When it comes to adventure travel, Ted Nelson has been doing it for 30 years. Starting as a 10 year old kid with his dad, he has hiked, canoed, and trekked his way across some of the best outdoor places in the world.
Adventure travel – an interview with Traveling Ted
Earlier this week, Adventure travel – a lifelong passion talked about Ted’s view on adventure travel, his favorite places, and his tips on getting out and getting started with the outdoors. Now we talk with Ted and learn a little more about his life, travels, and writing.
Where did you grow up? What were your hobbies and interests as a kid? What did you want to be as a kid?
I grew up in suburban Barrington, Illinois. Despite the city location, I spent many weekends hiking and canoeing with my Dad as well as a lot of time in local forest preserves. My hobbies were canoeing, hiking, searching for wildlife encounters, and baseball. At one time I wanted to be a forest ranger, but for some reason never pursued that career.
Living in Chicago and going to school in the deep South, what are the biggest differences between these two areas of the country?
There are a lot of trivial differences like accents, stronger religious convictions, more passionate interest in college football and things like that, but as far as the people are concerned they are the same everywhere. This is a lesson reinforced with international travel. People from foreign countries are different in many ways culturally, but overall we are all human and have the same fears, desires, wants, dislikes etc. . . This seems obvious, but many never learn this truth. If they did, there would be less prejudice and racism in the world.
What do you do for a living?
I used to work as a claims examiner, but I was in the vanguard of the recession and lost my job before it was called a recession. I do what I need to do to make ends meet and that consists of substitute teaching, waiting tables, and writing. The first two jobs are very flexible, which I like and this allows me an opportunity to travel frequently as long as I can afford it.
What inspired you to travel and love the outdoors? Was there a defining moment?
I have always been curious and I crave to see what is around the next bend in the river or over the next rise in the trail. If there was a defining moment it would have been on a two week hike on Isle Royal National Park with dad when I was 10. We hiked over 100 miles for two weeks staying in tents and in shelters while seeing fox, moose, and hearing wolves and loons. We met the most amazing people on that trip.
This is another allure of adventure travel. It attracts like minded people. Every person that is encountered on the trail already has a lot in common with you as both of you had quite an adventure to arrive at the same spot at the same time. It makes for easy conversation.
Just goes to show you why travel and relationships go together.
What inspired you to write about your adventures?
I planned a three month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia in early 2005. My departure date was January 10, 2005. I told all my friends and family about it, so they knew I was going. On December 26, 2004 the Asian tsunami hit. I was at home planning for my trip, but many friends and family knew I was going there, but were not sure of my departure date. I received many emails and phone calls from concerned co-workers, friends, and family wondering if I was okay.
When I landed in Bangkok I decided it would be a good idea to send a mass email home to let everyone know I arrived safely. I included some funny quips of the adventures I had already had getting there. It turned into a tradition and every other day I would send mass emails home, and I got a great response from everyone, so I kept on doing it.
What is your favorite destination and why?
I would have to say that Thailand is my favorite destination. There is so much to offer in this beautiful country. The people are wonderful, the food is delicious, and the adventure travel is tremendous. I hiked through Khao Yai National Park and saw wild elephants, incredibly beautiful hornbills, monitor lizards, and wild dogs.
What has travel and the outdoors taught you?
In the part about the south I have already answered what it has taught me about people. Outdoor travel is a great teacher of making good decisions and using your head. If a bad decision is made in the city you might drive around the block or miss a turn or lose out on an opportunity that will most likely present itself again. Bad decisions in the outdoors can prove very serious, so it important to make sharp decisions, especially in regards to directions.
I think being in the outdoors accesses parts of the brain that we no longer use and the utilization of these areas make the adventure traveler a keener and sharper individual on the trail or in the city.
Ted Nelson has been adventure traveling since he was 10 years old following around his dad. He has gone hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing all over the Chicago area, America, and the world. Ted has been charged by a wild elephant in Thailand, has canoed with alligators in the Florida Everglades, and recently competed and wrote about the elite American cross-country ski marathon, the 54 kilometer Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin. He has brought his over 30 years of outdoor adventure experience as the Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner and his Traveling Ted adventure travel website.
Follow him on twitter @travelingted