At the Crossroads of Europe & Asia

Photo credit: Jake Smith

Interview with Patricia Schultz, World Traveler and Author of New York Times Bestseller "1,000 Places To See Before You Die"


Patricia Schultz
 is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
 A popular travel journalist who’s been all over the world, she is tuned in to travelers’ needs and aspirations. She’s a traveler’s travel writer who is always looking for places she hasn’t been, yet. 

Patricia in her favorite spot on the trip to Central Asia – Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Patricia in her favorite spot on the trip to Central Asia – Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar

Having been through Central Asia on our Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans trip in 2014; the Balkans on our Balkan Odyssey: Crossroads of Cultures trip in 2017;  and Eastern Europe on our Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova tour in 2019 – MIR is honored to have her serve as guest host of our Bulgaria & Romania: Frescoes & Fortresses tour in 2020.

Traditional methods of farming and harvesting are preserved in Bucovina, Romania. Photo credit: Peter Guttman
Traditional methods of farming and harvesting are preserved in Bucovina, Romania. Photo credit: Peter Guttman

We chatted via email about hosting tours, the traveling life, and a few of the places she’s been.

What is it like “hosting” a tour?

Although MIR is very gracious in letting me decide how involved I’d like to be, I take my hosting responsibilities seriously! We are all on this adventure together to learn and experience as much as possible… My biggest contribution (and pleasure) may be the many spontaneous conversations enjoyed on the bus, in the hotel lobby, or at the dinner table, where the topic invariably shifts to favorite travel experiences and future Bucket List destinations.

Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR’s Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR’s Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar

What’s the biggest challenge for you of hosting a group tour?

One would think it would be keeping the dynamics of the group smooth and pleasant. But even with so many personalities and expectations, our groups have always been an amiable and fascinating mix of adventurers of different stripes and colors. MIR’s destinations are not the average garden variety, and they attract flexible, like-minded travelers of a similar approach to travel and exploration. I have made some great friendships that have lasted well after we all headed home.

Patricia and her fellow travelers pose in front of Mostar Bridge in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Patricia and her fellow travelers pose in front of Mostar Bridge in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photo credit: Michel Behar

How about the other MIR tours – Five ‘Stans and the Balkans?

Prior to those experiences with MIR, I could barely find those countries on a map, let alone tell you much about them. But thanks to the breadth of knowledge of our guide Michel Behar – coupled with a passion and enthusiasm for these regions that is unmatched – I now feel respectably familiar with those two fascinating corners of the world. They remain amazingly underrated and unsung – except by MIR, who was one of the first tour companies to offer travel there and shine a spotlight on their importance. (Read Patricia’s Travel Weekly articles about travel to The Balkans and to The Five ‘Stans of Central Asia.)

Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, traveled with MIR in 2014; here she's pictured with a group of locals in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, with a group of locals in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar

What do you love most about traveling?

I love the thrill of it all – the chance to explore unknown countries and cultures, to feel like a window has been flung wide open on yet another mysterious destination that had barely made it onto my radar. University for me was a solid foundation of academia, but most of what I’ve learned in life of real substance and worth has come from travel. And I will always have vibrant memories and enduring friendships as proof.

Patricia Schultz chatting with a local in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Author Patricia Schultz in Kotor, Montenegro. Photo: Michel Behar
Patricia viewing the petroglyphs in Cholpan-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR's Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR's Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar
  • Patricia Schultz chatting with a local in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar Patricia Schultz chatting with a local in Uzbekistan. Michel Behar
  • Author Patricia Schultz in Kotor, Montenegro. Photo: Michel Behar Author Patricia Schultz in Kotor, Montenegro. Michel Behar
  • Patricia viewing the petroglyphs in Cholpan-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Michel Behar Patricia viewing the petroglyphs in Cholpan-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Michel Behar
  • Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR's Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR’s Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Michel Behar
  • Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR's Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR’s Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Michel Behar

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Do you count your countries in a formal sort of way? How many have you been to?

Those familiar with 1,000 Places To See Before You Die may see me as the Queen of Lists. But surprising to many (and sometimes to myself as well!) I have never counted the countries I have visited. I am far more interested in those I have not yet visited. I know it cannot be, but there seems to be an ever increasing list of new countries, because the more I travel, the more my Wish List grows! And anyway, can you really “check off” a country the size of Russia or China after a 3-day business trip? At what point can you say you’ve “done” Russia and move on?

(click image to view larger photo)

How has 1,000 Places To See Before You Die evolved over time?

Each entry is now more dense with information and peripheral attractions. In the original, I might have isolated the Italian town of Positano. In the revision, I incorporated it into a mini-itinerary entry called the Amalfi Coast, including the various neighboring towns along the way – of which Positano remains one of my favorites (tip: avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on that cliff-hugging drive June through August when it can dampen the experience).

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

What’s your best travel tip for people who want to go to under-the-radar places?

If, like me, your mind turns to remote places like Mongolia or North Macedonia, I would say do your homework (though my hat always goes off to those who leave on a whim and show up without a plan, often enjoying incredibly rewarding experiences.) Make sure you have the time needed to get to – and travel around, upon arrival – a destination that may have very limited infrastructure and present challenges at every turn.

Riding horses in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta
Riding horses in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Of course, deferring to an eminently established tour company like MIR is the way to go, and would be my first recommendation. I mean, how often will you pass that way again? Having an excellent guide is optimal.

What do you always pack in your carry-on?

A recent trip from New York to Guatemala that should have taken 8 hours door to door, wound up taking me more than 24 hours. Always anticipate a possible 24-48 hour period when your carry on will be all you have! My pashmina scarf and Nature Valley snack bars were much appreciated during long nighttime hours when the airport was empty, deserted, and cold. But Guatemala was worth every inconvenience!

Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR's Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Tour Host Patricia Schultz on MIR’s Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova small group tour. Photo credit: Michel Behar

Travel with Patricia Schultz and MIR to Bulgaria & Romania

MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience in Central & East Europe, and has an affiliate office in Kiev, Ukraine. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” 

Join Patricia Schultz – world traveler extraordinaire, and author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die – as she hosts MIR’s August 15, 2020 departure of Bulgaria & Romania: Frescoes & Fortresses.

Original publish date: August 7, 2018

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