In our new interview series, “Waiting to Board With…” we interview experienced travelers that offer new insights on seeing the world, and doing it with an open mind and an affordable budget.
Bob Fisher is a Canadian travel journalist, editor, retired educator and a former marketing manager at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was kind enough to chat with us about what he’s learned by traveling, and what our readers can learn by “going with the flow.”
Cheapflights: What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Bob Fisher: I always research the destination and create a one-page summary for my own purposes that is a synthesis of what the destination offers that appeals to me. Any destination is complex, especially in terms of its history and heritage, and therefore – as a wise consumer I strive to be in control of my travel experience. Having said that, I am also very aware that I should give myself permission to go with the flow. You can never really anticipate the contextual realities and “hidden little treasures” that any destination can offer.
CF: What is your travel pet peeve?
BF: Reiterating the “go with the flow” theme, my principal pet peeve is seeing other travelers overreact, or react inappropriately when something doesn’t go according to plan. I am amazed at people who put themselves in an unnecessarily confrontational situation (with service providers especially). The experienced traveler knows that in most cases the providers are doing their best, are efficient and competent, and have the best interest of the traveler at heart. As The Little Prince said, “Language is the source of all misunderstanding.”
CF: What is your favorite kind of trip (preferences, romantic, city, beach etc)?
BF: Although my interests tend to be eclectic, and I like to discover the meaning and meaningfulness in any destination, my preferred travel experience is one that emphasizes history, heritage and the arts. I believe that the real narrative to be found in any destination is a mosaic of these three.
CF: Best destination you have ever been to and why?
BF: I am often asked this question to which I reply, “The last one.” However, the destinations in which I really get to practice the “art of travel” (travel as experiential and lifelong learning) are the ones that are the furthest (in a physical, conceptual, and philosophical sense) from my own day-to-day realities. Again, having said that, my personal travel mantra is “We travel to explore the diversity of the human experience; and in so doing we discover the commonality.”
CF: Where in the world offers the best value for money?
BF: Currently, I would say that emerging destinations and some post-Soviet era destinations like Estonia and Slovenia offer the best added value experiences for travelers because some of these nations are simply trying harder because they are very aware that the travel and tourism industry (the largest on the planet) contributes directly to the bottom line of any nation and its communities.
CF: Where would you pay to stay? Is there anywhere you think offers great value and a great deal?
BF: To give one example (and I could give more), I would pay to stay at the rural-based Tak Tak ecological and “homegrown” network of inns. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea in terms of amenities, but what this amazing network does is maximize the “up close and personal” experience of the idyllic island of Martinique. See my story “Multidimensional Martinique: Where Landscape Shapes Culture“.
CF: What is the best airport you have flown from and is there a tip to make this airport experience better?
BF: There are many stunning and state-of-the-art airports (travel experiences and stories in themselves) around the world. Many of them are architectural and engineering wonders. I am always particularly impressed with Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. In part it is because the Dutch are the epitome of efficiency but also the most traveler-friendly people I have ever encountered. Schiphol itself is a truly full-service airport in which you can get a massage or see some of the treasures of the Rijksmuseum.
CF: When you fly, is there a tip you can share to make the experience a great one?
BF: My basic tip (or theme that I have already articulated I think) is to “behave” like an experienced traveler. Take nothing for granted, look beyond the obvious, do your homework well, and strive to create your own personal comfort zone on an aircraft. For example, I always travel with my noise-cancelling headphones.
CF: What do you consider the difference to be between “travelers” and “tourists”?
BF: I do believe there is a significant difference but at the same time, I do not wish to indulge in “travel snobbery.” However, whereas all travel is a continual learning experience, I think that when you cross that significant “border” between being a tourist (outside looking in) to being a traveler (engaged, enlightened, active, and participatory) you also experience a form of transcendence.
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