Learn the biggest do’s and don’ts of travel with Mark Wolter of YouTube's Wolter’s World. Mark shares honest travel advice and talks about how to adapt to new cultures, deal with culture shock, and live in the moment while traveling the world.
Learn the biggest do’s and don’ts of travel with Mark Wolter of Wolter’s World. Mark shares honest travel advice and talks about how to adapt to new cultures, deal with culture shock, and live in the moment while traveling the world.
Mark, along with his wife and two sons, has been traveling the world for decades. Tune in to hear the most valuable travel tips he’s gathered over the years, including how to find the cheapest flights and hotels, tips for traveling with kids, and helpful travel/navigation apps you should download before you leave home.
Plus, Mark shares the coolest tourist trap he’s visited (in Africa) and the #1 Italian city you MUST visit!
Episode 186 Special Offers:
EPISODE 186 TOPICS DISCUSSED/WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
Unique Travel Destinations Mentioned:
Connect with Mark:
Support the Badass Digital Nomads Podcast:
A special thank you to new "Producer" Patron, Eric Kwang, contributing $100 to support Kristin's content.
Become a Patron for $5/month at Patreon.com/travelingwithkristin
Connect with Kristin:
Podcast descriptions may contain affiliate links of products and services we use and recommend at no additional cost to you.
Kristin: Are you looking for a new job in the New Year? One that will let you work from home or work from anywhere? Try Flex Jobs. Flex Jobs is the biggest site in the world for hand screened, remote, freelance, and part-time jobs. A membership to Flex Jobs makes your remote job search faster and easier. Flex Jobs has remote, hybrid and flexible job listings in over 50 different categories ranging from entry level to executive. So whether you want to stay in your current career but just transition into a remote position or find something completely new, flex Jobs can help. Try Flex jobs today and save up to 30% using our link in the show notes with Code Save 30. That's code save three zero using our link in the show notes.
Kristin Wilson, Host: Hey there, Kristin, from Traveling with Kristin here and welcome to episode 186 of Badass Digital Nomads. I am so excited to share today's episode with you. It's been in the works for well over a year now and this is my conversation with Mark Wolters, who you may know as the face and host of the YouTube channel Wolters World, which has close to 1 million subscribers at the moment. You may have seen some of their videos before. If you've ever seen videos about the adults of going somewhere, so what not to do when you go to Mexico or Poland or Peru and beyond. You may also know him from the hashtag Honest Travel because Mark likes to tell it how it is. So if you haven't checked out his YouTube channel and videos yet, then definitely go do so. You can find hundreds and hundreds of videos about traveling to countries around the world.
Kristin: I think Mark mentioned that he's been to over 70 countries now, so we get a lot into the travel tips, dues and don'ts of visiting different countries. We talk about the safety in different countries. We talk about some of the best travel experiences he's ever had, cool places to visit, and even some tourist traps that he recommends. It was such a pleasure to get to finally sit down and talk with Mark today and share our conversation with you. Like many of you, I've been watching his videos for years, so I had a little bit of a fan girl moment. But happy to share our conversation with you today and make sure to catch the lightning round at the end where he's sharing a lot of his travel tips and hacks, plus his top three countries in the world. Also, make sure to check out my YouTube channel, of course, Traveling With Kristin.
Kristin: I've been posting so many new videos since I've been traveling the world again, including the Cost of living in Lisbon, the Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam, and Differences between Life in Portugal versus the USA. That's at youtube.com/travelingwithkristin. And as we close out the end of this year, I have a very special personal episode coming for you next week on Reflections on 2022 and what I've learned this year, my biggest takeaway is to share with you. So make sure to catch next week's episode. And I want to just wish you a happy holiday season wherever you are in the world. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, whatever holiday that you are celebrating at the end of this year. I hope that you're doing great. I hope that you're surrounded by friends or family or adventure and fun. Whatever means the most to you at the end of this year during this special time, wishing you all the best. Enjoy.
Kristin: How is everything? It's been almost a year.
Mark: Yeah, I know. I saw you in LA and Vid Summit. You had a great presentation when you were there last time. It was very cool to listen to.
Kristin: Oh, thank you so much. It was great to see you in the audience. I felt like, oh my gosh, Mark Wolters is here watching my presentation. No stress, no pressure. <laugh>, <laugh>, a YouTube legend.
Mark: Well, you had a huge light afterwards and and say good job. Cause you had so many people that come up to ask you more questions. It was cool.
Kristin: Yeah, that was really fun. Are you gonna go this year? I think I will.
Mark: I have tickets for it. But do they have, is it like one less day this year? I feel like there's less stuff.
Kristin: Yeah. I think it's only two days instead of three.
Mark: 00:05:14 Yes, for my time I have a ticket, but I don't think I'm gonna end up going cause my wife's gonna be in England at that time, so someone's gotta watch the kiddos.
Kristin: 00:05:23 Yeah. Yeah. How old are your kids now?
Mark: 00:05:26 15 and 11.
Kristin: 00:05:28 Wow. Time flies.
Mark: 00:05:30 I know. It's crazy.
Kristin: 00:05:31 And which one was born in another country?
Mark: 00:05:34 11 year old. He was born in Portugal.
Kristin: 00:05:36 Does he have Portuguese citizenship?
Mark: 00:05:38 He can get the passport if he wants. We just haven't decided to go back to Portugal and sit in the offices for days on end to get all the bureaucracy done. But he can get a European Union passport. A Portuguese passport yet.
Kristin: 00:05:49 Yeah, well maybe when he is a little bit older and he can go. But I think it would be worth it eventually.
Mark: 00:05:57 Yeah, that's his decision.
Kristin: 00:05:58 Yeah, yeah.
Mark: 00:06:00 Whatever he'd like
Kristin: 00:06:00 Yeah, whenever he feels the call. I wish I had my EU citizenship. It's been on my to-do list for like 10 years. <laugh>. But like you, I don't wanna go and sit in the offices. I emailed the embassy, the consulate, no one replied. I'm like, this is gonna take a little bit of effort. So yeah, gotta focus on it.
Mark: 00:06:19 When I was in Germany, cause I lived in Germany for about three years and I was like, oh, if I stayed like a couple more at that time, at least like oh a couple more cause I got my degree there, I got this. Oh I could be on the way. Then I'm like, I'm ready to go live in another country. And I left Lithuania, I was on my way there. I was three and a half years in Lithuania and I'm like, ah. I go someplace else. Then Portugal five years, I'm like, wow, we stayed one more. I could get residency then one more I could do that. But then the financial crisis have hit. My boss was like, get out if you can. <laugh>. Well he came back to the US so yeah,
Kristin: 00:06:52 That's been my story too. I've been to all these countries but I've never stayed long enough to actually get residency, let alone citizenship. So, but how many countries have you been to now?
Mark: 00:07:04 Somewhere in the low seventies. It's not a ton. We started to really try to collect them. We realized that we like spending more time in places. So instead of doing the 10 countries in three weeks kind of thing, went back to like three countries in three weeks kind of thing. So yes, because it became much more of an enjoyable thing. Actually I had students of mine, there was very nice person I've talked to before person, like youngest person to go into every single country around the world. And my students came to my office hours like, Mark, what do you think about this? Because we were figuring out the numbers and she would've had to spend like maximum like three days in each one of these countries or something. Shoot, they went through this with the math. I'm like, well she was there. I mean she's very nice. She learned a lot. But you know, it's hard to get a lot of culture in a day and half at an airport.
Kristin: 00:07:47 Yeah, definitely. I I used to do those tours where you go to different cities in one day or maybe see a whole country in one week or two weeks. Yep. And it is an experience. It's better than nothing, that's for sure. Yeah. And I still have very vivid memories of my first trips abroad, which were on those tours because there were no Google maps back then. Oh yeah. My mom and I were traveling by ourselves. We were just hoping we didn't get lost in the one to two hours that we had to explore <laugh> before getting back on the bus to go somewhere else. I still don't know how we ever found the bus again. You know, getting let off the bus in Rome and go walk around for a few hours, who knows? But we're here to tell the tale
Mark: And they never had to meet them. Like, oh, meet us by Trevi fountain outside the Colosseum like, no, this back alley here, it's got a Tattoria outside. I'm like, and when you first hear like, oh Tattoria that's like a normal thing and you find out, oh that just means restaurant. Oh
Kristin: 00:08:43 Damn. Yeah. Oh everything's a Tattoria. We'll be on the cobblestone alleyway behind the Tattoria You're like, hey, see you there 12 days later. And you're like, where was that again? <laugh>.
Mark: 00:08:55 Exactly.
Kristin: 00:08:56 So when did you actually start traveling? Because hundreds of millions of people have seen your videos. So we know a lot of your travel tips, we know a lot of the places that you've been, but I don't actually know much about your backstory. So take us back to the beginning. What was your first travel memory like when did your love of travel start?
Mark: So my first travel memory, let's see, well actually my travels as a kid literally was going from Illinois to Ohio. That was our vacation every summer as we'd go see my grandpa in Toledo, Ohio. And then we would go to Sandusky, Ohio to go to Cedar Point. That was our summer vacation every year except, once we went to Florida and like once we went to like South Carolina, it was always just Ohio. We never really traveled a lot. And my dad, they traveled a lot for work. So I think that's kind of why they didn't travel a lot with us cuz they were traveling all the time with work. Like my dad, he was working in cow and pig feed sales and stuff. And so he was like the head of Mexico. So he would be two weeks in Mexico every month, you know? And then he was the head of Korea and Mexico.
So he'd be two weeks in Mexico home for two weeks. Two weeks in Korea, back home for a week back down to Mexico. So there's all kinds of things, but I don't know, there's, there's things I think might influence it. Like my grandfather sent his postcards from over the US after he kind of retired and would travel around. But like my travels as a kid literally were nothing like, they were absolutely nothing. And then it was my first time flying was the, you know, everybody's eighth grade trip to Washington DC you know, I had that. And then my first international trip, I went to an exchange student to Australia when I was 16. And so my first like real flight flight was LA to Sydney. And that was a cool time. That was a cool trip. It was a cool experience. Cause I remember never, ever even thinking about doing study abroad.
Travels never really big thing in my mind. It be cool, but never anything that really excited me. And then I talked to this exchange tune from South Africa. She's like, you know, you should try it. It's really great experience. Just you meet people, the cultures, I'm like, oh I guess I could do that. But a year seems like a long time. They're like, well they do summer programs too, so you can go for the summer, see if you like it and then you can do it for a year or something. And so I ended up doing it summer in Australia and just fell in love with it. Then I ended up a year in Finland, then I came back, went to college, did a summer in Austria, which actually is a funny cause that university that I've actually teach there every couple, every couple summers I teach there now.
And I did a semester at Argentina, did my master's in Germany, my PhD in Portugal. Worked in Lithuania for three and a half years. Worked in Brazil as well. So the travel thing, I'm not really sure, it was just kind of one of these, like I went on that trip to Australia and everything changed. It's like I went to see the world. I wanna do as much as I can. And ever since then, you know, I, you know the backpacking South America, backpacking Europe every summer. You know, when I wasn't living there, I mean I ended up living in abroad like about 12 years and then came back during the crisis. We moved back in 2011, but the financial crisis of 8 0 9, 10 didn't hit, hit Portugal till about 11. And my boss was like, dude, if you can get back to the US go, cause it's gonna get bad here. So we ended up moving back to the US after I finished my PhD.
Kristin: And how did you and your wife meet during all of those travels?
Mark: We met in high school and when we were in high school sweethearts or anything like that, we had similar friends. We were at st parties and stuff like that. And then one day, you know, I was on Facebook and I just wrote her. I was saying, Hey, I hope you're doing well. You know, cause you know you whatever just wrote. And she's like, oh yeah, you know, she's like, wait, where are you at? You know, your stuff looks like you're all over the world stuff. I'm like, oh yeah, I'm in Portugal, do my PhD. She's like, oh you know I'm, I'm trying to get to Greece and I want to because her family's Greek. And she's like, you know, I wanna move to Greece and live there. And I'm like, oh, the visa processes are a pain in the butt. You know, she's like, oh. And so I was like, all right, I'll try to help you out. And so started talking, tried to help her with that. Next thing you know, you know there's married kids, all that kinda stuff
Kristin: 00:12:42 <laugh> one visa message helps someone with their visa standard process and then next thing you know you're married.
Mark: 00:12:50 That's right.
Kristin: 00:12:51 Yeah,
Mark: 00:12:52 A couple kids, dog, you know, <laugh>, the whole kid can go tomortgage famous.Yeah.
Kristin: 00:12:57 One thing leads to another. It's funny though, to think back at how things happened. Like my parents met because my dad saw my mom walking across the campus to the college dorm. Like I think they lived in the same dorm and he just saw hers like, I'm gonna marry that woman. And she had moved back to Florida. So she's from Miami, actually from Ohio, Akron to Miami. And then went to college in San Diego, got homesick, came back to Florida, went to F S U, met my dad. Voila, here we are.
Mark: 00:13:29 And there you are.
Kristin: 00:13:31 <laugh> one thing leads to another and then now we're on this podcast <laugh>. Um, that's right. It's just, I just always find it interesting, you know, if my mom would've stuck it out and stayed at UCSD, I wouldn't be here today. So, yep, I'm glad she got homesick and came back and now I teach people how to deal with culture shock and homesickness.
Mark: 00:13:52 No, that's awesome. <laugh>. And that's a big thing when you look at the Instagram, the TikTok and all that kind of stuff, you know, like people go and they make travel like this great thing, but people get homesick and it's not just if you're going to go like go to your college degree abroad or move abroad. I mean some people get homesick just when they go a week away. There's these little things that it's actually a serious thing cuz people, it's such as they're vacation gets rude, like they're mentally, people get really stressed out. I mean to, because now that we're near the middleof August, you get the people sitting there, oh after my 12 days in Greece or my two months in Europe or whatever, they're like, I'm back in the US and they've got their like mega coke and they got their Starbucks and they got their bag of Takis. <laugh>.
Kristin: 00:14:30 Yeah. Home sweet home
Mark: 00:14:32 Got my air conditioning down. I mean homesick, this is a thing, but I think people don't really talk about a lot when you, you go abroad and that's why sometimes like when I travel with my dad, the guy worked in Mexico, he worked in Korea. He's eating things that you've never done anything to know about but he's now the pickiest little guy ever when it comes, when he travels. And so when we, we go travel with them, I always know like the fifth or sixth day I have to plan like an Irish pub or something from home ish so he can get like a burger or a steak or something. Because he loves pasta, he loves Korean food, he loves Mexican food. But I know whenever we're in these places I can get him four or five days of local food and then I gotta get that burger, I gotta get that steak to him or something. So he feels like home and then he, he's good for under five or six days because it's kinda a little homesick kinda thing.
Kristin: 00:15:21 Yeah. And sometimes that first week or those first five or six days are the hardest. Sometimes it's the most euphoric time because everything is new and interesting. But that can also be the hardest part. And so then when people don't stay long enough then they never really adapt. Yeah. Did you feel that when you went to Australia for the first time? Or did you just hit the ground running and thought like, this is the best thing ever? <laugh>.
Mark: 00:15:45 So I, I hit the ground running, but I do remember about third or fourth week, you know, I was really kind of like down because it, you know, at the same time like you're so excited when it first happens and you're there and then like everything's getting new and then you get like settled and then you start dwelling on things. And so I remember listening to like Born in the USA from Bruce Springsteen and oddly up Sting. I was listening to a lot of Sting then too to like, you know, when I was feeling down. And it's, it's kind of interesting cuz you do have that, I mean I talk to universities where they're exchange students. I'm like look November's your toughest month cuz you go like in September and everything's new and it's party. That's so cool. And then October is you're settling in, you got your classes, things are going and then November comes and the weather's usually cruddy no matter where you are in the world, it's dark, it's, you know, a lot of my students go to Europe and stuff and they're like, it's dark, it's wet, there's not, nothing's up there and I'm missing home.
Mark: 00:16:37 And then you see all this stuff from Halloween and Thanksgiving, which are super big time American holidays, which aren't celebrated everywhere obviously. And people, that's when people really get hit like boom in the heart they feel really bad and it's really tough and, and that's why sometimes you guys start talking to like hey you know these are, sometimes you need to be aware of it cuz you don't realize it until it hits you that morning. You're like, I want, you know, candy, corn and Turkey. <laugh>
Kristin: 00:17:03 <laugh>. Yeah. And I just talked to a YouTube subscriber who has became a patron and now she's the podcast guest and she was saying that she didn't even know she was experiencing culture shock or struggles. She just thought that she was tired and getting depression. And so I think that awareness of knowing that what you're going through and what you're feeling is normal and everybody feels it to some extent that can help you get through it. Cuz you're like, oh I'm just having a moment or a bad day or maybe this next couple weeks is gonna be like this cuz the weather is bad, it's dark, it's raining, it's cold. And then you start feeling alone or you start ruminating on things but then you kind of forget about it because at this point after 60, 70 countries, we've both been through a lot of things, ups and downs. But then you just keep going and it, it becomes par for the course and it's only in that moment that it's difficult or painful and then that moment passes.
Mark: 00:18:04 Yeah, I think that's the things will be us. It does pass and you, you'll be okay. But it is in that moment you're like, sometimes you just get overwhelmed by it
Kristin: 00:18:12 Yeah, sometimes I get overwhelmed just even thinking about the earth <laugh>. Like we're on this rock going around a ball of fire hurling through the universe and we're all stuck here on this rock <laugh>. It's a weird thing.
Mark: 00:18:26 We're barely held onto this ball spinning at billions of miles an hour and blah blah.
Kristin: 00:18:32 Yeah. So you just gotta hold on for the ride and keep on keeping on.
Mark: 00:18:37 That's right.
Kristin: 00:18:38 And that's what we're doing. So do you think that that study abroad experience changed you? Do you think it planted the seed for what you would be doing today? I mean you have this career, you're able to live in other countries, raise your family, travel around the world. Why did you decide to start a YouTube channel and a blog?
Mark: 00:18:58 Well I otherwise decided to start making the videos but I tell the story a lot about how I got a guidebook that just took me to a town that was worthless and the guidebook made it sound fantastic And I'm like, this isn't fair because you know, we have friends like me, when you first got outta college, everyone had maybe 10 days off of vacation time, you know, I mean now after you were for 20 years, yeah you've got real vacation time in the US but when you first step out everybody makes fun of America for not having vacation time. Like yeah when you first start out you don't. And I was just, me and my friends who get like 10 days of vacation, if they would've bought this guidebook, they would've gone to this town wasted one or two days of your 10 days once in a lifetime vacation.
So 20% of your lifetime vacation is wasted because somebody over inflates a town making it sound better than it's maybe they got paid to say something nice or they were sponsored and so therefore it's over fluff. And I'm like, this isn't right. And that's when I started making honest travel videos and the blogs and just, you know, five things you love hate about going to places, the don'ts that going to places cuz it's actually they're dos and don'ts but you know titles matter and people don't click on what to do in a place. They're like, oh what don't I do? And then they're like, yeah hey these are mostly dos and like yeah don't forget to do that.
Kristin: 00:20:10 They're do’s in disguise.
Mark: 00:20:12 That's right. It's funny how many people will comment like I came on here to be mad at you cause you said what not to do in this country and then your actual stuff is really good and helpful and it's actually really right on. I'm like cool. Yep,
Kristin: 00:20:25 Yep, gotcha. But in a good way it's not click bait, it gets you to click but it's delivering a lot of value when you do click. Yeah. And I always learned something.
Mark: 00:20:36 Aw, thank you
Kristin: 00:20:36 Yeah. So you started, was it the videos because you wasted time there so you wanted to show people the places that you were going and and just give your firsthand experience of what you were seeing?
Mark: 00:20:48 Yeah, people will ask me like for destination I haven't been to yet, I'm like I will not give you any advice someplace I haven't been. Yeah because I haven't been there. All they'll be doing is googling that stuff too and searching like I do so it wouldn't be right cuz I only like giving my personal stuff. That's why you know, for Wolter's world we always stumble on location because it's like look, I'm here in Paris, I'm here in Rwanda and I can tell you that and it's not just me like on Zoom, let me tell you about what you should know there.
Kristin: 00:21:14 Yeah.
Mark: 00:21:14 Because you can look stuff up like going there, being there, you know in CTO it's totally different and you start to understand it better. And so I really wanted to help people with from our experiences and yeah we still make mistakes sometimes, but it's not like us making a lot of mistakes when we travel because we've traveled a lot and that's what happens when you travel. You don't mess up as much. Like you still do but you don't mess up as much. You know. That's why sometimes I kind of chuckle at some YouTubers because they always have the same, oh we forgot we have to go at our visa last minute running through the airport stuff. I'm like dude this is like the ninth time you've done this. Like where you have this, oh are we gonna be able to get across and mean really click baiting? Like are we gonna get it in time? We'll be able to enter the country. I don't know, I'm like well I'm gonna guess since the thumbnail has you in the country.
Kristin: 00:22:01 Right. We're pretty sure you made it in there. Yeah.
Mark: 00:22:03 But it was, it was just funny cuz there's been multiples where was like multiple times and I'm like you know, I can understand once. Yeah if it's that impactful on you, you'll not forget again the next time.
Kristin: 00:22:14 No, it's like practicing anything. You get faster at it, you get better at it and you also get rusty when you don't do it so much because I was just and is damn. And I had some cash but I spent some of it at the airport and I just brought my small wallet that had just a couple cards in it, but I didn't bring all my international cards cuz I'm like, oh yeah, these will work and everything's contactless now. I couldn't pay for my taxi from the airport. I had to stop and go to atm on the side of the road and I was like, I shouldn't have done this. Like I should have definitely brought back up. I mean I had three cards like yeah three credit cards and a debit card and none of them worked in the taxi but I like should have brought more cards. Should have brought more cash. Yeah. Like should have gotten out some cash at the airport and it's just, cuz I hadn't been overseas in a while so yeah, I just forgot
Mark: 00:23:09 The first time we went international again after Covid. We went to Ireland last November and you know it had been but I was 21 so it'd been almost, it'd been a year and a half, almost two years. Yeah. And I remember going and usually we're like, let's go see a lot but you know, we wanna see stuff. But this one was like, you know, let's take it easy. We're gonna go stay in Belfast, we're gonna go stay in some castle in the middle of Ireland. We're gonna go down to the Ring of Carrie and then we'll finish off. It wasn't so like Go, go. No, it was very much relaxed. Yeah. And my wife's like, usually we see more stuff when we do these. I'm like yeah this is a good way to get back into travel cuz it just, let's see how it's, it was very interesting to get back to it. It felt really good to travel again internationally. But I'm glad we had that trip because then this summer, you know I spent what, seven weeks in Europe and that trip was a lot better because I got my toes back into the international travel again beforehand.
Kristin: 00:24:02 Yeah, definitely. I'm ready to get back out there cuz I just did a week in Istanbul and usually if I'm gonna fly over the ocean I wanna stay there for a few months. <laugh>. Yeah. But just went and came back in a week so now I'm ready to get going again. And so have you ever considered just doing YouTube full-time or why do you keep teaching? Cuz you've had to balance quite a bit with raising your family, traveling, teaching, creating content all at the same time. How do you do it?
Mark: 00:24:34 Well what helps is I love teaching. Like I really love teaching and I love traveling. You're the old say, you know, if you love it, it's not really a job, blah blah blah. It's true. You know like I can't complain about traveling around the world and helping people cause I love both of those things.and the teaching part, I love doing that. So that makes it pretty easy for me to do both. Also the fact that my work has insurance and retirement planning and all those things, that helps as well. Especially when you got two kids and you know, I have one who's, when my wife was pregnant with him, she went on bedrest for four months. She spent a month at a Portuguese hospital like while she was pregnant, you know, it was a scary time that you have my oldest, we had to get his appendix out randomly.
Mark: 00:25:14 It was, luckily we was here when we were home but you know, we we, these crazy things happen and it's like I wanna make sure we're covered. So that's one of those things as well. I mean I thought about, you know, doing the YouTube thing full-time and I'm sure if I went in full-time I think we could do a lot more stuff and we could do like a lot better stuff and the videos would be more in depth. The, my cinematography would be much better. Let's say, you know, instead of like the the bare bones and stuff that we do, it would still have the same good information. It would just look prettier probably. I just like them both. Like my wife's like, you know, you'll never quit teaching. You like it too much. I'm like, yeah, you're right.
Kristin: 00:25:49 Yeah. What are you teaching right now?
Mark: 00:25:51 I teach marketing.
Kristin: 00:25:53 Okay. I'm still friends with my marketing professor from college. He doesn't think he's living in Ohio too actually. I think I would like to teach one day. I guess I do teach now.
Mark: 00:26:03 You do, you teach people how, how to travel and you know also how to get through that culture shock. that's an important thing.
Kristin: 00:26:11 Yeah. What, what are some of the places that you've experienced the most intense culture shock
Mark: 00:26:17 Lately? I haven't had too many lately. That's the thing is the more you travel the culture shock doesn't get you as much. I, I mean I can think back to when I was a kid and the culture shock of like it was worth not living with my family, lived with a different family. There was that culture shock of the different rules people had and different expectations, how different families worked. That was very eyeopening to see that not every family lived like my family and you know, had the same relationship. So that was kind of interesting. But I think culture shock wise probably, I was teaching in China about 10 years ago and I took, the whole family went for the summer and the place is like could get a hotel room, we'll put your family up, you know, the four of you in this hotel, I think it was like seven weeks, maybe eight weeks we were, we taught I think it was eight weeks of teaching.
We stayed for nine weeks. But the room we had, I mean it was two single beds but like small little bit smaller single beds that almost they had about this much space. The uh, about a foot space between them, they gave through there maybe a foot and a half. And there was no room. So the kids left were little so my wife and I would single while the kind of outside parts and we moved them a little bit away from the wall to get a little bit extra space. And then the youngest one had just turned two and the older one was five or six and they would sleep on the wall side so they wouldn't be able to fall out. And we had to sleep like that for six weeks and there was no space and it was just such a tiny, tiny corners.
Yeah. But we made it work. I would think that the culture shock if, you know going out and traveling around the world, you know English is a de facto tourist language but some places, you know, foreign language aren't a thing and China, like there was no English like nothing. Like there was no nothing. So a lot of them we would just go, we'd just point and it was sometimes it'd be funny and we'd point at stuff, they'd like, you want some more? I'm like, well like that's like one thing, like you need more than that. Like they'd look at me like, look Fatman, you need more food. <laugh>
Kristin: 00:28:07 <laugh>
Mark: 00:28:08 So you'd need this, this and this. Like ok. And so it was funny but uh, it wasn't, it wasn't really bad culture shock but it was just like, oh it was just a different way of how things were, how I was teaching in Beijing and there's just so many people all the time.
Kristin: 00:28:23 Mm.
Mark: 00:28:24 You don't have a second of freedom or free space. And so that was something that was very interesting. It's just the, the shock of there's never not somebody right next to you.
Kristin: 00:28:35 Right. Personal space is a big cultural difference between nations. I mean in some places people give you a certain radius of space around you. It's like close talkers, close walkers. And I've experienced that in some places where people are just standing on the sidewalk but they're just standing right next to you. And I haven't been to Beijing but I think the population is very high there. So just the quantity of people and then also being in very close quarters and they're all used to it because they've grown up or maybe they've been there for a long time. Yeah. So that can be a little bit unnerving at first. Especially when there is space and someone decides to stand right next to you anyway. Yeah.
Mark: 00:29:18 You're just like, hi, can I help you? Yeah you Which is funny cuz after I spent that summer in Beijing, I came back home, I noticed that I was doing it as well. I'm like really up close. I'm like oh wow, I'm sorry you know, you catch yourself. You know it's weird how some of the culture shocks you actually get are the culturalism that you kind of grab onto. So it was like that was one thing I noticed when I came back. I guess would that be reverse culture shock? I'm not sure
Kristin: 00:29:41 When you come back Yeah,
Mark: 00:29:43 Yeah when you come back. was that how I had like the up close stuff? You know the US people were like don't touch the Americans. Like we need our space. And then I knew another one I'd been in Brazil so I was there for half a year and it was July, it was still like maybe in the eighties, you know, seventies, eighties. But people wearing like winter coats we're talking like puffy winter coats when they were going out and I was going out in shorts and a t-shirt and I could see how uncomfortable the people were that I was outside with shorts and t-shirt when it was that cold for them. Oh.
Mark: 00:30:17 So I started wearing jeans and like a long sleeved shirt and I'd be sweating. It was just a much easier situation to deal with the locals because they were just, they couldn't talk about anything else but like why are you trying to freeze to death dude, I'm like, it's like 75 like it's not cold but for them it was. And so it was funny cuz I didn't realize how bad I got it until I came back home when I was visiting my aunt. It's like the next, like I flew in and then we went to like her house the next day and I'm walking around her little tiny town and it's like 95 degrees outside. I've got jeans on a t-shirt and the long sleeve shirt and I see this lady walking with her kid, the kid's like in a shorts and t-shirt and I'm like cold. I'm like how dare she take her kid out with no clothes on this cold weather? And I literally, it's so funny cuz I remember seeing the Carville National Bank sign had the time of temperature and it's like 95. I'm like all right, I need to like chill. I need to chill.
Kristin: 00:31:15 It's funny how fast
Mark: 00:31:16 I got so used to that.
Kristin: 00:31:18 Yeah you really do adapt quite fast. So you've had friends go to Australia and pick up the accent pretty quickly? I picked up some of the slang. I didn't really do the accent.
Mark: The slavo.
Kristin: I've seen that culture shock even being from Florida and seeing the northerners come down and jump in the ocean in the winter. And we're like, are you crazy? And then I go, it's not that cold because they're used to swimming in the lake Michigan or something. Yeah. <laugh> when it's freezing. But I did have definitely a little bit of culture shock in Hong Kong and Macau that I was just traveling by myself. And when you're so used to traveling you don't really notice that other people are noticing that you're a foreigner. And so I did get a little bit of extra just kind of people coming up to me like wanting to take pictures and things just because I look different.
Kristin: 00:32:08 And I remember eating, I ordered lobster somewhere. I was like, I'm gonna have a nice dinner. And it came, but I felt like the lobster was just delivered from the ocean. It was barely even cooked and it was the whole lobster and it still had the fuzz and the hair on it and everything. Like it hadn't been cleaned or anything and it smelled like fish and I was just picking at it and I couldn't even get to the meat of the lobster because it was like the whole lobster. And you know in the US they make make it so easy for you and they like crack it open. And even in places like Nicaragua, they like give you the lobster tails and they're all ready. So things like that where I was like, oh I'm not even hungry anymore. I don't really wanna eat this.
You mentioned where after traveling a lot, you don't experience culture shock a lot. I've been mulling this over whether it's a pro or a con of travel. Is it a do or don't? I don't know, maybe you can tell me, but do you feel that when you travel a lot, does the world start to seem more homogenous because you notice that everybody's humans and we're all kind of similar or do you start to see more of the diversity in each place? Or does it just kind of all blend together because of globalization and especially the exportation of us culture and chain restaurants and things like that?
Mark: 00:33:30 I think it's actually both. Like you start to see how things are similar everywhere, you know? But also that also makes these just see when it's the difference. You're like, oh hey, that's something different. Like you really see it a lot more. I mean I've been doing this like I first, I was 1993 when I went to Australia, so this is huge. This is what year are we? 2022.
Kristin: 00:33:49 2022, okay. Yeah. So almost 30 years ago.
Mark: 00:33:53 Almost 30 years. And I can tell you like it is a completely different world than when I first started traveling. Yeah. You know, I've remember I worked with Lithuania in the early two thousands as it's before their European Union. It was a whole different,
Kristin: 00:34:05 Different currency, different culture. Like much more distinct
Mark: 00:34:09 Yeah. And was the differences were so much bigger now. I mean globalization really is a thing. I mean it like you go anywhere. That's why I wanted people like I'm scared to travel. Like why the differences, like you said, the differences from like the north to the south or the, you know, New York versus Florida. Those differences, it's maybe like 10% more when you're going to Europe. If that, you know, like if you're going to London and you're from New York, you're not gonna know as much of a difference except for the cars go on the different side of the road.
Kristin: 00:34:34 <laugh>
Mark: 00:34:35 You're talking about before, it's like you don't have the culture cycle like you used to. I miss that. Like I miss the new things. That's why I always love going to new places. I know this year after Covid, cuz most of my friends live abroad, you know, cause I lived a lot of countries and friends all over and this year is going to see friends. So like everywhere we've gone has been to see friends and now I've got as like, so 2023 is all new countries, you know, or as many new countries as we can go see. Cuz I put that new experience cuz when you something new you're like, oh wow. You know? It was like the last time I had like a really big wow mo. Like we went to Rwanda right before Covid. It was amazing. And I'm like, this is the experience I missed.
Like this is why I fell in love with travel is that, and that's one thing that I like whenI traveled with my kids or I'll take my students abroad and I'll teach classes abroad. Like I took my aunt and uncle abroad for their one trip abroad in their life, you know, or well to Europe. And it was like see them to see those things for the first time we're like, yes. You know, I still remember my son, my oldest son who's gonna be 16 next week. And you know, I remember we'd watch like loonie tunes where Bug's Bunny is at the Colosseum and he's a gladiator and all kinds of stuff. And then we were in Rome and he's like, Hey it's from my cartoon. Oh that's right. He was so excited. You're like, this is what it's about. That kind of thing is is wonderful. And that's why I think when people are like tour guys, people ask people don't you get tired of saying the same thing every day. Like, well you might say the same thing but the reaction is different. And when you see that like happiness Yep. That just like spark in people. It's amazing.
Kristin: 00:36:06 Yeah. And the people,
Mark: 00:36:08 I'm lucky enough I get to have that with my kids when they travel with them and it's nice.
Kristin: 00:36:12 Yeah.
Hey there, Kristin here. Did you know that I have a weekly newsletter? You can stay in touch and receive an email from me every Friday by going to travelingwithkristin.com/subscribe. You'll be the first to know about new projects, videos, and opportunities for attending meetups live streams and more. You'll also get a lot of travel and remote work tips, insights, and thoughts that I don't share anywhere else. Sign up today at travelingwithkristin.com slash subscribe. And now back to the show.
Kristin: You've done a lot of videos on different cities and countries, like is this city safe? Is this country safe? Is there actually a place that you've ever been that you truly felt unsafe? Or do you think that it's just this perception that's created by either crime rates or the media that certain areas are safe or not without having a war or something going
Mark: 00:37:14 On? Yeah, no that, that's one thing I'll never go to war areas. I don't ever like to go near war areas just because war zones, because you never know.that's one of my big things. But we've gone to places, they're like, you went to El Salvador and everyone's got big machine guns when you go to the grocery store and you go to the gas station. I'm like, yeah, but I was, that really affected the tourists. It didn't bother me. Like I love going like my all family. We love going to Central America, Latin America. It's, it's amazing. It's, well, I, I love it. I, I'm sad not more people go there. You know, we have videos on Europe and people even really mad at me. They're like, you only do Europe. I'm like, actually we have hundreds of videos from Latin America that we are trying to promote to get people to go there.
But no one watches them. So please watch, please go. Yeah. But even voice that you think that you felt unsafe. I haven't really felt unsafe really anywhere. But the thing is, is like there's town, there's parts of towns you don't go to. There's parts of cities you don't go to. You know, like people are like, oh well you can't say every town is bad. I'm like, no. Just like, you can't say every town is good, even though the small towns have bad parts of town, right? you don't go to people, you know, be like, well why do you say people? I'm like, because you might wanna know not to go there. The reason why I view a lot of the is Paris safe is France safe? Because that's one of the biggest questions people have because the only news that you ever hear is the bad news. I know right
Kristin: 00:38:29 Right
Mark: 00:38:29 Before Brazil had the World Cup, there was so much bad press. Just horrible, horrible, horrible.
Kristin: 00:38:37 I remember that.
Mark: 00:38:38 I know you used to live in Brazil, so I was getting really upset by this. I used to make these jokes like the news, it's gonna, you're gonna get robbed when you walk off the plane, then you're gonna get shot, then you're gonna get Zika, then you're gonna get robbed again and then you're gonna turn to a Zika zombie and then they're gonna rob you again and then you're gonna die. I'm like, no. So I took my whole family, we went down, we made, we probably made 50 videos on Brazil and different things about Brazil just to like show people look, it's okay to go to Brazil. Now, I'm not saying Rio doesn't have problems cause Rio does have problems. There are problems there, but you know what, you're not walking around with a gold watch and your gold ring when you're gonna show. you're wealth. Don't take it with you. You know, Brazil for seven months and never had one issue ever. And I was living in Sao Paulo, you know, and I was going all over the country, never had anything, but I had a guy that would get robbed every other day. But the thing was he kept dressing, like he was living in Switzerland, so he was a Swiss guy. And every time I meet up with him, like, dude, you can't dress like this, you cannot wear this. He's like, oh you. He like, oh, this watch got stoed by insurance so I got a new watch. I'm like, stop,
Kristin: 00:39:39 Stop.
Mark: 00:39:40 Don't get a Casio, a timex watch <laugh> and wear that. Stop getting the nice watches, you know? Yeah. I don't really ever get too worried about the travel. No, there's sometimes just like if I was here at home too, like it was late night, I don't have a ride, then of course it would be worried just like I would anywhere.
Kristin: 00:39:57 Yeah. I've had a similar experience. Like there's been very few times that I kind of looked over my shoulder and, and didn't really feel that safe. But that could happen anywhere. Especially at night or something like that. So what do you think from the don't perspective, what are some of the mistakes that you've made or that you see a lot of tourists make? Or are there any mistakes? Like you talk about tourist traps being like, yeah, it's a tourist trap, but you should go there anyway. Yeah. Which I agree and I, I still go to those too, of course. And you wanna have the authentic experience but hey, you wanna have the authentic touristy experience too. So yeah. Are there blatant things that people should really prepare for and pay attention and avoid?
Mark: 00:40:45 I think one of the big problems people have is their research doesn't go beyond looking at the Anthony Bourdain's restaurant and a couple of Instagram pictures that they need to get. Cuz the cities are a lot more than that. The countries are a lot more than that. Like I'm all about meeting the people and getting with the culture and talking to people and stuff. Like that's my thing, you know? and I think people miss out a lot and you can learn a lot about the country if you just do a little research. I mean I remember lonely Planet Books back in the day would have like a history of the country in the beginning of the book and when I'm fly over I'd read the count– the history of the country. And by knowing that history, you could make a conversation with people, they'd be like, wow, you understood, you know, some of our history, like most travelers don't know that.
And of course everyone thinks Americans are stupid and we never know anything. And they're like, wow, and you're American that knows our history <laugh>, how can that be? And I'm like, is there read like the 15 page history of your country on my flight over here? And it really opened people up, you know? But I think not doing the research, because once you do that you really understand. You understand kind of why things are like, why isn't the Germans are really don't like credit cards and I can never use my credit card. Well now you can. But before it was really tough to find places for credit cards, right? Because they had such hyperinflation before the war and after the war that credit was like a really bad thing. So everyone would pay cash because then I know I had it and it's something safe. And so they would pay that way. And that's why I didn't like it. Like, oh, now I understand why
Kristin: 00:42:09 I didn't even know that.
Mark: 00:42:10 Yeah. And so you start to see those things, you know, like it's little things like that that really start to you like, ah, I got it. Like Brazil. Like you'll see stuff like, it'll be a price and it'll say divide by 12. I'm like, what's that mean? You can pay it a monthly installments stuff that you never even think of, you know? And you're like, oh, I didn't know that. And so that little bit of research goes a long way cause you don't, that's how you end up, you know, I talk about Portugal, you gotta pay for the bread and the butter and stuff when you go there at restaurants, which last place is free but not in Portugal. And people get really upset and then they let that like little thing ruin their vacation. Dude. It's just a little thing like do the research, know that beforehand, know what to watch out for.
And then it's not something that you're like, oh I'm mad at, it's something like, oh, I knew that was gonna happen. Yeah. You know, you get that. Or think another mistake people do is they don't do the pre-trip stuff. Like calling their bank, holding their mail, getting their data planned. Like there's some muddy things and just convenience things. Yeah. I can't even tell you people, like, they'll just walk out the door with those dishes and the food still sitting at the plate, like buy the sink and they come back two weeks later like, oh it's molded over with flies and maggots, what's going on? I'm like, yeah. Some little things like that. I mean it, it sounds silly, but there's just these little things that can make the return to your trip or your trip so much better. You know, like I have YouTube premium so I can listen to YouTube in the background.
And so some nights I like if I'm gonna be traveling, I'll just make a playlist on the destination I'm go to. And I'll just put that and just listen to what people were talking about just to get some more information about the background, you know? and then, you know, maybe I'm trying to go to sleep or maybe I'm playing, you know, like blossom blast or whatever <laugh>, you know, on my phone. But I'm hearing that and it's gonna be more ready for it mean you travel a lot and you know that when you go around the world people are pretty much the same people, you know, like they're good people everywhere. There's bad people everywhere. That's just people are people and yeah, you'll be able to make friends, you'll find a way to connect with people anywhere you go. And I gotta say, probably the best thing is from a traveler's perspective with Covid is the fact that now everyone around the world has one similar point of reference. What did you do during Covid? What did you do?
Kristin: 00:44:15 Oh yeah, that's a good conversation starter
Mark: 00:44:18 <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. So you have something, you know, for in the US it was like, what did you watch on Netflix? Right? You know, you know we had our tiger cake and we had all this and that same kind of stuff like that stuff we talk about. So where I was traveling this summer, we talk about food, we talk about, oh yeah, they were like, oh so what were you guys doing? Because you know, we had –Riley and I had a house so I had space and there was, you know, I could go out for a walk. So my friend's, like we were locked in our houses, we couldn't leave. Only one person was allowed to be leave once a week for these two hours. I'm like, wow then. And I'm like, well how, how did you stay sane. Well in Italy, if you were a runner you could leave the house. So what we did is everyone became a runner, but we run to our friend's house to go eat at our friend's house. But then it was kind of tough to run back later cuz you actually had to be running otherwise you'd get in trouble or whatever, you know. So they had all, we had to home by 10 so then we'd run back. But it was so hard but was so full
Kristin: 00:45:10 Yeah my cousins did something like that where they went running or they rode their bikes to each other's house. But it was like covert operation <laugh> where they had to like go at night and they could get in trouble. Yeah. Because they both live in London. That's something that I haven't really experienced cause I haven't traveled so much since the pandemic's ended or whatever it is that's happening right now. But one of the most memorable conversations I had just in Istanbul for the week I was with a bunch of foreigners. I met a lot of amazing people. But it was just kind of in the downtime between the activities, the dinners, the tours. Like after we got off the boat I wanted to go get some baklava cuz it was my last day and the tour guide was like, I'm gonna go get some because it's across the street and it's rush hour so I'm gonna wait for the traffic to <laugh> subside. So we're just sitting there hanging out, talking, eating baklava and pastries and things. And that was just so fun. It kind of felt like a local, cuz it was all locals in the restaurant. Oh,
Mark: 00:46:15 Oh, That's Cool.
Kristin: 00:46:15 And having some Turkish coffee or No, we had tea actually it was afternoon. So and the cute little teac cups, the little glass cups.
Mark: 00:46:23 Yeah. Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about.
Kristin: 00:46:24 Yeah. And that's the kind of those moments of just connecting with another human being from another country over something that you have in common, like food or drinking some tea or coffee and just talking about life. I learned so much about him and where he was traveling and he was living in Poland and why he quit his job and move back to Turkey to become a tour guide. And those are all parts of humanity that we can all relate with. Everyone can relate to hating their job. <laugh>. Maybe not you, but at one point or another someone has a job where they just don't like it.
Mark: 00:46:57 Yeah. And that really got me thinking. That was another thing. When you're sitting just talking to the guide and getting to know them. One of the things is sometimes we forget to talk cause we forget to put down our phones. Because we're, we're trying to take a picture of everything. We're trying to record everything. And like I always tell people, it's like, did you ever watch that concert you recorded with your phone again? No You didn't. So put the phone down, take a picture, go on, take a picture. Like when they're<inaudible>just enjoy the concert. It's not worth it. Yeah. Which is funny cuz the people like, well you always have your camera up. Like yeah cause I'm getting B-roll from my videos. Like I'm doing it for work. But I still make point to put it down and talk to people. And the thing is like if you're always walking around, I mean maybe you'll swipe through, you know, on the plane over and show a few friends, but then wouldn't you rather have that experience of having the Baklva, the pastries chatting with the guy versus taking 900 pictures of the Baklva?
Kristin: 00:47:47 Totally. Yeah. And I have so many pictures I've never even looked at, especially being content creators. When you're going out to get the B roll for the videos and everything, it's like you use that in the edit but then you don't necessarily go back and look at the pictures that you took. Maybe you use some for Instagram or something like that. Yeah. But I've been a lot more cognizant about the phone use lately because I've also seen people get their phones just ripped out of their hands because they're looking down at the phone and they're not paying attention and someone just runs by and steals the phone. Like, or a pickpocketer or something. Oh yeah. But you gotta be present in the surroundings and the phones. They're tools but they can also definitely be distractions. And they're made to distract us and we're all humans so it's like a constant tug of war. So yeah, those are some good tips. And how about this, what is the coolest tourist trap you've ever been to? And what about the flip side? Like what is the coolest off the beaten path? Authentic memory.
Mark: 00:48:50 The coolest tourists trap, gorilla Guardian Village in Rwanda. The story behind is pretty interesting. And you remember when you like were in grade school, they'd take you to like the old timey village. Like how did they used to make nails or how they made candles or whatever. Like we had that. Where I live, we have Amish people buy us. So we go to the Amage Village and see how they make their stuff and how their bakery was and all this. And the Gorilla Guardians village, it's former poachers actually. And to get them to not be poachers anymore, they, they start this up and it's not, everyone's a former poacher, but some of 'em were. And they go and they'll show like traditional dances, how, you know, shooting a bow and arrow, how they made banana beer. Like all kinds of, my wife and I got remarried in Rwanda.
Like, wait, they don't, we don't do this all the time, but you guys wanna get married again And like what? Like yeah there's a whole, a whole ceremony for us to like, they're carrying her in a basket up around the, through the village and everything. And it was just an amazing thing. You know, you could tell it was like kind, it was very much a touristy thing but it was such a great experience and the people were so nice. So like this was awesome. Yeah. It's got a tourist trap but I would never pass that up ever. Like ever. If I was gonna run, I'd go back again cause it was so great. Like that would be my favorite tourist trapping thing, but it was so worth it.
Kristin: 00:50:03 That's so cool. I didn't even know that existed. And what about something that you fell into where you weren't planning it and maybe you just stumbled into a site that you didn't know about or a restaurant?
Mark: 00:50:17 Uh, let's see. Well I know –we were in Bari last month in Italy,7 day at Puglia.And we had like a free dance. I don't wanna drive, you don't wanna drive, let's just just hire a driver, hire a guy and to take us around, we'll go to Alberobello, which has got these cool trulli buildings they look like, I always say it looks like a Martian colony. And then there's another couple our town saying my wife's like, oh we need to go to Matera. I'm like, alright. I didn't know. I mean I heard of Matera, I've seen it before, but I never really, it's one of those things like you don't put two together until you're there. You're like, wait, this looks really familiar. So we get Matera and Matera is where they filmed like passion of the Christ, the last James Bond movie, that's where James Bond's buried kind of stuff. And and it's this incredible town. They built caves out of the walls of the mountains there, the hills there. Have been living there for like 10,000 years? I think it's the oldest or one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world
Kristin: 00:51:06 Didn't even know that.
Mark: 00:51:07 And it's just incredible. So they built like facade on the side of these cave and you can see how people used to live. I'm just walking around and I had zero desire to make any videos that day. Like zero. Like I'm like, I'm done, we're just gonna go around enjoy it. But I'm going around, I'm like, this is freaking awesome. Have my phone. Like this is awesome, this place is great. Why we should have spend the night here. We should spent like three nights here. Like what the hell was I thinking? <laugh>, you know, like, and so like, you know this, you know B roll, just think that like, well I'll figure something happen. I'm like, screw it. Something like doing like just hold the camera in my hand. Like selfie style
Kristin: 00:51:40 Selfie
Mark: 00:51:41 Hey here's some things like seeing the things that I really got. It wasn't like a Dont’s video, it was more like, hey here's some quick tips to come here. Like, you know, and went through it and it was such a nice thing. So that was one of those surprise, not culture shocks, but that shocking great thing about traveling. Somebody's just found a random city. You're like, that's awesome. Like that was an awesome place. Like I'm inspired to make a video about this place.
Kristin: 00:52:02 Amazing. Well we're, I'm gonna look that video up and we'll link to it cuz I wanna see it now. Yeah. And I had a similar experience really close to that where I went with a friend. We were on the Amalfi Coast, we were in Positano and one of her friends recommended this place for us to go to eat dinner, which was like the most incredible castle. I mean any castle's pretty cool, but it was on the water. Yeah. And we had this amazing meal. It was actually, I think it was south of a Amalfi Coast. I'll find it, I'll link it in the show notes. And we just had such a great meal, like multiple course meal. And the owner, we hit it off, we became friends. He was giving us free dessert and things like that. We're having a blast. It was my birthday, it was just 2017. So it was a perfect day. And then we had too much wine as you do in Italy. Hey then, yeah,
Mark: 00:52:57 I'm not judging
Kristin: 00:52:58 <laugh>, he, he's like, well I'll get you a taxi home. And we became friends with the taxi driver. He ended up driving us around for the rest of the week and he took us to this place in a town called Ravello.
Mark: 00:53:13 Oh, Ravello is great. Yeah.
Kristin: 00:53:15 Yeah. So beautiful. And we went to his friend's winery. So it wasn't even open to the public, it was just this house that kind of did a B M B. Yeah. And his wife, like the guy and his wife made food for us. And we actually went in the kitchen and we're making our own Yoki <laugh> and had another amazing meal. So sometimes yeah, things like that happen where you get a referral from somebody or you know, your wife or your friend suggest this place and then that takes your trip in a whole new direction. And then you get to see all this cool stuff that you wouldn't have thought. Like I, I went once to in Bulgaria I was going to the Rose Festival and I just took a road trip by myself to go to this rose festival and I just stopped along the way and I would pull over wherever I saw a sign that was for some sort of historical site or something and I ended up in this really cool tomb in the side of a mountain. Oh, that's awesome. I would've never found that. You know? Yeah. So
Mark: 00:54:09 I thing is you have to take that opportunity. Like when you see those things do it. I mean, yeah. I'm always big on not doing the tour or doing it yourself because then you can have the freedom to do things like that. And that's what's cool about, like you said, I was on a road trip by myself. I said, why not? You've talked about it with your podcast and everything. What we try to do with hard videos, it's like let's give people the tools so they can be their own guides, you know? And so you can take advantage of those situations and that's awesome like that. That's one of those things you just love. It's like I never would've had this, like this is a perfect little situation.
Kristin: 00:54:39 Yeah. And maybe people who are listening now, they end up visiting those places. And pass it forward. Or pay it forward as they say. Well I can't let you go without getting a few travel tips from you. Okay. So we'll do a quick lightning round here. What is a flight booking hack that you can recommend?
Mark: 00:55:02 So one thing I recommend is look on Skyscanner or kayak.com orgoogle.com, find the good deals, but then go buy the ticket direct from the airline. Because a lot of times what you'll see is you'll be able to find that good deal direct from the airline. Or if you find that deal, call up their customer care line and book on the phone. You might have to wait a while and do that callback in two hours kind of thing. Cause like yeah, experiencing longer than usual, blah.
Kristin: 00:55:26 high call volume.
Mark: 00:55:27 I will tell you buying direct from the airline gives you a much better chance of being the person that's not kicked off the plane and not bumped. Also, not just with flights, but also if you're looking with hotels, if you book for the third parties, you might not get your points. So if you're an IHG person or you're a Marriott or Hilton person like Marriott, if you book for booking.com, you don't get your Marriott points. And for some people that's a really big thing because they use that to pay for their hotels. And so, you know, just be aware of that. And it works. Sometimes it can work the same way with airlines. So if you wanna make sure you get your points book direct.
Kristin: 00:56:02 Yeah.
Mark: 00:56:03 But if you don't care about the points or maybe the airline you collect points with doesn't go to that destination, look at getting a combo like with Expedia or someone where you get the flight and the hotel. Cuz just buying one night of a hotel could get you a significantly discounted air flight or a plane ticket. But that usually only works if you're doing like a first class or a business class ticket. Not your like I only buy economy tickets cuz I ain't got the money for that fancy stuff. <laugh>. That would be one thing I would say
Kristin: 00:56:28 Yeah, I, I don't usually do those. I should look into that more often cuz Yeah a lot of times it's for the more luxury side of things.
Mark: 00:56:35 Yeah. But the thing is you just have to have one night in a hotel cuz it's getting subsidized and you don't have to use that hotel. You just have it and you get that deal. Because I have a friend of mine, he's a bigger guy like me, so he likes having more space. But when we travel together, like he's always in first class and I'm, you know, coach or <laugh>, I usually get, if I'm line with Delta I, I have no point like miles like bump me up to like the
Kristin: 00:56:57 Economy plus or something. Yeah,
Mark: 00:56:59 Yeah. And so, but he's always something. It's like yeah I have a hotel for first night if we can't get our car rental or we missed the trade, we've got the first night booked just to be safe. Cause he was telling me like he was saving like we're talking thousands, thousands on first class tickets. I was like dude, first off the fact that it's still thousands after it's gone down to thousands is pretty crazy.
Kristin: 00:57:18 Yeah. Are there any travel apps that you have on your phone that you use frequently?
Mark: 00:57:25 Honestly, the ones I use, I tell people all the time, whatever airline you're flying have their app because if there's any delays, anything you can change your flight right there. Two, if you're gonna be using the trains like in Europe or other countries, get the app on your phone cuz you can buy your tickets. You can change your tickets. You have all the schedules on there so you can see where you can go, where you can go have that on there and then maps.me and download the map in cities you're gonna go to and plan the places you wanna go. Because here's the thing is you can download that without using your data and then just use your gps. We'll track you along and so you can see, oh that's that restaurant I wanted to go to. That's the site I wanted to go to.
So those are the three big ones I usually use that. I have a translation. One is pretty good, but you can do Google Translator or something. There's not, there was one I really liked, of course now I can't think of the name of it. Whereas literally it would translate but it would keep everything in the font that the picture was in. So it wouldn't like change to like times new. But it'd be like, oh we have this University of Georgia, you know, mug here, University of Illinois mug, you know, and then it would have like with the University of Illinois logos and the University of Georgia logos Illinois, you know what I mean? Italian, it would translate into Italian but it would make it so it looked like it was done that way. It was so cool.
Kristin: 00:58:34 Oh Wow. I haven't seen that one.
Mark: 00:58:35 The first class flyer friend, he had that app.
Kristin: 00:58:38 Oh, of course.
Mark: 00:58:38 Yeah. So I'm gonna guess that app was maybe not free. So
Kristin: 00:58:41 <laugh>, is there anything that you'd bring with you when you travel? Like anything from home?
Mark: 00:58:48 Anything I bring from home? I don't really bring any mementos. There's things I always have with me. Like I always take a little fingernail clippers cuz usually when I travel I'll go for three to seven weeks. And so, you know, you gotta clip those things every week, otherwise it gets a little crazy.
Kristin: 00:59:02 Yeah.
Mark: 00:59:03 So I'll take one of those. I always have a travel lock, but I don't do the travel locks with a key or a card cause it's just something to lose. I just have a dial lock cuz then that's something I can just remember the number, A deck of Uno cards is always good. You travel with kids or cards and ja, if you, you have normal cards with adults. But we take Uno because even if people don't speak at the language, you don't speak their language. Everyone speaks the colors and the numbers. Yeah. And so that works. And you'll find out that there's different rules in Uno in different places. <laugh>. Cause like our Italian friends, like we wereNick Robo plane. I'm like, dude, what are you doing? You don't get to go twice. He's like, oh, Italian rules like we're Nicaragua us is close to, he's a US rule <laugh>, you know? And so we need to ask some local, we could, there wasn't a local at the hotel that knew UNO very well. So they're like, well I've heard both. I'm like, damnit,
Kristin: 00:59:51 That's funny. Uno games can escalate quickly. They get competitive. They people throw down with their Uno. Oh
Mark: 00:59:58 Yeah. You know couple. Uh, draw fours will end a friendship.
Kristin: 01:00:02 <laugh>. Oh my god. That's like a quote to live by <laugh>. Oh god. Okay. What's the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?
Mark: 01:00:13 Get to customs as fast as I can. <laugh>.
Kristin: 01:00:16 Okay. When you leave an airport
Mark: 01:00:18 I will speed locked through <laugh>. I will grab a snack, I'll grab a local snack. Usually we're in places where going, I already know thing. So if we're coming into Paris, I'm gonna go grab myself a croissant or a little pastry or something. If we're coming into Italy, I'm gonna go get a spritz, get a drink. But I went to Finland, so I used to live in Finland and how meals work. Then I ate out most nights for dinner and it's called Hesburger, which is their version of McDonald's, which is a little, I like it a lot better. And so every time I go to Finland I'm like, where's the closest Hesburger? Like I have to go, like I have to go there. Like I was there in June, you know, I got in, but my flight got delayed so I didn't get until like one in the morning. And my hotel, I like rolled in the hotel like 1:05 and there was like a late night one, they closed at one. I'm like, no. Like I can see them like they're pulling the windows down. I'm like, so that's the one thing usually is that, let's see my kids, when they go, the first thing they usually do is take off their shoes and socks and go jump on the bed and lay there. I'm like, we're gonna go out and see stuff.
Kristin: 01:01:23 They're already jet lagged <laugh>. That's me trying to stay awake when I land in Europe. What's your favorite way to get to know a new city?
Mark: 01:01:33 Okay, so I like to do my research beforehand so I have a good feel of it. But then what I'll do is I'll just walk around. Like I don't wanna do buses, I don't wanna do the, I wanna just walk. Yeah. And some cities you can walk and see like Rome you can walk forever and see, but there's some cities, like Kansas City is a cool city to visit, but you're gonna spend so much dang money on Ubers to go from spot because the city's just really long and there's different sections. So it's just like, it's hard to like explore it, you know? So I just love just walking and just walk, walk, walk, walk, see as much as I can. Like literally the first day will be the, the walk. Like once we leave the hotel, like we're gonna walk around, walk around, we're staying, walk a little bit far, let's go by a site and then end wherever we end up eating. Okay, now we're gonna walk back. My wife like can we just get the, I'm like we can see some more. Yeah. Will sleep better. I think she knows my trick now because she's like, no, I've got my own Lyft app so I'll meet you there.
Kristin: 01:02:26 oh well you can't see that much on the metro. Usually I like to take the tram. Yeah. My first thing is walking, my second preference is bike riding. And then the tram. Yeah. But I like to do a walking tour on the first day or something. I just like to get out and walk. And I did that also in Istanbul, which massive city. Yeah. But I actually did a full day tour and walked 17,000 steps or something and I walked back along the tram line back to my hotel and I felt like I had a really good lay of the land. There that first 24 hours.
Mark: 01:02:59 That's another little hack I'd like to tell people. Like if you're coming to a a big city and you don't really, if you're gonna be there a long time, but you're not sure, sometimes a hop on half buff bus can actually help you. Cause it'll show you the main sites. They give you a few of like what's there and they usually give you some history and some jokes and you're like, oh okay I got this. And they'll show us, yeah, pull some food stuff out to you. For Rome. I'm like, look, there's a lot of stuff to see if you don't have a lot of time, just do one round on that and you get an idea, then you can go explore and then you have a feel for that city at least, you know. So that's one thing. So
Kristin: 01:03:31 Yeah, I agree completely. And last question, if you could only visit three countries for the rest of your life, which countries would you choose and why?
Mark: 01:03:41 Three countries. Oh, France. I just love France. But the food's too good to pass up. I could not eat French food.
Kristin: 01:03:50 I love France.
Mark: 01:03:51 Those are tough questions because it's like if I was only gonna go back again then I guess I'd probably go another European when I go to Italy. Cause I have so many friends that are there and the culture and things that be that I'll take out the US cause that's where I'm from so I can't –US
Kristin: 01:04:05 Right. Okay. You get a free pass.
Mark: 01:04:07 I would probably go with Brazil just cause the beauty of the country. It's so beautiful. People are super friendly. I already speak Portuguese, so it makes my life easier for me. Brazil's my favorite place to go. I tells like Brazil's a great place to go if you speak Portuguese. If you do not speak Portuguese, it's a nice place to visit. Those three I'd be good. Just going back to those again and again.
Kristin: 01:04:29 Amazing. Well thank you so much for all of your insights and travel tips that you shared with us today. And where can people follow along with your journey and get access to all of those thousands of videos.
Mark: 01:04:41 So what you wanna do is whether you like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, whatever, just look up Wolter's world, W O L T E R S W O R L D and you will find us. And if you're not sure, just go on YouTube and put in the don'ts of visiting any country or city and we probably have a video that'll pop up. So I hope that helps and I look forward to helping you and having great travels for everybody. And thank you Kristin, for having me on. It's been a fun talk.
Kristin: 01:05:07 You're welcome. And I hope we get to hang out in person, eat some croissant soon. Heck yeah. Par–I think France is in my top three too, so.
Mark: 01:05:16 Awesome. All right, well thank you very much. I'll see you later. Bye everybody.
Kristin: 01:05:24 Bye. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. If so, why not share the love? You can support the show by leaving us a five star review wherever you listen. Or by sharing today's episode on social media or with a friend, coworker, or family member, you can also make a contribution to the show at www.badassdigitalnomads.com/support. There you'll find links to donate on PayPal, buy me a coffee, or by joining my Patreon, where for $5 per month, you get to preview my videos before they're published on YouTube and also participate in monthly private zoom hangouts with myself and other patrons. That's at badassdigitalnomads.com/support. Thank you so much and see you again next week.
Mark Wolters is an award-winning travel vlogger and educator. With a keen eye for honest travel advice Mark has been producing travel videos and blogs for over 14 years. His Wolters World travel YouTube channel has over 200,000,000 views and 900,000 subscribers. When Mark is not traveling the world with his family, he is a Teaching Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was recognized by Poets and Quants as one of the top 50 undergraduate business professors and has received numerous other teaching awards. On his Professor Wolters education channel Mark strives to make marketing and social media education accessible to all people.