Go Away With … Josh Gates

Josh Gates x 640

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
November 10, 2015

“Technically, I live in Los Angeles,” says Josh Gates, host of Travel Channel’s “Expedition Unknown.” “But my primary residence is on airport floors around the world.” Not that he’s complaining. The adventurer says that getting paid to see the world is his dream job. When asked for a unique destination that he would recommend, Gates says, “Cuba. Go right now and you’ll see Havana as it existed 50 years ago — classic cars, sleepy streets and music in the air. Go in five years and there’ll probably be an Applebee’s where (Ernest) Hemingway used to drink.”

Read more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I’m a Southeast Asia nut. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. … I love them all. I guess if I have to pick one, I’ll say Thailand.

Q. To someone who was going to Thailand for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. Two days in Bangkok, three days exploring Chiang Mai in the north and then a solid four or five days on a small island in the Andaman Sea doing absolutely nothing. Thailand has amazing luxury accommodations, but it’s also a low-budget paradise. I always advise people to mix it up. Spend a few nights in a posh hotel and then hang out with a bunch of backpackers at a full moon party.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. My iPhone. It feels like an extension of me at this point and while it’s critical to help me stay in touch with my team back in the States, technology can also be a seductive waste of time. Last week one of my producers was playing Candy Crush on a game drive in Africa. I nearly fed his phone to a rhino.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. My mother is British, so every year we’d hop across the Atlantic to visit family. I can remember lying under my parents’ seats on the floor of a 747 listening to the hum of those Rolls Royce engines. I think an early exposure to overseas travel primed me for a lifetime of wanderlust.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. To just go with it. No matter how well you plan a trip, everything goes wrong at some point. Every day on “Expedition Unknown” is filled with the unexpected. But, if you approach the flat tires, bumpy roads and lost luggage with a good sense of humor, the setbacks end up being the most memorable and hilarious parts of the journey.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I love a road trip through the desert from Los Angeles to Vegas. Everyone driving north on Interstate 15 looks so happy. People are blasting their radios, gleefully anticipating a weekend of debauchery. On the other side of the freeway, everyone driving home looks miserable, hung over and broke. But the two days in between are a blast.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Istanbul, Bangkok, New York City, Rome and Edinburgh.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Currently planning to film in the Mustang Region of Nepal to explore the legend of Shangri-La. This is a place that hasn’t been filmed very much, so I’m thrilled to bring our viewers along for the adventure.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I always carry an anonymous-looking black backpack. Never carry a bag that calls attention to itself. Inside my pack you’d find a reliable Parker click pen, a Moleskin notebook, Bose noise-canceling headphones, an iPod, a good book and a solid camera. Oh, and probably some Pepto-Bismol.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. Motor-biking the Silk Road, or a trip on Virgin Galactic. I’m open to either.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Best: Getting engaged on elephant-back in the jungles of Thailand. Worst: I once had the roof rip off a small plane mid-flight. When you’re flying and then suddenly you’re outdoors — that’s not a good sign.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. “Expedition Unknown” is all about exploring the world’s greatest legends. To that end, we want to link up with some of the world’s best experts. They’re our conduits into the unknown. This season we’re trekking with archaeologists across Mongolia to search for Genghis Khan’s lost tomb, joining treasure hunters in the jungles of the Philippines, and diving with underwater explorers seeking evidence of a “Japanese Atlantis.”

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. Any place that’s filled with locals, off the tourist track, and social. I don’t care if it’s street meat in India or a 5-star restaurant in Buenos Aires. I love an authentic meal where I get to chat with new people.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I’m a sucker for Banyan Tree Resorts. They maintain a collection of stunning luxury hotels around the world. I recently had the chance to stay in their property in Mayakoba, Mexico. The rooms are set amidst mangroves and lagoons on the coast of the Riviera Maya.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. If you want specifics, I’d say the Four Seasons in Chang Mai, Thailand – an infinity pool in the middle of a mountain rice paddy is tough to beat. Or The Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa where you can curl up in a tree house perched above the savannah. But, in general? Italy. The food, the people, the history – nothing beats Italy.

© 2015 JAE-HA KIM


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