In this season four finale of the Travel Stories Podcast, Hayden is joined by Nicole (his writer) and Cody (his composer) to look back over the season, share outtakes, and talk about the upcoming fifth season. They weave through every episode and discuss what they thought about the guests and the stories, bringing in recaps and flashbacks to the highlights of each episode. You’ll remember this season featured Tom Butler, Sarah Miduski, Tania Aebi, Nate Buchanan, Britany Felix, Frank Salas, Leon Logothetis, Ladan Jiracek, Justin Walter, Cody Crabb, and Mike Corey. The gang shares their favorite episodes and moments from this season.
In their rambling discussions, the gang talks about the same themes that they see cropping up in every episodes, and the vein they see running through all the themes and episodes this season. They talk about what traveling means to them, then start devolving into a conversation about expectations versus reality, making experiences positive or negative, and how this plays into travel. They discuss traveling with children and travel aesthetics. The gang has fun together, bantering and joking around, as well as dragging each other and wholeheartedly (and savagely) mocking one another.
The team also discusses the unreality of thinking they have actual listeners and actual fans. In their conversation, they revisit past guests and fans, like Billy from last season and what he’s been up to. Hayden brings some outtakes to share, as well - such as one where Hayden and Nicole roast Cody when his connection dropped during an episode. Their big finish features discussing what’s coming up in season five.
Coming up next season we have a name change: we are becoming Backpack Digital. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handles, as well as our website name, are all changing to backpackdigital to reflect this. We’re also expanding to include more than just podcasts. We have more inspiring travel-related content coming your way, so stay tuned! The podcast itself is changing, as well: the intro is changing, we’re getting new artwork, and the format is going to be split up. We’ll break up the interview and the story into two separate episodes for easy listening. We’re also releasing a book during season five: Nicole’s novel Venus, a novel about two young women who go on an adventure, searching for an escape and for a way to discover who they are as people. Along the way, they figure out who they are, they fall in love, and they learn that the journey is sometimes better than the destination.
If you stay tuned all the way until the end of the episode, you can find some bonus outtakes of Hayden being a mushmouth. We look forward to bringing you forward to season five come late March. Have a good break!
Once upon a time, a wise old Jedi claimed that “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” He stopped after suffering, though, so we have to wonder: what does suffering lead to? Is there a chance that suffering can lead to new possibilities? From suffering, there are opportunities for growth, for change, and for evolution. Suffering can be the catalyst for so many qualities necessary in a travel, and, sometimes, all that you need to do to obtain those qualities is to “rough it” when traveling. Tom Butler makes his triumphant return to discuss the benefits of “roughing it,” as well as his time in China.
Tom returns to Hayden to talk about his life since he last visited in season three, as well as how he has begun to settle down with his family, which includes his three-year-old daughter and will soon include another child, coming this summer. He talks about how the logistics of traveling have had to shift since he has started adding children to his family, since the travel bug has not been dissuaded regardless of how many kids he has. Tom also discusses how to manage your budget and finances when you travel.
The highlight of Tom’s episode is in his story, based in China and given the alluring title of: “On the Right Track.” He talks about his journey with his family from Shiyan to Beijing, how they decided to stop over in Pingyao, but also decided to take the most overpacked train directly following Chinese New Year. What followed was a lesson in not overbooking trains, and in trusting those around you when something goes wrong.
Tom also discusses with Hayden cultural divides, differences from location to location, and how even the slightest deviation from your usual routine can count as a travel experience. They also continue their thread of how “toughing it” can make an experience that much more powerful and interesting to go through and learn from, as well as how to follow your own flexibility when scheduling and spending on a trip. When it comes right down to it, though, you will never know if you don’t give it a shot; “do or do not - there is no try.”
Knowing that you’re able to travel - able to afford it, able to hop on a plane and end up halfway across the world only hours later - can grant you a kind of appreciation you never realized before. Living in a place where travel is possible, where going on unprecedented journeys is possible, where listening to travel story podcasts is possible, is the ideal travel situation. How can you live a life of possibility, and how can you utilize the life of possibility that you have been given? Sarah Miduski of Obligatory Traveler joins Hayden to talk about life, health, and the pursuit of graciousness in travel.
Sarah is a self-proclaimed “fangirl” of the show as well as a blogger, writer, and storyteller at Obligatory Traveler. She has three chronic illnesses, a rare heart condition, and an unwavering sense of adventure and wanderlust. She joins Hayden to talk about breaking into writing, branding herself, and how she handles her chronic health issues in regards to her travel desires. She reconciles her “medical mess,” as she calls it, with her adventures.
Hayden discusses with Sarah the importance of hindsight and looking back on your travels once you have experience to look back with. Sarah also talks about her list of where she wants to go and what she wants to do, which she has on her website. She talks about her epiphany surrounding her own mortality in her youth, and talks about how her realization of her mortality led her to her life of travel.
Sarah shares her story, a Panama-based tale that she has ambiguously titled ‘Unexpected Wildlife.’ She spins a yarn about the time she was desperately searching for a sloth on her trip, but instead encountered an entirely different kind of fauna in the forest. She tried to escape unscathed, but, unfortunately, she saw way more than she ever intended to see that day. Luckily, she did live through the encounter, and took from it an important lesson: always expect the unexpected.
In the modern traveler’s life, it is expected that they live a life that they ought to be grateful for. Travelers can tap into the idea of gratitude to access a deeper level to their journey, as well as utilizing this gratitude in their traveling. Hayden and Sarah discuss the theory of the “space between,” meaning the space between stimulus and response, with positives and negatives, as well as control when traveling. Travelers have an obligation to themselves to express gratitude for their situations, and to access their gratitude for their adventures.
Solitude, uncertainty, and unpredictable storms (both physical and metaphorical) are circumstances that every single human being experiences during their lifetime. When you have only yourself and a steadfast belief in luck to rely on, it can be difficult to throw yourself into a situation. If you keep moving forward, though, even the impossible can become possible - and this is especially true when you decide to trust in others and let them help you along your path. Tania Aebi is a living example of the truth behind this.
In the late 1980s, starting at age eighteen, Tania Aebi successfully completed a solo circumnavigation of the entire world, making her the first American woman and the youngest person at the time to sail all the way around the world. She wrote the book Maiden Voyage about her experiences, and visits the Travel Stories Podcast to share her stories. She and Hayden discuss her life-changing journey, the methods to her madness, and the importance of her father’s influence in her life.
In between tales about Tania’s world-traveling cats and their wives, Tania also tells Hayden about the role that preparation needs to take in getting ready to travel. They discuss luck, too, and how you can never know what will happen to you until you take the first step and give something a try. She discusses her “day by day,” “mile by mile” approach to travel, getting from one location to the next. She also talks about her roots and the home she has made in Vermont.
Tania also shares her own travel story, of which she had many to choose from, expertly called “The Fisherman.” She discusses how she had been struggling as she came into port at Sri Lanka, but that the bad luck turned when a fishing boat with two guys approached her. Wary, as this could go one of two ways, Tania accepted the help, and trusted in human nature and in these two individuals to help her. Years later, she received something she had never anticipated as a result of that meeting. She now recalls these encounters as how strong human connections can be, and how important it is to trust in one another.
Traveling around the world is a massive undertaking. However, with a few cats, a couple fishermen in loincloths, a belief in human connections, and faith in luck, Tania Aebi was able to pull off exactly that.