A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.
What is your favourite travel experience or story?
I was two weeks into my three-month trip to Indonesia, and I had backpacked my way up Sulawesi from Makassar in the south to the Togean Islands in the north. After spending two weeks roughing it at tiny guest houses exploring the traditional cultures and funerary practices of Tana Toraja and braving the humid climates of the Indonesian wet season, spending a few days on the idyllic white sand beaches of the Togeans while snorkeling through vibrant coral reefs was precisely what I needed.
However, while an isolated island paradise seemed like a daydream come true, I quickly became exhausted from the remote setting. I was eager to return to the mainland, where I could finally enjoy cell connection to respond to my family back home.
Now, the thing about the Togean Islands is that while speed boats connect the archipelago to Ampana to its south with daily routes, only two weekly ferries connect it to Gorontolo to its north. And unfortunately, I was headed in the northern direction, which meant if I missed my boat, I would have had to have waited four more days.
So to ensure we made it to the docks on time, a couple of travel companions I had met along the way and I had arranged to be taxied to the main island several hours before we were scheduled to embark that evening. Unfortunately, upon arriving, we discovered that the ferry had broken down and was sent back to Goronotolo without any passengers.
Distressed by the prospect of being stuck on a disconnected island with no way to communicate with our loved ones back home, my companions and I began looking at alternative routes. Finally, we found another ferry leaving from a nearby dock, but to reach it in time, we would have to double back to Ampana and take a taxi two hours along the coast. What’s more, the last speed boat back to Ampana for the day had already left.
Instead of giving up, we began talking with some locals at the dock that had been playing cards during this whole ordeal. It turned out there was one more boat heading back to the mainland for the day, although as a cargo boat, it didn’t carry passengers. Luckily, in the Togean Islands, this wasn’t a problem, and we were quickly able to negotiate passage to Ampana.
As it would happen, this was the best ferry service I have ever taken. There were no seats on the boat. Instead, I was sprawled out on a bag of rice, looking up at the skies. I was fully immersed in the moment. I could feel the old wooden boards creaking against the ocean’s swelling. And it was the most stars I have ever seen filling the night sky.
While it definitely isn’t the most glamorous of my travel tales, the time I hitchhiked my way on a cargo ship is easily one of my favorite stories of my time abroad.
What's your travel style?
I enjoy budget-traveling to off-the-beat path destinations. While I typically travel solo, I have recently begun traveling with my girlfriend, who embraces the same ‘roughing it’ methodology.
While traveling, my favorite way to stay is by renting a room at a homestay or Airbnb. I find this is the best way to immerse in the local community while maintaining a cost-effective budget.
How do you decide which places to visit?
When deciding where to visit, I read plenty of blog posts and watch tons of travel shows. During my planning process, I always look for lesser-seen regions or to travel during the off or shoulder seasons of popular destinations.
What is your #1 travel tip?
Don’t get too caught up in the planning process. Sure, it is great to have a general itinerary. It gives you a path to follow while providing your family some peace of mind at home. But the real adventures only begin when you stray from your established route.
While planning is a fantastic way to ensure you see a destination’s top highlights, the best way to experience a place’s hidden wonders is by leaving room for spontaneous additions you may only hear about once you are in the country.
So, be diligent and do your planning. But don’t be scared to deviate from your itinerary during your trip.
What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
Sky diving, Sailing the French Polynesians, and Visiting Armenia.
Window seat or aisle?