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Best in Travel Blogs: Traveling Savage – Experiential Travel, One Month at a Time
In our quest to unite you with the best in travel blogs, we’ve continued our search for bloggers who bring something unique to the online travel community and do the Global Basecamps’ travel philosophy proud! Keith Savage of Traveling-Savage.com caught our attention with his passion for experiential travel and pragmatic approach to achieving it: he will spend one month absorbing the culture of a country, return home for 3 months to write, reflect, and reconnect with his wife & 3 cats, and then start the whole process anew in a different locale. And in case you are wondering, Traveling Savage isn’t just a play on his name; it is an expression of his traveling mantra - To travel savagely is to embrace with open arms the entire voyage, to cast aside conceptions – even your old self, if necessary – so that you can find your savage and exuberant core.
So, let’s begin our journey into the exuberant core of The Savage Traveler…
Global Basecamps: When and how did you get hooked on travel?
Keith Savage: As a kid, my family didn't travel much beyond going “up north” and visiting the sites of Wisconsin. In fact, I didn't take my first flight until I was 21 (I went to New York City six months after 9/11). This was a great primer, but I didn't get hooked on travel until after I graduated from college in December 2002. In January, a buddy and I flew to Dublin, drove around Ireland, and then flew to Edinburgh for a quick three weeks backpacking. Even with cultures relatively similar to my own, I was captivated by the differences and wanted to see more.
Global Basecamps: What does the term "experiential travel" mean to you?
Keith Savage: That's a good question because the term is so open to interpretation. To me, experiential travel means experiencing the roots and culture of the destination. It means going beyond the tourist attractions and national monuments and into the day-to-day traditions and routines of the people. Experiential travel is a learning discipline that sheds light on the local culture and, ultimately, your home culture and yourself.
Global Basecamps: How'd you decide on your "one month at a time" travel plan?
Keith Savage: Being married and planning solo travel, choosing bite size trips made the most sense. Up to this point my wife and I have always traveled together and it's something we love to do. With Traveling Savage, I'm striking out on my own while she continues with her career. From an experiential travel standpoint, one month feels like a nice round number of days to get a sense of place and culture.
Global Basecamps: It looks like your first destination is Argentina? How'd did you settle on that? What are you most looking forward to doing there?
Keith Savage: Argentina it is! On each of my past international trips I've gone to Europe. Traveling Savage gives me a great excuse to push outside my comfort zone and see some places off my beaten path. Argentina hasn't really been a dream trip of mine, but it just feels right. I also wanted to avoid winter and go someplace personally challenging. Argentina stood out for its wealth of culture and landscapes. I also speak a little Spanish.
I'm most looking forward to connecting with the people and learning from them. I'd love to see the Andes and some vineyards, too.
Global Basecamps: What other places are on your destination list? Why?
Keith Savage: I haven't spent much time looking beyond Argentina at this point, but South Africa, Italy, Norway, and New Zealand have crossed my mind. Each one for different reasons (I've already visited Italy), but they're all connected by a sense of romanticism I hold for them. Perhaps I want to see how they measure up to my romantic envisionings.
Global Basecamps: You do a lot of unique things on your travel blog like music reviews and even poetry. What other ideas do you have up your sleeve?
Keith Savage: I try to present a variety of content unified by my personal take on things. I've been considering producing an online magazine with an eye toward viewing it on iPads. I'm also working on tying the aspects of my various posts into a cohesive bit of travel writing/storytelling. Much of what I write is me testing my own boundaries as a writer.
Global Basecamps: We like your anthropological approach. What kinds of things do you envision doing to immerse yourself in the culture?
Keith Savage: Part of my mission when I travel is to understand the origin of traditions, to follow what's easily visible toward the hard to see or hard to find roots. For example, Tango is huge in Argentina and many visitors come to take lessons or watch dancers. If Tango tickled my curiosity, I'd want to talk to the instructors, visit its birthplace, listen to a story of its origin from someone in the know. I'm not satisfied with the surface experience anymore. I've realized I'm the type of person who needs to know everything about whatever it is that interests me. Speaking with people, learning their traditions, practicing their methods, respecting their customs – all of these means characterize my approach.
I'm also planning to use alternative accommodations like CouchSurfing, homestays, and estancias. I feel this will be a great way to connect with local people and create a dialogue quickly.
Global Basecamps: Out of all the places you've traveled, which do you think is the most underrated or overlooked?
Keith Savage: The place that I absolutely loved and hear relatively little about is Porto, Portugal. It's such a beautiful multi-colored city straddling the River Douro. The downtown section is actually a World Heritage site, and for good reason: you get the sense of stepping back in time as you walk the cobbled streets. Definitely worth a stop on any trip to the Iberian Peninsula.
Global Basecamps: You have one week left on earth, assuming you can take all your friends and family with you, where would you go and why?
Keith Savage: The Orkney Islands of Scotland. There is a peace and natural beauty there I've seen nowhere else. In the summer, the days are long and breezy, and you're bound to see more sheep than people wherever you go in Orkney. If I've got only one week left then I want to experience the pristine vibrancy of the earth and its natural wonders without men getting in the way.
Global Basecamps: In one of your blogs you wrote "Perhaps there’s a sense of entitlement and laziness in our expectations to be changed by simply visiting a place...You can only find the sacred if you actively seek it, and you can only seek it once you’ve defined it." So, what is sacred to you when it comes to travel? What are you searching for?
Keith Savage: It was a real turning point for me to just be able to put that into words. I don't know what I'm searching for yet, or at least I can't verbalize it at this point. But I am on a quest. I know the natural world is sacred to me and yet I'm on a quest to understand human cultures around the world. Perhaps I'm seeking to understand how we fit together with nature. Maybe I'm seeking communion? I hope Traveling Savage will lead me to this answer.