From living in Africa as a child, to traveling to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the 2010 Earthquake crisis, and now living in the Magic City, Miami. Dr Colin Knight has been to all 50 US States and has experienced a number of different cultures by visiting over 45 countries from Argentina to Wales.
Are there any social norms or practices you’ve encountered on your travels that you wish were normal in America?
I was impressed by hospitality of the Turks on my trips in Turkey. I was there initially as a tourist for 2 weeks and a couple years later for work for two months. I found many people went way out of their way to help me as a befuddled foreigner. When I see how many Americans react to people who look different or speak differently than they do, I wish our culture was more hospitable.
I have read you are a great cook, but what is one food you could now never eat in your home country again because you’ve tasted the original version in its country of origin, and you’ve been forever spoiled?
Fried artichokes in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, hand cut noodles outside of Beijing, and lobster on the docks in Maine come to mind.
If you could travel back in time to meet a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Meriwether Lewis. The adventure he led across the unmapped American West and safely returning with a wealth of information is perhaps the greatest story in American history.
Are there any places in the world you wouldn’t visit out of principle, for example if a government of a particular country upholds a law that goes against your own beliefs?
I’m hesitant to visit Russia for that reason. However, I take pause at the idea of who boycotting a country hurts: its government or the people who are victims of it. Maybe by going and showing support to the people in a country and sharing my beliefs, I could make a small difference.
What are the most and least liveable cities you’ve visited?
I think it is hard to visit a city and decide what living there would be like. I’ve lived in many different places and my favorite has been Charlottesville, Virginia. It is small enough to feel intimate. However, having a major university bumps up the resources beyond what you would expect in a town its size. For big-city attractions it doesn’t have, Washington DC and Richmond VA are 2 and 1 hour drives away. Being on the edge of the Blue Ridge makes mountain activities close while the beach is within a two-hour drive.
In your opinion, is there any value in making a distinction between tourist and traveler? Do you make this distinction, and if so, which do you consider yourself?
I guess a tourist is someone who is traveling to enjoy the culture an attraction of a place. Many people travel for reasons such as fleeing persecution or for work where the travel is a necessity and not necessarily for enjoyment.
What are the three most valuable lessons you have learned from traveling?
Be flexible, even the best plans can get messed up by things out of your control. One trick I’ve been doing lately when planning a trip somewhere new it to save places I’m interested in visiting as starred locations in google maps. Even if you don’t have internet access where you are going, if you download the google map for that area for online use, you can look at where you are and see what around you is on your list to see. This way if you suddenly find you can’t get into a place you wanted, or otherwise have some extra time, you don’t have to trapse all around and double back.
Plan ahead, it can save time or lead you to new experiences. For example, last summer I took a family trip to Paris that was going to overlap with Bastille Day. I looked online ahead of time and discovered that it is traditional for the firehouses in Paris to throw parties the night before Bastille Day. Knowing that, we look for and attended one of the parties near where we were staying. It was a great party in a historic building with the locals. A perfect experience only had because I had done a little research.
Be willing to try new things. Be it a new dish, a new place, or a new activity. Even if you wind up hating it, you will have grown from the experience.