“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”
This Asian Proverb is something Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, lives by. She has traveled to an unimaginable number of countries, and I say unimaginable not only because the number is definitely large, but also because Schultz has never counted her journeys.
“I think it is important to look forward, not backward,” she told the audience at her lecture “1,000 Places and Beyond” on Wednesday night.
How did such a well-known travel writer get into traveling the world? Study abroad. Schultz stressed the importance of this life-changing opportunity to be “removed from your comfort zone.” During her abroad experience she said that you realize “in that moment you know you are lucky.”
This “gift” of travel so young is not something that everyone is blessed with though.
Schultz met Edith, a 90-year-old woman, in the lobby of the hotel they were both staying at in Macchu Picchu, where Schultz needed oxygen because of the high altitude. Edith, unaffected by the low pressure, was there on her 70th anniversary trip with her husband.
She told Schultz that her great grandchildren had given her a travel book and a highlighter and told her to pick one place she would like to go, and they would send her there.
Edith chose Macchu Picchu saying, “You have to get the difficult trips out of the way.”
Her first US passport, with its first stamps, was for the trip to Machu Picchu. The book that inspired the trip? You guessed it: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
Schultz then proceeded to tell the audience her top destinations for travel, with pictures and tips for each of the places.
“Lush, green, brooding, and poetic,” Scotland was the first place on Schultz’s list. From Scotland a trip to London is only 4 hours by train, and then from London only 2 hours to Paris!
Schultz’s favorite place to visit? Italy. She says, everything “makes a lot more sense when you go to your homeland.” Venice, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast all make her list of the best places to go when you are in Italy. She said a lot of people are afraid to get lost in Venice so they avoid it, but the city is too “mystical, romantic, magical, and beautiful” to pass up.
“I love going to Venice in the off-season because in the summer it is too crowded. If you go in the shoulder season the prices are lower and the locals are nicer,” she said. This advice was not exclusive to Venice. Most cities are less crowded in the off-season which Schultz finds means you can find the beauty and romance in a city much more easily.
Russia, especially Moscow and St. Petersburg , was one country that Schultz stressed to the audience. The winter and summer palaces are ornate and will leave visitors speechless. Each city is a unique experience; Schultz calls them “night and day.”
While her favorite place to visit is Italy, the African Safari takes the place of Schultz’s favorite experience. South Africa’s Kruger National Park was one place she suggested to see the Big 5. Botswana also has boat safaris down rivers and canals that sound like something I’m definitely adding to my bucket list.
Petra and Jerusalem are great places for exploring old history. In Jerusalem especially Schultz said, “It’s quite easy to wander down an alleyway and feel like you’ve been transported back centuries.”
In China, “anything in the world can happen.” If you want a more modern experience, Shanghai is for you, but if you want to explore outside of the city, Schultz suggests the Yunnan Province.
Want something that might possibly be way out of your comfort zone? Try Japan, where Schultz said, “nothing is familiar and everything is exotic and beautiful.” Get a city experience in Tokyo, or in Kyoto see the Geishas.
Istanbul is becoming a more and more popular place to travel and Schultz suggests jumping on board! The city is beautiful and the people are welcoming: “You leave a meal with all new family and friends.”
Some unique places that made the list: Slovenia, Ethiopia and Mongolia. Each of these destinations provides insight into new cultures that many have never explored before. Schultz suggests that when visiting places like this, or anywhere really, you get a specialized tour guide – not someone who advertises several locations. Her suggestions of tour services can be found in her book!
Personally, Mongolia sounded like that next place that I would want to visit – with its huge stretches of beautiful scenery and its nomadic culture. “It reminds me of Montana,” Schultz said, “but times a gazillion.”
- Some places, especially Europe are perfect for traveling by train. It is almost easier and more convenient than air travel.
- Tickets for museums and crowded sites can be bought online now, allowing you to beat the rush!
- Do your homework and research, don’t miss the good stuff.
Written by Emily Hines, social media intern at The Smithsonian Associates.