Travel Talk: Brendan Burns
Do you ever wonder what shapes a traveler? The stories may vary, but common themes surface: exposure to travel, cultural exchange, and awe-inspiring sights are among frequently recurring experiences.
Exploring this curiosity, I caught up with Manhattanite Brendan Burns. Cue Frank Sinatra: Now that the New Yorker has made it there, he’s ready to make it everywhere. Literally. The founder of adventuredaze.com aspires to explore all seven continents.
Caroline Carlos: So. Who is the travel addict we call Brendan Burns?
Brendan Burns: Nice! Very philosophical. Growing up, I had a close relationship with my grandfather —a politician and lawyer, very involved with charities— and he took me on all these trips. I was six, seven—
CC: Because all six-year olds travel the world.
BB: Yeah, exactly. [chuckle] We went to California, Alaska, Texas, London. We always had these differentiated experiences because [my grandfather] knew people on the ground, so when we went to Alaska, we did Juneau, then took a plane to the Arctic Circle, and we were on these random boats in the middle of nowhere, going four-wheeling, and seeing local caribou.
CC: My kind of grandpa. What else did he do to foster your adventurous spirit?
BB: He was very encouraging of trying adventurous foods. He would always say to me: “You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to take a second bite. But you have to take a first bite.” Of everything that he would put in front of me. I was kind of a picky eater initially, but then it would always turn into “Fine, I’ll take this one bite of this gross ostrich,” and then I’d bite a little piece and say, “Oh, this tastes like chicken! This is great!” And from there it turned into alligator and all sorts of other crazy things.
CC: He ignited your food and travel spark.
BB: I think whenever you’re exposed to anything at a young age, it builds that interest and comfort.
CC: Agree. Did your dad also expose you to the great big world?
BB: My dad lived in Bogota, Colombia, for a semester in college. That changed him as a person and made him open-minded to other cultures and traveling. He came back fluent in Spanish because he lived with a family that spoke no English. My junior year of college, I spent a semester in Barcelona. That was amazing. There are so many great things about our country [America], but there are certain things —like, especially in New York, when you talk about work-life balance, for example— where you see a different perspective. Here, we live to work. There, they work to live.
CC: I learned that phrase from a friend who lives in Spain. It’s like an unofficial motto.
BB: Having that perspective from living in Barcelona, of another way to live, was amazing.
CC: Was it the best, or was it the best?
BB: Yeah! That was amazing. I was living in a hub where, for four or five months, I could buy a Ryanair flight to Munich or Sweden for a hundred Euros every weekend if I wanted to. It was a great opportunity to see pretty much all the main cities of Western Europe. Having flexibility to just jump on a plane was amazing. One day, everyone’s speaking Czech, an hour later, everyone’s speaking Italian.
CC: You’re a big proponent of solo travel. Is Barcelona where it started?
BB: I liked to travel every opportunity I got, you know. It got to a point where I wanted to do an international trip every four-day weekend, spring break, everything. I was like, “I have to travel. I can’t just wait around for other people to be available.”
CC: I’m volunteering to be travel buddy, just so you know.
BB: Yeah, let’s do it! I’m so down. So, my first solo trip, I wrote a bunch of friends on Facebook. My friend Toby, who was living in Oslo at the time, was like, “Yo Brendan, come to Oslo. We’ll do a Norwegian road trip. You’ll celebrate Christmas with my family, Norwegian style.” And I thought: this is exactly what I’m looking for! I flew to Iceland first, which was my first real time alone. I totally fell in love for a million different reasons. Then I met with Toby in Norway, had a great time, and I flew home, and thought, “I’m never traveling with another person again!” You have all this freedom and flexibility. Nowadays I may be skewed towards going with people, but that was a really meaningful experience for me.
CC: You’ve grown up traveling and have had all these amazing (your favorite word it seems) experiences. Was that Iceland/Norway trip when you realized you were in love with traveling?
BB: That’s a great question that nobody’s asked me. I did an overnight flight to Reykjavík and went straight to the Blue Lagoon first, and was floating in geothermal hot springs. Then I make it into town, but on the way back, I’m in the snow and totally winging it. There are parts [of Iceland] where it’s a huge road, no sidewalk, and you can’t find taxis. This is where I am. I’m in Iceland, alone, I don’t know where the hell I’m going. I start walking, then realize there’s no road. Then I’m in a random field. I’m like, this is crazy! I loved it.
CC: Ah, the joys of travel.
BB: That’s travel! You go from having no clue to, boom, everything’s amazing. My Airbnb was right across the field. That night, wandering Reykjavík, I felt so in the zone, so alive. That was a turning point where I got into solo travel and way more into travel in general. That Iceland trip was pretty defining for me.
CC: No wonder your travel site is called AdventureDaze. What inspired you to launch it?
BB: I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. Do you know it?
CC: Heard of it, haven’t read it.
BB: Ok, you should put that on your list. That book planted a seed in the back of my brain that said “You shouldn’t be a lawyer. You should do what Tim Ferriss does, which is travel, earn passive income, and blog, and invest. It’s like the YOLO attitude while also being an adult and making sure to have income. That book was amazing. I started thinking more seriously about entrepreneurship and how I can be my own boss. What really appealed to me is just having a laptop and a backpack, maybe a dog, and just be able to go.
BB: I am trying to convert the fear and stress into gratitude and excitement for what the future holds.
Appreciative, open-minded, and optimistic, Brendan will undoubtedly have countless more life-changing moments in his travels. From the Mediterranean sun of Barcelona, to the cooler clime of Reykjavík, to all the world’s continents, you can follow his travels at adventuredaze.com