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You recently visited Serbia and Montenegro. Tell us about your experiences there.
The Balkans are relatively unexplored by everyone outside of Central Europe. What a fascinating area it is. There’s been a lot of conflicts here for years because of the region’s geographical location. The regions all used to be part of a giant, affluent country that fell apart in a terrible civil war. The recency of that violence still reverberates, although you’ll find the people welcoming and open-hearted. In fact, this is what I like most about the region: how fast you can get to a real, raw conversation with someone.
Tell us what to expect from your new show, Road Less Travelled.
What I like the most about this show is producer Sashi De’s style. He basically gave me the autonomy to create these episodes from legitimate experiences. Believe it or not, we’ve literally begun episodes with not a single thing arranged. It’s a little nerve wracking with a deadline approaching; however, if you open up your senses and look for it, the story always emerges.
Apart from trying to milk a reindeer in Finland, climbing volcanoes, and finding monasteries that make alcohol, what other crazy things have you encountered in your travels?
I sneaked into an abandoned nuclear missile silo in Russia (hopefully they are not angry with me about that!), took an oil tanker to Antarctica, and was in a room with five cobras slithering around in Vietnam.
Are there any personal travel hacks while visiting foreign countries that you swear by?
There is practical advice like keeping a separate cash stack, placing your second credit card behind your phone case, etc. The best tip I can offer is not to get caught up in seeing ‘the best’ and leave plenty of room for the serendipitous. If your trip is a series of checklists, it will be less memorable than if you have some days where you let the events of a day, and the people you meet, lead you naturally from one thing to the next. The magic is in the unexpected moments.
You seem to have been to almost every country there is to visit. So what’s next on your wishlist?
This summer I’d like to visit Georgia and the Caucasus Mountains. There is a remarkable amount of cultural diversity in those mountains which seem to be like a net, catching a huge portion of our ancestors as they migrated out of Africa to spread around the world. I have a deep sense that there is much to discover in these regions.
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