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23 March 2011


Michael Han

I just stumbled upon your blog, and I found this entry to be really interesting. Sarajevo is not typically a city many think to visit. What made you decide to travel there? How do you recommend for people who are interested in venturing out into the world (to less typical destinations like Sarajevo) who may be a bit timid to get started?


Thanks for taking a minute to reply, Michael.

A couple of years before Sarajevo, we put our free lance work aside (thankfully, we got most of it back) and took a three month trip around the world that hardened up a good bit, so by the time the Bosnia war had died down we'd already hit on the idea that, "you just go." Buy the ticket, get on the plane, go.

Don't know where you're from, but if you're an American and want to get past the usual western Europe circuit that Americans follow, but you're not quite ready to jump into a former war zone, I can recommend several places as a kind of bridge.

If you've bought into the "just go" part, then how about:

- Ecuador. Shorter flight than Europe, jungle, snow-capped mountains and the beach all in one small country, and they spend the dollar as their currency down there. Don't even have to change money.

- Morocco. Well-developed tourist infrastructure, essentially safe (beyond usual tourist scams), and if it's your first experience in an Islamic land, the souks will be utterly, completely foreign.

- South Korea. Non-stops from the U.S., efficient and clean (moreso than back home, usually), and ditto the utterly, completely foreign thing. Safe. Probably puzzling at times (that's FUN, though, see....).

- Vietnam. English widely spoken, direct (vs. non-stop) flights, exotic, gorgeous, and you'll be a local millionaire when you change your dollars into dong. Some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, promise.

- Iceland. Ditto the short flights from the U.S., English widely spoken and safe. Compact country. Unique geography. And I'm guessing, but I'd bet that after their financial problems those ten dollar beers are a thing of the past.

There's five. Ask me about sub-Saharan Africa if you're interested. I didn't include it because it's such a long haul, but if you go you'll meet some of the friendliest people on the planet.

What do you think? Ready to go?

May I shamelessly suggest Common Sense and Whiskey - the book, which I hope will be up on Amazon.com sometime in May? Its title comes from our belief that you can handle just about anything they throw at you out there on the road with a believable grin, common sense and whiskey. It's fifteen stories about offbeat places we've traveled, including a very different China in 1995 when we were just getting started. I read it now and think, we were just children at this travel thing!

Here's more about the book:


Good luck, and thanks,


Michael Han

Thanks so much for the recommendations, Bill. I am actually looking into going to Ecuador with my University next winter on a service trip. Do you have a favorite place you've visited? I will definitely look into the book when it comes out too!



Take that trip, Mike, and then come back and write something for posting here on Common Sense and Whiskey. Will you?

Take a ride out to Cotopaxi, an almost 20,000 foot volcano. It's not even twenty miles out of Quito.

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