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Featured Traveler: Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson is one of our favorite travelers. He can generally be found doing things like shredding through fresh powder on a snowboard in Jackson Hole, hiking through Zion National Park, or ziplining above Mazatlán, Mexico. Just check out the Wanderlists he’s created for a sense of his infectious enthusiasm for adventure travel.

Right now, Matt, along with photographer Emilie Warden, is traveling to the best ski resorts in the western United States, interviewing locals and tourists to determine which ski hill qualities matter most to the average skier or snowboarder & how the hills they know best meet those needs, as part of his Best in the West Ski and Snowboard Tour. During Matt and Emilie’s jaunt around the western slopes, they are giving away $2500 in Eddie Bauer First Ascent gear and innumerable Liftopia beer koozies and gift certificates. (More information can be found on the Best in the West homepage and in the Press Room.)

Matt filled out our travel questionnaire, which gives you an idea for his love of the slopes & his rugged approach to travel—just try to keep up with him!

Wanderlist: Snowboarding
Right now I’m in my office in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Though I would much prefer to be in Grand Targhee mowing fresh lines of powder with the local pros, Max and Gary Mackenzie, whom I met last month—awesome guys and amazing skiers.
Occupation: Adventure writer and photographer.
My next trip is to Squaw Valley, California.
My last trip took me to Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, and Yellowstone National Park.
First international trip—when and where? Aside from short trips across the border into the United States to shop (I grew up in a small town just north of the border in Canada), my first trip was to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco when I was 18…with my mother (I rarely admit that in public).
My Guatemalan Rambo machete is my most treasured travel souvenir.
Favorite hotel: The one that I found in rural Borneo after being stuck on a motorcycle for eight hours in a monsoon.
Favorite restaurant: The bao zi (steamed pork bun) stand at the entrance to the alley of my former house in Taiwan. Always open and always a delicious bun for $0.50.
Favorite shopping destination: The Philippines. Western brands and styles for Asian prices. You can’t beat it!
Favorite local style: The crazy Asian fashion you find in the Ximending district in Taipei, Taiwan.
iPhone or DSLR? Pfft. Nikon all the way.
Backpack, wheelie, or trunk? Backpack usually, but when I have a lot of stuff I travel with a hockey bag. It’s the biggest and burliest bag on the market. You can basically move house with one (believe me, I’ve done it).
Plugged-in or unplugged? Unplugged as much as possible. Unfortunately, it’s not possible very often.
Public transportation, cab, or bike?  Bike, always.
If you’re in Taiwan for Chinese New Year, don’t miss the Yenshuei Fireworks Festival in Tainan County. They shoot hundreds of thousands of fireworks directly into the surrounding crowds of people. Seriously.
Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants?  Seat of my pants. Planning is for people who want things to go as planned. Traveling without planning or a guidebook is the best way to connect with locals It forces you to interact with people, ask questions and advice, and try new things.
Five things you can’t travel without: My Nikon D90 and Macbook Pro for working, Patagonia hiking shoes and Weider resistance bands for exercising, and my ScotteVest Travel Vest (or ‘purse’ as my girlfriend calls it) for carrying all the necessities for a long plane ride.
Jet lag: Nap, power through, pills, or herbal remedies? None of the above. Before a trans-oceanic flight I will normally stay up all night and try to fall asleep at a time appropriate for my destination. That way I force myself through the jet lag before the flight. It’s less painful, and I usually have so much pre-trip work to finish that I can fill the time anyways.
Favorite airport and why? Vancouver (YVR), because when I arrive there it means I’m visiting family and friends.
Three travel apps you can’t live without: Couchsurfing and GoGoBot to meet locals on the road and, of course, Google Maps for when I get myself lost, which happens a lot.
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? The May May Chinese Restaurant, where I worked for several years growing up. The best cheap greasy Chinese smorgasbord I’ve ever eaten.
First thing you do when you get home: Go hiking with my brother and sister.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Fisher’s Peak.
Favorite travel book: The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway.
Fly solo or travel with family/friends/tour group?  I’ll travel solo anytime, but these days I’m usually with my girlfriend, Emilie.
Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids:  Every summer that we spent at our cabin on Kootenay Lake. It’s a magical place and will always have a place in my heart.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: I once took an open-topped bus tour of Mazatlan, Mexico where the driver announced landmarks to us with a megaphone. I don’t even want to think about what my friends will say when they found out.
Biggest travel mistake?  Trying to drive up Mount Kinabalu on a motorcycle, at night, with no lights.
If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to India.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would go live in western China.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Ting bu dong (Chinese for “I don’t understand”).
Favorite foreign tradition: In the rural Philippines the rice farmers will help any other farmer with work that needs to be done in exchange for food while working. That way anyone who needs help will always have it. It’s a wonderful communal arrangement.
Travel has taught me how important family is. No matter where I go and what I do, the best part of the trip is always coming home to see my parents, siblings, and niece.

Photo: matt-gibson.org