Back in October, I attended SitSum and was lucky enough to meet Arthur Wooten of The Dizzy Traveler while I was there. I connected to a lot of amazing people, but Arthur and I seemed to hit it off right away. Luckily, he lives nearby and we were able to meet up again at the New York Times Travel Show, and I am hoping for many more adventures together in the future. Hope you enjoy getting to know Arthur as much as I did!
For those wondering why my travel blog is titled The Dizzy Traveler – in 2005 a virus went to my brain and fried my inner ears. I now have, as do thousands of others, bilateral vestibular disease with oscillopsia. Unfortunately, this has severely compromised my sense of balance and vision and often creates vertigo. I may walk a bit more carefully now but I’m determined to enjoy my passion for travel, food, and entertainment and want to encourage and inspire those who are challenged by these same symptoms (and all other readers too) to either get up, go out there, and travel the world, or at the very least, live vicariously through my journeys. I’m also a novelist, screenwriter and playwright.
What’s the best road trip you’ve ever been on?
I’m not sure this qualifies as a road trip but when I won an all expense paid sweepstakes to Napa, CA I contacted my older brother, John,and when I explained the details to him we both screamed, “Road Trip!” Actually, John and I hadn’t traveled together alone as adults ever. We met up in San Francisco, (he’s from Minneapolis and I’m in New York City) and then drove to Napa. It was such a fantastic trip I had to share it with people and that is how my travel blog was launched – The Dizzy Traveler. At first I thought it was a scam but quickly realized that I had won (I had forgotten that I had entered an online sweepstakes) the prize which comprised of 4 nights at the Napa River Inn, four personal tours of wineries, a $200 voucher to any of the Michelin star restaurants in the Napa area, two entry passes for the di Rosa Modern Art Museum and Preserve, $250 for a spa day (John had never had a massage before) and an incredible chance to bond with my brother.
Are you a light packer or a heavy packer?
I am such a “light-weight!” I do Europe and everywhere else with carry-on only. Granted, they are usually trips that are no longer than 7 days, but I’m proud I can pack so light. And I use a Lucas nylon washable bag without wheels that I bought in 1987. Both ends zip out to expand but I rarely use them. Plus the bag when completely full fits in all overhead compartments. My friends ask me all the time how I can pack so light. One key to remember, even when you’re at home, you tend to wear your “uniform.” Often you’ll wear the same jeans all the time. I carry a dress jean that can also be appropriate for evening and then one other pant, like a light-weight khaki. Of course there are acceptations like if you’re traveling to a wedding but often during flights I can wear one pair of pants and the other is in the luggage. Same with shorts, you don’t need more than one pair or two pairs. And this luggage holds a ton of items. The day my Lucas bag disintegrates, I will weep.
Do you have any tips for jet lag?
If possible, get out into the sun upon arrival, whether it’s going or coming. The sun helps to restore your internal time clock. And struggle not to take a nap. Stay up as late as you normally would.
Favorite accommodations abroad: AirBnB, hotel, camping,couch surfing, hostel, etc. Why?
I never do couch surfing or hostels – I hesitate to say it’s because I’m too old because I never did that when I was younger. Most recently I have loved VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owners. Same concept as AirBnB but often I will see the same properties listed on both sites and consistently VRBO offers it for less. Go figure. I love hotels but after staying in homes and apartments there is so much room to spread out in. Travel companions don’t feel as though they are on top of each other and you discover more of how the locals live. Shopping at their fruit stands, supermarkets…plus you have a kitchen!
If you could only explore one continent for the rest of your life, which one would you pick and why?
Europe hands down, for lots of reasons. Scotland, not to my surprise, felt like home the moment I touched foot on its soil. My mother’s father was born there and immigrated to the United States in 1920 as a professional soccer player. So, on her side, these were my roots. I felt as though I had been there before. That could also be because later in his life Papa started painting and often his subjects were pastoral landscapes of the Scotland he remembered as a child. I’m madly in love with Italy. Venice is at the top of the list of cities. I say to myself, I have to explore Scandinavia and Germany and a dozen more countries (and I will) but I keep going back to Venice. Not long ago my family did the DNA genome test that tracked my father’s ancestry as far back they could go. I had done my own homework and thought we were more Welsh than English but to my astonishment, on my father’s side, we were 100% Irish. So I owe Ireland a trip, and will gladly do so, as long as I don’t have to drive on the other side of the road. 😉
What’s one place you’re hoping to visit this year. Why?
Florence…with a side trip to Cinque Terre. Yup, Italy again. I had been to Florence once in 1988 and vowed that I must return because there were so many more museums and restaurants I wanted to visit. I also must return to Provincetown, MA this summer. Last year I had to miss it. Having grown up in Andover, MA, I’ve been going out to the tip of Cape Cod since I was a youngster. There’s a magical place I stay at called Poor Richard’s Landing that juts out into the bay. I’ve known the owner since 1984 and at 94-years-young she’s still going strong. Originally the wharf and its cottages were built by a Portuguese family that wanted a haven for writers and painters. Also, Ptown as it’s nicked, is a foodie’s paradise plus during the summer season, the best of Broadway talent streams through this seaside village performing their magic in both cabaret shows and full scale theatrical productions.
Do you overplan before you arrive, just show up at a destination, or have a mixture of both?
Initially I overplan, especially if there are tricky traveling itineraries. And then I scale back, simplify and relax. But planning the trip, for me, is just as exciting as traveling on the journey. Seriously. I love the anticipation and excitement.
Based on food alone, which country could you live in forever?
Take a guess? Yup, Italy. Florence in particular. And Capri. I had some brilliant meals in both places.
Top three items you can’t leave home without.
Midrin – medication for blinding, mind-blowing migraines. My passport. Extra underwear.
What’s your worst travel experience?
Living in Andover we were very close to the New Hampshire border and when I was still pretty young, my mother along with her mother, Granny, and my little brother David, we would take weekend long trips up to the White Mountains. I still love that area of New England and a few years back visited all the tourist attractions we loved as kids. There was Six Gun City – a quasi reenactment of the old west with a stagecoach and all. Also Santa’s Village. But we loved the Flume and the Old Man in the Mountain (but he’s gone now), the tram that went up Mount Cranmore was exciting and the Polar Caves. My mom and Granny loved each other but they were always at each other’s throats. I mean crazy fighting…over what seemed like nonsense to my little brother and I. One day we decided to ride the cog railroad up Mount Washington but my granny decided to sit this one out and wait for us at the base. Well, I guess no one really looked at the schedule…round-trip…the cog is 3 hours long and of course we spent some time on top of the mountain. Well, Granny wasn’t a happy camper when we came back down the mountain as the sun was setting. That night, in what I thought was the coolest cabin ever over looking the Swift River, which in truth was so damp we had to cover our pillows with sweaters to fall asleep, my mom and granny were at each other like wild cats. Well, I think we all made it out alive from that trip without too many scars. But as dramatic as these trips were, they set the foundation for my love of travel for the rest of my life.
To follow Arthur’s dizzy travels around the globe, click on the following links below. I know I’ll be following him and hopefully, we’ll have a few adventures together.