Q&A With Michael Hodson: Circling the Globe Without Flying
As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we contact travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Last week, we featured Andrew Evans from National Geographic. Today, we’re happy to share an interview with Michael Hodson from GoSeeWrite, a lawyer turned world traveler who reached out to us with his incredible bus adventures after reading our feature on his good friend Ayngelina.
Michael Hodson is a former attorney from Arkansas who took off in December of 2008 to circle the planet without flying. As you can imagine, he’s had his fair share of bus rides by choosing land transportation for his travel. We’re happy to feature him today as part of our Q&A series with travel bloggers.
1. Where are you now, and where are you headed next in your travels?
I am in Bangkok, Thailand. I am actually headed to my folks’ home in California in about a week for the holidays. After missing out on that for three years in a row, my family basically put their foot down last year, so I try to make it back home for a few weeks at the end of the year now.
2. I know Cape Town, South Africa, is one of your favorite cities. One of our friends, WanderingEarl, is actually in South Africa at the moment with some fellow travel bloggers like @TravelBlggr. What piece of advice would you give them or anyone else planning a visit to South Africa?
I wish I could give more general South Africa advice, but I loved Cape Town so much, that is where I basically concentrated for the two or so weeks I was there in 2009. A couple things in Cape Town and the area though: (1) climb Lion’s Head. The view from up there of Table Mountain, the city bowl and the beaches is far better from Cape Town itself; (2) hit the wine country nearby — no need to elaborate too much on that, but some of the best, cheaper wines in the world; (3) if you are up for adventure, try the Great White shark cage diving that is centered in the small towns about two hours from Cape Town, easily accessible by tour group from town.
3. Last week during #TNI, travelers talked a lot about architecture. What’s the most unique building or monument you’ve encountered during your travels, and why?
It is hard to beat Machu Picchu for not only being a set of amazing buildings, but also just “what the heck were they thinking building this up here??!!” If you go, make sure you get to the gates before they open and then walk straight through to the other side, so you can get one of the few daily tickets to climb nearby Wannapicchu, which has some amazing views back from way over the top of Manchupicchu.
4. You’ve also traveled extensively by bus. Do you have an interesting bus story to tell us?
I just wrote recently about one of my constant bus stories — what’s up with the Air Con??. It never ceases to amaze me when I get on a bus in a country where it is hotter than Hades and the Air Con is set so high that you can almost see your breath. Or…. its broken and you fry.
5. In 2009-2010, you circled the world without flying. What was idea behind this, and what did you find rewarding about using ground transportation as opposed to flying?
The idea was partly just a good challenge, partly just something that people don’t normally do, and partly to get good fodder for a book, which I am writing next year. I fell in love with ground travel as a result. Personally, I think it is not only much, much better for the environment than flying, but you get a much greater sense of a place and of how just plain huge our planet is when you travel by ground transport. I am a strong advocate of staying on the ground as much as you can afford time-wise.
6. Finally, what makes you want to keep traveling? How to do you keep it fresh?
Well at this point I’ve been abroad for 36 months and visited 65 countries of pretty straight full-time travel and I keep it fresh because I love it. The internet is a great equalizer these days for travel, not only for research and inspiration, but also as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, so as to avoid the lonely times. Fortunately, I am doing what I love — seeing the world. I work a heck of a lot while I am on the road, trying to make enough money to keep traveling, but when my office is in Cape Town or Istanbul or Zanzibar or Siem Reap or Medellin…. who am I to complain?
All photos by Michael Hodson.