Gary has been blogging about his travel since 2007 and has visited more than 240 UNESCO WHS already. For those of you on the GoUNESCO mailing list, you can now understand the detailed email Gary had sent about WHS recently. He is also an award winning photographer and his travel blog has been counted on top 10 global blogs lists several times. He has written for CNN, BBC, The Atlantic and National Geographic too. Read more about him on Everywhere-Everything, Gary’s website and blog.
When I (Ajay) wrote to him first, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he already knew about GoUNESCO. Let’s catch up with him and know more about him.
- Q – A simple one, how many passports are you through with?
Gary Arndt (GA) – I’m on my 2nd passport in 6 years. Both had extra pages put in and I’ve almost filled the second one. Together it around 130 pages of passport stamps.
- Q – From a technology entrepreneur to travel, how were the first few days of this big transition?
GA – There is little you can do to prepare yourself for traveling full time. You just have to do it and then adjust to live on the road once it happens. Other than taking care of gear and financial matters, traveling is mostly a matter of will and desire.
- Q – Of the 242 UNESCO WHS you have visited, do any stand out? Are there any that you would like to visit again?
GA – Many world heritage sites stand out. Some of them I really question why they were ever put on the list, but most were very pleasant surprises. There are several sites I would like to revisit, mostly because they were under renovation when I visited them. Most recently Margravial Opera House Bayreuth and Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch, both of which are in Germany.
- Q – How do you usually choose the next place to visit?
GA – Where I go often depends on opportunity. I’m in Italy now because I’m running a photography tour from Venice to Rome. I arrived a week early to visit world heritage sites in Italy (which as you know has the largest number of any country in the world). Last week I visited three sites in Emilia-Romagna and tomorrow I’ll go to Verona to visit 3 sites in the area.
- Q -You started traveling and travel writing a long time back and have since seen the growth of google, digital cameras, social media and the internet in general. Have you noticed any significant changes in travel because of these recent and not-so-recent developments? Do you see any significant technology trends that might affect travel in a big way?
GA – Digital devices are making travel easier. When I started back in 2007, there was no iPhone. Today you can get a sim card for your phone in any country and have any information you need anywhere.
- Q – You must have met several other travelers on your travels – do you think there is a common characteristic, a DNA that runs through all travelers? Is there something which tells you right away that a person you just met is a traveler?
GA – I think most long term travelers enjoy the freedom which travel provides and have a very independent spirit. At the same time, some people are just not made for it.
- Q – How has travel affected you as a person?
GA – I don’t think travel has changed me that much. I think I’m still fundamentally the same person. The biggest change is in how I few possessions.
- Q – And the last one, you probably did expect – any plans of visiting India in the near future? 🙂
GA – I get this question a lot. I have many readers from India. India is a very big country. I don’t want to just show up, see the Taj Mahal and leave. I’m hoping to visit next year and hopefully see a large number of world heritage sites in the country.