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Intrepid Traveler: Darrell Wade

Melbourne-based outfitter Intrepid Travel takes globetrotters beneath the surface of a place, thanks to off-the-beaten-path itineraries in destinations ranging from New Zealand to Nepal (their bite-size Urban Adventures arrange home-cooked meals, beer tasting, cycling, and even political events in more than 150 cities.) We caught up with Aussie cofounder Darrell Wade, who shared with us the places he’s been, the way travels, and where he wants to go from here.  

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
Baku, Azerbaijan, and I went there this June. It was that 90’s James Bond movie The World is Not Enough that hooked me. It just looks so wild and exotic, and it's an area we’ve started to break into.  

What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
New York.  It’s a long way from my everyday home in Melbourne, Australia, but I get there four or five times a year. Every time I arrive I feel instantly energized. Is there something in the air?

Do you have a travel ritual?
I load up my iPad with books, magazines, podcasts, and a couple of movies before travelling. You never know when you’ll have a few hours to kill. 

Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I’m not a routine kind of guy at home, and even less so when traveling. Spontaneity and chaos are so much more fun! 

 Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Now that is just an impossible question! Half the reason to travel is to explore the world’s food, so to limit yourself to one…  I just can’t even conceive an answer to this question! 

What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Don’t take luggage. People think I’m joking when I tell them this, but I haven’t had checked luggage for years and it really reduces the stress of travel. You fly through airports, there is nothing that will get lost, and the packing/unpacking process is so much faster. Travel is about the destination – not your gear.

Wade, who loves New York City, likes to stay near a park if he can.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Real Life Experiences. It’s Intrepid Travel’s tagline, but there is a reason for it. Authenticity in travel is everything for me.

Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
Depends on the trip. This winter I’m going skiing in Japan, and everything is pre-booked and planned. In a couple of month's time, however, I’m walking in Portugal for a few weeks and we won’t book a single thing in advance.  Each day we’ll just go with the flow and walk as much or as little as we want. It’s a wonderful way to travel. 

What's the one travel souvenir you'd save in a fire?
Myself!  I’m not really into souvenirs or even photos, but I have an awful lot of wonderful memories in my head.

 What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
007 got me to Baku this year, but he’s gotten me to Rio, Istanbul, Bangkok, and other places as well.  Ever noticed how he never has luggage? 

Who’s your ideal travel partner?
Depends on the trip.  My wife is brilliant, which is just as well, as we spend several months a year traveling together!  But it’s also great traveling with friends, and I also quite like traveling on my own.  As long as I’m on the road, I’m pretty happy!

Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
Unplugged. I like to immerse myself in the culture of wherever I am and this takes time.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
"Rubber time” from Indonesia. We tend to schedule too much and too tightly at home, and a little more flexibility would be a wonderful thing.

 What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
I like to be near a park if I can. Walking tells you a lot about a place. And the air is better in parks. 

What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
Sleeping in!  I like to travel "long and lazy’ with late starts and late nights.  It just seems more relaxing.

What’s your first travel memory?
Hawaii in 1967, age six. I can remember as clear as anything a guy running along the beach at sunset with a flaming torch, lighting lanterns as he went. It was so exotic and so different from home that it hooked me into travel for the rest of my life.

 

Wade's first trip to the Hawaiian islands inspired a lifetime of travel.