Home Interviews Exclusive Interview With The International Bestselling Authoress: Patricia Schultz
Exclusive Interview With The International Bestselling Authoress: Patricia Schultz PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 04 March 2013 17:51

Mrs. Schultz penned about travel for many publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Oprah: The O Magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, Harper's Bazaar, Departures, Travel Weekly and Real Simple. She also wrote for guides like Frommer’s and Berlitz. Patricia Schultz is a popular speaker at travel shows, museums, associations, organizations in the U.S. and abroad. In more than 25 years of travel writing, Patricia Schultz’s passion and curiosity has not faded. In 2008, Patricia Schultz was chosen by Forbes among the 25 most influential women in travel.

Mrs. Schultz is the authoress of the #1 New York Times bestseller of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. It is a 2003 travel book published by Workman. A revised edition was published in November 2011. The updated version now lists circa 1,100 places to visit. The new edition is in color. In addition, an iPad app debuted in December 2011. Noteworthily, 1,000 Places is an avant-garde book. Since its first edition in 2003, it became possible to see the fax numbers, websites, e-mail addresses, among other information for tours, etc. Furthermore, the authoress went to 80% of the countries covered in her book. So, the information is far from being solely theoretical; it is also based on real and personal experiences. In this regard, the public really connected with that. The book covers chapters from the five continents and is well documented. This is what the media have to say about the new edition of Mrs. Schultz’s book: “The world’s bestselling travel book is back in a more informative, more experiential, more budget-friendly full-color edition. A #1 New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide.”  The books have sold over 4 million copies in the English language market alone, with twenty-five translations available around the world. Aforementioned, Mrs. Schultz is a veteran travel journalist with 25 years of experience under her belt. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. This series started on March 29, 2007. The same year a follow-up edition of the book appeared. It was entitled 1,000 PLACES TO SEE IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA BEFORE YOU DIE. Schultz also co-authored Made in Italy and wrote 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Traveler’s Journal among other travel books. 

Here, Mrs. Schultz talks about her professional journey and her love for Ethiopia among her other passions, chiefly related to travels. Thus, the authoress will captivate the readers with descriptions of amazing images related to the world's most fascinating destinations. By Patricia Turnier, Editress-in-Chief and Legalist, LL.M (Master’s degree in Law).

P.T. When did you become passionate about travelling and what was the pivotal moment which made you decide to focus your career on trips?

P.S. I have loved to travel since ever I can remember. After finishing university (with a Junior Year spent in Spain) I worked odd jobs for several years working to make frequent trips happen. By chance, I was asked to pitch in and do an interview for an editor who was not able to make it to Key West Florida at the last minute. It was my first published article which made me realize that I could pursue a career in this field. It wasn't easy, but that was the moment of my epiphany.

I believe that some people can travel from NY to LA without registering a thing. For my part, I am able to walk around my mid-Manhattan block, come home with a carton of milk and I will have a lot of stories to share. I think that the number of miles covered is not related to the real enjoyment of discovering the beauty surrounding us.

P.T. Share with us your thoughts about the first country you visited which had a culture totally different from the Western one. In other words, narrate your first cultural shock. In addition, tell us how it made you grow on a personal and professional level.

P.S. When I was 15 years old, I was invited by a friend to visit her over summer break in her native Dominican Republic. It was my first passport and my first stamp. I was totally immersed in a culture that was exciting and exotic to me. It was a major eye-opening moment when I realized that I played a very small part in a very large world full of such remarkable places.

I think the international destination is less important than the fact that total immersion in a foreign culture at an impressionable age (15) can impact the way you view the world and its peoples in a big way. Although growing up I lived within an hour of NYC, it was still a small-city environment. In addition, my parents had never traveled overseas. Going to the Dominican Republic allowed me to experience another world that was so rich with history, culture, food and music. It definitely turned my world around. When I returned to Santo Domingo last year for the first time since then (I had been to the country’s beautiful resorts and coastal destinations, but not back to the capital city) it was amazing how much I recalled the smells, impressions and memories of that visit more than 30 years ago.

Overall, my first trip to the Dominican Republic was a life-changer. I came home and continued my love affair with all things Hispanic. I taught myself Spanish, continued to learn it in college, where I also studied Spanish literature and history, then branched out into European history and culture...and beyond.

We all start our exploration of the globe somewhere, and for me it began in the Caribbean. Most think of palm trees and snorkeling, but to me Santo Domingo was my entree into the world - a kind of epiphany. It would take me many years to understand that travel - generally associated with vacation and adventure - could also become a career and my livelihood.

                                                        Castle in Gondar, Ethiopia (A Courtesy of ET African Journeys)

P.T. Most people do not like to think about death. What made you decide to include this notion in your book's title and what was the first reactions of your publishing company (including their marketing team, etc.) when you came up with your title?

P.S. Everyone has always loved the title, although we knew at that time (2003) the before-you-die expression was not as commonly heard as it is now. Some may have found it alarming and unconventional, but the only thing we know for sure in this life is that we will all one day die. With one precious life, the question is: how will you live it? Moreover, will you have regrets? Few are those who do not admit the importance of travel, and the richness it brings to one's life. Therefore, I say make travel happen - and here are 1000 ideas to get you off the couch.

P.T. How did your idea to write 1000 Places come to fruition? In addition, how long did it take you to write the first edition (in 2003) of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die (including the research and so on)?

P.S. I had been writing for guidebooks such as Frommer's, Berlitz, etc. for many years and had done a book for Workman Publishing that was called Made in Italy (1988). I kept in contact with those at the publisher's. In 1995, I had a round-table meeting with them and I was given the go-ahead to write the book. The publisher told me to take one year to do it, and two would be fine. It took me 8, from the time of the meeting until the book was on the shelf in 2003. It turned out to be a blessing: when September 11 happened in 2001, tourism around the world came to a halt. By 2003, people were moving again.

P.T. Share with our worldwide readers the main new information they will find in the latest edition of your bestseller 1,000 Places To See Before You Die?

P.S. All of the original destinations were greatly rewritten, with additional information including new and more budget-friendly hotels, etc. Many entries were merged, sometimes as many as 2 or 4 into one more comprehensive piece, opening up the book for over 200 completely new entries and 28 new countries such as Lebanon, Croatia, Nicaragua and Estonia. There are now over 600 beautiful color photographs - with many more visuals to be found on our new app (for iPads only at the moment, and iTunes in the future). I find it became a completely new book. It took 5 years to complete!

Overall, readers will find more suggestions for places to stay, restaurants to visit, festivals to attend, etc. The latest edition contains more than 50 percent new material woven into the revised and expanded entries which highlight comprehensive travel experiences without focusing on single sites.

P.T. There are many travel books on the market. What do you think attracted the most readers to your book which became an international success with 25 translations? In other words, what do you think set your book apart from the others and what is the secret of your success?

P.S. I think it is unusual that the book is written by one person, in one voice, not a team of writers that you might find writing guidebooks such as Fodors or Lonely Planet. The unexpected mix of the publicly recognized with the unknown destinations, the extravagant over-the-top experiences with those that are free or nominally priced is also alluring. I hope readers find the writing as informative and practical as it is evocative and romantic. I want to convince someone that Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is special enough to put it on their Life List, with descriptions of its history and heritage as well as the aroma of Thai specialities emanating from its famous night markets.

P.T. Many people think that you have to be rich to travel a lot. How can you demystify this?

P.S. There is a wonderful quote that goes "Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer." A very modest trip can be a million-dollar experience. Much of the idea of travel centers around the availability of money and time, so give some thought to your priorities: do you need the 2nd (4th, etc.) flat-screen TV or to use your precious vacation time rearranging your closets? With careful and creative planning and the right amount of conviction, I think many of the excuses of why we think we can't travel go out the window.

P.T. There are people out there who would like to travel but they have diverse fears to be in a foreign country: they are scared of their inability to communicate with the local people, etc. What advice do you have for these people to overcome their insecurities?

P.S. Travel is all about leaving your comfort zone - and many have a very cushy zone that they find terrifying to leave! Much of the trepidation disappears when traveling with a companion - possibly more traveled and savvy than oneself. There is the option of traveling with a group (organized tours do not have to be expensive or impersonal). Choose destinations that are less intimidating to you - for North Americans, for ex., the UK is exotic enough to be fun and exciting. In addition, it is familiar enough to be comfortable. The same goes for the Scandinavian countries. It is almost a given that the more you travel, the more confident you become: experience enables us to travel with less fear and more resourcefulness.

P.T. Females count for some 40 percent of your nation's business travelers according to Forbes.com. I believe the number could be higher. For instance, I am a big traveler and I have been surprised that older females (from different cultures including Westerners) that I met abroad were astonished to see me on a trip alone. In their minds, even if we are in the 21st century, there are still things that women cannot or shouldn't do by themselves. Do you think that there are some females who are holding themselves back and that society is an accomplice of this? If so, how can women overcome these issues?

P.S. I have seen things change enormously over the years regarding both women's opportunities and the travel world in general. There is a perception that travel can be risky or dangerous if you are doing it alone. Much of the surprise that you have encountered was probably related to your youth rather than your gender. I found it rather handy to tell everyone I was meeting up with my husband in the next city where he was busy with business meetings. That seemed to keep everyone happy. There will soon be a time when such fibs won't be necessary!

P.T. [Laughs].

Cape Breton Island is known as Nova Scotia's Masterpiece

P.T. One of your books is partially about Canada. I am talking about 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. Seeing that our webmag is based in Canada, name us one to three of your favorite places of this country that tourists should discover and tell us why. 

P.S. I am a big lover of temperate islands, so I particularly loved Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I am fascinated with the Irish and Scottish heritage and the scenic Cabot Trail drive. Countless miles away, off the west coast, is Vancouver Island: very different, but enthralling nonetheless, with its wild and rugged Pacific beauty, including a remarkable locavore1 eating scene. Moreover, there is Toronto, a vibrant and imminently livable city that the comedian Steve Martin called "New York without all the stuff." I think he meant "without all the negative stuff."

P.T. I also think what is special about Toronto is that it is traditionally recognized in the architectural world as a peripheral city espousing the styles and ideas developed in Europe and the United States. In other words, it is a mixture of both cultures.

P.T. We hear different statistics regarding the percentage of Americans who have a passport: 10%, 35% and so on. What is the real picture? If there is in fact a scarcity of Americans who travel overseas, how do you explain this phenomenon and how this situation can change?

P.S. I have heard that it is 30% - and I would guess that a good number of them live in the large cities along our east and west coasts. Close to a third of a population our size is nothing to sneeze it, but I do remain shocked that it is so few. On the other hand, having spent 5 years researching 1000 Places To See in North America reminded me at every turn the vast number and diversity of things that could keep an avid traveler busy and amazed for many lifetimes without leaving home. However, I would never encourage anyone to stay within the confines of one's national borders. Our privilege of travel is our birthright: it opens one's world, makes us better people, less judgmental and less provincial.

I think that there is no easy or overnight solution apart from emphasizing the importance of travel, solo or as a family. As with my experience, a Junior Year Abroad opportunity when in college was acknowledged by my parents as being an invaluable experience: it is far more available and manageable today and should be a serious consideration. Travel at home in North America can be every bit as rewarding and inspiring - after all, look at the treasures we have in our backyard. Parents who plan the same summer vacation every year at the same lakeside cabin or (as was the case with my family) Jersey Shore should make the effort to mix it up and alternate the destination with some place new or unknown. Life is short - do we need to keep rereading the same chapter?

P.T. I believe that when someone a frequent traveller, it provides a lot of material to write about. This is what it did for me.

P.T. Do you think that U.S. schools should organize trips within the nation and overseas?

P.S. Most definitely yes! My parents worked overtime so that I was able to travel to London, Paris and Rome with my high school class when I was 17. It is remarkable how much of that trip I remember today, and I know it was one of the influential factors in my life's direction. The earlier one travels, the more focused our impressions of life and where we see ourselves going. It took many years before I entertained the idea of becoming a travel writer, but beginning with that first high school adventure, I understood that I needed to embrace the world if I was going to lead the exciting life I wished for.

P.T. As you know, our webmag is about diversity. You are of Italian origin. Share with us one to three of your favorite places in Italy that tourists cannot miss and tell us why.

P.S. I lived in Florence for 3 years and came to know every cobbled alley. It can feel overrun with tourists, but they flock there for a reason. Visiting it in the winter months means fewer people in the museums - you may even have Michelangelo's magnificent David to yourself. For a glimpse of Tuscany, the elegant city of Lucca is an hour away; within its Renaissance-era walls, the pedestrian "centro storico" is a stroll back through time. Sicily is a complex revelation - so very un-Italian in so many ways - not surprising given its thousands of years of history often different from that of the mainland.

P.T. I am not sure if you are Jewish also. If this is the case, I have this question for you: What are the best places that tourists must see in Israel and tell us why.

P.S. I am not Jewish, but you don't need to be - one could even be quite agnostic and be humbled by Israel's deep history.

P.T. This is true, but did you go to Israel?

P.S. Yes, I did. I believe that Ancient Jerusalem with its hidden corners is indisputable highlights. In addition, the fertile land around the lake of Galilee offers some wonderful horseback riding from town to ancient town. As non-Israelis, we are able to travel to the West Bank from Jerusalem quite easily. It was enlightening to experience something of the Palestine situation that one otherwise only hears about on the news.

P.T. Next spring, you will be the guide for an Ethiopian Tour. Talk to us about this event and about the main great places to visit in this African country (including the stunning UNESCO sites in the North) that you featured in your book.

P.S. My first trip to Ethiopia was a revelation. It felt like the world's best-kept secret - it didn't seem to be on anyone's radar, and so few of my travel-writer colleagues were talking about it. All the more enticing, once one discovers the ancient wonders it holds with the lovely and welcoming Ethiopian people who call it home. Highlights such as the famous underground churches of Lalibela and the fortress city of Gonder are offset by a backdrop of great natural beauty - the Simien Mountains offer some of Africa's most breathtaking scenery. The tourists with our tour will also have the opportunity to visit the remote and inaccessible Omo Valley in the south with a whole other world of ancient tribes and fragile cultures seen by very few foreigners.

ET African Journeys is a joint venture by Ethiopian Airlines and Group IST to develop exciting, original, thematic, educational and cultural travel programs to Ethiopia and elsewhere. ET African Journeys collaborates with the most experienced providers in Ethiopia. It offers a wide range of quality tour products with competitive prices for the individual traveler and the group organizer. Ethiopian Airlines is the only non-stop service between the East Coast of the United States and the East Coast of Africa. Furthermore, it is one of the biggest and most modern air carriers on the African continent.  I will host a 10-Day "Imperial Ethiopia" Tour from April 25 - May 4, 2013. The tour with will include a round trip airfare with meals from Washington DC to Addis Ababa: 7 nights of accommodations with all inter-country transportation and flights. The tour will include visits to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Gondar, travelers will see the seven churches and six castles built by Emperor Fasilides in the mid-1600s. They will also visit as the Debre Birhan Selassie Church, the Falasha Village and a Synagogue.  The travelers will go after to Axum for visits to Stealae Park, St. Mary Zion Church and the Sanctuary Chapel, the renowned resting place, the Ark of the Covenant. As mentioned, the third UNESCO site on the itinerary will be Lalibela, built as a "New Jerusalem" by Emperor Lalibela, a reaction against the Muslim capture of Jerusalem in 1187. Lalibela is the site of twelve magnificent rock-hewn churches, which are still used as places of veneration. In addition, the travelers will visit the Nakuto Le' Abe Monastery, a church carved into a cave.

Overall, the tour will have stops in Ethiopian regions rich in old imperial dynasties, ancient royal and religious architecture. Ethiopia is a country impregnated with historical, natural and cultural treasures with beautiful people. The nation possesses a long-documented history that started at least circa 1000 BC. The travelers will discover in the tour the customs and beliefs of ancient and modern Ethiopian society. The tour offers also optional post extensions: Hope For Children Volunteer Work at an Addis Ababa orphanage and/or an extended vacation in Ethiopia with a safari to Kenya or Tanzania.

For more information about "Imperial Ethiopia Tour”, the readers can visit http://www.etafricanjourneys.com/1000places.

P.T. You are among the most successful authors. Only 12 female laureates have won the literature Nobel Prize since its inception. Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin had to take the pseudonym George Sand to become a French novelist and memoirist. Historically, it has been difficult for women to thrive in the literary world. How can we break the glass ceiling as authoresses?

P.S. Honestly, I never gave that any thought. From the start my goal was this: to continue doing something that I loved and brought me great satisfaction. For me, it was important to do it to the best of my ability. I never thought I was at a disadvantage, except for the fact that I was less knowledgeable about the world than the veteran travel writers I was up against. I kept plugging, researching, writing and traveling. Slowly, I made connections that led to my goal of more frequent and better assignments. To thrive in life it is better to focus on your own goals and try to forget about hurdles. Each person has his/her own path regardless of gender, etc. and despite statistics.

P.T. You declared to the media that you are working on a "1,000 Travel Foods To Eat Before You Die". Can you elaborate on that and do you have an idea when it will be on the market?

P.S. I am rather consumed with the various "1000...Before You Die" travel books (their revisions, updates, etc.) which in themselves offer plenty for the foodie reader. But our 1000 Foods book was undertaken by another author, the imminently qualified Mimi Sheraton, the former food critic for the NY Times. It should be out next year: stay tuned!

P.T. You are a veteran journalist. What advice do you have for people who aspire to embrace this profession? In addition, with all the new multimedia systems which have been developed throughout the years, many magazines and/or newspapers died or are struggling. What message do you have for people who want to thrive in journalism?

P.S. Most words of wisdom are universal and timeless, as are these: do what you love and success will follow. They say if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life - but I beg to differ. I worked plenty and there were many years when the remuneration was marginal or nil. However, I enjoyed the experience, loved the chance to travel and not be tethered to a traditional full-time office situation. Plainly put: follow your heart and be creative in making your passion part of your professional life. As I enjoy typing daily, I realise how technology is changing our world. I keep up with it to the best of my ability: you need to stay on top of things to be relevant and successful.

P.T. Thanks for this very interesting interview. It was great to contact a well-known authoress who has the same first name as me! It is really inspiring, and I am convinced that what you shared with our readers will influence them positively to pursue and achieve their own dreams.

The book is available on www.amazon.com, .ca, www.amazon.co.uk  and www.barnesandnoble.com  

For more information about "Imperial Ethiopia with Patricia Schultz," visit http://www.etafricanjourneys.com/1000places

Selected Endorsements:

“[1,000 Places to See Before You Die] has joined the canon of classic reference tomes that earn periodic updates and cozy homes on the bookshelf next to the thesaurus. It is sure to land under many trees this year.”
- TIME.com

“Globe-trotters and vicarious adventure-seekers alike will find this full revamp of a world traveler’s bible even more informative and inspiring than before.”

“It’s a big world out there, which makes it hard to decide on a vacation destination. The Internet can seem just as vast when it comes time to research. That’s why Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die deserves a place on your bookshelf. The revised version of the 2003 bestseller is a great inspiration tool that includes both the obvious…and the less so.”

“[1,000 Places to See Before You Die] tells you what’s beautiful, what’s fun, and what’s just unforgettable— everywhere on earth.”

“She [Schultz] has managed to work a little literary magic here—and still keep her original 1,000 favorite places—by reorganizing and rewriting the content of the first edition. As always, her entries are irresistibly idiosyncratic, from ‘Beer in Belgium’ to ‘The Last Supper’ and Other Works of Leonardo Da Vinci.’”

“The names of authors who have sold millions of travel guidebooks are widely known: Fodor. Frommer. Steves. Oh, and don't forget Schultz. You know, Patricia Schultz. Still not familiar? Her signature title surely is: ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die.’ The travel expert who launched legions of bucket lists back in 2003 (before we even knew what a bucket list was) has just come out with a massive, full-color second edition and companion iPad app.”

“The perennial guide to iconic travel destination is back with a brand-new edition. We read the entire book, stopping to gasp, comment and bookmark several pages along the way.”

“Patricia Schultz’s classic bucket list book of travel musts have been updated, and the second edition has full color, revised information and about 200 new entries. It’s fun to peruse when putting together your travel wish list.”

Official website: http://www.1000beforeyoudie.com/


1 Locavore is a person who tries to eat locally-sourced food.