#FBF: Followback Friday is our new interview series where we get real with some of our favorite travel influencers. We want to learn what makes them tick, their best tips and tricks, and share stories of (mis)adventures from the road.
We’ve always said Iceland is a magical place, and now we have the proof. It took just one weekend trip to Iceland for Adam Groffman to get hooked on travel. During that weekend, he decided that he wanted to see more of the world — and he has. The Texas native spent 15 months touring the world before settling down in Berlin full time as an expat. The one-time graphic designer turned travel professional documents his adventures in his hit lifestyle blog, Travels of Adam. We caught up with the self-proclaimed traveling hipster in between trips to learn more about his best packing tips, his biggest travel mishap (everyone has them), and why he likes to talk to strangers.
You’ve been living as an expat for several years now. What made you decide to travel the world for 15 months and then settle in Berlin?
In 2009 I visited Iceland on a weekend trip from Boston. I came away from that trip inspired to see more of the world, to have more experiences so that’s when I started planning ‘the big trip.’ I’d started working the corporate world right out of college and felt a bit trapped, not having much vacation time to see or explore the world. So I planned to travel.
The plan wasn’t to move to Berlin after the trip, but I fell in love with the city and realized it was actually possible to stay here long-term. So here I am!
What’s your favorite thing about traveling?I love the experience of seeing and doing new things – it’s not only exhilarating to see how something works or has worked in a strange/different place, but I often come away learning something. Not just something historical, but often traveling teaches me something about myself.
What are your top three destinations for newbie travelers?
Well, I’ve always loved Europe and I think many of the cities here offer the chance to explore a new place and new culture easily. My top picks would probably be Barcelona, London and Rome.
What’s been your biggest travel mishap on the road?I’m sure I’ve done a lot of stupid things when traveling, but I try not to live with too many regrets! I definitely have had some visa issues in the past. I didn’t apply for a travel visa to India until after I’d booked a flight and I actually didn’t get the visa until after my flight, so had to pay all sorts of fees to reschedule… I make those mistakes surprisingly often! ::facepalm:
A lot of people find packing for a trip incredibly stressful. What’s a good packing hack you keep up your sleeve?
Packing stresses me out as much as anyone else! I almost always forgot something and I’m usually only packing my bag hours before leaving… but one thing I’ve found to keep myself sane when packing is to keep a drawer in my home with all my travel essentials (small headphones, battery chargers, power converters, travel-size shampoo…). Keeping it all handy in a particular place in home makes it easy to find what I need when I need it!
Be honest, what’s one item you refuse to leave home without?I always carry a small notebook and pen with me – I don’t always use it but you never know when inspiration to write might strike!
People are always talking about what they would bring with them if they ever got stuck on a deserted island. We want to know which island — anywhere in the world — you would like to get stuck on.
Back in 2010 when visiting Cambodia I met some locals and they took me and my friends on a boat to a small island off the coast where we slept on the beach, ate fresh fish and did nothing but sit in the sand for a full day. I’d love to go back somewhere like that – somewhere that’s quiet and peaceful.
We love keeping up with your blog posts. Who are some of travel writers and photographers you keep on your radar to inspire your travels?One of my favorite places for inspiration is in LGBT publications. There are a handful of gay magazines that I really love, so I often find inspiration in ones like Hello Mr and Gayletter.
What’s the best travel advice you have ever received?
I think the best advice is to simply talk to strangers. I’ve met some real characters while traveling – not all that great or good, but plenty of good experiences to make up for the bad. It’s a great way to experience a new place.