6 Things You Won’t Get with Fast Travel

Pockmarking your passport with stamps just to fill the pages might get you an interesting conversation on the plane ride back home. But it won’t actually teach you anything about the world.

Consider what you’re NOT learning when you speed through your travel plans, rush the ticketing office and hurry to get back to your home port. It ain’t much. Even less if your heart simply isn’t in it.

This article comes from a Matador U alumni, and it spoke to me. So I decided to share it.

“YOU CAN’T SEE ANYTHING from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe.”
– Edward Abbey

It’s been nearly 50 years since Edward Abbey wrote Desert Solitaire, a declaration of love to the Southwest whose ripple effect left a legacy of environmentalism in its wake. But, in a world of expedient travel, do his words still carry weight? After walking, bicycling, and driving across America, this is what I have learned we sacrifice by traveling too fast.

1. Serendipity

On my first long-distance trip — a bike tour — I frequently told myself to avoid distractions that would cause me to delay my itinerary. This was on my mind the morning I crawled out of my tent to find myself surrounded by decorated caravans. There was an impromptu art festival taking place in the small riverside town of Stockholm, Wisconsin.

As jugglers drifted by and painters set up their stands in the early sunlight, my traveling partner and I debated whether to stay or make more miles. Four years later, I have never regretted deciding to stay and explore the little town that quadruples its population once a year.

2. Quality time

My journey from New Hampshire to Georgia was a harrowing 30-hour bus ride. I witnessed a drug deal, an attempted religious conversion, and a loud conversation about erotic dreams. During the night, I was woken every few hours by a scratchy PA system, prodded into a fluorescent bus station, and after ten minutes of blaring televisions, returned to my stiff seat.

My trip back took six months, covered nearly 2,000 miles by foot, and was much more enjoyable. I experienced violent illness, hail, and poisonous snakes, but always with the driving reminder that if I quit, I would have to take the bus home.

Traveling quickly saves time. But time is a nebulous concept that has been measured in everything from money to distance to cups of tea. I have learned that I prefer to measure my time in quality. For me, 30 hours on a bus was longer than six months in the woods.

3. Context

Hail the size of peach pits was pockmarking our bare legs and arms with reddish welts when we finally reached shelter in the Greyson Highlands. But the hectic sound of the deluge was replaced by our laughter as the hail suddenly stopped and a rainbow broke out of a countryside teeming with wild ponies. I would walk through a hailstorm daily if that were my reward each time.

Struggle, difficulty, and uncertainty are not words you’ll find in a tourist brochure, but they are words intrinsic to long-distance travel. Our lowest moments on the Appalachian Trail made us truly appreciate our highest.

4. Cultural exchange

Driving appealed much less to me. Watching the country go by behind glass made me feel separated from it; I spent most of my time looking in the rearview mirror. Hiking, we found that people in town wanted to talk to us, and our leisurely schedule afforded us the time to listen. We witnessed the gradual changes in landscape and local attitudes as the Deep South transitioned into the Northeast.

5. Human connections

On multiple occasions, traveling slowly has forced me to spend a lot of time with someone completely different than me. If we were seated next to each other on the bus, one of us probably would have moved. But instead, we always find common ground and often stay in touch after the trip is over. The bond between travel partners is made out of stronger glue than friendships built on similarities.

Bike touring and hiking, my immediate future was usually uncertain, and that vulnerability made me seem approachable. I made dozens of unlikely friends this way. In a car or on a bus, people treated me as one more tourist. They were polite, but distant.

6. Perspective

I spent several months in Montana before I got used to the “big sky.” It was an optical illusion — because the mountains were separated by flat expanses, the sky appeared larger. Similarly, after a week in Seattle I was shocked to realize that, unlike in Boston where honking is a hereditary instinct, no one honks their car horns in traffic.

I’ve always thought these quirks and small mysteries shape a place’s personality. When I’m on a schedule, though, I skip smaller things in favor of larger ones. Traveling the US by car, I made sure to stop at Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, and Nashville, but I failed to visit numerous small canyons I had read about, hike through Joshua Tree, or have a real conversation with a stranger.

By comparison, when I was cycling across the US I toured the last standing Cold War-era missile site on a whim. Hiking, I visited abandoned mining towns hidden in the woods of Appalachia.

Travel, like most things in life, depends on your priorities. If you want to see something beautiful without any context, you can drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and be on your way to New Mexico by sundown. Or you can forget about your destination and crawl.

Original article by BY

Travel Geek: Documentary Penang (Full HD, Feature Length)

In the heart of Penang lies a recent but rich history of colonial British culture. And through it, I explore in style and with a long time local.

This film is part two of the Travel Geek: Documentary Malaysia series.

So stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to get the videos when they are released!!

You need to watch cool videos; I need viewers. So if you enjoy my videos, please pass around the links. It’s a win-win!!

For all the extras from Travel Geek: Documentary Malaysia, visit http://www.MovingStillsMedia.com.

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Read the blog at http://www.cyleodonnell.wordpress.com

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The 18 Worst Things about Hawaii

I normally don’t like the active GIFs that are plastered all over social media. But from this Huff Post Travel blog, I just couldn’t help sharing. They’re just too damned applicable to the content from the article.


Yeah, yeah, it’s paradise — we know. People are happier, healthier and less stressed in Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few annoyances, gripes and inconveniences behind all those rainbows and sunsets.

Cry us a river with the below 18 worst things about Hawaii:

1. The traffic is soul-crushing
Honolulu ranks number two nationwide for cities with the worst traffic, and when you consider the streets crumbling with potholes and seemingly endless freeway closures, you’ll wonder why the heck it isn’t number one. It is second only to Los Angeles, with the average Honolulu resident sitting in jams for 58 hours annually.

2. Radio station monotony 
With all that time in the car, you’d think the radio stations would be up to the task. Sadly, in addition to being a few months behind the mainland in terms of new music, you’re likely to hear the same 5-10 songs on every local radio station. (You better really love Lorde or reggae music.)

3. You’re not allowed to complain … about anything
Try venting to someone trapped in the polar vortex and you won’t be met with much empathy — no matter how legitimate your gripes.

4. You have to be swimsuit ready all.year.round
No bulky sweaters or long pants to cover up holiday weight gain — if you live in Hawaii, you have to be hairless, toned, and ready for beachwear at a moment’s notice. Here’s what we think about that…

5. It’s a revolving door
There is a lot of turnover in Hawaii; people move here for an adventure and then go back to “reality.” While this means you are always meeting new people, it also means that friends are constantly leaving. Be prepared for going away parties to be a social staple.

6. The cost of living is ridiculous
Almost all of Hawaii’s food is imported from the mainland, making your grocery bill a shocking expenditure. A pack of hamburger buns goes for $5.59, almost $3 more than it costs at a similar market in Washington, D.C., and Hawaii consumers pay nearly double the national average for a gallon of milk.

7. Shark attacks become a real and everyday fear
It’s not just fantasy anymore. You will meet people who have come across sharks, you will swim at beaches where there have been known shark sightings, and while the odds are still very, very low, you’ll never shake that eerie feeling that a shark isjust about to attack you.

8. You can’t escape people
Never want to see an ex again? Hoping to avoid a colleague or frenemy? Good luck. You both live on a small island in the middle of nowhere.

9. One word: Vog
Allergy season is all year round and unpredictable. And instead of pollen causing your itchy eyes, it’s vog: the volcanic smog that wafts over from the Big Island.

10. Sun guilt
This might sound made up, but it’s a real thing in Hawaii. Some days, you just want to stay on the couch all day and binge on Netflix. Hawaii’s sun and active lifestyle, however, will make you feel guilty for being lazy — which, as we all know, almost defies the restorative power of lazy days.

11. You’ll never see a big concert again
Hawaii’s a bit out of the way, which means no big time musicians ever perform here. On the rare chance that they do, like local boy Bruno Mars is doing in April,good luck getting tickets.

12. If you’re not an avid surfer, yogi or other outdoor enthusiast, you will, at one point or another, feel like a second class citizen
Remember how the cool kids made you feel in high school? Surfers and yogis can do that with a single shaka or namaste.

13. Say hasta la vista to quality Mexican food
If you love fish and Asian cuisine, you’re golden. If you have a hankering for spicy guac and flavorful burritos, good luck — Hawaii is notorious for bad Mexican food. 

14. You’ll work as a tour guide all the time — but you’ll never get paid
Sure, the first few guests are fun, but when you’re playing tour guide for the tenth time in two months, you’ll consider moving into a studio with no couch just to avoid hosting visitors.

15. It’s quite possible you’ll live on a road that none of your friends on the mainland can pronounce
Ki’i’oni’oni Loop, anyone? Ma’ipalaoa Road? Ki’ona’ole Road?

16. You’ll develop an apathy towards current events
When you’re 2,400 miles from the next closest landmass and you’re spending most of your free time outdoors, you’ll find that keeping up with the news is exceedingly difficult.

17. You’ll never get dressed up again
Kiss your high heels, your boots, your blazers and ties goodbye. No one in Hawaii dresses up — ever. Slippers (aka, flip-flops) are work appropriate in most offices and anyone wearing a full blown suit looks alarmingly out of place. While this is pretty awesome most of the time, you may find yourself craving a little glamour every now and again, if for no other reason than to break up the shorts and tank-top monotony.

18. Island fever
It’s real, people. You will, at one point or another, really miss things like road trips, weekend getaways that aren’t to another island, and unpredictable weather. And, if you don’t get them, you might start to feel a bit stir crazy…

How annoying are these GIFs? Please tell me all about it in the comments! haha
Have an idea for why or why not to visit Hawaii? Discuss below.

Insights from the Pavement: Assessing time

Time means many different things, depending on where one might find themselves around the world.


There’s no denying that many of us have felt the impact of that very statement while lazing away in a hammock as waves crash down on the nearby beach.  Time, in that way, is only measured in terms of the piña coladas that separate the day into more of a detached sequence of sonatas playing out a in a grander symphony of relaxation.

On the other hand, those of us who’ve missed our bus to get to our downtown jobs know the very essence of even a single minute that passes through time.  Each minute, in this case, is more akin to a measure of frustration that shapes our realization that tardiness may cost us much more than the sip of a tropical drink.

These two extremes mark the very fringes of our expectation of time.  And most of us reside somewhere in the middle.  But when we visit a new place, we should be sure to pay close attention to what time might mean in the current location.

In the west, being punctual shows others that we are professional, dedicated and that others’ time is important to us.  In the east, however, being late might actually work in your favor, as it can also be seen to mean that a person knows his level of importance and therefore his lateness is the expression of that concept.

More times than not, our expectation of time while traveling abroad simply relates to the ability to catch a bus or that a train will arrive on the scheduled time.  But it is important to be mindful that this may not be a frivolous matter when dealing interpersonally with those who expect certain things of us.

Being invited to ceremonial events such as weddings, family feasts or annual celebrations hold a completely different prospect for those who did the inviting.  When in doubt of how to handle these occasions, it’s always best to show up early.  Having this in mind will keep us from looking as though we are either too humble and self-conscious, or too egotistical and feel that others should wait on us.

Developing this pattern while abroad may well be the catalyst for continuing this beneficial trend at home as well.

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Like the photo from this journal?  Click HERE to visit the album of photography from the Samchoek, South Korea market where I took it.

Insights from the Pavement: Using Your Presence

It’s only in recent years that I have come to realize just how much physical space I take up – and therefore, how I must come across to people.  I am quite a big person, standing 6’4” (193cm) and weighing 230 lbs (104kg).  In addition, my first reaction when I am engaging in stimulating conversation is to become animated and to shape my words with my hands and my body.

And since many cultures around the world are extremely put off by boisterous movements that are natural to me, many times I’ve missed opportunities of connecting with people for reasons that I never realized at the time.


For those reading this who don’t really have any way to relate, I’d have to say that it’s a bit like being a fully grown Labrador retriever that still thinks it’s a lap-dog.  It’s a big, fumbling animal that reacts cluelessly to its owners’ attempts to get it to understand it’s all grown up.  Except, most people are too polite to ever tell me that I am intimidating them with my loud presence and quick hand movements.

Over the years I’ve learned that I need to curb my activities when I speak to others and sculpt my words less with the motion in my hands and more with the choice of my words.  This, of course, allows the person I am speaking to to be less focused on these big, swinging arms that I am waiving around and more on my topic.  I also notice that when I speak with young people, it’s better that I fold my hands together behind my back or place them in my pockets and not square up my shoulders to them so as to not seem too physically engaging.

There are many other examples of the conscious effort I make not to subconsciously affront people.  But suffice it to say that we all expend a great deal of energy communicating our information to others.  So it makes sense that we should also pay a certain amount of attention to whether or not these efforts may be misaligned or misdirected.

There’s really no way to measure how much of what we say comes across differently than we intend.  The best we can hope to do is to come close to getting our ideas out there.  But if we take the time to investigate how we come across to others, we can maximize our efforts and use our best attributes to our advantage.

This will also go a long way in letting us know of items in our lives or about our appearance that we might like to change or do away with altogether.  After all, if what we’re trying to communicate is only lost in a sea of actions or visual attributes that are working counter to our aims, we would benefit from knowing of that which stands in the way of our interpersonal contact with others.

This may well be the difference between connecting with people in that new place that we visit along our travels, and missing opportunity after opportunity to get a deeper sense of the foreign cultures which we’re exploring.

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Like the photo from this journal?  Click HERE to see the photos from this year’s Thaipusam Festival at the Batu Cave in Malaysia.

Insights from the Pavement: Embracing the process of emotional release

All too often we find ourselves denying our bodies and minds the peace and comfort of simply letting go of societal pressures and embracing our true emotions.  It’s apparent that travel seemingly forces us to do this at many turns.  But what about when we’re in our home lives?  Generally we’re expected to be emotionless unless that emotion happens to agree with the mood of the room.

Why is this?  Where did this start?  And why is it that sacrificing our natural inclination toward response and release for the good of the group is seen as the expected notion?


This can come from a variety of sources and for a variety of factors.  The most prominent is, oddly enough, our friends and family.  Those closest to us are the most effective vehicles for transmitting those unspoken messages specifically because they share such a deep and interactive relationship.

Generally speaking – and even without any spoken confirmation – we are expected to keep up a certain level of pretense with those around us.  Even our most intimate of friends may still have a deeply engrained sense of what we “should” act like or how we “ought to” react to given situations.  And this isn’t always the first, natural reaction that our bodies may feel the need to express.

Another source of this can be our profession.  At the workplace, it’s frowned upon to see an employee expressing themselves in a manner that is not ultimately adding to the productivity of their job.  And while this is understandable, it still doesn’t mean that we should deny our natural inclination to get out our feelings as they happen.

It is when we keep our emotions bottled up inside that we have the most trouble and this can lead to anxiety, sleep loss, unhealthy weight loss, bad eating habits and more.  And because of all these related health and personal risks, we miss work, over sleep and come to work late, can’t pay attention during working hours and on and on.  And that’s just on the productivity end.  So is it really the best thing to do to keep these items pent up inside?  How good for productivity is that, in the end?

There are many other instances where our need to express ourselves comes at times when others simply don’t want to hear it.  But we should always remember that when our friends find themselves facing emotionally heightened circumstances, they are sure to remember how we offered them an open and comfortable forum for expressing their emotions when it’s time for us to ask the same of them.

And this is a universal concern that faces every country in the world.  There’s no escaping it.  And because there is also no escaping our need for emotion release, it is wise to take time to find creative ways to express these emotions.

Traveling, itself, can be an amazing release of stress.  But even on the road, there needs to be a continuum of options for getting out our frustrations.  Journaling, meditating, exercising, running – even sleeping – can all be great ways to calm the mind and attain balance.

No matter if we find ourselves on the road or at the office, taking a moment or planning a future moment when the time is right to get that release is of the utmost importance.

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Like the photo from this journal?  Click HERE to visit the album from Thailand’s Andaman coast.