Three Awesome Traveling Companions to Tag Along With in Spirit

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When traveling by land, by sea, or by air is not an option, at least I can buy book, DVD and YouTube. Image: Lisa Tate

I’ve had a recent revelation that is both inspiring and frustrating: this world is so filled with interesting spaces, events, sights, and experiences, I will never get a chance to see them all. In the United States alone, there is so much to explore, I don’t even know where to start.

Even if I were able to devote my full time to road tripping, jet setting, or travel journaling, I could never see every little wonder the planet has to offer. As it is, we are not always able to travel and see new things. My children are growing up and becoming more and more busy during the summer. Work and family obligations make scheduling even small getaways hard, and our family budget is currently focusing more on things like saving for our kids’ college than for trips.

I’ve been very fortunate to have seen some wonderful sites, and am appreciative of all the adventures I have had. We taken lengthy journeys down Route 66 to visit Cars Land at Disneyland Resort, we’ve had regional trips to one-of-a-kind attractions like Meow Wolf, and are always finding ways to discover new things just around the corner in our hometown. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more I want to see. Discovery and the the desire for exploration is an addiction, after all, and one I hope everyone possesses.

This means I have to get my “fix” somehow. This includes the times when I’m stuck in the house during writing and editing deadlines, or whenever that longing to escape the day-to-day slog for new horizons occurs. Luckily there are resources from the Internet to the bookstore that have helped me do this.

For those who want to some quick escapes anytime during the year, I recommend these three ways to travel vicariously through other means, each which take on very different ways to look at the world around us.

By YouTube: Randomland Adventures with Justin Scarred.

Scarred is all over social media. Anyone can find his videos on his website and YouTube Channel, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, visiting not only the larger than life attractions like the Disney and Universal Parks around the world, but he also places away from “the Coasts” to look at the countless roadside attractions, museum and other points of interest across the American landscape.

According to his website, Scarred said he began his travels as a way to cope with anxiety and depression. He felt like he was surrounded by people who didn’t understand him, and found himself in a seemingly hopeless situation.

“It was either give up and die or get up and try,” he wrote. “I had the epiphany that no one was responsible for my happiness but ME.”

As a result, his videos have also helped make many other adventurers (including armchair travelers) happy as well.

Since my family loves road trips to just about anywhere, Scarred is our best link to those places we may have missed, or might not get a chance to see in person (at least not in the near future).

What makes his videos stand out is not only the clean production value, but he actually spends some time exploring the spaces, looking at details other miss, and being completely comfortable in front of the camera and in his own skin. By also coming across as a true enthusiast (sometimes an over-the-top one) of the places he visits, Scarred can relate history and facts in ways that will make you appreciate them even more.

Since his journeys are completely funded by the help of his followers, those who enjoy his work can make a donation via Patreon or purchase one of his retro-inspired shirt or pins. There is also place on his website where you can leave a suggestion of someplace you want him to visit, so maybe, just maybe he will give it a looksee.

There are many, many people out there offering some very interesting travel videos, but it is hard to match the enthusiasm and genuine love of life Scarred brings with him everywhere he goes. My family, for one, really appreciate that.

Here’s Scarred exploring my neck of the woods around Mesilla and Alamogordo, New Mexico.

By Book: Atlas Obscura.

When Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton first released their Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders in 2016 inspired by their website that has been active since 2009, more people have been encouraged to travel off the beaten path and to see more of the lesser known beauty and weirdness Planet Earth has to offer.

atlas obscura books
Everyone needs an Atlas Obscura on their coffee table, along with its version for kids. Now there’s a new one on the way soon. Book covers ©Workman Publishing Company

This is one of the books you can open to any page and read one or two of their finds, ranging from the gorgeous to the grotesque, but always fascinating. Since they always include information about where and when you can visit a site (if it is accessible and open to the public), Atlas Obscura can be a dangerous resource. You’ll find yourself compiling a lengthy, and possibly unobtainable bucket list of even more places to visit.

Do you want to know where all the bets mummified monks are, visit the world’s largest drain, or hike out to one of the Transcontinental Air Mail Route Beacons? You do now!

There is also a kids’ edition, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, featuring a look at 100 destinations from ancient mummies to crystal caves.

They’re about to up the ante, as a 2nd Edition of Atlas Obscura is due out in October.

Get the books. Visit the website. Subscribe to their newsletter, and you’ll never run out of interesting things to talk about with others. They also do have a YouTube channel with cool little finds like this:

By DVD: Palin’s Travels:

I’ve written about Sir Michael Palin (he was recently knighted) several times, as he is probably one of my favorite people on the planet. If you really want to capture what makes his spirit shine so bright during his travels around the world, pick up the BBC videos The Michael Palin Collection, which includes his first eight travel specials.

Michael Palin has covered a lot of ground on his travels, making friends in the process. Image: Lisa Tate

Palin’s travel specials have a way of balancing the excitement of his wanting to meet a certain travel goal as in Pole to Pole, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Full Circle, with the bright-eyed wonder of wanting to fully absorb oneself a region as in with Himalaya or Sahara.

With all these specials, we pick up an appreciation for the people of each area, as Palin is contagiously friendly and gracious with every individual he meets. How many of us can say that about ourselves? This is not a cheap set to purchase, but is one of the few travel sets I can watch again and again.

If you still want more, Palin’s Brazil special is also available on its own, but unfortunately not part of the set. Here he is in Brazil swimming with dolphins:

Remember the lyrics to the “Circle of Life” from The Lion King?

From the day we arrive on the planet, and blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done.

Don’t let this discourage you. Get out when you can, even for a weekend, day or afternoon, but when you can’t take a moment to travel with someone who can, even if just in spirit.

I may never get to visit and see first hand every wonderfully quirky, surprisingly educational or amazingly beautiful corner of this planet, but thanks to the travels and research of others out there, I can at least get a proper head start.

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