As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we keep in touch with travelers who have had firsthand experiences wandering the world. Last time, we featured Adam Groffman from Travels of Adam. Today, we’re happy to feature Michael Glass, founder of Backpacker Travel.
When Michael Glass decided to start Backpacker Travel, he was looking to fill the void previously occupied by travel industry professionals. In an age where travel info is popping up from everywhere on the Internet, where do people turn to for expert tips? With a strong army of contributors behind him, Michael created his website with the vision of producing a resource for travelers everywhere.
1. Along with being an avid traveler, you’ve worked many jobs in the industry, like being a travel agent and leading walking tours. How has this helped you cultivate your website into a resource, as opposed to another destination guide?
Having worked in the travel industry over the last 16+ years, I have seen some pretty massive changes to the way people find travel-related information. Before the Internet was as powerful as it is today, people relied heavily on recommendations from the people they trusted. These were often family, friends, and work colleagues, but most importantly, the bricks and mortar travel agent.
Nowadays, that information can be accessed with the click of a mouse, though the challenge has become how to filter through all of this available information into what’s relevant. Because I have worked in a number of roles over this transition, I would say I have come to understand travelers’ needs better than most.
In saying that, Backpacker Travel is the culmination of not only my knowledge, but the combined knowledge of our team of amazing contributors, each from different walks of life and all specialists in their own unique fields of travel. To be clear, this is NOT a destination guide. What we hope to achieve is to become the go-to resource for people looking to travel independently.
2. Backpacker Travel’s mantra is “smarter, safer, and cheaper travel.” What do you think is the key to being a successful backpacker?
Backpacking is an incredibly life-building discovery. You will learn more about yourself in a few short months on the road than you could ever imagine. The Backpacker Travel site is there to help guide you through the many situations you might encounter, but if there is just one tip I can give to budding backpackers, it is this: View the world, its people, customs, and cultures with an open mind. The more open-minded and accepting you are, the quicker you will learn.
Five big traits you will learn along the way are: Patience, tolerance, communication, adaptability, and confidence. We will do our best to give you the tools, but it is ultimately up to the individual to discover their backpacking success.
Backpacker Travel Homepage
3. It can be quite overwhelming for someone looking to embark on their own adventure, whether it’s working abroad or taking a gap year – where’s the best place to start?
This conundrum is one of the reasons I decided to create the site. You would be surprised to know that not knowing where to start is one of the leading reasons why people don’t actually get started. Because of this, we are busily creating our Backpacker 101 self-help guides. These “how-to” guides are easy to understand and categorized into specific sections like “Before you go,” “Flying,” etc. Again, like anything, the key is to take that first step! It can be daunting for some, but we have lots of experienced travelers here to help out.
4. As a world traveler yourself, what are your top three favorite destinations and where are you planning on going next?
Anyone who has traveled extensively will tell you this is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child, but I will give it my best shot!
1. Ibiza, Spain for nightlife and relaxing by the beach during the day – great combo.
2. Tasmania, Australia for nature and wildlife. This place still seems untouched in many ways.
3. Kyoto, Japan for food and culture. I’ve been here four times but would still go back.
Next week, we are taking a short break to go to Hawaii, but our big trip is planned for November when I am getting married on Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia, followed by our honeymoon in Burma.
5. You also mention that you’re a festival junkie. What has been your most unforgettable festival to date?
Now that’s a much easier question to answer! Although I have been to many incredible festivals over the years, last year we took our first trip to Burning Man in the Nevada Desert. People told us it would be a life-changing experience but nothing prepared me for the unbelievable time we had. During the searing heat of the daytime, we explored Black Rock City, which is purposely built every year for the festival. There is so much to see and do, but be sure to check out all of the wonderful art that is scattered throughout the playa.
Burning Man is a self-sustaining community. There are no shops to go out and buy food and drinks – you must bring everything you need to survive the week. At the end, you must take it with you and leave no trace. There is also a gifting culture where people are encouraged to give their fellow “burners” their time, food, a hug, or something material, and this philosophy truly brings out the very best of human nature. The media often portray Burning Man in a negative light, but I can assure you there is only positivity to be found at this festival!
Burning Man Festival
6. At Busbud, our mission is to make bus travel information easy to find so that travelers can make better travel decisions. What do you think about this mission and do you think this type of service would benefit the travel community?
I actually heard about Busbud over a year ago and thought the idea was spot on. It has now become so much easier for people to find good deals when it comes to flying, so why not ground transport? There are many places throughout the world where buses are the main mode of transport, especially throughout South and Central America. I am 100% positive that our backpacker community will be using Busbud’s services to plan and book their bus travel, and can only see you going from strength to strength as you add more routes.
7. Finally, do you have a memorable bus story to share with our readers?
To be honest with you, I struggle with pretty bad motion sickness so I am generally knocked out whenever I need to take a long bus ride. My tour group can attest to that during our bus ride from Alice Springs to Darwin. All I need is an open window, a pillow, and something to put me to sleep!
You can follow him on Backpacker Travel, as well as on Facebook & Twitter.
Photos by Michael Glass at Backpacker Travel