Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 4 – Mike Collins

March 18, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Today’s guest is Mike Collins, the founder of Exotic Visitors travel blog.

Mike Collins

Adventures with the family

1) What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I grew up in a little fishing village in Maine. Every day we would head out to sea where the horizon was just an empty line. I guess the vanishing point had some sort of magnetic pull for me to see what was there. Traveling always makes me feel like I am fulfilling a childhood dream. It keeps me young and inquisitive.

2)  What is your favorite place in the world?

There are so many wonderful places across the globe but if I had to choose a favorite I would have to say Clonakilty Ireland. My family and namesake are from there. When I visit I feel a deep sense of home.

3) What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

Colon, Panama. I love Panama but that city is the lowest place I have ever seen.

4)  What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

No matter where you are in the world, never say “The way we do it back home…” . Learn from the culture by being part of it. Trying to fit in to a new location is so much more rewarding than comparing. I have learned to be comfortable in just about any conditions that way.

5)  How has traveling changed you as a person?

To sum it up in a single word I would have to say tolerance. Routine often leaves people with a single mindset. The way people have adapted to their environments creates cultural differences but deep down the basic emotions of people are universal. The same hopes, desires and fears exist in the hearts of people sitting in a London West End theater as they do in hearts of those sitting around a fire in an Amazonian rain forest.

Mike Collins

What makes it all worth it, my youngest, Hailey

6)  Have you ever volunteered during your travels?  If so, what did you do?  If not, will you ever?

I have done a lot of volunteering around the world. Everything from building sailing dinghies for disabled children to school houses for the Ngobe Indians. There is truly no better way to immerse one’s self into a culture than to contribute. The rewarding feeling cannot be put into words. It is like describing a sunset to a blind man; you have to experience it to understand.

7)  What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?

If you have a list of reasons why you cannot travel now but will in the future, chances are that list will always be there. Just go and see the world.

8 )  Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?

Live like a local. The cost of living is pretty low in most of the best places to visit. Shop where they shop, eat what they eat and be entertained by what entertains them. It is so much cheaper and far more rewarding.

9) Where do you plan to travel this year?

I am pretty lucky. I have six children. They range from 18 months to 28 years.  The oldest ones have sailed around the world with me and seen a multitude of wonderful places. Now I get to experience it all over again with my youngest through her eyes. I am starting at the beginning where I grew up in coastal Maine. We will be visiting a lot of islands and spend an enormous amount of time exploring the crawly things on seaweed strewn rocky beaches.

At dinner, enjoying the view

10)  What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?

Ignoring the obvious camera etc… , I have to say with 30 years of exploring behind me, travel is kind of like vanilla ice cream. I love it but my wife and daughter are the toppings that make it a wonderful treat.  So family is my number one “can’t do without.”

The second is what I call my constant. I always bring a book from my childhood like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island or Moby Dick. When I start to feel a little out of place these books snap me right back to my comfort zone. It makes adjusting to a different culture quick and painless.

A wonderful little piece of technology has made my life so much easier, the digital pen recorder. Whenever I pass a restaurant, street or sight that I want to return to later I record it so that I can easily describe it to taxi drivers. When bombarded with so many sights of a new place it is easy to forget.

Thanks for sharing your unique point of view with the rest of us, Mike!

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