Escape through Travel
Exploring Petra. Snorkeling with whale sharks in South Africa. Bungee jumping in New Zealand. Raymond Walsh explores the world and shares it with us, on his site, Man on the Lam. It's a funny look at the world - and I am always learning something new (and smiling, or laughing) when I head there. From 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Hotels to Why Do We Travel? to The World is Flat and You Can Be Too, this is one site that I just LOVE. I'm really pleased to share it with our readers!
Raymond Walsh - Sapa Vietnam Hill Tribe Trek
We caught up with Raymond and got the backstory to his site, travels, and sage advice and travel tips. Here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about Man on the Lam...
RW: Man on the Lam is a travel site that focuses on the humorous and offbeat side of travel. I like to say that a sense of humor is the best travel companion, so hopefully that pokes through every now and then.
WE: What was the genesis of your site?
RW: I started Man on the Lam on January 1, 2011 as – get this -- a New Year’s resolution. I had wanted to get into blogging for a while, and like so many things, I kept saying, “One day…” but that day never came. In actuality, it did come many times, but I was too busy on the couch shovelling Pringles into my gob to notice. So just before Christmas, I fished out a self-help book that I had read years before. In one of those exercises where you work on your “life purpose” I had written “To use my sense of humor and adventurous spirit to make people laugh.” I took it as a sign. In retrospect, I should’ve put something about making money at it in there too.
WE: How can travel sites truly get across a sense of place, and experience?
RW: I think being honest is a good start. Not every experience or place is as rosy as the brochure, so to only portray the positive is misleading and serves no one. Plus there’s heaps of comedy in things going wrong.
Also I think some of the best travel writing out there evokes at least some sort of emotion – anger, pity, longing, or even just a chuckle. I’m aiming for the chuckle crowd. But pity and longing folks are welcome too.
Great White shark cage dive in S Africa
WE: You focus on the funny and offbeat - is it difficult to keep a sense of humor during your travels, or is it your MO?
RW: I would say it is definitely my MO. I come from fence-sitting, peacekeeping, armchair-comic folk, so it takes a lot to get me riled up. I’m wired to look for the positive or humorous in most every experience, no matter how dismal it may appear at the time. A smile or a laugh goes a long way in sticky situations.
WE: How can travelers best dig deeply into a culture/new place?
RW: Lately I’ve had a problem with planning, so I’m taking a stab at slow travel. Basing yourself in one area for an extended time you’re more apt to get the bigger picture. If you’re just storming from site to site, you’re not really getting a sense of what the people in that country are like. You’re getting a sense of what the ticket booths, check-in counters, and buses are like, and what the people who man those places are like. And usually, they’ve seen way too many people like you already that day.
But I think if you really want to get a handle on a country’s culture, either teach or volunteer there. Or spend some time in a prison. But the first two look much better on a résumé.
WE: What are your top tips for traveling off the beaten path?
RW: Ditch the guidebook for starters. There’s a whole world outside of Lonely Planet, and things at a lot of the “recommended” places tend to go downhill after they get that coveted plug.
Stay in local digs whenever possible. Guesthouses run by expats tend to be well-run, but you’re not getting the full experience -- you’re getting an American breakfast, or bangers and mash.
And take the cheapest bus you can find. Unless you want to meet people like yourself.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
RW: Just this…
Be not afraid. Most are there to help, not to harm.
Be not judgmental. It’s not wrong, it’s just different.
Be not an ass. Remember, you are a guest.
WE: Thanks so very much, Raymond! We highly recommend your site to our Wandering Educators!
Feature Photo - on the Peruvian Amazon
All photos courtesy and copyright Raymond Walsh.