Busbud Stories

Q&A with Wandering Earl: Lessons Learned From 12 Years Of Traveling

Wandering Earl in Transylvania
Wandering Earl spends Halloween in Transylvania, Fall 2011

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we’ve contacted well-known travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Today we’re happy to feature an interview with Wandering Earl, a permanent nomad who’s been on the road for the past 12 years.

On December 25th, 1999, Derek Earl Baron left the USA for a three-month, post-graduation trip to Southeast Asia, and has since visited 70+ countries over 6 continents. He’s part of a new breed of explorers who travel the world in order to learn about cultural diversity, broaden their world view and participate in the worldwide community as global citizens. He’s an inspiration to our team at Busbud and we’re happy to feature him today.

1. This past month, you’ve been traveling in Romania. Can you give us some highlights? And where are you headed next?

Romania was an interesting place for me and the highlights are definitely the medieval towns and villages in Transylvania, of which there are many. The two that really caught my attention were the city of Brasov and the small town of Sighisoara, which happens to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian prince who was the inspiration for the Dracula character in Bram Stoker’s novel. I don’t know about you but I believe that a traveler can never get bored of spending time in such locations where life seems to have stood still for centuries. It’s always a mesmerizing experience to wander around a medieval town, no matter how many you visit. With that said, the capital city of Bucharest was also a major highlight for me. There really isn’t much to do or see in this city but I found that, if you stick around long enough, it becomes quite an addicting destination, with it’s small but vibrant Old City and what I consider to be some of the warmest people I’ve met in the entire region of Eastern Europe.

After Romania, I traveled to Istanbul, where I am now. From here I will return to the US for 8 days to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family and then I will fly out to South Africa for a quick three week trip.

2. You describe yourself as a permanent nomad. What are the challenges that come with this lifestyle?

There are many challenges but the biggest one involves not having a permanent base to call home. Having to constantly move around, find a place to stay, learn the basics of new languages, learn the new transportation system, etc, can be exhausting. Sometimes I wish I had my own place somewhere that I could return to when I’m feeling tired, a place that I can call home so that I know I have a comfortable bed to rest in whenever I need one. Another challenge involves the constant need to say goodbye, to both people and places. I’ve met many amazing people on the road and seen many amazing destinations, however, there always comes a time when I inevitably must pack up my backpack and move on to the next country. And it’s difficult to do, especially when I make new friends who I would love to spend time with and when I find a country that I really connect with. All of those goodbyes really does take its toll over time.

Wandering Earl in Sighisoara, Romania
Medieval town in Sighisoara, Romania

3. You’ve told me that communicating with your readers is by far the most rewarding aspect of writing a travel blog. What’s the most memorable comment you’ve ever received from a reader?

This might sound strange but every comment and email I receive from readers puts a huge smile on my face. Even after two years I have a hard time accepting the fact that people are interested in the blog and that they find what I write to be inspiring. Of course, whenever I receive a comment from a reader who has decided to change the direction of their life and go after their travel dreams as a result of reading the blog, I can barely contain my excitement. That’s when I know that all of the hard work, all of the hours in front of my laptop, have all been worth it.

4. At Busbud, we’re working to help make life easier for bus travelers. From your experience riding on buses in Syria, India and other countries, which one was the most bus friendly?

I’m a huge bus fan myself and I’d say that there are many countries that offer excellent bus systems. India probably offers the most extensive and cheapest bus system on the planet, but I would have to say that countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Thailand offer the best bus networks in terms of efficiency, comfort and value. Taking buses in those three countries is almost always a fully enjoyable experience.

5. Finally, you’ve been on the road for 12 years now. What’s the most important human lesson you’ve learned so far?

People are good. It’s as simple as that. The overwhelming majority of people on this planet want to live a simple life, with enough money to feed their family and provide shelter over their heads. People don’t want to have enemies, they don’t want to fight wars and they don’t want to fill their lives with hatred. And if we could all realize that this is how people think, whether they live in North America, Europe, Afghanistan, Peru, Sri Lanka or Papua New Guinea, this world would be a significantly more peaceful place.

Thanks Earl!

To read more about Wandering Earl, check out his blog and follow his travels on Twitter and Facebook. If you know bus travelers you’d like us to interview, please contact us.