Jeff's blog

Who’s Out There Now: Todd

Written By: jeff

Posted On: April 26th, 2011


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Todd out wandering. Copyright

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Todd who runs the site, Todd’s Wanderings. While he’s been traveling for the better part of the last decade, he recently gained some attention from being in Japan during the recent earthquake. In order to help his wife’s country and raise awareness on how people can help, he started the Blog4Japan movement.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

At the moment I’m in Kosovo. I’ve been here for the past 1 ½ years working for the United Nations.

2. You wrote about your experience during the earthquake and the immediate aftermath.   What lessons did you learn to give to travelers about how to be prepared in case they find themselves unexpectedly in the middle of a natural disaster?

Luckily, or unluckily for me, I’ve been a part of civil wars and other natural disasters. I don’t want to say you get used to them…but in a way you do. The most important thing is to stay calm. I know, easier said than done. The next step is make sure you can help yourself, know where a safe place is (ie school, police department, embassy etc), where you can get water, where a flash light is, and the other basics. Be prepared to help others just like you would like them to help you. Run away fast if you have to, but try not to forget your passport and other essential documents.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Todd praying at a temple. Copyright

3. You write about travel politics dealing with topics like giving money to beggars, bribery of officials and traveling in turbulent zones. You don’t see those topics a lot on travel sites and blogs. Why focus on those topics?

Travel is more than just sunsets and mojitos on the beach. I love those things too, but travel is real life, and if you step out of the comfort of the all inclusive resort you are going to be smacked over the head with the way things work in other countries. Travel can make us better people, but it can also cause us to shut out the rest of the world if we haven’t come to grips with our own sense of right and wrong. I hope that by sharing my own encounters and honest experiences with these difficult issues that it will help others when they face them. I’m also a sucker for a good story, and the edges of society have given me a lot to talk about on my infrequent trips back home.

4. How has your travel style changed since you first started traveling back in 1999?

After 6 years on the road I went back to the US for graduate school to pursue my current work as a conflict resolution specialist (2004-2006). I have spent my entire adult working life abroad (ok, I spent 3 months in San Francisco doing an internship). When I first set out I thought I had to see everything at once as I’d eventually “settle down” back in the US, as you can tell this never happened. Now I like to set up shop in a region for a few years and really explore it deeply. I like to work in the area and then take side trips when I have time. I also have more money now and tend to turn down the $2 a night rooms. I have changed careers and gotten married on the road, and this year we will welcome our first son. Neither my wife nor I plan to slow down and we look forward to introducing our son to the rest of the world.

5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your travels?

Nomadic adventure as a career!


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

6. I noticed that South America is a big hole in your wanderings (he writes from his home office in Bogota, Colombia)? Todd, why do you hate Latin America?

Man, I hate a culture that loves to dance, eat great food, is inexpensive and has some of the world’s most beautiful nature and cultural sites! Actually, I’ve been to Latin America and love it. I have explored Peru extensively and hiked through the Andes. It’s just not on my blog because I started it in 2006. That leaves 7 years of travel that hasn’t made it onto the blog! I’m starting to correct this by writing narrative travel stories like Fighting Fires in Luange Prabang, Laos. I’m hoping to get back to Latin America soon, but well, the wind doesn’t always blow in the direction we want it to. Who would have ever thought I’d live in Sri Lanka for 3 years and then end up in Kosovo.

7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?

It doesn’t cost as much as you think. Just book your ticket and go now, even if you have to take a little debt out (stress on LITTLE). Chances are over the next 12 months you will waste that money on something silly like parking tickets and decaffeinated coffee. The world is a generally happy place and people are thrilled to meet someone from far away.


travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Caught up in a herd of sheep. Copyright

8. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?

I was in Japan, it was 1998, and I discovered the wonderful world of beer vending machines.

9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

Living with a family on a small island in the middle of Lake Titicaca, Peru and playing soccer with the village at 3,800 meters. Talk about a workout, and those old guys are fast! See, I don’t hate Latin America.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Todd with his wife. Copyright

10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Playing Santa Claus at a kindergarten in Japan. After all the children sat on my lap the teachers than made the young (HOT) teacher sit on my lap and tell me what she wanted for Christmas…a boyfriend. The parents and teachers thought it was cute….

11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

Take it one day at a time, take it slow, walk, look people in the eyes, and smile first. Everything else will follow.

travel advice, career break advice, travel the world, career break travel

Hanging out with the local police. copyright

12. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far: Gyoza (fried dumplings) in Japan with beer
  • Most exotic food eaten: Raw horse
  • Most breathtaking moment: The reddest sunrise over Lake Titicaca
  • Biggest disappointment: Singapore’s Merlion statue…seriously, take that out of the guidebooks
  • Most memorable place: Inca trail on the way to Machu Pichu
  • Most memorable person: A carpenter who abandoned to world to live in a mountain top Buddhist temple on Shikoku, Japan
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride: The seat next to you free
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: A big white due who sweats a lot sitting next to you
  • Best thing you packed: My knife with bottle and wine opener
  • Dumbest thing you packed: Pack safe wire mesh case for backpacks. It weighs a ton and I never used it.
  • Funniest travel habit you have: Reading English signs out load whenever I see them…ok, I dance and talk to myself in hotel rooms
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Myanmar

You can follow Todd online at Todd’s Wanderings on Facebook and on Twitter @ToddWassel

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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5 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now: Todd”

  1. Sheep AND local police – you do like interesting groups. <laugh> Great read and dig the pics as well.

  2. Yeah, I think the sheep where more dangerous :) Actualy the police where Malaysian peacekeepers in East Timor who were really excited to take a picture with me.

  3. I love Todd's writings and though we've only met virtually, I count him a friend. I learned some new things about him in this article (love your questions, Jeff), most importantly the fact that Todd's going to be a father soon! Congrats.

  4. Nicole says:

    I’m fascinated with Todd’s career/travel lifestyle! Yes Todd, more narrative travel stories! :) And congrats to you and your wife on the upcoming birth of your son!

  5. Hi Nichole, thanks :) Yes, more travel stories are on the way! I have been compiling a list of all my craziest stories that I was going to write a book with but have not decided to drip into my blog.

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