For the next installment in my interview series, I decided to talk to someone whom I consider one of the most underappreciated voices in the community, Maverick Traveler. I’ve always believed that it’s important to give praise and credit to those who have demonstrated excellence in a given area of endeavor. His blog chronicles his extensive travels in foreign lands and experiences with women, and his articles—some of which are real gems–provide a level of candid introspection and deft analysis that can rarely be found elsewhere.
I was first drawn to his writing by the incisive observations and a degree of even-tempered humility, but over time I’ve become more and more impressed by the sheer scope and range of his travel experiences. The overall impression given is that of a man sincerely grasping for a deeper truth behind the material things of this world, a man probing for his place in the world’s impersonal immensity. But travel is never an end in itself; one feels, in Maverick’s pages, that the real goal is self-discovery and improvement: the eternal quest to know thyself. This is what elevates him outside the ranks of the mere trekker, and firmly into the ranks of the true seeker.
He has posted at Return of Kings before, and some readers may be familiar with his writings already.
When I spoke with him recently, he had just returned from one of his adventures and was getting caught up on a backlog of accumulated work. I decided to see how things were going with him. My goal was to find out what inner motivations have driven his quest for foreign lands and foreign women. Just as importantly, I wanted to know what lessons he’s drawn from his years of wanderlust.
Quintus: Thanks for joining us at ROK today, Mav. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate and appreciate the chance to check in with you here.
Maverick: No problem, Quint. Glad to be talking to you. It’s been a while.
Quintus: So let’s get right down to it. How did you first get into the traveling lifestyle?
Maverick: I’ve been curious about exploring the world ever since I was a little kid. When I lived in California, I took lots of trips to Mexico (Baja California). After several trips, I became addicted and didn’t want to stop. Gradually, I started taking longer and longer trips, venturing further and further away from US. That’s when I went to Central America, spending a month traveling through most of the region’s countries. Each successive trip became longer and longer. At some point I realized that I no longer had the desire to come back to USA, and that’s when I began living abroad.
Quintus: Your articles cover a huge geographic area, man. Which country made the biggest impression on you?
Maverick: That’s easy: Brazil. Brazil is one of those countries with a perfect combination of the things I value the most: tropical climate, picturesque beaches, friendly and helpful people, and gorgeous and flirtatious women. I lived in Rio de Janeiro for a bit over two years, which were some of the most memorable years of my life.
Quintus: Now, you also studied ju-jitsu pretty intensely while you were there, right?
Maverick: Yeah, that’s right.
Quintus: Which nationality of women have you connected with the most? I have a feeling I already know the answer to this one.
Maverick: I’ve connected with many different types of women, but I have a permanent soft spot for Brazilian women. They’re friendly, feminine and flirtatious. What else does a man need?
Quintus: I hear you on that. No argument from me. But what traits and qualities do you look for in a woman?
Maverick: My ideal woman should have a nice combination of femininity and decisiveness. Those two qualities are like the opposing yin and yang; they balance themselves out. Above all, there must be chemistry, which you can usually feel within the first few minutes of chatting.
Quintus: One of the biggest excuses I hear from guys who don’t want to travel is the money issue, or the work issue. What is the best way to balance the need to earn income with the traveler’s lifestyle?
Maverick: Excuses, excuses. The first step is to realize that you’re not working and traveling, but, rather, working from a remote office. That means staying longer in various places, at least three to six months. Second, it means renting higher quality accommodation, like private rooms or private apartments. I don’t see how you can be productive working from a 24-bed hostel dorm with a large group of rowdy backpackers. I always tell them a great saying: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” All of their objections are purely mental limitations.
Freedom doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of responsibility. To me, freedom is about having the desire and the means to do things my way, on my own terms. Responsibility, in turn, means the procurement and exercise of such freedom. It’s every man’s responsibility to live to their true potential and never be satisfied with anything less.
Quintus: That’s an important point. I’ve always thought it’s actually better and more productive to be in a decent private room or apartment, than slumming it as a backpacker. How have your travels shaped your view of the world?
Maverick: There are two ways to learn about the world around you: ask someone or see it for yourself. I prefer the latter because that allows me to form my opinion about the world instead of viewing the world through someone else’s eyes. Traveling has been the single most impactful thing I’ve ever done in my life. There’s absolutely no substitute for getting on the plane and landing in some remote country with its own customs and traditions. None. I’ve wasted money on lots of stupid things, but I’ve never regretted spending even a cent on stuff related to travel.
Quintus: Exactly. And the memories are like a well that you can draw from for years afterwards….let’s talk about language for a bit, Mav. Which languages do you think a novice traveler should try to master?
Maverick: That really depends on where you’re planning to travel [laughs]. Nevertheless, you’ll never go wrong by learning the “big” languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, or Russian. Not only do these languages immediately grant you access to large populations of native speakers, but knowing any of these languages allows you quickly pickup another language from the same language family. For example, if you already speak Spanish, you’ll be able to pick up Italian or French with less effort than if you only knew English. Right now I’m teaching myself French, which is a very important language with lots of great literature and history.
Quintus: Now, your native language is Russian, right? But you grew up in New York City?
Quintus: How many countries, in all, have you visited?
Maverick: I’ve visited about 70 countries and lived for extended periods in 10 of them.
Quintus: So, what are your future plans for the short term?
Maverick: I plan to return to Eastern Europe soon and spend some months exploring the region before planting my roots somewhere. I used to mostly backpack, but now I’m keen on finding a place and spending there several months or even years. I’ve slowed down my traveling pace over the last few years, and I’m not sure if that’s because of more travel experience and wisdom, or because I’m getting older [laughs].
Quintus: What are some trends you’ve noticed in your dealing with women from different countries?
Maverick: A woman is the reflection of the culture. If the culture is friendly and open, the women will be passionate and outgoing. If the culture is reserved and cold, the women will be aloof and reticent. If the culture values the pursuit of money and career advancement above everything else, the women will be duly trying to climb the corporate ladder while viewing men as their sworn competitors instead of amiable companions.
Quintus: Water takes the shape of its glass…right [laughs]?
Maverick: I’d have to agree with that.
Quintus: Do you have any quotes that have helped you in your achievements and self-improvement?
Maverick: “Show me a happy man, and I will show you a man who is getting nothing accomplished in this world.” That one is by Rich Cohen.
Quintus: I’d agree with that. I’ve also celebrated anguish and angst [laughs]. Continuous serenity usually produces nothing but a dead mechanism, an empty aimlessness. Mav, I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us today. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of your stuff in the months ahead. I hope you can join us again soon.
Maverick: Thanks, man, thanks for having me.
Read More: Into The Wild