Why You Don?t Have To Go Half Way Around the Globe to Find a Good Travel Story

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in Experiences, Philosophy, Travel | 12 comments

Why You Don?t Have To Go Half Way Around the Globe to Find a Good Travel Story

Of late, I?ve been seeing a few posts and tweets about people traveling all around the world, to over 50 + countries and counting, etc. etc. I love traveling, and always have. Ever since I was three years old, I?ve been on a plane, jetting to places as varied as Nigeria, and to Europe and back again to my motherland, India.

I am the first person in the world who will tell you that boarding a plane, a ship, or even a canoe to somewhere really ?foreign? and exciting gives me goosebumps. It?s a complete and total addiction. And in my ?youth? (yes, yes, because I?m about to have a kid, I?m talking as though I?m a grandmother, but just let me be) I used to think that traveling to far off lands and bringing back a wealth of stories and riches including saffron, spice and gold would be the best thing since sliced, toasted bread.

Traverse City, Michigan

The peaceful Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, MI

But as I?m focusing more and more on being a ?writer? ?whatever that means?I?ve learned that some of the best travel stories can really be found at home. For instance, there?s a chap around the corner who opened an Indian restaurant called Touch of Spice and pretty much poured all his savings into it. We live in a community that is quite a fabric of various ethnicities, so I wasn?t sure as to how the restaurant would fare. Just visiting his restaurant on a regular basis and listening to his stories (he owned restaurants in the Middle East and also catered to the royal family there) transported me far, far away. And for those of you who care, yes, his local business IS doing well.

A view from my hotel room, Bayshore Resort, Traverse City MI

A view from our hotel room, the Bayshore Resort, in Traverse City, MI

Then there was this time when I went to Traverse City, Michigan, and listened to how the Grand Traverse Pie Company got started. Till today, I am convinced that the owners, Mike and Denise Busley, make the best Cherry Cobbler in the country (and of course, Traverse City is known for its tart cherries). But when Mike wandered into Julian Pie Company in Julian, California, his life changed forever. The crazy thing is that he?d never owned a business or made a pie before, and he asked the head of the Julian Pie company to teach him her secrets.

The result? Seriously, a pie SO good that Matt and I flew back to Traverse City the year afterwards JUST to buy pie (okay, fine, Matt had a half Marathon in Traverse City, but he could have run that anywhere?.the chief excuse was the pie). But my point is, there is a great story here?not only Mike?s commitment to a business he never thought he?d succeed at (the family risked their entire savings to get the business off the ground; and today the couple have over 17 pie shops and earn some solid franchising fees; but also Mike?s vision and eagerness to use the fresh local produce that Traverse City is so famous for.

A view from my hotel room, Bayshore Resort, Traverse City MI

View of the beach on Grand Traverse Bay from our hotel room

Last year, I went on a press trip to learn more about Dumbo, Brooklyn, and encountered Mark Thompson from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, whose story I wrote about here. Although Dumbo is but a hop, skip and a subway ride away from Manhattan, I felt as though I had struck a goldmine when I listened to his most unusual circumstances.

Grand Traverse Pie Company, Traverse City, MI

Some of the delicious Grand Traverse Pie Company fare; credit- Roadfood.com

That?s again, not to say, that a trip on board the new Dreamliner or a journey to the Galapagos Islands wouldn?t be my cup of tea: I?m ALL about finding locations that are off the beaten path. But as I hone my writing, it?s prompted me to look a little deeper into what constitutes a story, and all that rah-rah-rah ?I?ve been to the Burj Al Arab? doesn?t impress me as much as a well thought out, well-researched and sometimes purely local piece.

But?I?d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think makes a good travel story?

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