things, preferably outside of my comfort zone. Although I have rediscovered a true love for nature and the outdoors lately.
What is it that you want audiences to gain/ learn from your podcast?
Someone once told me my show does for them what travel does for them. That was my favorite comment. 😉
The Travelers is the only podcast about the inward journey, unconventionally examining the stories of people rather than travel itself. I’ve interviewed over 250 creative travelers to unpack their stories. Around episode 125, I began to notice patterns in the stories of each of my guests. What I realized was these patterns were the ingredients in a recipe for Transformative Experience. I’ve since become obsessed with this concept. So I built Holocene, a creative travel collective helping people to apply these principles to their own lives.
What I hope people find in my podcast is the courage to confront their resistance to this change, the inspiration to use travel to look inwardly, and use creativity to share what they find. This is the transformative process. You’ve done it, David, with your blog, Youtube and Instagram channels. I’ve done it with my podcast and community. I want others to find and live their stories too.
Name your top three destinations you’ve traveled?
Such a hard question to answer… New Zealand and Italy for sure. I could live in either place. And then I think Bali had the most impact on me. For some, Bali is overtouristed. To these people, I say you never actually got off the beaten path. I have never experienced anything like what happened to me in Bali and it was all because of the people there. Also, it’s really hard not to include Cape Town on this list because it is by far my favorite city in the world.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of these destinations, like a mini-guide or to-do list of sorts
Okay let’s do Bali since I just talked a big game.
- When you land, get out of Denpasar and avoid Kuta at all costs. Hire someone to drive you north (your accommodation will likely pick you up). And unless you’re doing the digital nomad thing, don’t stay in Ubud. Instead, go to Amed, a sleepy fishing village on the northeast coast hours away from the tourist centers. You can stay in your very own cabana with luxury amenities and a porch right on the ocean for $50/night.
- Hire someone (literally anyone is willing to do this for you) to take you on day trips from there. For example, go to Lempuyang, an ancient temple on Mt. Agung built on an active volcano where people still live.
- Hire someone to take you fishing in the morning. I cannot describe this to you in a way that either does it justice and sounds realistic. We went out at sunrise on a small, wooden boat with a handmade sail. The boat was barely wide enough for me to sit in. The water is warm. Dolphins chase us in the waves while the brilliant red Balinese sun illuminates silhouettes of other small, fishing boats across the horizon. A spool of rope with hooks and no bait whatsoever is cast into the sea and returns fish after fish as if by magic. This was 3-5 hours of complete awe for just $10.
- Get an hour long massage on the beach for $10 or less. Every. Single. Day.
- Truly befriend and engage with the locals. Perhaps the people who work at your quiet resort. Really, this is the game-changer. The Balinese people have amazing culture and customs but tourists miss it lazing on the beach. I found myself praying with them at a temple. I found myself dancing in a circle of a hundred chanting Balinese men on some kind of extended lunch break/dance off while eating smoked peanuts and drinking coconut palm wine. I found myself sitting on the cement floor of a home, passing around drums and guitars with my new Balinese friends. I paid for dinner that night. $20 was enough for a home-cooked feast for a dozen people. Offer to do that for someone and you’ll have a meal you’ll never forget.
These things might seem a bit “advanced” to an aspiring traveler because they’re not readily available in a guide book. But the point I’m trying to make is simple: Wherever you go, the more you open yourself up to the world, the more the world opens itself up to you.
How many countries have you visited so far?
42 countries and I like to include that I’ve been to 45 states in the U.S.
Your top three favorite cuisines?
Malaysian, Italian, Mexican. How did Japanese not make this list?
Favorite restaurant in the world?
il Latine, in Florence. Communal dining with people from all over the world eating rustic home cooked Italian food and carafes of Chianti.
Your favorite travel movie?
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (Runners up: Lost in Translation and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.)
Favorite international airport?
Blantyre, Malawi? I honestly don’t care much about airports but I really enjoy the experience of a tiny one where people, like porters and taxi drivers, get a little crazy. It’s like stepping off the plane and right into an action movie.
City with the friendliest people?
Tough call. Galway maybe.
Your favorite traveling companion?
Other creatives and storytellers. It’s an amazing experience to learn from and inspire each other on the road.
Best way you kill time while traveling?
Writing, generally. Sitting down to write is like pulling teeth at home but I find myself with a pen always in hand on the road.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
The Black Sea coast of Turkey. I’ve been to more exotic places on my own but that’s the most unexpected of destinations directly due to work.
Your best bit of travel advice for someone who is about to embark on a life of travel?
You don’t have to go it alone. Find a community of people who will empower you to find the experience of being more alive and, if you want this self-discovery to last, then share what you find with the world in some tangible way.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Hooded sweatshirt, a journal, deodorant and clean underwear.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Your favorite travel quote?
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Where to next?
Up in the air!
From the fortunate age of 5, I fell in love with travel for its ability to inspire and transform the self. So I consciously built a creative entrepreneurial career as a speaker and storyteller that’s afforded me the ability to travel, explore, learn, and share. Now I’m helping others do the same over at Holocene, a co-created platform for creatives who love to wander. These are safe spaces where a community of travelers and creatives can go to feel understood and begin, continue, or share their transformative journey. These safe spaces seek to provide a stepping stone for those who feel the need to make an unconventional change through travel and creativity but are up against resistance. If that’s you, then join The Creative Travel Lifestyle Facebook Group for free or consider beginning your journey by signing up for the Holocene Collective.