The Outside Explorer's Guide to the Brave New World of Trip Planning

Mar 1, 2006
Outside Magazine

71% of all vacations are planned less than three months in advance—and 35% are planned less than a month before departure.
Source: The Travel Industry Association of America

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Illustration by 500gls

Travelin' Fool Q&A with Ian Wright
As the uninhibited host of the cult-favorite series Globe Trekker, now in its fourth season on PBS, Londoner Ian Wright, 40, is the wacky archetype among an emerging breed of TV travel personalities who'd rather skip the reservations and take adventures as they come. (See also the Travel Channel's Stranded with Cash Peters and the hosts of Lonely Planet's Six Degrees, making its U.S. premiere in April.) Anthony Cerretani quizzed Wright about tuning in before you head out.

OUTSIDE: Why watch a program like Globe Trekker?
WRIGHT: It stirs you up, gives you a little buzz. You think, I'd love to go there. And it's more real than reading a book, because it's instant and it's in front of you.

What makes a good travel show?
It has to be entertaining. People like to watch me because they're like, "He has no idea what he's doing; he's in shit here," and that's exciting.

How has Globe Trekker become such a hit?
There's just that casualness about it. It's ordinary people traveling, so it feels accessible. Although some say, "I just love watching it, sitting on me ass on the sofa, 'cause that looks like a nightmare." Fair enough.

Yet you want to help them get over the fear.
The show makes travel less intimidating—there's less of a mystique. When you're in a place, you just get on with it because it takes you over anyway. We're trying to capture that spontaneity.

And those authentic experiences transfer well to television?
It's as close as you can get to the real thing. People think it's just me with a camera and I'm just shooting myself. They're gutted when they find out there's five of us in the crew.

Any downsides to your job?
I've done about 50 travel programs and have no friends left because they can't handle any more bloody stories. They're like, "Please shut up."

Speak Easy // Beyond Phrase Books by Kate Siber
We know—you meant to brush up on your Thai, but that departure date snuck up on you. Get Random House's Living Language In-Flight CDs ($14; for hourlong quickie courses in any of 22 languages, from Arabic to Swahili. For swift—and inconspicuous—access to key phrases once you're in country, try LingvoSoft's Talking Travel Dictionary 2006 ($50; Compatible with Windows-based PDAs, it translates 11 languages onscreen, and seven of those (including German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian) into speech. iLingo ($40–$50; is a similar product for iPods. Now où est l'aéroport again?

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