cover art for S2E15: Why We Travel

One Step Beyond

S2E15: Why We Travel

Season 2, Ep. 15

Why do we travel? Does travel make us happier? Smarter? Braver? Or, given the current climate crisis, why should we travel? What's the difference between a tourist and a traveler? And what's a Digital Nomad and why does that term make some people cringe?

These and many other key, core questions are answered by Nathan James Thomas, editor of the Intrepid Times, and author of Travel Your Way and Untethered, and Dr. Andrew Stevenson, a Professor of Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of the new book The Psychology of Travel, alongside host Tony Fletcher.

Some of the subjects, people and places covered in this episode:

  • "The Sheltering Sky" by Paul Bowles
  • The sugar ants of the Northern Territory in Australia
  • The joys of buying a brown paper bag in Mexico
  • Flight shaming and why it's a red herring
  • Nathan's travels through China, South America, Central Asa and why he now lives in Poland
  • Andrew's cycling tours through Malaysia, Corsica, France and England
  • Researching educational psychology in Guatemala
  • Why countries like Iran are not the scary, evil, ominous places they are presented as.
  • Running in Sandakan, Borneo and Yuksom, Sikkim, India.
  • Why walking can be an act of rebellion
  • How to spell "eudemonic," what the heck it means, and why it won't give you a hangover.
  • Do long-term travelers tend to come from unsettled family homes - or have they all just broken up with a partner and want to get the hell out of dodge?
  • Why encountering people from different cultural groups is a proven way to reduce prejudice...
  • ...But why we need to encounter them on equal terms.
  • Why staying home can be as bad for the environment as getting on a plane and seeing the world
  • Monks in Myanmar, and Marmite in Malaysia.

Nathan James Thomas' books Travel Your Way and Untethered are available through:

The Intrepid Times is and @IntrepidTimes across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Dr. Andrew Stevenson's book The Psychology of Travel is available through

and he can be found through

Theme song "A Word That Doesn't Rhyme" by The Dear Boys. Listen to the whole song here.

Sign up for free to the "Wordsmith" newsletter at for further information about this episode, news of Tony's other podcast, a Midweek Update with recommendations for shows, reading, websites, videos, books and more, and a weekly long-form article.

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  • 18. S2E18: Henk Rogers vs. The World

    In an earlier life, Henk Rogers brought the computer game Tetris to the world, as you will know if you saw the movie Tetris. Following a near-fatal heart attack in 2005 just after selling a different company for over $100,000,000, he is now bringing his renowned determination, business acumen and innovative thinking to environmentalism. Mission #1: to eliminate our use of carbon-based fuels.For this final episode of Season 2, Henk talks with Tony about why we have to do this, how his home state of Hawai'i is already doing this, how he moved to New York to ensure other states and countries follow suit, and why he won't rest until we succeed. He then talks about Mission #2: Making a back-up of human life. And yes, we also talk about Tetris.Please visit for links to Hank's ventures, other interviews with him, and for an explanation for the end of this show's road. At least for now.Thanks to Lance Gould at Brooklyn Story Lab for setting up the interviews for the last two episodes.Thanks for listening.
  • 17. S2E17: Everybody Loves Elephants. So How Do We Save Them?

    It's hard to find someone who doesn't appreciate the elephant, the largest land mammal on earth with the biggest brain, and the longest gestation period, an animal known for its sense of family, its empathy, its memory, and for being damn cuddly to boot. Yet we humans consistently sanction the murder of (primarily African) elephants for (primarily) their ivory, at a rate faster than new elephants are born, and we capture Asian elephants to use for hard labor or so-called "entertainment." Through deforestation and other destructions, we have also decreased their natural habitat in Asia by up to 95%. As a result, where there were 100,000 Asian elephants in Thailand alone only 50 years ago, there are now just 4,000, out of a population of only 40,000 Asian elephants across the entire continent. One out of every three of these Asian elephants is in captivity.Patricia Sims has documented the plight of captive Asian elephants across two documentaries, Return To The Forest (2012) and When Elephants Were Young (2016). Both films were narrated by William Shatner, and the first led Sims to launch World Elephant Day, which takes place on August 12 every year. Speaking from her home in British Columbia, Canada, Sims talks to One Step Beyond host Tony Fletcher about why these beautiful animals are a "keystone species," about the complex historical reasons so many are kept in captivity, and about programs that seek to return captive elephants into their natural habitat, so that they can once again be free to roam, maintaining the ecosystems on which we all rely.Please visit for full YouTube videos/links etc. as listed below.Links:World Elephant DayWorld Elephant Day YouTube channelReturn to the ForestWhen Elephants Were YoungThe Elephant QueenTony and Noel Fletcher's Vlog on their "Government Elephant Ride" in Chitwan National Park, Nepal, 2016 is hereZe Franks on "True Elephant Facts" at more information on this and Tony's other podcasts, and to subscribe for weekly culture updates and a long-form weekend article, visit
  • 16. S2E16: 500 5ks in 500 Days, with Jamie Kennard

    Tony interviews Catskills resident Jamie Kennard about his recent undertaking of 500 5ks in 500 days – across multiple sporting disciplines, and all of them outdoors – as a means of coping with the loss of his wife Tracy to a particularly rare and brutal cancer at the age of 47. Jamie and Tracy had been together since they were 16, and married for the last 20+ of those 30 years.Compared with her suffering and her fighting spirit, Jamie’s own determination to ski, hike, bike, run, canoe and even surf 5k a day minimum seemed… minimal. On One Step Beyond, he talks of how the undertaking nonetheless grounded him, guided him, led him to a surprising love of running, and about the so-serendipitous-it-is-almost-cosmic circumstances surrounding the conclusion of his 500th and final consecutive 5k-plus.Jamie may have been new to running, but he’s certainly no stranger to the Great Outdoors. Back in 2014, he and his brother became the first and currently still the only people known to have ski’d all 35 of the Catskill 3500ft peaks, though as part of his foray into film-making and photography, he is following former OSB guest Julie MacGuire on her own quest to become the first woman to see through this incredible feat.For full shownotes, with photos and videos, and to sign up for regular updates on this and host Tony's other shows and writings, please visit song "A Word That Doesn't Rhyme" by The Dear Boys. Listen to the whole song here.Sign up for free to the "Wordsmith" newsletter at for further information about this episode, news of Tony's other podcast, a Midweek Update with recommendations for shows, reading, websites, videos, books and more, and a weekly long-form article.
  • 14. S2E14: Beer Hiking New York and Wine Running Europe

    Jason Freedman and Philip Vondra are outdoorsy New Yorkers with a book just published entitled Beer Hiking New York: The Tastiest Way to Discover the Empire State.Colin Renton is an outdoorsy Scotsman with a book recently published entitled The Wine Runner: My Year of Hard Yards and Vineyards. Host Tony Fletcher (an outdoorsy half-Scot and half-English Brit who also has USA citizenship) talks with Jason and Colin about the joys travel both near and far, about running and hiking and… you guessed it, about beer and wine.Along the way, the three discuss:The similarities between craft beer and craft wine, the stewardship of the land and how the taste of that land ends up in the can or the bottle… it’s terroir, people.How Colin set about running 12 races in 12 countries in 12 months, visiting 12 wineries and bringing home 12 bottles of wine.How he set on this ambition with the goal of running his first marathon at age 60How Jay and Philip set about choosing just 33 great hikes and breweries in a State that has hundreds of each.Why the first hike in the book starts from Port Authority Bus Terminal in the middle of Manhattan.Why there is only one brewery in Manhattan but tons in Brooklyn.Why high-ABV IPAs are so popular in New York but why there is much to the State’s beer-making culture than that.The different types of hikes that are available to everyone in New York.The multitude of running options across Europe that are either hosted by, or run through, vineyards.Why Colin chose to avoid the obvious regions within France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Portugal……And why he included runs and wineries from England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Belgium.The greatest hike on Colin and Philip’s doorstep that they never knew of.The best Belgium beer in New York.How climate change is affecting wine making (and running) all across Europe. And how Colin sought to minimize his carbon footprint with his travels.Why it’s okay to choose not to drink alcohol – and why it’s okay to enjoy alcohol. Beer Hiking New York: The Tastiest Way to Discover the Empire State is published by Helvetiq Jason Freedman can be found at Pain Cave podcast he hosts with Philip Vondra is Wine Runner: My Year of Hard Yards and Vineyards is published by Polaris.Colin can be found at Theme music this episode is ‘A Word That Doesn’t Rhyme’ by The Dear Boys. One Step Beyond Instagram is: up at for a weekly newsletter with recommendations across all media and for updates on this and Tony Fletcher's other activities.
  • 13. S2E13: Pura Vida in Costa Rica?

    Turtles! Volcanoes! Caiman! Monkeys! Museums! Fumaroles! Scuba Diving! Swimming Holes! And Sunsets! Paula is back as co-host for the first time since the Season 1 finale as she and Tony discuss their recent travel to Costa Rica, not only from an environmental and cultural perspective, but also from their uniquely different personal perspectives. Paula had not traveled outside the USA in 35 years, whereas Tony spent almost a whole year backpacking round the globe only back in 2016. Similarly, Tony is something of an (ageing) adrenalin hound who went scuba diving and running the volcanos, while Paula had reasons to want to take it just a little less hectic.Some of the topics discussed in this episode:All the great reasons to visit Costa Rica in the first place: is just 0.04% of the earth's land surface but contains 5% of its species; 33% of it is protected land; Atlantic and Pacific Coasts both readily accessible; no standing Army.How much advance planning should go into a foreign trip and how much should be left to finalize "on the ground".Choosing to travel by public transport with occasional taxi/Uber/Didi rather than being like most North Americans and renting a car.Opting to stay primarily in Air BnBs.Advantages of traveling in the rainy seasonChoosing to avoid the main tourist destinations of Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park, going instead for:San José: not the world's loveliest capital city but a veritable gold mine of museumsTraveling to Tortuguero on the northern Caribbean coast and what to do when you miss your connecting busThe 6am canoe trip into the waters of the Tortuguero National Park and the multiple fauna and flora seen on that tripThe turtles of Tortuguero: the cosmic experience of watching green sea turtles lay their eggs and return to the ocean, all while (Tony and Paula were) stumbling round the beach at night holding hands with strangers. (More on sea turtles here)Alajuela, Costa Rica's second biggest city, and its hero Juan Santamaria, who helped achieve victory over William Walker's pro-slavery Filibusteros in 1856, and for whom the local museum (a former army barracks) and nearby international airport is named.The cloud forest of Poás VolcanoThe beautiful "white city" of Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste in the north-west.The vast and vastly under-visited Rincón de la Vieja National Park outside of Liberia, with its active volcano and multiple hiking trails. These include Las Pailas which has close-ups of fumaroles and hot springs, and the steep exposed hike to the Hidden Waterfall, which Tony was the only one to take that day.How Costa Rica is using geothermal energy from its (six) active volcanos to supply 15% of the country's energy.The charming and peaceful Playa HermosaScuba diving from nearby Playa CocoFood and drinkThe national expression of "Pura Vida"ConclusionsMusic in this episode: "A Word That Doesn't Rhyme" by The Dear BoysSubscribe to for updates on this and Tony's other podcast, plus news of events, new releases, recommendations and a weekly long-form article.
  • 12. S2E12: Rock-A-Holic: How Climbing Saved My Life

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  • 11. S2E11: Travel for Good? with Shafik Meghji

    Sign up for a free weekly article, links to Tony's other podcasts, writings, music and more at Is Travel Good For The Planet?This question is tackled by our return guest, the environmentally-focused, award-winning travel writer Shafik Meghji. In a conversation that includes the subject of Shafik's recent book, Crossed Off The Map: Travels in Bolivia, and host Tony Fletcher's upcoming journey to Costa Rica, the pair discuss:The difference between travel and tourismThe "brownfield rainforest" at Canvey Wick outside London, and the "temperate rainforests" of WalesWhy Bolivia is "on the frontline of so many defining issues that will shape all of our lives wherever we are in the world in the years to come."How Lake Pupil, a lake the size of Luxembourg, dried up in barely two years.How the Amazon rainforest comprises 1/3 of Bolivia and traveling through it can help indigenous communitiesThe natural beauty of Bolivia's rural landscapes and its fascinating citiesHow the migrant indigenous city of El Alto overtook the population of neighboring La Paz in just two decades.Costa Rica's remarkable biodiversity, its eco-tourism, and its 'unparalleled' wildlife.Shafik's recommendation for the perfect travel spotYou can find Shafik at and at his article on the brownfield rainforest of Canvey Wick and his piece on the Lost Rainforests of Britain More info on his book is at newspaper articles Tony references in the outro are:On Lithium MiningOn Deep Sea MiningFollow One Step Beyond:Instagram is OneStepBeyondPodcastFacebook is One Step Beyond with Tony FletcherTony's other podcast, the [Jamming!] Fanzine Podcast is available via song is 'Delaymania' by Noel Fletcher.Logo by Mark Lerner. Photo taken at Arte Sumapaz in Cundinimarca, Colombia.If you like the show, please subscribe, rate, review.And please sign up for free weekly articles by Tony Fletcher, along with news of podcast bonuses, Tony's other writing, broadcasting, events, books and more:
  • 10. S2E10: Driving the Blues Highway and Riding the Soul Train, from Chicago to New Orleans

    On this Episode, host Tony Fletcher is in conversation with his old London friend Richard Heard about the latter's recent Great American Road Trip from Chicago to New Orleans, setting out to trace the Story of the American Blues. Covering 1300 miles in 10 days, Richard and his American road partner also visited the Stax Museum of American Soul in Memphis, took in revered Country revue show the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, attended Jazz Fest in New Orleans, traveled through the Robert Johnson Crossroads in Clarksdale, and saw the destruction wrought by a recent tornado in Rolling Rock, Mississippi. As Richard says, "Once I lifted the bonnet [translation: the hood] on the road trip, I thought, 'This is not just about music, this is a really really interesting part of American culture and social history which I didn't really know a lot about.'"Subjects include:Planning an American Road Trip around musicChoosing the right travel partnerFocusing on four cities: Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, New OrleansLearning about The Great MigrationThe Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, with Isaac Haye's gold-plated Cadillac, the Soul Train disco ball, the recreated sloping studio - and a history of Black American Music from Gospel on through.The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the Stax songwriters wrote many of their hits.Seeing Buddy Guy jump on stage to jam at his Buddy Guy's Legends Club in Chicago - on the first night of their road trip.Why doing the Tourist Trail in these cities is no bad thingThe best live music of the whole journeyFrenchman Street in New Orleans, with a live music bar every 20 yardsThe Johnny Cash Museum in NashvilleThe magic of Sun Studio in MemphisDriving Highway 61 from Memphis to New Orleans, via the Blues capital of Clarksdale.Planning a return journey: Detroit, Cleveland and so much moreShort videos from Richard's trip can be seen at: Fletcher's books on:Wilson PickettEddie FloydMusic from the Streets of New York, 1927-77One Step Beyond Socials:Instagram is OneStepBeyondPodcastFacebook is One Step Beyond with Tony FletcherE-mail us at's other podcast, the [Jamming!] Fanzine Podcast is available via (Richard was a guest on the first episode)