Ever since I watched Ewan and Charlie’s epic travel documentary A Long Way Down and A Long Way Around I have been obsessed with the idea of traveling by motorcycle. If you have seen Easy Rider or the Motorcycle Diaries it’s the vehicle of choice if you want to embark on a journey of freedom and self-discovery.
So when I discovered the website The Travelin’ Gringo- I was hooked. Aside from photos of shiny beautiful bikes there is an endless supply of stories and characters from being on the road. The Travelin’ Gringo better known as Glen Abbott is a travel writer, photographer and long time true blue biker. He is a bona fide travel hero and I am glad that he agreed to give me an interview.
You can check out more of Glen at:
1. What is your blog about and how did you get into blogging? What do you do when you are not blogging?
I blog about motorcycle touring, and the people, places and food I encounter on the road. I started TravelinGringo.com about a year and a half ago, after I went to an SATW workshop (Society of American Travel Writers) and learned about the importance of social media. I was really pumped up after that, and started my blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages all at once, and made a serious push to expand the freelance magazine writing I’d already been doing.
I started freelance writing in 2003 – my first published article was about a motorcycle trip from Orlando, FL to central Mexico for American Iron Magazine. This year, it’s gotten to the point where I’m doing more freelance writing than my other freelance job, as a television photojournalist. I’ve worked in television news since 1982 – going on 30 years now! After working for various television stations for the first part of my career, in 1999, I bought my own equipment and began working as a freelance news videographer for all the networks – ABC News is my best client, but I also work occasionally for CBS and CNN.
2. Can you give us 3 random facts about yourself?
1) I’m still trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up (just kidding, I love travel writing and blogging and hope to continue for a long time).
2) Good beer makes me happy – usually an IPA or other strong ale (once the bike is parked for the night, of course!).
3) I have two dachshunds, named Tex and Max
3. When did you realize you were addicted to traveling and what is your travel style (solo, budget, adventure etc)?
I’ve always loved traveling, and so has my wife. We’ve both realized traveling is more important to us than amassing material possessions. She is an anthropology professor and has just accepted a job in New Orleans – so we are downsizing our lives (I’m keeping the Harley, though!), and getting ready to move there next month, which is very exciting for both of us. We travel together whenever we can – she often has academic conferences in cool places, so that has provided an excuse to go to places like Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Europe. When we travel together, we are “budget travelers,” but we’re not backpackers or campers – we just look for the best deals we can find for flights and basic hotels.
I guess my motorcycle travel could be called “solo adventure,” though. I generally travel by myself (rather than with a group of bikers), because when I write, I like to be able to stop whenever and wherever I want, and it’s harder to do that if you’re riding in a group. Besides, I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. (a quote from PeeWee’s Big Adventure, one of my all-time favorite movies).
4. Now, I know that you travel with your motorbike. How long have you been doing this? What is the most challenging thing about it and what is the most rewarding?
I’ve been riding motorcycles off and on since I’ve been in high school in the 1970s (yeah, I’m old), mostly Hondas and Suzukis in those days. I bought my first Harley-Davidson in 1994, and have ridden Harley’s ever since (my current bike is a 2006 Harley Road King Classic)
Most challenging, I think, is planning and being organized while riding. I work out the trip logistics in advance – but on the road, I’m constantly stopping to jot down notes or ideas and to take photos. Then every night at the motel, I’ll upload the photos to my laptop as a backup, and transcribe notes.
Most rewarding, I think, is getting to go to some really cool places and meet cool people. And honestly, I still get a kick out of seeing my byline on a magazine article.
5. For my weirdest ever questions: Weirdest food you ever tasted? Weirdest person you ever met? Weirdest thing that ever happened to you?…all while traveling
Two things come to mind for weird food – tequila-flavored ice cream on a beach in Manzanillo, Mexico, and Tabasco-flavored ice cream at the Tabasco sauce factory in Avery Island, Louisiana (both were delicious, by the way).
Weirdest person? Not weird, but one of the most memorable was a 74-year old Tennessee gentleman named Hack Ayers, whose dad was killed right in front of him in a 1943 shootout with state police who’d come to arrest his dad for making moonshine (illegal corn liquor). His father was a third-generation moonshiner, but Hack grew up to be a state legislator and a successful businessman, and has never had a drink in his life! ( Check this awesome story at his website Traveling Ringo)
Weirdest thing while traveling? I can’t really think of anything weird (in the ‘whoooaa, dude, that was weird’ sense), but my 2003 motorcycle trip to Mexico was truly life-changing for me. The long hours on the road gave me lots of time to think, and helped me gain the resolve to make some really important and positive life changes that were very difficult at the time, but worked out for the best. It was also the start of my freelance writing career, which has led me in a direction I’m really happy with.
6. Who is your favorite travel hero?
I really admire writer/blogger Christopher Elliott. He’s a consumer advocate for travelers, a master of social and print media and reaches about a million readers a week, incredible numbers most of us can only dream about! It’s inspiring to see someone do good work and reach lots of people.
7. Where is your next destination?
I’m traveling to New Orleans with my wife in a couple of days (right now we live in Orlando, Florida; I don’t think I mentioned that yet) to look for a place to live. As soon as we get back to Florida, I’ve got a motorcycle trip to Tennessee and North Carolina, and after I return, I’ll pack up for the move to New Orleans!