Build Abroad chats with Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is the founder of Leave Your Daily Hell, one of the most visited independent travel websites in the world, as seen in CNN, About.com, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, USA Today, The Sydney Morning Herald and Details Collection.
Q: You do a lot of travel coaching, what is that?
A: I custom plan trips for people who do not have the time to plan it out themselves. I give them the structure of a trip but give them the feeling that they’re winging it. I live by the golden rule in all aspects of my life: Plan eclectic interesting and balanced trips. I ask the person a lot of questions about their past trips, goals and expectations, things they may want to do and use that to build a trip around. The key is to balance traditional tourist attractions with off the beaten path, city and countryside, hedonistic travel with connecting to the community.
Q: What is your advice to keep the impact of travel local?
A: Whenever it’s safe – it can be difficult in developing countries – walk instead of taking a taxi, talk to people, walk off the beaten path, skip the shiny restaurant and pop into a little hole in the wall. You don’t have to do something explicitly conscious or related to sustainable tourism – it’s all about interacting with the local community at the end of the day
Q: What is the most important thing to remember when traveling?
A: The most important thing I try to remember is being able to let go. I run a business on the road but I remember to have one or two moments in the day to let go and be totally be present in the culture. Go out in the world and get lost. One time in Japan on a north island there was a canal with icicles as big as a person. It was one of those places you go take a picture and you’re done. I walked past the industrial shipping port instead of the canal. Off in the distance there were mountains and really blue water, and starfish frozen in the snow. It was really strange, and I had an epiphany that had to return it to its home. It only took a couple seconds but there is something about that experience that returned me to childhood.
Q: What is the purpose of your travel blog?
A: When I started there weren’t a lot of travel blogs. As I’ve crafted it over a few years it’s not about making it better than others, it’s about making it my unique voice. I inform, inspire and entertain so you’re there with me. But if it ends there it’s pointless. My goal is to be a leaf that blows in the wind and gets planted in the grass so that other people want to something like that too.