Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Michael Fuller
Occupation: Officially? I worked as an engineer on three different continents before becoming an energy efficiency/carbon management consultant in Perth. But you might call independent travel my pre-occupation! I’ve negotiated 2-3 months of travel into each of the last ten years. But all that’s about to change…
Because I’ve just quit (a job I loved) to focus on travel photography, story-telling, and sharing advice. I launched the ONE Project to help others travel simpler, improve photography, connect meaningfully with local people, and create serendipity.
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Residence: None, for at least the next year
College: University of British Columbia
Facebook: Fuller’s travel / photo / ONE Project
YouTube: Michael Fuller
How many countries have you been to? With respect to everyone who does—I actually don’t count! Let me tell you why:
After uni I spent 2 months traveling through China, learning mandarin, speaking to random people in third-class trains, and reading extensively about their history and culture. What did I learn? That the country has a billion people’s worth of stories, art, culture, philosophy and history. And at least 3000 years of it! My sense of our world’s scale ballooned…and blew my mind. Since then I’ve travelled to other countries rich in history and complex in culture, like India, like Indonesia (the latter four times!). And I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, culturally and geographically.
So now instead of counting countries, I count how lucky I am! Lucky to have had the opportunity for so many extraordinary experiences around this amazing planet. Even if they were in my own backyard.
How many continents have you been to? All the proper ones. (I’m saving Antarctica, like a frozen dessert.)
Earliest travel memory: Wandering around Disney World, streeeeetching up to reach my mother’s hand. One of my earliest memories, full stop!
Favorite American city: I haven’t seen much of America, but Seattle seems nice—and it’s not far from Canada ;)
Favorite international city: Fremantle, Western Australia.
Friendliest people in the world: Burmese, but Indonesians a close second.
Favorite international airport: Changi, Singapore. Where else can you find artwork, video games, a cactus garden, comfortable reclining chairs, and a butterfly forest!
Favorite island: Sulawesi, home to the fascinating cultures of Toraja and Bajau people, the 11th largest in the world. It’s also has the strangest shape of any island.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: The little restaurants and street vendors selling baozi (steam buns) everywhere in Beijing.
Favorite fruit: Jackfruit.
Favorite food: Sushi.
Least favorite food: Dog (though they make fine pets).
Favorite travel show(s): Pilot Guides/Globe Trekker. Ian Wright’s hilarious, adventurous spirit and respect for local cultures really inspired my own attitudes to travel, and life.
Favorite travel book(s): “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing. It should come in handy when I visit Antarctica.
Right now I am reading: “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau (fittingly, considering I’ve just quit my day job).
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: National Geographic, Atlas Obscura, and Nomadic Matt.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Given my upcoming trip to the ‘stans, Caravanistan is proving exceptionally useful. And I’m a frequent contributor to Wikitravel and Atlas Obscura.
What do you always seem to forget? A pen in my carry-on, for immigration paperwork. The flight attendants don’t like sharing theirs. I promised them I wouldn’t forget mine again!
What do you like least about travel? Not being able to prepare meals with my Japanese kitchen knives. They slice and dice every vegetable into pure bliss.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Getting conned in Zambia. It was my first day travelling in Africa after working three months in a copper mine. But I got my money’s worth the next day, because I found the thief….
Worst travel moment: Getting arrested in China (and narrowly missing a subsequent terrorist attack).
What’s your dream destination? Wherever I’m off to next—in this case, Kyrgyzstan. Reading books about my next destination in the weeks before I leave builds my excitement and anticipation. (It also gives me some context to understand and thus appreciate the radically different cultures of our planet.)
Best travel tip: Eat at the locals’ favourite spots, take public transit (be it motorbike taxis or chicken-buses), and try your best to learn the language (especially local slang). You’ll save money, open your mind to new cultural norms, and open your heart to allow connections with wonderful local people and serendipitous experiences.
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