After 14 years, 90 countries, two major news networks and 20 episodes of his hit tv show, CNN’s Bill Weir can confidently call himself a travel expert. With the launch of season three of “The Wonder List, Weir reflects on his global journeys and shares his tips for expanding your horizons.
Get Prepped for Success
When embarking on a long trip, Weir says it’s important to set reasonable expectations. “Unless you’re on a private Gulfstream, there’s going to be discomfort on a long trip to the other side of the planet. So you’ve gotta go into it with a spirit of adventure.” Weir suggests resetting your internal clock before embarking across multiple time zones. Small steps such as taking sleep aids, altering your meal schedule, and changing the time on your watch, can help you feel energized and ready to take on a new location.
Learn to Fly Solo
“I’m a big fan of solo wandering”, says Weir. When traveling alone, take the opportunity to fully invest yourself in the lives of the people you meet. “A lot of the time you’ll meet people who will take you into their culture in ways that you could never go on your own.”
Let Go of What You Know
“Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a veteran safari tripper, I always encourage people to go into places with humility and a sense of wonder than the entitlement that comes with being an American consumer.” Weir recalls intervening in Italy when an American tourist threw a tantrum about the cashier line in a gelato shop. While American culture tells us that the customer is always right, he encourages U.S. travelers to accept different value systems while abroad. “She was trying to fit Italy into her American expectations instead of the other way around.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Take That First Step
“I’m jealous of [first-time travelers] because everything is brand new and that’s the best,” says Weir. “My favorite sound in the world is the seat belt sign going off on a runway of some country I’ve never been to.” Rather than being intimidated by language barriers or navigating an unfamiliar city, Weir encourages first-time travelers to approach each destination like a puzzle in need of solving and to search for similarities between people and beliefs rather than what makes us different.
Pack with Precision
Weir recommends packing everything in its place so that you don’t find yourself kneeling on the floor of an airport terminal digging through dirty laundry in search of your phone charger. “I like to compartmentalize my gear so that everything is modular and easy to get through.” In addition to two of everything, he never travels without copies of his passport (“The worst thing that can happen is for you to lose your documents in a foreign country. It’s a gigantic pain in the neck and if you do it once, you’ll never do it again.”) and, of course, his camera for nostalgia’s sake.
“My favorite sound in the world is the seat belt sign going off on a runway of some country I’ve never been to.”
Disconnect with Discretion
While taking an extended break from emails, texts, and social media can be relaxing to some, Weir admits that he can find it isolating at times. As a compromise, Weir suggests unplugging for just 23 hours of each day and limiting your online interactions to necessary news and updates.
Look for Adventure Closer to Home
If you’re not quite ready to venture abroad, Weir suggests traveling throughout the U.S. His favorite domestic locations include the Florida Everglades (“a big sticky swamp full of things that want to bite you”) and the Colorado River which winds through some unique locations. Alaska, he described as “one of the last best places” saying that every American should do their best to make the trip north.
Join Bill as he travels to Madagascar in the latest episode of “The Wonder List” airing Saturday, October 14 at 9 PM ET/PT.
Photography by Clarisse Meyer