Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dave of Dave's Travel Corner


Dave is an International travel writer who has been writing professionally since 1996. He is a member of the International Food Travel & Wine Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association. California raised, he co-founded a collegiate Solar Racing Team which designed & built a solar car from scratch. He runs a website promoting currently undefeated WBA World Super Middleweight champion, Andre Ward ( www.andre-ward.com)  is involved with VinoVisit (a reservation service for wineries) and is a partner in MyVideoVisa.com, a new online personal travel video sharing site.

His latest endeavor is The Napa Wine Project (www.napawineproject.com ) which has taken more than 5 years to date and is expected to be an initial 8-10 year project that involves wine tasting at all Napa Valley commercial wine producers. He has personally visited, tasted & reviewed 650+ commercial Napa wine
producers to date. His first book titled 'The Freeways of Los Angeles' was published in 2010.

He enjoys the outdoors, writing, photography, mountain climbing, meeting people, the Internet and experiencing other cultures. What could possibly combine all these varied interests....why, travel of course! Dave is most at home in Bangkok, Los Angeles, the Napa Valley or California's Eastern or far Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Contact: http://www.About.Me/davestravelcorner

What is the current place you are traveling to?

Every winter my wife and I visit her country (Thailand) for at least 6-8 weeks. This year we are leaving in two weeks for a short stay in Thailand and then continuing to South Africa and Botswana for all of January and will visit Ethiopia before heading back to Thailand. Neither one of us enjoys cold weather - and not only is this not only an opportunity for us to "warm" up - but to visit her family as well, and use Bangkok as a hub to visit other regions.

What is your thought process like when you're writing an article?

I try to make an article interesting - my writing usually takes two forms - free form which is more journalistic in style and guide book type writing where I'm highlighting where I stayed, what I ate, visited etc - to create an itinerary for someone who wants to visit the same region. My free form journalistic writing is mostly for myself and my guide book writing is to help others. Since most of my articles are online - aside from trying to make my own writing engaging for the reader, I also try to include video and photography.

You could have any super power. What would it be?

To immediately place myself anywhere on the planet. This of course would eliminate the "journey" but at the same time logistical nightmares that invariably crop up with International travel, not to mention jet lag!

How do you define success?

I define success as a lifestyle - its not necessarily monetary in nature although having enough money for a comfortable but no extravagant living is important. It is a lifestyle where I follow what makes me happy and at the same time help enrich the lives of others.

How do you handle rejection?

I immediately pound one of my fists through the wall! No seriously, I deal with it and move on. I try to find out the reasons for the rejection. I don't have time to dwell on negativity.

Did you always want to create your own company?

No. Growing up I had no idea I would be in business for myself and or involved in a variety of interesting projects. I thought I would get a 9-5 job and work for someone else. I met someone during college who turned me on to trying new things, foods, culture, experiences etc and that broadly opened my horizons. My passions and interests never integrated with office work.

What inspired you to create "Dave's Travel Corner"?

I took a life changing trip to Nepal in 1996. It was the first major International trip that opened my eyes to a non 'western' culture and way of living. I began writing a journal while I was on the trip and it was my notes from this journal that became the foundation for Dave's Travel Corner. I also became deathly sick from food poisoning and altitude sickness while trekking up to Everest Base Camp and had to be carried down in the dark in the middle of the night on the back of our guide's shoulders. He left me with a woman in a stone hut (she also descended with us) where I promptly filled up a large bowl by throwing up all night. It was frozen solid in the morning and I was so weak I could not stand up or walk.

The lady had a backpack with her as well as my small pack. She would carry both our packs ahead on the trail some distance, drop them down, come back for me, pick me up and hang me from her back in a crudely fashioned sling we made from one of the sleeping bags and then carry me further down the trail past the backpacks, drop me off and repeat it again. This happened all day until we finally reached a low enough elevation where I could get some help, lie down and recover.

What is the best thing about traveling?

For me it is exploring. Whether it is going to countries that do not see a lot of tourists, or visiting places I have never been before. This can be both in rural environments or in big cities. I'm very comfortable in both situations. I also enjoy interacting with "locals".

As one of my favorite singers, Don Williams says in one of his songs:

"Well, I love to wander ... On a sandy shore And I love to wander ...Down the streets of towns I’ve never been before".

What is the worst thing about it?

Jet lag, getting sick, getting taken advantage of.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

As far as projects that have meant something in my life - somewhere near 20 or so...ranging from a solar car, to Internet work to travel to video to wine.

How has your life changed since you started your company?

It has given me the flexibility to work for myself and create my own hours. Part of my work can be done anywhere in the world as long as I have an Internet connection. I would love to be entirely "location independent" but some of my projects require I be at home. A travel writer must travel - and this career has certainly opened up trips perhaps I otherwise would not have taken.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to start their own company and/or travel?

It takes time and be prepared to put in long hours. However, if its a passion then the long hours almost become irrelevant for a number of years. Be persistent - talk to those who are already doing what you want to do. Pick their brain. Find out what works and what doesn't. With that said, experience is still a good teacher. Make mistakes and learn from them.

What do you like to do when your not working?

Work and play have almost become integrated for me. However non work activities include mountain biking, gold mining (it is California after all!) and the rare trips where I take a break from writing. I love the mountains so if things get too crazy I drop everything and head out for some camping for a few days. Every year I love just "being" in my wife's small village in Thailand. This involves doing a lot of "nothing" or a little bit of something - usually helping in the garden or shopping for food in small nearby markets.

We didn't have land line phone service or Internet in the village until two years ago. It was nice to be able to take a break from this. I was just at the Biltmore in Santa Barbara yesterday and was reminded of how busy and fractured people's lives have become even during meals. I was surrounded by people eating who weren't talking to each other but rather were sitting at a table with each other engrossed in their respective phones or the film producer talking on a phone the entire time while his guest sat at the table buried in his own cell phone. The Santa Barbara Biltmore is certainly not a bad place to be - especially on a clear warm day with beauty of the Channel Islands lingering just offshore.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to create your company?

Other than odd temporary jobs when I was in high school and college, no.

What are some of the most dangerous places you've traveled to?

I drove out to the Iraq border a few years ago from Kuwait City - an area where trucks had been attacked or bombed in prior years. Security was fairly adamant about getting me away from the border as soon as possible. Parts of Eastern Kenya on the coastline felt a bit dodgy (north of Mombasa) - especially with men patrolling the beaches all night, armed with machine guns. I was in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire before the violence earlier this year and parts of the cityat night certainly felt unsafe.

Have you ever been hurt while you were traveling?

I haven't been hurt physically - but I've gotten altitude sickness and food poisoning many times while traveling. Both are terrible and completely disrupt a trip but at least you do recover.

How does independent film differ from the mainstream?

From my limited perspective I think Independent film makers can take more risks than those making traditional mainstream Hollywood produced movies. Independent film makers can also appeal to more niche audiences than a Hollywood film which in my opinion is focused entirely on the bottom line. It becomes a big business. Hollywood is a massive business. When I'm driving in Los Angeles I always wonder what percentage of people driving next to me are involved somehow in the entertainment industry. When you have huge amounts of money involved I think compromise becomes key - and perhaps the Hollywood film director may not always have the final say or be allowed to express their own creativity throughout the film.

You could time travel to any ancient city? Which one would it be and why?

Giza during the construction of the great Pyramids. I visited the pyramids for the first time last year and was amazed at just how huge these are - especially taking into account that they were the tallest "buildings" for 4000 years! I would have loved to have seen the process first hand of how these were built and the sheer effort that went into constructing these.

Do you believe in life on other planets?

Yes. There are too many stars and planets in our own galaxy and all the other galaxies in the universe for it to be otherwise - and at our period in history our perspective and knowledge is probably the size of a neutron in relation to the entire universe. We know its big - just how big is it really? This can become complicated real fast.

What's your favorite quote and why?

This one happens to be my own:

"Ownership of most things is overrated. Ownership of worldly experiences is not."

Is there anything else you would like to add?

John - thanks for reaching out to do this interview.People can connect with me on twitter @davedtc - or through my travel site, Dave's Travel Corner - www.davestravelcorner.com