April roundup: travel breakups, wildlife utopias, and Kickstarter freeloaders

amish glass

This month I embarked on a week-long road trip throughout the state of Ohio, from Cleveland to Columbus. In May, I’ll be recapping the journey, with a special focus on Amish Country, where I spent quality time with local Amish residents and tracked down some of my long-lost Amish relatives. (Really! Stay tuned.)

I recently added a bunch of new pics to the “Quirky Bonus Photos” album on my Facebook page. During my travels I often come across quirky sights that aren’t necessarily worthy of a full blog post here on the site, but they’re cool enough to share. Stuff like a fiberglass dinosaur shaped like a ketchup bottle; urinals that dispense candy; and pics of the weirdest-flavored soda you’ve ever seen (we’re talking flavors like buffalo wing and sweet corn.)

Go here to see the Quirky Bonus Photos album. And Like the Quirky Travel Guy page on Facebook!

Here’s what I was reading this month from around the travel world.

Featured personal link:

Cool Chicago: The Green Mill, Al Capone’s favorite jazz club

This month I started a Cool Chicago series focusing on the amazing sights and activities here in the Windy City. One of the coolest places tourists can visit is the Green Mill cocktail lounge, a century-old jazz club where the city’s legendary gangsters like Al Capone used to spend time. Capone used to smuggle in alcohol during Prohibition, and you can still sit in his old booth today and listen to the sounds of the 1940s performed by live musicians.

green mill jazz musicians

April travel links of interest:

A Luxury Travel Blog: 10 of the best travel quotes of all-time

Paul rounds up a collection of inspiring travel quotes from big-time philosophers and thinkers like the Dalai Lama and St. Augustine. Noted linguist Mark Twain appears twice and provides my favorite words of wisdom on the list: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” So many disagreements could be settled if people got outside of their bubbles and exposed themselves to other cultures and ways of thinking.

Four Jandals: Breaking up while traveling – from four jandals to two jandals

Cole and Adela of Four Jandals have decided to take a break in their relationship, which can be tricky when you’re blogging partners. In this revealing post, Cole explains how things happened and describes the future of the site and his own travel plans, and the comments section reveals an outpouring of support. Kudos for being open and honest with readers during a tough time.

Adventurous Kate: Life begins below 14th Street

Kate decided to adventure beyond Midtown and Times Square during an NYC visit and discovered some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods south of 14th Street. That’s really where the action is, in places like Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and even Little Italy. The month I got to live in the Village in 2002 while working in Soho remains one of the coolest times of my life. Check out her post for pics and stories about Anderson Cooper and moist meats.

Little Italy NYC

CNN: 7 stunning U.S. spots for wildlife

As much as I love urban life, nothing is better than getting up close with nature and wildlife. In support of Earth Day, CNN put together a list of the top places to see wildlife in the United States, including Beartooth Highway, Platte River, and Gaylor Lakes Trail in Yosemite. Plus, my personal favorite wildlife-watching spot: Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, where I saw grizzly bears.

Leave Your Daily Hell: Boston and the case for war

Robert tackles the issue of war and how his global travels have influenced his perspective, making his point through the example of the tragic Boston marathon bombing incident. I don’t have much to add since I agree with his viewpoint, except to echo the immortal words of Boy George: “War, war is stupid.”

Gadling: Your Kickstarter vacation. My money. No.

Terrific opinion piece from Pam Mandel, who takes a look at the disturbing trend of travelers creating Kickstarter campaigns to fund their vacations. While many Kickstarter campaigns are noble, a growing number are of the “I don’t want to go to work and earn the funds myself, so you should just give me money instead” variety, which is offensive to those of us struggling to make travel happen on our own.

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

6 comments on “April roundup: travel breakups, wildlife utopias, and Kickstarter freeloaders

  1. I read that opinion piece about Kickstarter, and the other one on BBC. I don’t necessarily think it’s so bad to fund travels through creative projects. The beauty of crowdsurfing is that if there isn’t a crowd, there’s no funding. While I’m sure there are projects on the website which are far from noble, I’m sure they’re in a minority and I’m sure they fail at a much higher rate.

    Also, aren’t the projects that some of these Kickstarter campaigns are supposed to produce completely subjective depending upon the reader/viewer? Just because you may not need a book about traveling overland in China doesn’t mean someone else needs it!
    Adam recently posted..My hipster debut in Portland! Talking “hipster travel” on the radio

    • See, I view this China thing as one of the “not noble” Kickstarter campaigns. It’s not a creative project. This couple just wants to make their vacation more exciting, so they created this book idea as a way to justify asking people for money. It would be like if I created a Kickstarter campaign to fund a RTW trip and said, “Oh by the way, I’ll be writing a book, so that makes this a legit project.”

      As Pam notes, these China travelers are essentially saying, “Need money for personally enriching adventure and vanity publishing.” That’s the offensive part to me. They could fund this thing on their own if they wanted. They’re trying to take a shortcut, and that is galling. They should be taking cues from Adventurous Kate: http://www.adventurouskate.com/how-i-saved-13000-for-travel-in-just-seven-months/

      I’ve funded Kickstarter projects before that I felt were worthy. This one just feels like lazy travelers who can’t be bothered to work for their own success. The world doesn’t need another Silk Road book – as Pam points out, there are dozens already – so they’ve got to present a more compelling argument if they expect to be taken seriously.

      I can definitely see the other side, that if people want to support the project, why not let them? Here’s why: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/creativedespitewar/creative-despite-war Now THAT is a truly worthwhile project, one that is actually helping the world. And it hasn’t gotten as much support as the ridiculous China thing. That just makes me sad. 🙁

      • I’m all for criticizing projects/”art”, but who’s to say which KS projects are more worthy than others? The China project isn’t one I would support either – their video wasn’t very compelling and I don’t care much for the story, but I find it arrogant to say that the Creative Despite War KS project is more “worthy.” It’s definitely of more interest and probably provides greater value, but hey – to each their own.
        Adam recently posted..My hipster debut in Portland! Talking “hipster travel” on the radio

        • I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that projects that scream “Please pay for my vacation” are less worthy than ones that say “Please help fund this awesome, creative art project.” But of course folks are free to disagree. I hope it’s not considered arrogant these days to express one’s opinion – otherwise those of us in the blogging world are in big trouble 🙂

  2. Thanks for highlighting that selection of interesting posts Scott.

    As fot the kickstarter thing, I think that if someone wants to fund their holidays that way and can find someone else whose willing to pay them then fair enough. At the end of the day “worthieness” and financial reward seldom go hand in hand.

    Oh and if you ever change your mind, I’d be happy to purchas the “Quirky Travel Guy” e-book 😉
    Richard recently posted..The Best Views Of Barcelona – El Turó de La Rovira

    • Thanks for your opinion, and I don’t disagree with anything you said. I’m actually fine with crowdsourcing and raising money in general. I also won’t rule out selling ebooks someday myself (I look forward to your support!) I think my main reason for being against these particular campaigns is that they’re on Kickstarter. I view that site as a place where creative people can find support from other creative types for cool artistic ideas. If the China couple had put a Paypal button on their own website and raised money that way, I’d have much less of a problem with it than the fact that they put it on Kickstarter and tried to dupe people into believing their vacation is “a creative project.” Generally speaking, I’m not opposed to people getting their paper 🙂 I just don’t like the shady half-truth aspect of their campaign.

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