Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian are veteran journalists, photographers and award-winning writers. They have taken our lifetimes of globetrotting, leveraged their journalists' chops and innate people skills, and added a dash of humor and playfulness. Through their words, photographs and videos, they work to offer readers insider looks at uncommon places, plus unique insights into the more well-traveled. They've always believed that you can find adventure anywhere -- from mountain trails to remote tropical islands to urban neighborhoods in big cities.
Read more about their adventures at HiTravelTales.com. Michael and Therese were kind enough to answer a few of our questions below...
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Michael & Therese: We've both been traveling since a very young age. Michael was schlepped back and forth across the Atlantic frequently with his mum and dad visiting family in England until heading off to college. While there, he had the opportunity to spend a few months in Kenya and found himself completely hooked on discovering cultures, new places, and taking on adventures. Therese began her travel adventures visiting national parks with her family as a child. In high school she had the opportunity to visit Germany for one month and was completely bitten by the proverbial travel bug. We will keep traveling together until we can't.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Michael & Therese: Adventurous, immersive travel where we have the opportunity to learn about new cultures.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Michael & Therese: We have a hard time naming any one place since every place we have visited in our lifetime has an allure and sparks fond memories for so many different reasons. Italian Dolomites, Kyoto in Japan, Berlin, Kenya, Argentina -- the Puna in the north and Patagonia in the south, Antarctica, Washington D.C., Vancouver, to name but a few.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Michael & Therese: Tibet and anywhere in Nepal. India too. One place? Impossible.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Michael & Therese: For Michael, aside from his technology addiction (Camera, iPhone, iPad, microphones, etc.) he always packs an extra pair of glasses, just in case one breaks. Therese, aside from mandatory camera gear, always packs a travel pillow, eye shades and ear plugs.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Michael & Therese: Be open to new experiences and do not judge your destination through the lens of where you live. Spend a bit of time learning about the culture and master a few words of the local language.
What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Michael & Therese: Any blog by a media member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Michael & Therese: Anywhere that is NOT on the top 10 list of best places to visit this year in the major travel publications. Seriously. Though even the most popular destinations have their charm ... they are popular for a reason after all. Understand that you can find magic and travel inspiration anywhere. The key is in knowing what it is you love to do, what it is you are most curious to discover, and what places you have always dreamed of visiting ... everyone's dreamed of visiting somewhere, right? Go chase that dream.
It could be Romania, Bolivia, Vietnam, Mexico, an exotic beach, or none of the above. Do you like wildlife, history, discovering cultures, visiting museums, trying new foods, meeting new people, experiencing challenging adventures? Are you interested in photography, videography, people watching, journal writing, volunteering? Once you know those things, you can narrow down where it is you MIGHT want to visit. For us, in 2019, we're looking to Portugal, Romania, southern Italy, Morocco, Poland, and Germany for starters.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Michael & Therese: Google Flights and Seat Guru to help plan the actual flying part of any trip. We often read Lonely Planet for basic research, though not inspiration per se. Travel sections of major newspapers can and do offer us inspiration.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Michael & Therese: Know the airports you will be flying through when you travel and check out the various amenities many of them have -- art, sculptures, yoga rooms, meditation rooms, and gardens to name but a few. Sometimes they are not easy to find. As we mention in our articles on travel insurance, and particularly in this one -- Airfare Hack: Make Any Ticket Refundable with Travel Insurance -- that it is absolutely essential to ensure you are covered by travel insurance, good travel insurance, for every trip you take.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Michael & Therese: Travel is an adventure. Keep an open mind and be willing to try new things, meet new people, and experience new ways of going about your daily life. As Mark Twain stated, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, ... Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Michael & Therese: Sticking to a plan. Travel is about change... delayed or cancelled planes, lost luggage, delayed trains, busses that do not show up, hotel rooms that were booked but now are not, and so much more. A few years ago, we were off to Greece for a cycling trip and planned a few days in Athens on our own first. Except our luggage decided it wanted to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest where we transferred.
For three days, apparently the baggage handlers were too busy sipping beer to focus on luggage problems. After the first day, we decided we needed something else to wear, asked where to find a local clothing store, and acquired a skirt for me, a couple of t-shirts for Michael and some underwear. Now, we could have gotten angry and stomped our feet and yelled at everyone, but it wouldn't have done a bit of good. Instead, we just laughed about three days of photos in Athens wearing the same clothes -- every day. And our luggage did finally arrive, the morning as we were setting off for two weeks of sailing and biking.
What would we have done had it not shown up? Bought a bike helmet, some shoes, a few more pieces of clothing and made the best of it. You have to be flexible, and you have to maintain your sense of humor, always.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Michael & Therese: Kauai. It is where we honeymooned and have gone back to several times for a real break. Things slow down there ... away from the resorts. We have spent hours sitting together on beach chairs, holding hands, talking about the future, getting lost in each other, and exploring sandy beaches.
TA: What's something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Michael & Therese: Selfie-obsessed travelers oblivious to all that is going on around them while they are busy posing and posting to social media. We have been caught up in the "gotta get that photo" craziness and have learned to put down the camera, smartphone and electronics at times to simply experience where we are.