The incipience of Wes Snow’s love for travel and adventure took root in his family’s Toyota Camry. Packed tightly in the vehicle, he and his family journeyed across the United States annually on cross country trips. He says, “Those family trips are what got me started.” While these trips engulfed him with the curiosity to travel, two particular instances emerged as what molded his affinity to trot the globe. The first being his parents’ break from tradition by adding another trip to the family’s one year trip ritual, which led him to learn that you can take more than one vacation annually.
The second instance that cemented what he refers to as a “travel disease”, his first acquaintance with trip planning. At thirteen, tasked with planning a family trip through the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wes sprawled through maps and guide books before the internet simplified everything to define a four day journey. The thrill of creating an adventure for himself instilled a thirst for exploration. Today, after setting foot on every continent, less Antarctica and every state in the United States less North Dakota, he emblematizes a globetrotter and has completely spun away from his family’s single annual trip tradition. Given the challenges of constant travel and the steps he’s taken to alleviate barriers to see the world, Wes is a travel inspiration; after all don’t we all need an escape from our everyday bustle once in a while?
I sat down with Wes to talk about the importance of travel and how to travel more.
It opens your eyes and changes your perspective.
In addition to experiencing new places and new cultures, Wes says that, “Travel changes your perspective…I learned new perspectives from different cultures and different people. I don’t think you can travel that much without it changing your life.” He says, “Growing up in Tennessee, generally everything is the same; going to all these different countries and states give you a different perspective.”
Wes’ trip to Turkey in 2012 exemplifies the power of experiencing a different perspective. While Turkey is placed at the forefront of a contentious global crisis and images of a state torn by violence is difficult to ignore from the news cycle, Wes taught me about another aspect of the country. He says, “The depth of scenery, culture and history makes it my favorite place.” Something that I would have found hard to imagine given the imagery of Turkey I’m constantly pilfered with.
How to travel more
Keep your life simple.
Given the modern day constraints of our lives, including full-time jobs further exhausted with pets and other commitments, traveling often can prove overwhelming if not impossible. Wes has unburdened himself from these barriers by finding a job that allows ample vacation and accumulating less things, which allots him flexibility. In terms of finding a job that would work for him he says, “I looked for something that would allow freedom. The average American doesn’t get more than one or two weeks a year and to me that’s unacceptable. That was a major item when I was looking for a first job.”
He attributes the ability to live the simple life on his trip of a lifetime to Colorado. Wes left his first job, put everything in storage and drove to Colorado, where he stayed for five months. The ability to drop everything and move to a place filled only with strangers showed him that, “A lot of the rituals that we do in our lives can be simplified.” He says the fresh start in Colorado, “Shaped a permanent view on not having things too complex… Cumberments that we put on ourselves can restrict us from possibilities that could be out there, I try to keep things as simple as possible.” This mindset has allowed him not only to be wary of collecting material things but also instilled a low cost travel philosophy.
Spend less and be flexible.
Of course traveling requires spending money, but not necessarily lots of it. Lavish trips not only minimize the quantity of one’s travels but also the quality, because the whole point of traveling is to experience something different, not more of the same. Following his low cost approach, Wes is more open to dropping some conveniences like air conditioning. Not only does this allow him to travel more frequently, but he insists that staying and eating at mega chains restricts contact with the locale which limits knowledge of the destination. He’s a firm believer of well-known travel guru Rick Steves’ saying, “The less you spend, the more you’ll engage in the life around you.”
Reducing required amenities keep costs low but so does flexibility. I’m sure I’m not unique in having my dream vacations in mind. According to Wes, one way to ensure all your vacation dreams come to reality is by listing all your coveted spots, then going to each place based on price. “I have a list of places, a list of sites that I keep an eye on looking for deals…I tailor that with a low cost approach,” he says. So while you’ve been dreaming of Barcelona, consider other cities on your list because they might just be cheaper this year.
If you are ready to pack your bags now, here are some of Wes’ favorite travel resources to get you started.
Figure out what to see and do when you get to your destination: Frommers’ Guide Books
Places you must go: Yosemite National Park (California) & Glacier National Park (Montana)